Day 3: New Years' Eve in Montreal!
Catching the sunrise on New Years Eve, cycling in winter, and more
New year new me! I am now one of those people who get up before the crack of dawn to start the day writing. Okay, it is more likely jetlag that is affecting my sleep cycle. For instance, I went to bed last night at midnight, but I still woke at 5 am.
If you are wondering how frequent these updates will be, I am still adjusting to the new pace of life. Since everything is very new to me and there is much to react to, you will probably receive more updates for another week or so. Subsequently, maybe we can transition to weekly updates. We shall see how it goes. Hit reply if you have any suggestions or feedback. I am all ears!
Just as the previous newsletter was a journal update, today’s email is pretty much similar.
Morning hike at Mount Royal!
On day three, one of my housemates and I spontaneously woke up at 5 am. Before the rest of our apartment was up, we decided to head out before sunrise to hike Mount Royal. Mount Royal is a park located right behind McGill University, and one of my friends who studies full time here suggested a sunrise hike. The view from the peak is supposedly spectacular as the sun rises over the city.
So, off we went on our New Years’ Eve morning adventure!
After gobbling down croissants from the supermarket, we hopped onto the metro for the first time to Peel station. We were supposed to walk up Peel street until we reached the foot of Mount Royal. However, we were running a little late, and we decided to ride the bus up instead. We took a detour from Peel street and ended up walking past McGill’s buildings. We did not plan the route, but we got a sneak peek into our campus. Fingers crossed that the situation improves because we did not fly halfway around the world to attend lessons on Zoom!
As we made our way to the nearest bus stop, we realized the weather conditions were too hazy to see the sunrise. Even so, we decided to ascend to the peak anyway! We went up via a meandering path because of our initial bad decisions, but it was still a nice walk.
In case you missed it:
woke up at dawn to hike Mount Royal
we were running late, and we decided to ride the bus up to the peak
hazy conditions made us abandon the bus ride and hike up the long way instead
I thought there would be plenty of people on a morning hike, but we only came across the occasional hikers and people on their morning run. One thing that never ceases to surprise me is the frequency of squirrel sightings in Montreal. In Singapore, we hardly see squirrels. Even when we do, they are usually lonesome creatures. Here, squirrels are often spotted in pairs or groups, as pictured above. And they do not flinch or scurry away even when someone jogs within a meter of their vicinity. Are squirrels as bold as the ones in Montreal everywhere else?
Oh, and we also saw a lady on skis! I have never tried skiing before, but I would love to give it a go while we are here.
Cities seldom impress me, and they feel claustrophobic most of the time. Yet, the view at the peak was stunning! We did not catch the sunrise because of the hazy conditions, but it was still worth the effort.
While taking a break, I FaceTimed a couple of friends from home and Melbourne. It was 8 am, and the rest of my housemates were still asleep, but my friends in Melbourne were already in 2022.
Although everyone else gathered with friends and family while we have a 10 pm curfew in Quebec, it was still a lovely New Years’ Eve morning spent chasing an elusive sunrise.
Snow biking at Parc Jean-Drapeau
Thought my morning was exciting enough? We went back to our apartment for avocado toast with eggs before heading out again! This time, we took the metro to Parc Jean-Drapeau. In winter, the park features slopes for sledding, a circuit for skiing, outdoor ice skating, and snow biking. We wanted to try ice skating since there are only indoor rinks back home. However, the ice-skating area was about to close for an hour, and we did not want to wait. And that’s how we ended up paying $25 each to rent fat bikes for the next hour.
Cycling on snow is both difficult and easy at the same time. When the snow is flat and firm on the wheels, cycling is a breeze. Perhaps, even more so than with a bike in regular conditions! When the snow is thick or frozen, the wheels tend to skid, and I almost fell a few times.
Snow biking at Parc Jean-Drapeau was a little underwhelming, if not for the novelty of it. I probably will not try this activity again unless the cycling trail has better views.
Strolling through Old Montreal
I have never been to Europe before, but I was told that the place with the most European vibes here is Old Montreal. With its cobblestone streets, bougie boutiques, and classy restaurants, I could walk these streets forever. Unfortunately, we did not enter any shop because we were hungry students looking for affordable options. We ended up having dumplings across the road in Chinatown, and I shall withhold my opinions on the food here.
Dumplings aside, I did have the most amazing hot chocolate—with maple—by the road, in snowy Old Montreal! Nothing compares to a piping hot drink in winter. Thinking about it now, I can still imagine the warmth of the cup as I held it in my hands. And of course, the rich chocolatey taste of the drink. Ooh-lah-lah!
After a day’s adventures, we went home to retire for the night because curfew was about to kick in. That was when it hit us that shops were not open on New Years’ Day. Neither was the grocer open on the day after because of Covid restrictions—all non-essential shops are to close for three Sundays. Fortunately, the mini-mart next to our apartment was still open when we got back, and we at least managed to get a box of frozen nuggets.
We barely made it through days four and five with our limited grocery supply. Holly Jahangiri—my friend from the States—was the sweetest, and she worried about us starving, but hey, we survived!
As you can probably guess, we stayed home for the first two days of 2022. When I return to your inbox again, it will be for my day six update. Time flies when you are having fun, doesn’t it?
Let’s talk soon, and cheers to a great 2022!