I’ve heard the stories. People who have traveled to a place, then decide to move there permanently, leaving everything about their old lives behind.
It’s apparently fairly common in the small, spiritual towns of New Mexico. And I met a hotel manager in Belize who, after a short visit there, left her corporate job in Texas and sold everything, including her car, big house filled with ball gowns, and moved there with her boyfriend with nothing more than a desire for a new life. She now rides a bike to work down a dirt road to a beach resort to work and couldn’t be happier.
I’ve never been really tempted by the idea. I’ve lived in Atlanta my entire life and would consider even a move to the suburbs an unwelcome disruption to my entire universe. Of course I’ve had the usual thoughts of “Wouldn’t it be great to live in that $3 million home by the sea?” Or, “I could live in New Orleans all the time!” But that thought only lasts until the effects of the final Bloody Mary and the sugar high from beignets have worn off.
Until now. In Montreal.
But I’m a Southern girl with thin blood, a penchant for walking barefoot outdoors and no real love of layering on heavy winter clothes so I’ve not gone completely mad. I’m just talking about a two-month stay in the summer.
I gave this idea serious consideration yesterday while on a three-hour bike ride through the city. And the more I learn about Montreal, the stronger the conviction grows.
Here are just a few of the reasons I’m dreaming of a summer sojourn in Montreal.
1. Festivals. I’m here for the Montreal Completement Cirque, Montreal’s first circus festival – more on this amazing event later. But this is just one of the more than 70 festivals Montreal hosts each year. And many of the events are free. Just to name a few: Bike Fest – May 30-June 5; Jazz Fever – June 25-July 6, Just for Laughs – July 5 -25; World Film Festival – August 26-September 6.
2. Range of Activities. Montreal has a beach, plenty of parks and green space, roller skating, and lots of museums, just to name a few. The most unusual is the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, a race track where you can drive your own car, bicycle or roller blade around the 4.1 km track. How cool is that?
3. Ease of Getting Around. We won’t need a car because Montreal has an excellent Metro system and plenty of sidewalks for walking. But our main form of transportation will be the bicycle. There are miles of bike paths throughout the city and a public bike system called Bixi. Yesterday we got bikes from Ca Roule Montreal, which also rents bikes by the hour and offers guided tours of the city.
4. Safety. Montreal is a safe city, with little crime, and pedestrians walking the streets at just about all hours.
5. Beauty of the City. It’s a lovely city with plenty of trees and beautiful architecture. There are few skyscrapers, which gives the city a more manageable scale from a pedestrian standpoint.
There are plenty more reasons to love Montreal, and lots more photos to share. But I’ll have to get to those later. Right now I have more of the city to explore.
And I suppose I need to let my husband know we have plans for next summer.
– Jan Schroder