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Montreal is the second largest city in Canada. Although French is the official language of Montreal, it is a multicultural hub with almost 35 other languages being used, especially English. If you visit a café in the more anglicized and tourist areas, you’ll notice the unusual phenomenon of a soundless line of customers pointing at the delicacies they want from the show window because they aren’t sure whether to use French or English. Signs for businesses are required to be in French first and in larger lettering than the English beneath it. Montrealers generally make fun of people from Toronto or who betray Montrealers by moving to Toronto, but the fact is that there are more professional opportunities for educated Montrealers there and there is a regular exodus of folks from Montreal to Toronto annually. Montreal does have a fantastic education system though and McGill, located in downtown Montreal, is touted as Canada’s top university. It’s a great place to go to school because everyone, even students, can afford to live downtown or in a main, trendy area, unlike expensive Toronto. Quebec has referendums every once in awhile to decide whether or not to separate from the rest of Canada and subsequently, real estate prices stay low because major companies will get scared and relocate their headquarters to English Canada, which keeps prices down in the downtown and Plateau cores.
For a European experience, visit Vieux-Montreal (Old Montreal) and walk on the cobblestone streets, take a ride in a horse drawn carriage, and check out La Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal; it makes artistically-inclined atheists wish they were Catholic. Enjoy the bustling nightlife with its bars, discos, and theatres.
A trip to Montreal in the winter is not complete unless one goes into its Underground city. This area of interconnected tunnels and buildings is one of the most extensive in the world. One can shop, dine, see a movie, or just take a walk without having to put on a coat or use an umbrella. Whatever you do, don’t mention that you’re a Toronto Maple Leaf’s fan.
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