Montreal ain’t really Europe
I know a lot of people coming to Montreal like our city because of its "European feel". I've never been too sure of what is meant by European feel, but I can only speculate people mean the fact that French is spoken in Montreal. Yes, but that's all Montreal and Europe have in common, a feel.
I am saying that because I just came back from a two week vacation in Western Europe and the first few days back in Montreal have been a shock for me.
Now that I've recovered from my mental breakdown, I can share with you, dear readers, what the Europeans have understood better than us, Montrealers. Hopefully we can learn from these differences and change Montreal for the best:
Forget about the coffee we're drinking here, it ain't coffee; it's tea with coffee flavor. Yes, I am proud of Timies, because it's quintessentially Canadian. Yes, we do have semi-descent coffee chains like Java U, maybe Second Cup and Starbucks could pass. But they all sell that god-awful filter coffee. Forget about filter coffee, stop this madness. In Europe you only get coffee from espresso machines: it could take the shape of an espresso, to a café au lait, to an Americano, but it all comes from a pressure machine.
We're doing a bit better with beers than with coffee, but that's only if you drink micro-breweries or Unibroue or St-Ambroise. Otherwise, the likes of Molson, Coors or Labatt aren't beers either; it is tea with beer flavor. In Europe you get the commercial beers (which we consider to be imports here, like Leffe, Grolsch, etc…) but you also get quality beers from every small city, which means that from city to city you get to discover different brews all the time.
What's more, no one will stop you from enjoying your cool brew in the park or even in the mall, and bars spill into the street, with people chilling on cobbled streets with pints in their hands. In other words, complete beer freedom.
Oh, and I was going to forget, you only have to be 16 to drink in most European countries. Yes, 16, which means that by the time an American kid can drink, a European one has been enjoying fresh Weissbier for 5 years already. In other words, Europe is the true land of the free (drinkers).
Young and old
It is common to see young and old mix in bars in Europe, to no one's great dismay or astonishment. You could be chugging that Weissbier with your 25 year old boyfriend, while a couple over 50 years old could be doing the same next to you, and that isn't considered weird in any sense of the word. In Montreal we like to segregate our bars and clubs by age; one place is considered for young people, another for older (like over 30ies).
What's worse, not only people of different ages do not mingle, but after a certain age, you just stop going-out to trendy spots at all. How many people over 50 do you see on a Friday late night at the Burgundy Lion? Not many.
These are some of the obvious non-European traits of Montreal. But there are much more, like for example the fact that there are only real pastries in Europe, no fake croissants or horrible donuts. But these differences might not interest the beer-drinker in you.
That's not to say that Montreal isn't awesome, which it is. We're the only ones with smoked meat, bagels, the apricot St-Ambroise, the BBQ-only summer and much more unique life-pleasing products and customs which you won't find in Europe.
Montreal is pretty unique actually.
It's your turn now. So speak-up.
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