Sunday, July 27, 2014

I heart Montreal

After a fun yet slightly awkward first week in Montreal, I've finally grown comfortable in my home again. It's been such a fun past few days, complete with a day trip at Mont Tremblant (a popular ski resort in Quebec), roadside Tim Hortons and hot dogs, an afternoon on the lake and homemade cake and jam. I also met up with some dear friends, and tasted some nice fare in some good Old Montreal spots: a lunch at Holder, pastries and sandwiches at Olive + Gourmando (word has it Justin Timberlake was there too), Sunday brunch at Suite 701 and bubbly sangria at Boris Bistro.

We also had bagels at the Montreal landmark Fairmount bagels, along with smoked salmon and cream cheese, and coffee at Olimpico in my old neighbourhood, the Mile End. Thank goodness we climbed Mont Royal for a view of the city and burned some of those calories. I feel like we've just been eating, eating, eating, but walking so much (and hey, I'm not considered fat in Montreal, which has been a nice mental break). We went to Tam-Tams at Mont-Royal, the Sunday gathering of dancing hippies and whiffs of weed.

Montreal is now filled with hipsters, and the Mile End is 'trendier' than ever. I almost felt out of place without tattoos, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and a huge beard. I also love how naturally beautiful girls are in Montreal, as opposed to Japan, where every girl is impeccably manicured and doll-like. In Montreal, girls have bed head hair, fresh faced makeup (or none at all) and a hint of red lipstick, and they're gorgeous as is. It's been so refreshing to see other kinds of beauty.

I've been reminiscing with friends, and it feels so good. It seems like 5 years apart never happened, even though I missed weddings, babies and job promotions. My friends are all so successful in their careers, and I feel so proud of them; they're doctors, pilots, actors, stylists, business owners, nurses, engineers and bankers.

Last night we we had (one of many) outdoor BBQ dinners, complete with bubbly and rooftop fireworks. For the first time in my trip I felt incredibly sad I don't live here, and incredibly sad I have to leave next week. I miss my friends and family back home, and somehow it felt so normal to just be drinking and having fun with them, and suddenly I wanted that to just be a regular thing.

I also walked by my old apartment on rue Hutchison, steps away from Mont-Royal Park, where I used to go running regularly. It made me feel sad about my life in Tokyo, my shoebox apartment and lack of green space to run near my house. It's silly as I was itching to leave so much when I was living there, but looking back I envy and miss that lifestyle, it was so much healthier than my current lifestyle. I think that's what I feel about my life in Tokyo now, even though I love my job, friends and exciting city life, it feels so stressful and unhealthy.

I feel like I'm faced with tough decisions for the few years to come, but in the meantime, I'll enjoy the rest of my visit.

This view.

Enjoying the park

I used to live there

Recovering from 5 years in Japan

Camera shopping

Boris Bistro terrace

Wild flowers

Oh, Canada

Puppy love

Strangely endearing Olympic Stadium

This life.

My Quebec drivers' license

Brownies at Olive + Gourmando

Japan meets MTL

Dirty chai and lemonade at O + G

More cats!!

I love this shop on Mont Royal ave.

Maple syrup + snow = tire sur neige

Being Canadian

Quebec's traditional belt

Suite 701 at Hotel Place d'Armes

Mont Royal



Anonymous said...

Hi Vivian! I've missed reading your blog. I didn't have good connections w/ my internet for a few weeks but anyway! I'm inspired and quite moved by this post. I feel this is how I am in so many ways. Every time I leave the US I think I'll find myself, and ideal life, in wherever: I've tried and failed, in Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam. I do still want to experience a year in Korea, especially as I'm more comfortable with the language and culture although I know it's difficult and stressful here too! maybe I'm feeling more familiar with it, as I have always grown up and been around Korean neighbors and friends.

I'm so glad you had a chance to visit your home. I think whenever I DO come back to DC / northern Virginia, I can appreciat so many things I took for granted.

PS What is a dirty chai? lol, I mean i of course love chai but hm, what makes this 'dirty'...a touch of vino, perhaps?

Kamikaze Ken said...

hey, i send you a facebook message, take a look in your Other folder plz

Tanya Geddes said...

Hey Vivian,

You said you feel sad at your life in Japan. I can relate. People always say 'wow you lived in Japan!' They are impressed but the reality is a tiny apartment, lonely lifestyle and ramen after work (haha it wasn't that dire, I'm being superfluous). The point is the grass is always greener wherever you are. Living in London I got bored by the 'averageness' and 'blandness' of life after the lights of Japan. I changed my mind (which was hard work). I decided nothing outside of myself is going to make me happy. I looked deep inside to see what was important in my life in the PRESENT MOMENT. Once I figured that out, everything seemed simple. There's always plusses and minuses to doing what you need to do. But hopefully the plusses will outweigh the minuses. That's all we can do: see what is the best for us now:-D XO