Now I live in Montreal so I pretty much have an idea of what the life is like here. But in my opinion, seeing life in a big city is not enough to understand the country, people’s lives. I think that true understanding comes from seeing small towns, farms, gas stations, countryside.. Seeing a country from the road.
So as soon as I arrived I started thinking about seeing something outside of Montreal. I shared my idea with my friend Sergiy, and we decided to drive to Mont-Tremblant, which is only about 2-hour drive away. So my first ever road trip in North America was about to begin!
On the road again
We hit the road on Friday morning and navigate through Montreal suburbs and further North on Autoroute 15. I get a very first glimpse at Canadian roads. Although they are quite bumpy, I was really impressed. Clear signs, big intersections, wide roads, and patient drivers!
As we progress out of Montreal, I make notes of some interesting places worth visiting in future. We drive past Mirabel airport, and very soon after it the road goes into mountains. This is the Laurentian Mountains, one of the oldest mountains in the world. They do not seem to be very high, more like big hills covered with forests. They really remind me the Carpathian mountains in western Ukraine, my favorite region of my home country.
As we keep moving North, we look for a gas station. Fueling up outside of big cities make a lot of sense – fuel is considerably cheaper. And what surprised me in Canadian highways, is that all the infrastructure is away from the road. I don’t know why and still do not understand whether it is good or bad, but to get to fuel station, you need to see its name on a road sign on a side of the road, take the corresponding exit, and drive some local roads to get there. One obvious benefit of it – you have a chance to take a look at rural Canada, small towns, farms. I like what I saw. Nice houses, green grass everywhere, very clean. To me it felt like I started to see what I wanted to see at the first place.
Where is city center?
Mont-Tremblant is only about 2 hours away from Montreal, but seem like a distant land for one of the modern GPS programs. It shows our destination in a little different direction then road signs. OK, we follow GPS, we are curious to see where it wants us to go.
And we were happy about our decision! Instead of arriving right in a heart of overcrowded tourist destination, the GPS led us to a shore of a beautiful lake, with amazing houses and a boat pier! This is the Lac Tremblant, which is just north of Mont-Tremblant city center, we can see it across the lake.
Actually, geographically Mont-Tremblant is quite big, it consists of several municipalities that merged into one town back in 2002, so it is hard for me to say which is a center of the town, I can think of 3 variants: the ski resort, the old town near the lake, and modern part with shopping malls.
We enjoy the beautiful scenery for some time, but then decide to drive to the ski resort to see what it’s like. I was pleased with availability of free parking areas with clear indication and directions.
Mont-Tremblant welcomes visitors with a big square, tourist information bureau and a ski lift! You can easily tell what seem to be the town’s main source of income. And this ski lift was another pleasant surprise for me. It was free. It took us over streets and roofs to the upper part of the town. There are several more ski lifts that can take a visitor to a top of a ski hills, but it is not a free ride anymore. It cost around 20 CAD for one ride! And it is in summer! I am afraid to think what is their price at winter. Later we tried to climb one of the nearby hills on a car, using roads that seemed to go up. But they only led to hotels and expensive houses. I really wanted to see Mont-Tremblant from the top, but definitely not today.
I am not a big expert in architecture, but the streets and buildings in Mont-Tremblant are definitely built in European style. Many buildings remind Germany, some remind France, Italy, Denmark. But it still feels right, you will never confuse it with any other town.
Back to Montreal
Drive back gave me priceless experience of talking with local cops. We were pulled over, along with tens of other cars, just for documents check. Obviously, they were on a manhunt. Our docs were OK, so we were good to go.
Getting closer to Montreal we see Friday evening traffic on the opposite late. Endless flow of cars, trucks, trailers, all moving really slowly. Even 4 lanes are not enough for everyone who heads out of city for a weekend. Although it was a traffic jam, I liked what I saw. I have seen small cars with bycicles on roof, kayaks, tents, pick-up trucks pulling huge trailers, RVs. Obviously, all these people have active lifestyle, they head to the nature for a weekend, and not to their sofa in front of TV or to nightclub. First time in my life I felt like I wanted to join a traffic jam!
Canada does not stop impressing me. Move adventures are coming!
Total expenses: Fuel 15 CAD each + Food 10 CAD