People soliciting donations
There is another type of "beggar" that is common in Montreal, especially in/around metro stations and on busy streets with a lot of pedestrian traffic - people from the Red Cross and other organizations asking for donations. They're usually young people (probably doing this as a part-time or summer job) with friendly personalities, and you can usually recognize them because they often wear a t-shirt, vest, or hat with the name of the charity they're collecting for. They'll usually say hello and ask if you know their organization, but if you have no intention of donating, just ignore them and they'll move on to the next person.
Don't feed or touch the squirrels
In any season except winter, you'll see a lot of big grey squirrels (and an occasional blond/albino squirrel) scurrying around in parks and residential areas with a lot of trees. Some will even come up to you and look at you as if they're expecting something from you. In Montreal, they are considered pests and a nuisance, so don't feed them or attempt to pet them. Though they often dig for food in garbage cans, well-meaning people often feed them peanuts so they often expect people to feed them. This has led to an overpopulation of squirrels, especially in the parks (Parc Lafontaine especially has a lot of squirrels and you can get fined for attempting to feed them). They dig up garbage, chew on trees (which eventually kills the trees), and bite people and dogs (which spreads diseases).
When you see the squirrels, just leave them alone. You can whistle or make "squirrel noises" to attract them, and take pictures of them, but don't feed them or let them get too close to you.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
No place for the disabled
80% of the locations we tried could not be accessed in a wheelchair. Restrooms are few and far between. Restaurants owners and shop keepers don't even express concern. Montreal will no longer be our destination spot.Related to:
Road work this summer
This summer 2006, there will be a lot of road work on many important streets in Montreal and also a lot of major access to Montreal. So it's a good idea to go to the web site of Transport Quebec or maybe call Tourism Quebec (1 877 266-5687 in North America or 1 (514) 873-2015 anywhere in the world).
Please, slow down. And don't forget in Montreal, no right turn on the red light.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Women's Travel
July 1st - Canada Day
I know what you're thinking - why would a holiday be listed as a Warning or Danger? It is because Canada Day in Montreal is also Moving day. For some reason, most of the leases in Montreal end and begin on July 1st. While this is convenient when it comes to ending/beginning a new lease, it is also a very, very busy day on the roads.
So here's my warning to tourists to Montreal: If you plan to drive, try not to do so on July 1st.
(I have attached a tourisme-montreal article that gives a longer explanation about this day.)
US Immigration Agents at Montreal Airport
When traveling to the US, you have to go through US Custom in the Montreal airport. Of all the US port of entry I've been through, the US immigration agents in Montreal are the most rude and unprofessional I've seen. On numerous occasions, I've heard them saying xenophobic comments, try to intimidate, make unwarranted threats...as if that was a way to protect their country.
Be warned and mentally prepared at the end of a pleasant stay in Montreal if you are not American and heading to the US.
Beware Of Trains!
Montreal is still very much a working port and is on the main Canadian National railway line between Halifax and Toronto (from where it splits; going cross-country to the west coast and south to the Gulf of Mexico). The freight trains haul goods through the middle of the city with the railway line running along the riverside through the Old Port.
The tracks are not fenced in and are crossed by several roadways between the Old City and the port area. Fortunately they don't travel very quickly on this section and are pretty visible (and noisy) and so this isn't a major danger, just a minor warning. (And an excuse to use the pic!)
BTW the railroad here is no good to you if you are silent movie baddie as the tracks are inlaid and there's nothing to affix your ropes to once you've tied up the heroine!Related to:
Car theft...right in the middle of Latin Quarter
So yeah I think a part of that was because we've got New York license...tempting enough for a carjacker (or wrecker?) to 'jack' our car, eh? Here's the incident: We parked the car (Honda Civic, 2006) in a so-called "parking space" right at the back of our hotel (name undisclosed), which is less than 50 ft. away from our room. Between that midnight and 9 a.m. the next morning, someone vandalized our baby, as shown in pic. Looking at the bright side, at least 'he' couldn't get anything out of the effort (luckily, we took all 4 laptops, iPods, and GPS away with us), but it costed us over 450 CAD to get the broken window replaced. It was totally an exhausted and frustrated day for all of us, running around between police station, hotel, and auto service. Before we eventually found out that this type of car theft is increasingly common in Montreal! So be really REALLY careful, or just follow these simple rules: (1) Park your car in a well-lit area, preferably with 24 hr surveillance camera (2) Take whatever your belongings off of your car before leaving it unattended (3) Pre-check your car's security system, add some extra car (steering) lock whenever possible (4) Get your travel insurance and make sure it covers car accidents or unexpected damages. Well...that's pretty much it. Don't let this thing spoil your holiday like what happened to us. Be safe y'all!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Montreal Safest Town
As always, if you don't get blind drunk and do foolish things, you have nothing to be cared off, except getting caught in cold. Winter Nights can be deadly cold if you get out.
Evitate St-Michel, Iberville Fabre stations late at night.
Total lack of manners on the Metro
It's been my experience that when an elderly person, pregnant woman or handicapped person enter a subway car, bus, etc, it is common courtesy that an able bodied person give up their seat so they may sit down. Such is not the case on Montreal's Metro. This weekend my wife, who is six months pregnant, and I used the Metro to get to Little Italy. On both trips on the Metro not only did no one give up their seat for her, someone practically knocked her over to get an open seat before she could. I am not a violent man by nature, but it took every ounce of restraint I had not to inflict serious bodily injury upon this person. Instead I took a picture of them in the seat, which happened to have a sign above the seat asking people to give up their seat to pregnant, handicapped, elderly. I'm always amazed at how such a beautiful city can have such rude people.
At the time that we went the American dollar and Canadian dollar kept fluctuating closely. One day the American dollar would be worth 93 cents to their dollar another time their dollar would be worth 1.03. It really was not necessary to change money most of the time. Even when the US dollar was less than theirs the merchants would not make us give them more. The only time when it was necessary to exchange money was at the casino. They are the only people we came across that would only take Canadian money.
I would not do a lot of the major tours because the city is bilingual and it is easy to navigate the subway system. Plus they will only give you a brief amount of time to look at certain places that may be of interest to you and spend more time at places you are not interested in.
It is cheaper to take the subway to where you are interested in and spend time on your own.
If you can avoid changing your money at the airport, please do. While the assumption is that airports will be honest and give you the correct amount of money -- they charge VERY high fees for the service!Related to:
- Budget Travel
Booking hotels in advance in peak season
Summertime in Montreal is full of festivals, July seemed to be the busiest month with the Jazz Festival, Just for Laughs and their version of the Gay Games so book your hotel ahead of time. We booked about a month in advance, Priceline didn’t seem to be yielding the rates that I was seeing on Biddingfortravel so I finally booked a small hotel in the Quartier Latin. If you have your heart set on a particular B&B, you may want to book well in advance, several places I checked had no availability.
Montreal is the only place I've ever had a problem using my ATM card. There are a lot of banks there that will not accept your "universally accepted PLUS" card. One time, my friends and I spent over an hour walking around trying different banks without luck.
Here are the two I've had the most luck with: Canada Trust and Banque Laurentienne.
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