Story time, kids! As the world starts to slowly open back up, I think to my experiences traveling before it had locked down. I am going to start traveling yet again but for now, I want to reflect on the various cities I have traveled to in the past as they are still on my memory.
A while ago, I visited Montreal for a weekend with a friend given how much I have seen the city hyped for its dating culture, beautiful women, and just overall beauty. While Toronto gets the brunt of the flak and is known as being poor for men, Montreal is seen as a great city for men to visit and live in as it comes to dating and meeting women.
I’ve always had a thing for French culture so Montreal was almost a no-brainer for me to visit given its proximity to the northeast. As usual, I got ready and made my trip to Canada, not having been to another country for quite some time back then (around 2018).
Immediately, I touch down and take the cab to the hotel and arrive, not boring you with details of the logistics. The hotels were cheap enough but overall, the city felt very safe. Talking to the cab driver, he told me about how he can leave his doors open at his house and not feel that much worry around it all. I leave my stuff at the hotel, getting ready to go out and meet my friend.
The American gets his first real culture shock.
I went to the street near my hotel on what I believe to be St Catherine St, it is the street with a long strip of bars and clubs, especially one Irish Pub in particular. From what I hear, this is the street where you meet more of a French centric crowd as opposed to the more Anglo centric and Toronto heavy crowd.
I go to meet my friend for drinks there but on my way, I am left scratching my head at how many clearly underaged people are flooding the street itself. Most look to be 18 at oldest and majority around the fifteen to seventeen range.
Yeah…I remember….the legal drinking age isn’t 21 everywhere else. Still, it was a bit disheartening to see that we were in a place where the average age was not that I would like to associate with. So we go to the bar and get some food, it wasn’t the worst place to be and rather calming. Given that it was my first night in and I got in late, we decide to call it a night.
Hitting the nightlife.
The next day, we hit the clubs and bars but found that a lot of the decent ones had very strict requirements or a cover charge. Despite the hype, while I did see some attractive women, they were not as abundant as in NYC. I also noticed that once we got to the clubs, everyone was in mostly a tight-knit group and it was usually all around college-aged.
The best opportunities did not really come from us being in the club, it came from us being out as everyone was walking through the street. We made the best convos there but still no luck itself. It seemed to be a mirage in some ways now that I look at it.
Bouncers at all of the places were not playing games and I found that nightlife to be a lot more cut-throat than even NYC. Part of the NYC appeal is that even if you do not get into the expensive clubs, you can still get into a decent bar and find a lot of quality. In Montreal, we found that the bars were either empty without much talent or they were full of talent but it was very closed off.
I remember one club in particular, a lot of light green color in it, which was a heavy party club with a long line. The line itself presented fruitful opportunities but not the overall club which was too loud to speak in. Even then, being inside we noticed large social groups of college kids, some I am afraid they were barely 18.
In one word, underwhelming is how I would describe the Montreal nightlife scene. Maybe we had been sold a lie by those who hyped the city itself up.
Or maybe it is not that much of a night city.
During daytime activities, I saw how so much of Montreal was loaded with some quality. I went to the parks nearby and definitely missed some chances to approach but still feel that the city is meant for the daytime. Now the college kids were away and you talked to normal people out and about, it was a beautiful city. I started to realize that in our weekend, we had made a mistake in thinking that the nightlife scene was the fruitful one in the city.
So this is why people feel how they do about Toronto.
I went to this establishment named after one of Britain’s most famous political leaders in WW2 for some daytime drinking, apparently this area of the city is more Anglo-centric and a place people from Toronto come to. The city is still a beautiful view but I notice how the vibe changed. Locals in the bar were old and bitter, you could feel the tension in the air. It was mostly a sports bar with decent food but nothing to really write home about.
My friend and I were the youngest guys in the room with the bartender shifting more attention to us than the two older guys hitting on her. Just being in the bar and the area itself was a shift of cultures between the two Canadas. The Montreal area was a lot more laid back with socializing while you immediately felt that in this area, it was more of an angle with everyone. I could tell how the bartender was itching for an extra tip and doing all sorts of teases to get it.
The vibe in the bar itself kind of sucked, like a lot. We talk to a younger guy next to us who is from Michigan, he tells us that the place is kind of a sad place to be during the day. We ask him about the area, he tells us how it is full of the biggest try-hards in the city and everyone who is either a regular at the pub or a bartender just gossip about people that come in.
Needless to say, after he leaves, everyone starts talking about random people coming in and out of the bar. The bartender asks if that guy was our friend, we say no, and then they proceed to gossip about him. A few minutes later, two Indian guys leave and the regulars along with bartender are gossiping about them. We hated the vibe and then got out, readying up for another night out.
Last night before goodbyes.
We go out our final night and then realize later on that there is a lot of rain around. I did not bring an umbrella or anything of the sort, it was borderline kind of cold. We ended finding that most bars now had cover charges and even saw some poor guy not being let in because he was by himself while they had let others in.
My impression was that Montreal nightlife is not good if you are going solo, people tend to favor groups a lot more than they would in New York. I leave somewhat defeated by the city but learn some lessons, it was not the worst place to be honest and I have seen worse. Maybe we went at the wrong time and looking back at it, people were approachable when we were in lines or out and about.
Maybe…just maybe…we had too high of an expectation with the city and it cost us.