Over the weekend, we took Sadie to visit McGill University in Montreal—sort of. Actually, we went to Montreal for a much needed mid-winter break, but we walked the campus as well. Sadie is only in the eighth grade but she wants to be an engineer—dream big, I always say. We found a funky little hotel and made the short 3 1/2 hour drive. It was a perfect winter afternoon.
The next morning we woke to a changed world—icy sleet, freezing rain and cold, cold windy conditions. “No worry,” Jean Paul, our breakfast waiter assured us, “ Go to the underground, and stay dry all day.”
This was the first we had heard of the famous 33 kilometers of underground pedestrian passageways that crisscross the streets of Montreal. What a bonus! We asked Jean Paul for a map.
“A map? No map,” he shook his head sadly. “Only, Metro map. You see a gold square you go underground, how can you be lose?”
Jean Paul was great, very friendly and helpful, but of course we would need a map. We headed back to our room and Googled underground Montreal. There were tours, and advertisements and plenty of blogs lamenting the fact there were no good maps and how easy it is to get lost.
Undeterred, we headed across the street to the metro, down four flights of steps, jumped on the train for three stops, to what the internet hailed as the largest and most impressive of the underground shopping areas complete with center fountain. Leaving the train, we went up four flights of steps to connect with the passageway, thru a revolving door that looked promising. Nope, different shopping pod. Back thru the door, down four flights of steps, back up four flights of steps in the other direction. We now saw a sign for Rue Jardin—our destination. We went down several long corridors, up and down several more flights of steps, thru several more revolving doors to additional shopping pods, before finally arriving at Rue Jardin.
Rue Jardin: an American style mall complex complete with a food court. A packed underground mall with stores from every American city—Staples, Clairs, Gap— in the basement of Montreal.
Not exciting at all! It was true we could stay out of the nasty weather. I suppose it would be convenient if you lived and worked on the pathway—no need to even wear a coat in the winter and you wouldn’t need a gym with all those stairs to climb! For us it was a disappointment.
We headed back to our hotel and my husband will tell you we retraced our steps exactly. Sadie and I will tell you otherwise. I lost count of the steps, revolving doors, and passageways, but it was good to get out of the dark and onto the icy streets, even better to return to Vermont this morning— snow wind and all.