Montreal: a city infused with wilderness…

Montreal is a place so culturally unique, I’m not even sure if 360° is enough to capture all that it has going on. But that doesn’t mean Giroptic wasn’t up for the challenge of trying to squeeze the many highlights of this one-of-a-kind city into frame!

 

Trace of the Old World

 

What is this, France?

Nope, we’re still in Montreal. It’s true, the district known as Old Montreal could easily pass off as a European locale, with its cobblestone streets, relaxed terraces, and French gothic architecture. There are even remnants of the neighborhood that date all the way back to the New France era. By North American standards, that’s pretty darn old!

 

A lot of people are surprised to learn that the famous Notre Dame cathedral of Paris isn’t unique. They’ve got one in Montreal too. In fact, there are at least a dozen Notre Dame cathedrals in existence, as the name, which means “Our Lady” isn’t exactly exclusive. What’s cool about the 360° shot above is that you can see the juxtaposition of the old style cathedral facing the modern architecture across the street. This city is a very interesting mixture of old and new, American and European, French and English…

 

City Heights

 

One thing that is a bit more unique to Montreal is this spot: St. Joseph’s Oratory, a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine located on the Westmount Summit of Mount Royal. It’s 283 steps to reach the top, and get this: pilgrims climb 99 of those stone steps on their KNEES. Personally, I wasn’t up for such a challenge, but I did manage to accomplish the feat the easy way: on my two feet.

 

 

From up here, you get an awesome view of the city’s horizon, but believe it or not St. Joseph’s isn’t the best place to get high in Montreal. For a truly awesome view of the city, you’ll need to summit Mont Royal proper, otherwise known as the Colline de la Croix peak. Check it out!

 

 

Here, we’re a dizzying 233 meters or 764 feet up, compared to Westmount Summit’s 201 meters or 659 feet. The good news is, there are no steps to climb to reach the top of Mont Royal, only a pleasant walking trail through the woods, which is more suitable for dogs, children, or the physically disinclined. There’s also a cool Great Depression-era French Beaux Arts chalet to check out at the top, equipped with a refreshment concession to award climbers after their “gruelling” 20-minute stroll.

 

Green is Good

 

Aside from urban attractions, what I really love about this city is the urban nature aspect. First of all, Montreal, like many Canadian metropolises, is a city surrounded by wilderness. Still, if you’re stuck inside city limits, you won’t find yourself missing the green outdoors. Sure, lots of cities have parks, but what’s different about the parks in Montreal is that they feel more like nature reserves. When you enter one, it totally encloses you, at which point it becomes difficult to imagine that you’re still situated inside a bustling city of 1.7 million people.

For example, here we are at Beaver Lake, which is smack dab in the middle of Montreal proper.

 

Another great spot to check out for some green time is the sprawling Montreal Botanical Garden located in the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough just next to the Olympic Stadium. This place is massive, comprising 75 hectares (190 acres) and featuring Chinese, Japanese, Alpine, and even a First Nations (aboriginal people of Canada) garden.

 

 

Although you may come for the flowers and green space, it’s the local wildlife that will really grab your attention : )

 

Connected to the botanical gardens is another attraction that can’t be missed: a giant biodome complete with insectarium.

 

 

Kind of like a mix between a wildlife sanctuary and a zoo, here you can observe animals from all over the world living in a habitat that at least somewhat resembles the climate and conditions from which they originate. And if you’re feeling peckish, you can step outside to grab a silkworm taco or a cricket burger. Those aren’t just gimmicky names for food items; the insectarium literally serves up insect-infused dishes out of a food truck to courageous (or absolutely starving) patrons. Wondering if I tried some? Well, I did. Wondering what insects taste like? Well, I suppose the best way to put it is that they taste like earth. Feel free to try something to check it off your bucket list, but don’t expect to be going back for seconds.

 

The 360° Verdict on Montreal

So what’s the conclusion?

Is it impossible to capture all that Montreal has going on? Even with the aid of a 360° camera like the Giroptic iO? Answer: yes. The above images only reflect about 1/10th of my experience in this truly amazing and unique city. Still, I’m happy with my photos. What I’ve discovered is heights and open spaces are ideal for 360° photography. Obviously, this is easy enough to find in nature, but Montreal shows that it’s possible in certain cities too!