Montreal, Quebec: July 22 – September 15, 2016
After 105 days in Europe, including stays in 4 countries and trips to 20 cities, a return to the “Americas” for a few weeks was much needed break in our travels. I’ve been used to working and traveling since I began my location independent adventures back in 2011. Yet, this time in Europe was different. It was a lifetime of fun packed into 3.5 months, but it was also tiring and the heat/humidity of the European summer was surely adding to the discomfort. So as we departed Madrid and headed back across the ocean, I felt a sense of relief and comfort – the same sense one feels when they are coming home after a long stint away from their friendly confines.
But suffice it to say, Montreal is not our home. We’ve spent time in the city only once before (back in 2012), though we have spent almost every August anniversary in our last 5 years together in Canada. It started in 2011, when we spent our first (dating) anniversary in Vancouver and since that time, we’ve visited Toronto, Quebec, Montreal, and Vancouver again in the mid-summer months. So not only was there comfort with being back in Canada during a perfect period of weather, it was also the comfort of being back in North America.
There were lots of personal things I had put off during our dizzying travels around Europe. Sure, I’d exercised by running every now and then, but I didn’t have a rhythm to my wellness activities. It’s as if I was tunnel-focused on maximizing our time in Europe and maintaining my professional workload efficiency that I put my personal wellness activities on hold. Returning to Montreal, having a comfortable apartment/space, cooking meals at home, and redesigning my daily life rhythm, helped me revisit old feelings and ignite new passions that filled a lingering void.
Building on a Moment in Granada
A couple of weeks before leaving Italy and making our way to Montreal, I’d begun the initial steps of what later became my 30-minute Mondays – a weekly process of self-assessment. This little moment that grew from Granada’s whisper to me back in May, soon became the seed that blossomed into a re-emergence in creativity, personal development, and re-connection that shaped my time in Montreal.
Time seemed to slow down a bit during our initial weeks in Montreal, such that I was able to catch up on a couple of books, get back into a daily workout regime, and dedicate time through the week to pondering questions posed during my 30-minute Mondays. In less than four weeks, I found myself redesigning my website, writing 12 new blog posts in 10 days, and reconnecting with a part of my creative self that had been missing over the last 2-3 years.
In addition to my personal pursuits, my wife and I soon reconnected with our desire for urban exploration by waking up early every Saturday morning for a 2-mile run along the Old Port (just steps away from our apartment in Old Town Montreal) and picking a new biking destination each Sunday morning. We always love biking around cities and Montreal is a biker’s town. It’s one of those simple pleasures in life that allows us to discover different parts of town during the gorgeous, sun-lit summer months.
A Surprise First Visit
Just as we were beginning to wrap up our time in Montreal (prior to heading to Costa Rica for 10 days), we received a somewhat unexpected visit from a newly-minted passport traveler. My mom (at age 70) had just received her first US passport in anticipation of Caribbean cruise she’d be taking in the early Fall. She’s always had a deep desire to travel but never took the leap of crossing an ocean or a border. Given that we had a couple of weeks left in Montreal and she had just received her passport, she didn’t want to let the opportunity slip away.
Treating my mom to a few days in Montreal was a unique experience, especially given that Montreal is not really “my” city. But it quickly became my town and I was eager to show her the sights, as if she was visiting me back in Northern California. We kept the activities to a comfortable pace but nothing feels more like home than having friends or family (let alone one’s mom) visit them while on the road.
The moment that I’ll probably remember more than any is the couple of hours that we spent sitting in a nearby park on a Friday afternoon, sharing stories about life, family, and random jokes. While Old Port, Old Town, Notre Dame Cathedral, Victoria Square, Rue Saint Catherine, and McGill University are the sights that we were able to cross off our list, it was that simple unplanned moment in the park that will have the most lasting impact. I’m sure she is proud of me for what I’ve accomplished along the way, and I’m so very proud of her for grabbing life by the horns and making the most of her years.
Montreal was the right destination at the right time for us on our nomadic adventure. It allowed us to reset after our hectic time in Europe and ready ourselves before our time in Asia. For many, varied reasons, my wife and I were both able refocus on our personal wellness – physically and psychologically. Doing so, allowed us to open new doors in our creative and personal pursuits along our travels. It’ll be exciting to see how these mid-summer moments in Montreal guide and energize us for the next six months of travels.
Read more Tales from the Nomadic Adventure and find out where we’ll be in the coming months.