Discovering Montreal by BMW

Now before you jump to conclusions that the virtuous Ladies and my fellow good Sirs here at the Vagabundo Team have sold out to blatant product placement and distasteful marketing tactics, I assure that this post has absolutely no correlation to German car manufacturers.

The BMW acronym is actually how local Montrealers refer to their preferred modes of transport when commuting around their fair city – Bike, Metro and Walking.

I arrived in Montreal via motor-vehicle, so this statement played true to me by the fact that the car wasn’t used again until it was time to leave – except when trying to translate Montreal’s confusing parking signs in an attempt to dodge the wrath of local fine-wielding parking police.

Having just been in Berlin a few weeks before I arrived in Montreal, I can do nothing but fall into step with the much-used generalization of Montreal and its comparison to Europe. This statement obviously lays claim to the City’s French connections, but also, despite being Canada’s second largest city and while we’re throwing down statistics – it is also the second largest French speaking city in the world, Montreal maintains that homely village feel within its interconnecting suburbs and sectors that is a common characteristic of the cities of Europe.

With its much beloved Mont-Royal (are we starting to work out how the city got its name yet?) towering over the city that encircles its Park Grounds, Government regulation prevents any high-rise development from ever being built higher than the Hill’s  *ahem* “Mount’s” lofty summit, therefore ensuring Mont-Royal will remain Montreal’s crowning glory.

With the city’s glowing reputation to judge, I was more than eager to put the BMW to the test.


Literally hundreds of kilometers of bike-paths weave their way throughout the level landscape of the city and its surrounding suburbs. Getting your hands on a stylish “fixy” (that’s hipster for “fixed-gear”) or one of the 5000 Bixi bike-share bikes who’s pick-up/drop-off stations are found throughout Montreal, Cycling quickly becomes not only an exciting way to see the city but also incredibly efficient too.


Tous à bord!

If I lived in a place that had a metro system as efficient and wide spread as the one in Montreal, I wouldn’t consider owning a car either. Whether it was the scenic display of the Chinese Lantern Festival in the Botanical Gardens or the Museum of Contemporary Art, the rubber wheeled trains (an engineering answer to minimizing the effects of vibration damage to buildings and infrastructure that run above the subway) of the City metro always got me close to where I needed to be. Backpacker-budget friendly with multi-day value passes!

Walking to the Beat


It was a picture-perfect Sunday afternoon as I walked towards the Eastern slope of Mont-Royal from the grounds of McGill University. I could see the tip of the George-Etienne Cartier Monument on the other side of the crest I was walking up, but it was my sense of hearing I was giving the most attention to. The more I moved toward the monument the louder and more clearer the distance beat of drums could be heard. Eventually I arrived at the “tam-tam” circle, a conglomerate of drummers and drums of ALL shapes and sizes, who meet every Sunday on the monument and thump out their enchanting beats in an orchestrated explosion of sound and movement.

Montreal is made to be walked. The “W” to this acronym is by far my favourite because it allows Montreal to surprise you in many similar ways as my random experience with the tam-tam circle.


The Montreal Olympic Stadium

The Pride that Montrealers have of their city is expressed in every detail of the city.  From the architecture, to the intensity that surrounds their numerous festivals, music and art events, to the boutique and widespread choices of foods and beverages. Montreal’s heartbeat is it’s people- and their zest for culture, art and life has ensured that this city-village will far from disappoint those who visit it.

Author: Ash Clark

With past employment in areas from Civil Construction to the Military, Ash Clark has actively joined the growing global community of people who are leaving their day jobs for the freedom of a location independent lifestyle. Having already backpacked through over 30 countries, he is now pursuing personal entrepreneurial projects, which he hopes will eventually release him to work on infrastructure projects in developing communities in the Middle East. You can follow his personal blog at and twitter @themostalive

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1 Comment

  1. My Chinese tour guide to the Great Wall said that Beijingers get around by BMW, too! Except for her, the B stood for bus. Even though everyone bikes.

    I’ve always wanted to go to Montreal. I skipped a trip that my friends took in college to go meet my sister’s new baby, and the chance never came back. Maybe next year…

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Discovering Montreal by BMW