Although I make it a point to wander around my destinations to discover hidden gems, getting lost is not always my plan. Sometimes, it can be rather frustrating.
This past summer I got lost numerous times during my three days in Montreal. Only once, however, did I have to stop and ask for directions.
On my first day, I set out for Mont Royal, the largest park in Montreal, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted who also designed Central Park in Manhattan. Aside from eating everything in sight and walking through the old city, Mont Royal was on my must-do list for this trip.
I was advised to take the subway, bus, or taxi to the park because it wasn’t near my hotel. Unfortunately, I had no Canadian currency at that point. I had hoped to exchange money at the train station when I arrived, but there wasn’t one open at the time.
The Grey Hound station near my hotel had a money changer, but he refused to accept American dollars. I resorted to using an ATM that cost me an extra $12 for foreign exchange and non-bank ATM use fees. At least it gave me money to buy coffee before hiking through the park.
It may have been a long walk from the hotel, but I felt fine as I reached the eastern side of Mont Royal. I began my trek through the park along the main dirt road, but soon veered off along narrower trails through the woods, which seemed like a more direct route to the peak. Fortunately, my narrow trails intersected the main road where direction signs were posted, so I knew I was sort of heading in the correct direction.
After reaching the peak where there’s nothing but a radio transmission tower, I headed over to the Kondiaronk Belvedere where I could take pictures of the city in the distance. From there, I looked for a trail to take me back the way I came–I asked a few people wandering up along the narrow trails, but they didn’t know which way to go either.
And then I got lost.
I took one narrow trail that linked to a main road. I figured it was the right direction. After twenty minutes or so, I decided I probably chose the wrong path. The road became paved and I saw tour buses–something that I hadn’t seen along the road on the way up. Rather than walk back up, I continued down the hill, thinking that I wasn’t too far off. (Feel free to laugh at my naivety at this point.)
By the time I exited the park, I was lost. I didn’t recognize anything and couldn’t even find a street sign. My section maps that I printed from Google Maps did not contain this section of Montreal. After wandering another 15 minutes, I fortunately found a couple on bikes looking at a map and asked for help. They weren’t quite sure where they were either, but they were close with their guess–I came out on the opposite end of the park from which I entered. From the map, I located subway station that wasn’t too far away.
Of course, what would a getting lost story be without at least one discovery? Just down the street from the subway station, I found a farmer’s market. The produce looked great and the prices were reasonable. I picked up some fruit for the next few days and hopped on the subway back to my hotel.