15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Montreal

Canada’s second-largest city and the cultural capital of Quebec, Montreal is a vibrant city that warrants a visit no matter who you are. Teeming with the best food, people, culture, and nightlife, Montreal will make you fall in love instantly. Check out these 15 facts about “The City of Saints” that will amaze you!

  1. If you are a foodie, you will be pleased to know that Montreal has the highest number of restaurants per capita in Canada. While you’re there you have to try some Montreal classics like poutine, a Montreal style bagel, and a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz’s Montreal Hebrew Delicatessen.
  2. After Paris, Montreal is the second largest French-speaking city in the world. Don’t worry if you can’t speak French though as most Montrealers are bilingual. In fact, many downtown shopkeepers will greet you with a “Bonjour, Hi”.
  3. Too hot or too cold? Just head to RÉSO, also known as the Underground City which is a 20-mile underground labyrinth of tunnels full of shopping malls, banks, museums, and food courts.
  4. Long before Google, three students from Montreal created the world’s first search engine called “Archie”. Sadly, “Archie it” doesn’t sound quite as good.
  5. The famous “Give Peace a Chance” song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono was recorded in Montreal’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel during their second “bed-in” for peace.
  6. If you’ve ever wondered why Montreal doesn’t have gigantic skyscrapers, it’s because no building is allowed to be taller than Mount Royal which is 233 meters high. Incidentally, that’s where Montreal gets its name from.
  7. Montreal’s flag used to have five symbols: the heraldic cross to represent Christian principles, the shamrock for the Irish, the fleur-de-lis for the French, the Lancastrian rose for the English and the thistle for the Scottish. In 2017, a sixth symbol, a white pine was added to the flag to represent the original indigenous population called the Iroquois.
  8. For a truly unique dining experience in Montreal, try the O.Noir restaurant where you can dine in complete darkness! The visually impaired staff make the experience extra special.
  9. If you love architecture, it’s worth noting that Montreal is officially a UNESCO city of Design. Old Montreal and the Old Port are particularly stunning!
  10. Any Walking Dead fans here? The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies in Montreal is, as you guessed, a school dedicated to horror movies. They have two semesters with courses that include topics like reality horror, zombies in horror, and Shakespeare in horror.
  11. Do you believe in aliens? Well, you just might after you read about the “Place Bonaventure Incident”. On November 7th, 1990, a woman reported seeing strange lights coming from a circular object when she was on the roof of the Place Bonaventure hotel. Apparently, it stood there motionless for almost 3 hours! What makes it more credible is that more than 30 people including journalists, policemen, and scientists saw the same thing and there’s photographic evidence as well. Spooky!
  12. If you’re in the mood for something “out there”, head to the Le musée de l’absurde or the Museum of the Absurd. It’s a pop-up museum that has an ever-changing collection of weird posters, objects, and collages that are bound to make you giggle.
  13. In 1998, Montreal became the sister city of Hiroshima to promote peace and develop a relationship between the two cities.
  14. There’s evidence that the CIA conducted mind control experiments at the Allen Memorial Institute in Montreal from 1957 to 1964. While most of the records were (obviously) destroyed in 1973, some records were found in 1977. Say, what?!
  15. The metro network in Montreal actually has no heating system! This may sound unbelievable given how cold it can get during winters but other than the STM staff areas and ticket booths, the network is heated by the movement of trains, the passengers’ body heat and the heat that comes from nearby buildings. You’ve got to love science!

 

 

 

18 Facts You Didn’t Know About Paris

Whether you call it the “City of Love”, the “City of Lights”, or “Le Beau Paris”, this magnificent city inevitably finds itself on every traveler’s bucket list. Before you visit, check out these facts about Paris that you probably didn’t know.

  1. You better make sure you’re as fit as a fiddle when you visit the Eiffel Tower because it takes 1,665 steps to reach the top! Of course, you could take the easy way out and just use the elevator.
  2. Paris got its nickname, the “City of Lights” not because of its electricity, but because it was the city of enlightenment, attracting writers, artists, and academics from all over the world.
  3. Other than the Paris we know and love, there are about 38 cities named “Paris” in different parts of the world, most of which are in the United States.
  4. There is actually a condition called “Paris Syndrome” which causes symptoms like depression, excessive sweating, anxiety, and hallucinations among some visitors when they realize that the real city of Paris doesn’t live up to their romantic expectations. We blame Amélie.
  5. There are no “STOP” signs in Paris. Pretty surprising for a city that large, right? There used to be only one stop sign in the entire city of Paris which was found in the 16th arrondissement at the exit of a construction company. However, it was removed in 2012.
  6. Unsurprisingly, the Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world. Originally built as a palace, it houses over 35,000 works of art and 380,000 objects. Want to see every single item there? It will take you about 10 months.
  7. An urban legend states that there are 666 glass panes in the Louvre pyramid because that was the number cited in the official brochure during construction. However, the truth is that there are 673 panes. Yes, The Da Vinci Code got it wrong.
  8. While it was believed that Napoleon was extremely short, the truth is that he was a very average 5’ 6”. Enemy propaganda? We think so.
  9. Paris was once a Roman city called “Lutetia” meaning swamp or marsh. It was later renamed as “la cité des Parisii” because of the Parisii tribe that lived there, and finally became Paris in 360 AD.
  10. The RER or Réseau Express Régional was originally supposed to be called “Métro Express Régional Défense-Étoile”. The acronym, however, would end up being MERDE which translates to shit and we’re pretty sure no one would want to ride that.
  11. There’s a replica of the Statue of Liberty in Paris that faces the one in the United States, symbolizing the camaraderie between the two countries.
  12. The most iconic landmark of the city, the Eiffel Tower was once considered a monstrosity by many French intellectuals who openly protested its construction. One such gentleman, Guy de Maupassant actually chose to eat his lunch at the bottom of the tower every single day because it was the only place in Paris from where he couldn’t see the tower. Wonder what he’d think of it today…
  13. The biggest bell in the Notre Dame Cathedral is called Emmanuel and weighs more than 13000 kilograms. That’s about the weight of 7 hippos.
  14. There are more dogs than there are children in Paris. We can live with that.
  15. It was technically illegal for French women to wear trousers right until 2012! Talk about being the fashion capital of the world.
  16. If you are a fan of Espresso, there are more than 200 places in the city where you can grab one for less than a Euro.
  17. During the First World War, France actually built a fake Paris to confuse German bombers. It was complete with a Gard Du Nord and Champs-Elysées and was on the northern outskirts of Paris. That’s pretty clever if you ask us.
  18. The municipal government of Paris passed an official resolution prohibiting Tom Cruise from becoming an honorary citizen of Paris because of his association with Scientology. Aww, Tom.

15 Facts You Didn’t Know About Miami

In the words of Will Smith, Miami is “the city that keeps the roof blazin” and we couldn’t agree more. With amazing year-round weather, diverse culture, swanky parties, delicious food, the sun, the sand, and the water, Miami truly lives up to its different nicknames like America’s Riviera, Latin Hollywood, and of course Magic City. Check out these facts about Miami that will make you believe in its magic.

  1. Miami officially became a city in 1896 after Julia Tuttle, a local businesswoman, encouraged Henry Flagler, a railroad tycoon, to extend his railroad here and set up a luxury hotel. It’s the only major city in the United States to be founded by a woman. Pretty cool, huh?
  2. Miami gets over 10 million tourists every year! That’s not the least bit surprising considering the sunny weather, lovely beaches, happening clubs, and fabulous resorts.
  3. If you are an Art Deco fan, Miami is THE city for you. With over 800 Art Deco buildings, it has the largest collection in this style in the world. The National Register Art Deco District consists of Espanola Way, Flamingo Park and Museum, and Collins Avenue.
  4. The next time you’re lying on a beach with sunscreen on, remember to thank Miami pharmacist Benjamin Green who invented the skin protector in 1944.
  5. If you’re lucky and we mean really lucky, you could find gold and silver at the Miami Beach. Legend has it that pirates like Gasparilla and Blackbeard buried several treasures right there in the ocean.
  6. What’s in a name? Miami gets its name from the native Mayaimi tribe that lived here between the 1600s and 1700s.
  7. Miami has more than 800 parks and is the only US city to be bordered by two National Parks, the Everglades National Park and the Biscayne National Park.
  8. Jay-Z once spent a whopping $250,000 at the famous Liv nightclub in Miami and to top it off, he left a $50,000 tip for the waitstaff! Where can we sign up for this job?
  9. When it comes to diversity, Miami takes the cake. More than 60 languages are spoken here and you can find over 150 different ethnicities!
  10. Miami is called the “Wreck-reational Diving Capital of the World.” You can dive to about 50 wreck sites where you can find anything from army tanks, oil platforms, ships, and the Spirit of Miami Boeing 727 plane.
  11. In 1929, the city came up with a unique solution to their growing mosquito problem. They built the Perky’s Bat Tower to attract bats as they are natural predators of mosquitoes. Simple enough in theory but things didn’t go quite as planned when not even one bat moved into the tower. Maybe they just didn’t like the style of the building?
  12. The Port of Miami serves almost five million passengers every year which is why it’s called “The Cruise Capital of the World”.
  13. Believe it or not, the iconic Coral Castle was built single-handedly by Edward Leedskalnin. It took him about 30 years to complete and is said to be a dedication to his lost love Agnes.
  14. The first ever Burger King was opened in Miami in December 1954 and the Whopper was introduced at a not-so-whopping 37 cents three years later.
  15. For all the talk about warm weather, it actually did snow in Miami once on January 19, 1977. Still, don’t expect to see a white Christmas here as the chances of that happening are less than 1 percent.

13 Facts You Didn’t Know About Cape Town

Cape Town, the oldest city in South Africa, ranks high on every traveler’s must-visit list. With a rich heritage, wild party scene, stunning landscape, and relaxing beaches, Cape Town has a little something for everyone. Check out these facts about the Mother City that will make you wish you were there right now!

  1. In 2014, Cape Town beat 51 other countries to be chosen by the New York Times as the best place in the world to visit.
  2. The Cape of Good Hope was originally called the Cape of Storms. Not exactly inviting, huh? The name was ultimately changed to please the king of Portugal.
  3. The Blue Flag Campaign awards deserving beaches that meet certain cleanliness, safety, and security standards. There are a total of eight Blue Flag Beaches in the Mother City including Llandudno, Clifton, Muizenberg, Camps Bay and Strandfontein.
  4. Approximately 800,000 people visit Cape Town’s most iconic landmark, the Table Mountain, every year and at least two couples get married on the mountain every month. Imagine the stunning pictures in their wedding album!
  5. Robben Island is infamous for housing political prisoners, including Nobel Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela. The island also housed the mentally ill as well as leprosy patients.
  6. The Cape Floral Region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to over 7000 plants that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. In fact, there are more flower species here than in all of England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland combined!
  7. If you love sledding, then you’ll go crazy over Cool Runnings, the only toboggan track in all of Africa.
  8. Although it may not seem like it today, the famous Castle of Good Hope actually had a sea view back in the day with the entrance right at the water’s edge. However, land reclamation has slowly but surely caused the coastline to move west.
  9. The Lion’s Head is an iconic mountain in Cape Town, but it has nothing to do with big cats at all. In fact, the last lion in the area was shot in 1802. One story suggests that Dutch settlers called the peak Leeuwen Kop or Lion’s Head and the adjoining summit Leeuwen Staart or Lion’s Tail because the two along with the space in between seemed to resemble a crouching lion. What do you think?
  10. The world’s first ever heart transplant by Dr. Christiaan Barnard took place at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town in 1967. The original theater where the surgery took place is now a museum, aptly named The Heart of Cape Town.
  11. The Mother City Queer Project is the ultimate LGBTI carnival in all of Africa and it takes place every year in December!
  12. Many people visit to Cape Town to see the “Big Five” namely elephants, buffalos, rhinos, lions, and leopards. But, did you know that there’s also a “Little Five” list that includes the ant lion, elephant shrew, leopard tortoise, rhinoceros beetle, and buffalo weaver?
  13. You can go whale watching between August and September in False Bay. You can also check out the only penguin species in Africa, called the Jackass penguins at Boulders Beach. Happy Feet, anyone?

14 Facts You Didn’t Know About Barcelona

From world-renowned Gothic and Modern architecture to some of the best beaches, lip-smacking food and wine, amazing year-round weather, and an easy, breezy Mediterranean vibe, Barcelona has it all. Before you visit this cosmopolitan city, check out these fun facts.

  1. Barcelona may be famous for its beaches today but did you know that five of its beaches didn’t even exist before the 1992 Summer Olympics? The coast was actually covered by factories which were relocated for the event. Sand was brought in to create the attractive beaches that you can enjoy today.
  2. There are two different stories about the origin of Barcelona. One says that it was founded by Hercules almost 400 years before Rome came into existence. Another claims that it was Carthaginian general, Hamilcar Barca, who founded the city in the 3rd century BC and named it Barcino after his family.
  3. Antoni Gaudi’s most famous work and the most iconic landmark in the city, the La Sagrada Família is still incomplete after 135 years! The expected year of completion is 2026. To put that into perspective, the Taj Mahal took about 20 years to be built as did the Pyramids of Giza. That’s some slow-moving construction.
  4. The most crowded pedestrian street in Spain can be found in Barcelona. Portal de l’Àngel is known for its amazing (and expensive) shopping and sees over 150,000 people daily. That’s more than the population of the Cayman Islands!
  5. Barcelona’s architecture is extraordinary and that’s why it’s the only city in the world that has been awarded the Royal Gold medal for architecture by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
  6. Barcelona has more than 700 cannabis clubs making Spain the “Holland of the South”. Unfortunately, these are only open to Spanish residents and require an exclusive membership.
  7. The honor of being the largest football stadium in Europe and the second largest in the world goes to FC Barcelona club’s home stadium, Camp Nou. It covers about 55,000 square metres and can accommodate 99,354 people. Viva la football!
  8. Flamenco may be the most popular dance form in Spain, but the people of Barcelona prefer the Sardana which is a native Catalan dance.
  9. Barcelona’s Parc de Collserola is the largest metropolitan park in the world! In case you’re wondering, it’s 22 times larger than Central Park in New York with an area of 65 km².
  10. With more than 20 Michelin-starred restaurants, there’s no dearth of options when it comes to food in Barcelona.
  11. There are 9 UNESCO protected monuments in Barcelona, seven of which are the works of Antoni Gaudi (of course). These include the Palau Güell, Park Güell, Casa Vicens, Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, the Crypt of the Church at Colonia Guell and the La Sagrada Família. The other two, Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, are works of Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
  12. Thinking about driving in Barcelona? Think again. According to some sources, Barcelona has the world’s worst drivers, with an accident occurring every 19 seconds. You’re better off walking everywhere.
  13. Barcelona has its own version of Valentine’s Day called “Diada de Sant Jordi” or “Saint George’s Day” celebrated on April 23rd. Men give their special ladies a rose and get a book in return. Romance isn’t dead after all!
  14. The Eiffel Tower could have been in Barcelona but Gustave Eiffel’s project was rejected by Spain because they thought it was much too radical for Barcelona. Spain’s loss became France’s gain!

 

11 Facts You Didn’t Know About Moscow

Opulent, breathtaking, and extravagant, Russia’s capital city Moscow will fill every visitor with awe and wonder. With a rich history, world-famous structures, a splendid theatre scene, exceptional museums and galleries, Moscow is one of those cities that will leave a mark in your mind forever. Before you visit, check out these facts about Moscow that you ought to know.

  1. With an area of 2,511 square km and a population of 12 million people (as many as Norway and Switzerland combined), Moscow is so huge that it can actually be a country on its own!
  2. No visit to Moscow is complete without a stroll around the Red Square. The name doesn’t stand for the color red but for “beautiful” as the Russian word Красная (Krasnaia) was used for both. There’s no doubt that it is indeed a beautiful square!
  3. If you’ve ever played the vintage version of Tetris, you may remember the image of a beautiful structure at the beginning. This is actually St. Basil’s Cathedral. The creator Alexey Pajitnov put the image there in 1984 as a symbol of his patriotism and pride.
  4. In need of good luck? Just rub the nose of the bronze dog at the Revoliutsi Ploschad metro station. This is one cute tradition you cannot miss!
  5. The Moscow metro is a huge tourist attraction and rightfully so. Considered the world’s most beautiful underground, 44 of the 200 stations are actually listed as cultural heritage sights. Add to that the fact that they hold the world record for on-time departures and arrivals despite being one of the busiest subways in the world, and you’ve got a winner.
  6. The largest number of billionaires in the world can be found in Moscow. According to Forbes, there are 84 billionaires who reside here and their combined wealth adds up to $367 billion!
  7. There are seven identical buildings in Moscow called the “Seven Sisters” or “Stalin’s Skyscrapers”. These include Hotel Ukraina, Leningradskaya Hotel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Moscow State University, Red Gates Administrative Building, Kotelnicheskaya Embankment Building, and the Kudrinskaya Square Building.
  8. The Lenin Library or the Russian State Library is the largest in the country and the fourth largest in the world! It has 43 million objects and its catalog includes rare books, newspapers, maps, dissertations, as well as sheet music.
  9. The Kremlin is the largest fortress still in use in all of Europe and it has the world’s biggest bell and cannon. It’s interesting to note that until the late 19th century, the Kremlin’s walls were white instead of the red that they are today.
  10. During winter, the pavements below the gutters in Moscow are cordoned off because of the huge hanging icicles that form from the cold. These icicles are dangerous, and could kill you if they fell on you!
  11. With the increasing population comes increasing traffic, and sometimes it gets so bad that rich locals hire fake ambulances to beat the traffic. We guess that’s one way to use your money.

13 Facts You Didn’t Know About Hong Kong

The amazing metropolis of Hong Kong is vibrant, infectious and energetic. You can find everything here…remarkable shopping, efficient public transport, plenty of green spaces, delicious food, a happening bar scene and gleaming skyscrapers! Check out these facts that will make you want to travel there right away.

  1. The name “Hong Kong” translates to “Fragrant Harbour”. This comes from its history as a city that produced incense.
  2. It may seem surprising, but Hong Kong actually has the most skyscrapers in the world, almost twice as many as New York City!
  3. Looking to get something tailor-made? Why not try Sam’s Tailor in Hong Kong? Hey, if they’re good enough for George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, and Michael Jackson, they’re good enough for us.
  4. On a strict budget? Why not try the local fast food noodle shops called Dai Pai Dong where you can get a bowl of noodles and some tea for about HK$20? Sounds like a deal!
  5. The Tsing Ma Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world with both rail and road traffic. With a span of 1377 metres, it’s about 100m longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
  6. Apartment buildings here don’t have a fourth floor as the word “four” sounds like the word “death” in Chinese and is therefore considered bad luck. The number 8, on the other hand, is considered good luck!
  7. Feng Shui is a big deal in Hong Kong. In fact, you will see two rods on the rooftop of Central’s HSBC building which were added to divert bad energy. Also, they face the Bank of China building which has sharp edges that are supposed to bring in good energy.
  8. You must try delicious egg tarts and pineapple buns while you’re in Hong Kong. Fun fact: The pineapple buns don’t actually contain the fruit but are named so because of their pineapple-like crust.
  9. Visiting Hong Kong? Why not try their home airline, Cathay Pacific which has won the title of the “World’s Best Airline” four times. That’s more than any other airline in the world!
  10. Speaking of airlines, Hong Kong’s International Airport is as big as 20 soccer fields!
  11. It costs a whopping HK $7.66 million to get a license to operate a taxi in Hong Kong.
  12. If it tickles your fancy, you can get married at a McDonald’s in Hong Kong. For $2000 USD you can get a wedding dress, balloon rings, and of course plenty of burgers. How romantic!
  13. Between April and May every year, the people of Cheung Chau Island used to build a literal tower of buns to keep the hungry ghosts that live there happy. Lately though, they’ve started to use plastic instead of the real deal. Hopefully, the ghosts aren’t too picky.