How to get to Europe without leaving America: a guide to interesting places in the USA and Canada
Usually the last month of spring is a time to think about vacations, make carefree plans for the summer, prepare for school and student holidays, and do other equally pleasant chores. However, for many Americans, including primarily immigrants from the post-Soviet space, the war interfered with these plans.
Some of those who dreamed of going to Europe are now afraid to go there due to the proximity of hostilities and prefer, at a minimum, not to leave the continent. Some Russians who do not yet have US citizenship and usually travel on a Russian passport face difficulties in obtaining European visas. In the diaspora, stories of humiliating interrogations and numerous checks of Russians at European airports are increasingly circulating, regardless of how long the person has lived in the United States and what their views are. Especially for those who dreamed of getting in touch with European history, culture and architecture, but do not yet see the opportunity to go on a long journey, we have prepared a selection of the most "European" places in North America.
Montreal: between America, Britain and France
The largest city of the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec still cannot be called a full-fledged France - firstly, because its historical heritage equally includes English roots, and secondly, because, like any other Canadian city, it does not escaped American influence. Some quarters of Montreal with their skyscrapers are painfully reminiscent of New York - or Canadian Toronto. However, the heart of the old city looks like real Europe.
Of course, in old (and even not very old) US cities, it is not difficult to find neighborhoods that are very reminiscent of European streets. However, unlike Montreal, they lack monumentality. Old Montreal, on the other hand, resembles European capitals in its grandeur and scope - however, it is rather difficult to say which ones.
The city was founded in 1642 by order of the "Society of Our Lady of Montreal", and already in 1663, after the bankruptcy of the Society, control of Montreal passed to the French king. The first streets that have survived to this day were Saint-Paul, Notre-Dame and Saint-Jacques. In 1763, the city went to the British, which over time also began to affect its external appearance.
By the way, some contradictions between French and British culture are reflected in the appearance of Montreal today - with the self-irony characteristic of its inhabitants. This irony is manifested, for example, in the sculptural pair "French Poodle and English Pug", located on the Place d'Armes. On one side of the square, a haughty French woman, clutching a poodle to her chest, casts a contemptuous glance towards the head office of the Bank of Montreal, built in 1845-1847 "under the British." With all its appearance, the sculpture demonstrates contempt for English money.
In another corner, an Englishman with a pug on his arm casts an equally arrogant glance towards the Notre Dame Basilica, a symbol of French culture. By the way, Notre Dame itself is definitely worth a look. It is not a bit like its Parisian namesake, but no less beautiful for that. The amazing blue-gold glow of the church, crowned with a blue vault with golden stars, and the patterned carving of the ornaments create a truly magical feeling.
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Also in Montreal, it is advisable to visit the Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours chapel, where the museum is located Marguerite Bourgeois - founders of many schools, educator and patroness of the poor and orphans. It was she who founded the chapel, which is located on the territory of the museum - by the way, the oldest chapel in Montreal, which has served as a special place of pilgrimage for decades. From its tower you have a beautiful bird's eye view of Old Montreal and the St. Lawrence River.
However, there is no need to list all the sights of old Montreal - guidebooks do an excellent job with this task. Of course, it is worth visiting the Town Hall - the very one from the balcony of which in 1967 the frivolous Sharl De Goll proclaimed "Long live free Quebec!”, provoking serious unrest in the city. It is worth seeing the Champ de Mars, the port area, Jacques Cartier Square and many other equally wonderful places.
But the main thing that Montreal gives is a strange feeling of a special, “other France”, Europe with an American flavor. The main language in Montreal is French, but the locals will easily switch with you to English, the second official language of the country. It was in these streets that shots of both old Paris or London and old New York were filmed, and the locals proudly call themselves not just Canadians, but Quebecers. In short, Canada can be your perfect cultural bridge between the United States and Western Europe.
If for some reason you do not want or cannot leave the United States, and still want to at least partially plunge into the atmosphere of Europe, the most “French” state of America is, of course, Louisiana. This is not just the birthplace of jazz and vibrant festivals, but also a former colony of France (since 1682). Only in 1803 Napoleon Bonaparte sold the Louisiana lands to the Americans for $15 million. In order to get in touch with history, it is worth visiting the French Quarter in New Orleans. Of course, this is also a kind of fantasy-imitation on the theme of real France, but this fantasy has its own unforgettable spirit.
Another very "European" city in the United States is the small town of Princeton in New Jersey: a city of scientists, intellectuals and theatergoers with fascinating architecture and a rich cultural life. It is in it that the famous Princeton University, which belongs to the Ivy League, is located. But the spirit of old America is best felt in the neighboring towns - Newtown and Pennsylvania Doylestown.
The history of the American Civil War is especially vividly felt in the states of "deep" America - such as Kansas or Missouri. By the way, the past here still permeates local life, literally intertwining with the present. Local residents still remember where the most epic battles took place, and where the enemy troops moved from. Moreover, often they know that distant history much better than what is happening in the world today. The inhabitants of Missouri still remember that from the direction of today's Kansas City they were attacked by the troops of the northerners - and therefore they do not like the people of Kansas too much. Such immersion in the past is surprising, but at the same time helps to better understand American history. By the way, the city of New Market in Virginia is also famous for one of the most important battles of the Civil War.
Once, residents of the village of Leavenworth in the state of Washington, seeing the decline of their native town, at a general meeting decided to remake an ordinary American village ... into a German one! The Americans invited architects and overhauled their houses in the classical Bavarian style. People tried to recreate not only architecture and decor, but also folk traditions, holidays and rituals, as well as German cuisine.
The result exceeded all expectations - a small village in the mountains has become a favorite place for tourists. Its gingerbread houses are indeed reminiscent of Grimm's fairy tales, and a live band often plays on the main street. Local residents like to go out onto the balconies and clap to the beat of the music, or even just go down to the square and start dancing. But the “German Village” is especially popular around Christmas, because due to the fact that it is located in the mountains, there is no shortage of snow in the winter months. Decorated with New Year's garlands, Leavenworth really becomes a Christmas fairy tale come to life. And, although everyone around understands the “fake” nature of the village, this does not negate its charm.
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However, in the famous Las Vegas you can see much brighter and larger-scale "fakes". Many hotels in the central part of the city are stylized as different cities and countries: Rome, Paris, New York, Venice, Egypt and others. By the way, in "Venice" you can even ride real gondolas along almost real canals flowing through the second floor of the hotel. In a word, if you wish, in North America you can feel, if not the European spirit in its purest form, but at least the alluring taste of its history and culture.
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