Crossed another one off the list this year…Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Home of some really great eats and so much art.
Canada has been on the bucket list for a while now, it was just a toss-up between Toronto and Montreal. A few recurrent visitors spoke so highly of it, I was sold on Montreal. I have a love for architecture and historic cathedrals and this place definitely has some gems.
Upon arrival I was immediately slapped with the language. We all know Americans love their English, myself included, and I was totally mistaken in thinking French was more of a second language here. Only after meeting up with a former American turned Canadian, was I informed that there are actually laws in place to keep the French culture dominant in Montreal. Don’t get me wrong, you can freely speak English, but be prepared to ask natives to repeat a few times before they catch on to your bilingual disabilities.
For those of you that read my previous blog posts you know that I geek out for street art quite a bit (check out my Instagram
if you haven’t).
Street art is such a norm over there it’s something you’ll notice even when traveling to or from Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport. Everything is tagged up and there are tons of murals to find all over the city. It almost becomes a scavenger hunt trying to find them all. You can find blogs
featuring the locations of certain artists’ work. Many of which can be found near Mile End.
Place de Artes is another borough in Montreal where you’ll find many art museums and exhibits, most of them free (my favorite word). Montreal’s art scene is pretty dope with festivals devoted to fashion, food, and street art. Most of these are during the summer months, so definitely do some research ahead of time so you don’t miss out. For example MURAL Festival 2017 is on the way.
Traveling around this city is absolutely the easiest I’ve ever experienced.
The metro system layout is super simple, with buses that run every 10 minutes, and signs conveniently placed everywhere, you would almost have to make it a goal to get lost. I was a pro by day two of my stay.
What I loved most about Montreal is that boutiques and privately owned eateries run the city. There are some chains like A&W and TCBY with malls here and there, but the experience you get in a small café or bagel shop is always special. I also noticed popular spots were typically understaffed compared to back home. You’ll have one person taking your order, cooking it, and serving you. This kinda tells me we may just have a problem with patience in the states.
No complaints on the food though, I was more than satisfied every time. With me being a vegetarian there were many places that catered to the diet and even those that modified their infamous Poutine to satisfy vegans. For those who are unfamiliar with this native fav, it’s french fries or tater tots covered in gravy and topped with cheese curds. This stuff is delicious by the way, I had it TWICE at L’Grox Luxe.
If the hipster scene isn’t you and you like to explore, Old Montreal is where you want to be. I’m still in awe of how stunning Notre-Dame Basilica is. I lost count of how many “wows” I heard from everyone that entered. No matter how many photos I took, they just couldn’t capture its beauty. This church dates back to 1830 and doesn’t look like too much on the outside, but I can guarantee you’ll be blown away once you walk in. The detail and structure are amazing. It’s also a nice walk down Rue Saint Paul and Rue Notre Dame with similar architecture.
You also wouldn’t be a tourist if you didn’t check out Mont Royal, which I also learned is the direct translation of Montreal. Make sure you’ve had a proper breakfast and bring plenty of water before attempting to make it to the top because you’re going to need it. I was improperly informed of how to get to the top of Mont Royal via the wonderful internet. If you plan on getting off at Mont Royal on the metro you’ll want to take a bus to get to the starting point or if you’re brave, like me, and decide to go on foot, you’ll walk through most of McGill University. Once you make it to the top not only will you feel slightly exhausted and accomplished, but the site overlooking the city is really one you shouldn’t miss out on. Great to catch that iconic trip pic for social media.
Overall I would definitely recommend Montreal if you’re one for the arts. I was able to cover a lot in a 4 day time span. I would also suggest going in the summer or during warmer weather months starting in May. It also wouldn’t hurt to pick up some Français or at least cheat it out and download Google translate.
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