MONTREAL

MONTREAL: May 2017

Disgusted with the food trail I left yesterday?  Hope not, because now I spill the beans on my three day Memorial Day weekend, eating my way through Montreal, and walking off the calories exploring a new town.  No shopping, because why would I attempt to try on clothes after binging?!!  But my secret to the battle of the bulge was hikingMont Royal daily.  Guilt made me do it!  But also worth the amazing view from the top.



Montreal - An ethnically diverse, young city, with Old Montreal to the right...the tourist trap!  The cool kids from Griffin town, Plateau & St Henri neighborhoods avoid Old Montreal, because it's like why would I want to hang out in Times Square in NYC?  But if it's your first time to Montreal you must explore Old Montreal.  It's charming; not like Times Square!  Beautiful landmark architecture, cobblestone streets, and outdoor cafes set along the water, makes you feel like your in Paris.  Just the Montrealer locals are a lot friendlier and more welcoming then Parisians!  Oui, Oui…and yeah it would help to brush up on your French before you visit too!  That is the city's mother tongue.  Although I didn't meet anyone who could not speak English.  But I tried not to be the American brat off the bat and embraced their language and culture with the basic Bonjour and Merci.  That's pretty much all I know in French!  HA.

SEE + DO

MONT ROYAL:
The highest point in Montreal, where you can hike, bike, and picnic in a 200 hectare park.  The city views are worth it any time of day, and the plus to staying after dark is to see the holy cross lit.



NOTRE DAME BASILICA:
The grandest cathedral I've ever seen!  Super ornate mouth dropping details.  Catch the Aura multimedia light show.  It was sold out, so I didn't have a chance to see it, but it looks spectacular.  Buy tickets in advance!



NOTRE DAME DE BON SECOURS:
A chapel, intimate in size, but heavy on the details.  Loved the architecture, stained glass, statues, and the opportunity to climb up to the bell tower.



PALAIS DES CONGRES:
It's a convention center, so unless your there for a convention there isn't much to do in there.  However, it is the coolest convention center I've ever seen!  Look at their windows!



PLAGE DE L'HORLOGE:
It's the old port, where the clock tower is, with a beach over looking the Jacques Cartier Bridge.  Perfect in summer, and to watch the fireworks.



EAT

AU PIED DE COCHON:
This you MUST reserve a table for weeks in advance before you arrive.  It was my best meal in Montreal.  Anthony Bourdain recommended, friends backed it up, and I too confirm it's a win!  Everything is delicious.  But you must try the duck in a can.  Sounds weird, and is, but duck, foie gras, and veggies are boiled in a can and then opened at the table and plopped on your plate.  Mouth watering.  Brings new meaning to canned food!



BEAVER TAIL:
You'll find it at the plentiful ice cream shops around Old Montreal.  Essentially it is fried dough.  Another Montreal thing, but I wouldn't consider it a 'specialty', nor something I would be on the hunt for again.  Save your calories for other dessert!



PHO BAC 97:
If your craving Asian food Montreal's Chinatown is authentic.  I heard the Chinese food is excellent.  But also the Vietnamese food is top.  Makes sense with the French - Vietnamese relation through history.  This hole in the walls bowl of Pho noodle soup was the perfect accompaniment to a rainy day. Cheap too!



FAIRMOUNT BAGELS:
Montreal is famous for their bagels.  There was a line out the door.  Served warm right out of a wood fire oven, and you'll probably want to bring a few home too.  That good!



L' AVENUE:
A local hang in St Henri, which is very popular for brunch.  Good vibes, and huge portions.  Eggs Benedict were delish, and what I ordered thinking was 'crepes' on the menu turns out to be pancakes in Montreal!  Not thin crepes like what I know in America.  But still good.  When there please do a potty break. They've got the coolest LED graffiti bathroom ever!



MOISHES:
Calling all carnivores. Steak, Steak, Steak!  It's like the Peter Luger of Montreal.



POUTINE:
If your a fries kinda guy, then you need to try.  You will find this French - Canadian classic served at most restaurants in different variations.  The basic is fries with a homemade sauce topped with cheese curds.  Basically loaded fries!



SCHWARTZ:
Famous for their smoked meat sandwich.  Brisket.  When they start serving hot meat at 10:30am there was already a small line.  Stood in line longer then it took to eat!  But it was worth it.



CHILL

BOTA BOTA:
The ultimate place to chill!  A 40, 000 square foot escape, on a docked ferry with 678 portholes, and  many ways to wind down, and get pampered.



SLEEP:

HOTEL WILLIAM GRAY:
A new boutique hotel with a great location near the old port in Old Montreal.  Walking distance to most tourist attractions.  Rooms are decent size, service is good, and they have a very popular rooftop terrace, overlooking the water, serving food and drinks.

website



LEQUBE APARTMENTS:
For a more local experience I recommend you stay in these modern affordable apartments.  It is located in the heart of the Plateau, near Mont Royal, with plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes near by.  Also their rooftop with a jacuzzi, and views of Montreal make it a great place to catch the sunset.

website



TIPS:

If your not comfortable taking the Metro (subway) have an Uber app handy to book a taxi.  Cabs are not readily available on the streets, unlike New York.  They're around, but it sometimes took up to 10 minutes to wait for an Uber taxi.  Better then not having a ride at all!



The great summer weather for the first two days really made my trip enjoyable.  But the last day it dropped twenty degrees overnight and it made me question if I would enjoy Montreal as much in winter.  Probably not!  HA.  It would be a struggle exploring the city by foot in frigid temps, and I definitely wouldn't be hiking Mont Royal daily in winter either.  For the most part Montreal is a walkable city, and bike friendly, especially in Old Montreal where you would miss a lot of the character if you tried to drive it.  So visit in Summer, late Spring, or I imagine early Fall would be beautiful too with the changing of the leaves.  Well, I had perfect timing…merci Montreal, it was nice to finally meet you!

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