Montreal was a perfect mix of Brooklyn, NY; San Francisco, CA and Paris, France. We had planned to visit a museum or two and walk the streets, but that plan was quickly dashed after we discovered the exploding street art scene. Art in general was a main staple in Montreal and it made for a fun and beautiful experience.
We stayed at the Hotel Abri du Voyageur located next to Chinatown. This area was easy walking distance to downtown and old Montreal. Our room was comfortable with 2 shared bathrooms just outside our door. The bathrooms were very clean, and we had no issues with waiting or noise. Don’t let the next door sex shop’s display window scare you. The hotel really was a great value and very safe. Parking was located in the back of the building and this was where I met a gentlemen from Istanbul. He worked at the parking space and gave us some fun recommendations of where to visit around the city. Maynard tested out his tea-sugar-dream (phonetic pronunciation of thank you in Turkish), and we shared some stories of when we visited his hometown, Istanbul. Because of our friendliness he made sure to tell us how to get the best parking rate for the next day. Who says chatting with the locals doesn’t pay off?
My favorite meal was at Schwartz Deli located at 3895 Boulevard Saint-Laurent, Rue Napoléon, Montreal. This place is a local icon serving the best smoked meat sandwiches for the past 80 years. There are 2 different doors to Schwartz – one to the “to go” deli and one to the restaurant. The line for the restaurant was ludicrous, so we opted to get our sandwiches from the deli and happily ate across the street on a bench. We both got the famous smoked meat sandwich with pickles on the side. The sandwiches are loaded with meat and a bit of mustard. I am not a mustard fan, but I found the sandwich to be deelish! Eating across the street proved to be a great decision, not only did we get to see a local protest, we met four hilarious guys from Toronto. The conversation started with all of us trying to figure out the basis for the protest and quickly turned to politics. We chatted with them about which country had the craziest political representatives – Rob Ford, Jesse Ventura, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Marion Barry were all mentioned. We all agreed there was no clear “winner” in the group.
By the way, if you aren’t into sandwiches there are numerous food and shopping options on Boulevard Saint-Laurent. I wish we had more time to discover this area. It was trendy, fun and full of amazing street art. This was where my Brooklyn, NY and San Francisco, CA crossing came into place.
Old Montréal (Vieux-Montréal) is a historic area full of life. This once walled in section of the city houses numerous shops, restaurants and the famous Notre Dame cathedral. Parc Lineaire de la Commune is a riverfront park that runs parallel to the Saint Laurent River and the old city. It is a bit shy on river views, but it’s a pretty stroll full of physical activity. Vieux-Montréal stretches from Bleury St. to Saint-Denis St..
We visited Mon café, a coffee shop with character, for breakfast and had a delicious plate of eggs benedicts each. As usual, it took us a second to remember how we wanted our coffee. Glinda is use to just ordering coffee or tea, so when she has to order outside of the US she forgets what it is she wants.
Maynard’s Guide to Coffee Drinks:
- Americano – 1/3 Espresso, 2/3 Hot Water
- Café Macchiato – 1x shot Espresso, Dollop of Milk Foam
- Cappuccino – 2x shot Espresso, ¼ Steam Milk, ¼ Milk Foam
- Espresso – 1x shot
- Latte – 1x shot Espresso, 3/5 Steamed Milk, 1/5 Milk Foam
- Café au Lait – 1 part Coffee via French Press, 1 part Steamed Milk
- Café Mocha – ¼ Espresso, ¼ Chocolate Syrup, ¼ Steamed Milk, ¼ Whipped Cream
- Vienna Coffee – 2x Espresso, Big Dollop of Whipped Cream
We concluded our time in Old Montréal with a visit to Notre Dame. The basilica has an intricately designed interior that is full of detail and a spectacular range of colors. We were both impressed with the inside of the church and there was much to see and take in. Don’t miss the Chapel of Notre-Dame du Sacré-Cœur in the rear of the church.It’s a stark contrast from the rest of the cathedral.
As Glinda had mentioned, the street art had my adrenaline pumping. I barely slept, and I got up early to reexamine our neighborhood in the daylight and was thrilled by the amount of street art around every corner. Little did I know how much we would actually find, and by the end of the day we had stumbled across a smorgasbord of murals and characters. If you would like to see a variety of the images we found check here.
Money: The Canadian Dollar and the US Dollar are relatively close to each other as far as the exchange rate goes, but you still need to be aware of foreign exchange fees. Also look out for fees on ATM withdraws and Debit and Credit Card purchases. Travel cards were created for this purpose alone, do a quick search and find a card that is right for you.
Logistics: Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is on the island of Montreal, but it’s a fair distance from the downtown area. You can bus into the city via the 747 Aeroport bus which lets you off at the central bus station (Gare d’autocars de Montréal – Berri-UQAM métro station). This trip will cost you $10 and 45-60 min depending on traffic, but does run 24/7. Taxis can be acquired for a flat rate of $40 to the downtown area.
Public Transit: Montreal has an integrated Bus and Metro system so if you need to navigate the city it will be no problem with this comprehensive structure.
Recommendable: YES! YES! YES! We can’t wait to go back and see even more of Montreal.
Have you been to Montreal? Tell Us about your favorite places in the City.