Alex and I had been talking about taking a trip for Memorial Day for awhile, and had actually been hoping to use up our free airtran ticket vouchers to go somewhere awesome and tropical. However, after learning about the annoying-ness of blackout dates, we found out that wasn’t going to happen. Still wanting to go somewhere however, and wanting to make good use of our current location in NY, we decided to head north and make a long weekend roadtrip to Montreal.
Ever since moving here I’ve heard people gush on and on about how awesome Montreal is, so I was super excited to go. We weren’t disappointed. I still can’t believe how much we both loved it, and were thoroughly convinced we could live there someday. NYC is can be so crazy, but Montreal was just so incredibly pleasant. I can’t describe it any better then that. The houses were bright and cute, there was tons of biking, the parks were awesome, and the food was terrific. And, it’s all in French! Despite the fact that it rained practically the whole trip, we had a fantastic time and will surely be back soon!
Alex and I took off early Friday morning and met surprisingly little traffic as we made our way out of the city. The drive itself wasn’t bad at all, about 7 hours I think with a stop for lunch, about equal to driving down to Chi-town from mpls, but WAY better scenery! We drove through the Adirondacks, and they were stunning! Everytime I head upstate, I can’t get over how beautiful this state of NY is, and how very different the rest of it is from the blip on the map that is Manhattan.
We crossed the border without incident, though did think we missed our exit but soon enough righted ourselves and enjoyed the drive into Montreal. The only problem was now it had started to rain, which it did then continue doing for nearly the entire weekend. LAME.
We found our B&B, Le Rayon Vert, and then circled back around the block to find a parking spot. I had been a little worried about parking, but it turned out to be not a problem at all. The owner of the B&B also offered to move her car so we could have a spot right in front, but we ended up just leaving it where it was about 2 blocks away, no worries at all.
The B&B is on the ground floor.
Le Rayon Vert is in the Plateau Mont Royal neighborhood which was SUCH a great place for us to stay. Close to the beautiful parks, restaurants and shops, but on a quiet street so there wasn’t a raging scene under our window at night. It was also beautiful, the breakfasts delicious, and the owner incredibly helpful. If you’re looking for a place to stay in Montreal, I would for sure recommend this place! (And it’s cheap!!)
Cool light fixture with beautiful molding to the ceiling.
When we got there the first late afternoon we relaxed for a bit and then just went out to explore. It was unfortunately drizzly, but we luckily packed umbrellas, so were ok for the most part. Though I think Alex was a bit cold as he didn’t even have anything long sleeve. We mainly wandered into shops on one of the main streets and then found a nice little asian fusion/thai place to grab some dinner. (Food was definitely a little more pricey then I was expecting! Even coming from NYC.)
The next day again was pretty grey, but we set out on a mission to find Alex a new coat (he’d been on the market for a rain jacket anyhow) and bought me a bigger nicer umbrella then the puny one I’d had before. We also decided that this much rain clearly called for us to enjoy the culinary awesome-ness that is Montreal. We would walk and shop a few blocks and then duck into a café for a snack.
The first stop of the day, Swartz’s Deli. Oh my gosh, you guys. This was THE. BEST. SANDWICH. EVER. Seriously, I can not begin to describe the amazingness. If you are in Montreal, go here and eat one. And a pickle too for good measure. YUM.
I love the rooftops!
After another a few blocks, we had clearly walked off our sandwich (I mean we did just split one since it was like 10:30 or 11 in the morning and all) we popped into another little café for some sweets. Also, very delicious.
From there the rain let up a small amount and we decided we would try and walk around Old Montreal a bit and see what we could find.
Old Montreal was so great, cobble stone streets, old Europe feel, and lots of fun art galleries, kind of like soho in NYC, but less crazy.
After we had our fill of old town it was time for the event of the day. Alex really wanted to find a spot to watch the final game of the champions league (soccer) so off we went to find a suitable establishment. After looking into a few places, we settled on an irish pub like place and manage to squeeze ourselves into the very last table in back. While watching the game we perused the menu and found out this place had poutine! The dish I’ve been told I MUST try while in montreal.
Although this poutine wasn’t traditional in that it was drenched in a curry sauce instead of the traditional gravy, it was nonetheless awesome. (I think I may have liked it more because of this, as it made it a little less heavy)
After the poutine and the soccer, we went back to our b&b for a nap and then got ready for dinner. One of the many great things about Montreal is the abundance of byob restaurants, and we made sure to take advantage on at least one evening we went out. The first night for dinner, the rain had let up, so we strolled up an down Duluth Street, a lovely pedestrian street filled with all sorts of restaurants. We finally settled upon a French place that served some the best food I’ve had in a very long time. We had amazing steak tartare, a beautiful salad, and fish to die for. Delicious. Pricey, but with our own wine, much more reasonable.
Day #2 started off overcast, but at least not raining, so we decided to try out the bixi bikes that are seen all over Montreal. Basically, bixi bikes are short term bike rentals that allow you to get pretty much anywhere in the city. So much fun!
We road them up to the huge farmers market in little Italy and it was a great little bike ride! The farmers market had tons of stuff, and lots of venders selling prepared foods as well, so we made sure to get a snack as well.
Unfortunately, after walking around for just a bit, it started to rain again, so we were stuck just hanging out under the tent. Boo. Alex decided he still wanted to ride in the rain so took off back for the B&B while I decided to hop on the subway instead. Which was better as I could then carry all the fun stuff we bought at the market.
Later that day it did finally start to clear up and we were able to go for a run and enjoy the greenery in the park at Mont Royal and go for another evening stroll before dinner.
I love these houses!
One of the other things I noticed while in Montreal was the abundance of crazy street art. Check some of these out!
Sunday evening we headed out to Pinxto, a Basque (Spanish) tapas bar. We ended up getting the tasting menu, so got four tapas each and then an entrée for dinner. The tapas were gorgeous, seriously works of art, and tasted delicious. We didn’t have a reservation, so sat at the bar, but this was still an awesome place for dinner. Afterwards we walked around and picked up an ice cream cone and enjoyed the neighborhoods a bit more.
On Monday, the day we leave of course, was sunny and beautiful! I was SO sad we had to leave as it would have been wonderful to explore the waterfront, or have a picnic or do anything outside without getting rained on. We settled for heading up to top of Mont Royal park to enjoy the view from the Chateau and spend a bit of time being barefoot in the grass before heading back to the freeway.
Olympic park in the distance
Alex played a bit of guitar.
A quick bite before we left.
The gas station on the way home... I just had to take a photo. :-)
I mean really?
We will be back Montreal!