So instead of just doing a post about what I've been up to for the last few months, I wanted to slightly alter the layout of this and focus on what I did before I left Montreal. As most of you know, I've now moved out of Montreal and am on my way to Vancouver (on Friday! AH!). But this doesn't mean that I don't seriously love and miss Montreal already, because I do. It's a great city full of amazing places and people (esp people) that I will be missing all the time! So I'd like to share with you a few of my favourite things to do and places to go in Montreal.
On the infamous moving weekend in Montreal (July 1st each year the city is mayhem with movers) I decided to walk up to the lookout on Mont Royal (the mountain) with some friends to watch the sunrise and drink champagne in paper cups. It was the most beautiful morning with soft warm light from the sun as s slowly rose over the city and I couldn't have asked for a better way to say goodbye than that. I may have been extremely tired while attempting to pack my life away, but it was worth it. I seriously recommend this to Montrealers who have a sunday morning to spare.
I spent a lot of time in my last month or two in Montreal preparing for my new summer job - full time freelance! Had to finish up work for current clients, as well as complete my last few weeks working my then full time job as Assistant Merchandiser and Graphic Designer at TÉLIO and start preparing for the new clients and jobs I was receiving.
I probably spent the most amount of free time biking around the Lachine Canal and to the West Island in order to train for the Ride to Conquer Cancer that I participated in with my colleagues in July! It was a 235km bike ride from Montreal to Quebec City and as a non-biker with a 15 year old mountain bike, I had some preparation I needed to do.
These are a few of my favourite things...
There is so much to see in Montreal and the best way to see it is on foot. With a downtown core that is relatively compact, you can see a lot in a 1 hour walk. Whether it's to the Atwater Market to get fresh flower arrangements for $5 or 3 different delicious cheeses for $12, up the mountain to the look out or beaver lake for a picnic, around the plateau for brunch followed by coffee in a hipster cafe or along the canal to the Old Port to see some beautiful architecture and chill by the water.
2. Eat and Drink
Now I don't have a beautiful magazine worthy photo of everyplace that I like to eat or drink in in Montreal but I will list some of my favourites here for you- if you ever take a trip, consider going to some of these places! I tried to go to many of them again before leaving but I wasn't able to cross them all off my list!
-Ice House: yummy fusion tacos, bourbon ice tea and lemonade, amazing nacos and fried chicken that you eat off a brown paper covered table.
-SuWu: right at the corner of St Laurent and Prince Arthur, Suwu has amazing brunch and dinner foods that will make you question your choices once you see what everyone else around you orders because you'll want it all. The grilled cheese mac and cheese (it's exactly what you think it is) is one of the best, most cheesiest things I've had in a long time.
-Kazu: Japanese fusion food in a tiny 5 table restaurant that you WILL have to wait in line for outside, so be prepared if it's winter, but it's worth it. 48 hour pork and a shrimp burger with sauce that's to die for.
-Cacao 70: Dessert and chocolate forever on everything. Go here to treat your sweet tooth for any meal of the day but be prepared for that meal to be accompanied by chocolate in some way. When is that ever a problem?
-Picks: a tiny family run burger joint that has specialty toppings like a deep-fried onion ring and kimchi, it's a delicious burger and one that I find myself craving often. A great price for take out too!
-Velo Burrito: this is a delivery burrito service by bicycle so not so much for visitors as it is for the residents of Montreal. They post specials on their facebook page weekly along with their standard menu and when you get a burrito it is a giant burrito the size of a football so be prepared to eat!
I don't drink at too many different places, my friends and I are people of habit and when we find places we like, we pretty much go there all the time. Here are a few favs of mine.
-Big in Japan Bar: Here they have strong delicious cocktails and you can buy a bottle of whiskey, write your name on it and come back for it later, stored along the ceiling as you see above (that's not something I'm likely to ever do but the idea is nice). The atmosphere is lovely and the crooner music is a nice change from other bars in town. My advice- sit at the bar at the back. It might not look as fancy or cool but there may be other perks.
-Dominion Square Tavern: Another bar in the same price category as Big in Japan Bar, Dominion has a copper topped bar with high shelves lining the walls with bottles and an old school shelf ladder thing (like the one in the beauty and the beast library- I mean, where else do they really exist?) Great place for a drink or two to catch up with a old friend.
-Le Sainte-Elizabeth: This place is always packed on their outdoor patio and it's no wonder. Enclosed with high stone walls covered with green ivy it's a great change from a lot of back alley patios that we already know and love in the city.
-Grumpy's Bar: A go to place for friends of mine during their school years because it's downtown, the beer is cheap and the bartenders are great, so we stuck to it. For a cheap drink in a chill atmosphere with live music, it's a great bar.
Summer in Montreal is full of festivals and outdoor activities that outdo a lot of other cities that don't suffer as much in the winter time. When you're covered in snow for what feels like 7 months of the year, the people of Montreal celebrate in summer. Osheaga music festival is a favourite for many people across the country and when living in Montreal it's hard to resist - and why should you? I had to take advantage while I lived close by- so much fun on a hot summers day listening to as many of your favourites artists that you can squeeze into your schedule. This easily tops the summer favourites list for sure.
Along with Osheaga, Jazzfest, Montreal Fringe and Just for Laughs are also all summer festivals with so much to see, including a lot of free stuff through the Jazz festival (I always appreciate a free show). A few other awesome outdoor summer activities include Montreal Pride, Sundays at Tam Tams and relaxing by the secret pool which *tear* is closed down now! But constellation prize- there is a beach on Parc Jean Drapeau that's really fun as well.
Last but not least I highly recommend taking a few hours and going to the spa on a boat in the Old Port, Bota Bota. I've never done the water circuit before but boy was it relaxing and worth every penny! The view of the city is gorgeous and going in the evening was a great way to watch the sun set over the city.
That pretty much sums up what I feel like saying for now. I think everyone should go spend some time in Montreal. Especially if you're from Toronto and have never been, the city has a completely different vibe and it's so affordable and easy to travel to it's worth it to experience a totally different city life from the one you are used to. I'll be back for visits soon I hope!