Montreal

Since it’s been so long since we went, this will just be a quick post on our trip to Montreal over Thanksgiving. Photos are on our Flickr page. We took an overnight bus on Wednesday, arriving in town early Thursday morning. We had to stop briefly in the wee hours of the morning at the Canadian border, but otherwise we slept pretty well. We were able to walk from the bus station to our hostel in Old Montreal. The streets were cold and quiet. The hostel, La Maison du Patriote, was a lovely little place. The owners have another hotel around the corner, so leave you to your own devices at the hostel. There were lots of chalk boards everywhere with instructions and guidance. But it was colorful and friendly. The breakfast was nothing but slice bread, however, so we dropped off our luggage, freshened up, and went out in search of something more substantial.

Old Montreal was still quiet at this time of morning, and a lot of restaurants were closed. We did find a restaurant, though the food was mediocre and we were the only ones inside, it was just nice to have some hot coffee and a place to sit and plan our day. We decided to do some walking and see the city. We walked through Old Montreal and the Latin Quarter to McGill University and Mont Royale. We went up the hill to the Chalet, where there is a lovely reception hall and a great view of the city. We kept walking, all the way to St. Joseph’s Oratory, no small distance. It was a really spectacular church, with a huge dome. The decor was very modern, but beautiful.

We were exhausted by then, so we took the Metro back to the hostel, napped, and then went out in search of Thanksgiving dinner. We hoped for some French food, but Old Montreal was pricey and we were too tired to go far, so we settled on a little Italian place, L’Ursine de Spaghetti. It seemed promising since all of the expensive, fashionable restaurants were practically empty, but this place was full of happy people. The food was affordable and delicious, and the servers were very friendly. It was a great place, full of wood and wine bottles and Christmas lights. A perfect choice.

The next day, we found a better breakfast spot and got some great croissants and coffee. We walked up Rue St. Denis to the Plateau, a really lively area full of shops and restaurants. Unfortunately it began to rain and became really cold, and we were soon wet and shivering. We walked to a famous Jewish deli called Schwartz so Tommy could get a smoked meat sandwich, and I had soup and a sandwich at a little bakery nearby. Then we walked to the Musee des Beaux-Arts, which had a special John William Waterhouse exhibit. I was so thrilled; I had always seen pictures of his paintings but had never seen one in a museum. It was spectacular.

We returned to the hostel to rest a little and change, and then went to dinner at a little French restaurant we had passed on our walk, Le Flambard. It was a tiny place, but the staff was so friendly and the food was amazing. We had a three course meal. It was “apportez votre vin,” so we bought a bottle of our favorite Argentine wine to drink with dinner!

Our last day in Montreal, we walked down to the old port and then downtown. We briefly entered the “Underground City” but it was closed down and empty. We saw Mary Queen of the World, a cathedral that is a replica of St. Peter’s Basilica (1/3 the size). Then we took the Metro to Marche Jean Talon, a ways north but probably worth the trip. It was full of vendors selling fruit, cheese, bread, vegetables, and little snacks like fried seafood and samosas. We got a lunch of bread and cheese, listened to some carolers, and headed back. Our next stop was Juliette et Chocolat, a chocolate shop with divine hot chocolate. We briefly walked through Marche Bonsecours on our way to mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. Wow. We have seen a lot of churches on our travels, but this one might have the most spectacular interior we have ever seen. Not a space was left without color, carving, or elaboration. Nowhere was there one line or arch when there could be two or three or four. Nowhere was white or brown when it could be colored. But it was all done tastefully, beautifully. It was truly stunning. I don’t know how Montreal can have three such amazing churches.

The last thing we did was return to the Plateau to try poutine, Montreal’s signature dish. It’s french fries and cheese curds doused in gravy. We got it at La Banquise, a 24-hour poutine restaurant with quite an assortment of varieties. It was full of young people–looked like a really fun spot. Poutine seems like a recipe for indigestion, but I felt great after eating a big plate of it!

That night, we caught the bus back to Boston! We arrived early Sunday morning and had time to get a Christmas tree and decorate it. Tommy will follow soon with a post about Christmas and our trip to Mexico–but that was Thanksgiving and Montreal!

Katie

13 Responses to “Montreal”

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