Hey Montreal! You’re Alright!
It’s not often that I feel sad about leaving a place I’m visiting on holiday, but leaving Montreal was definitely a sad departure for me. It’s usually a feeling of relief that I’m going home and I can recover, but this time it wasn’t. I came to Montreal to see the city for myself after I came last April for a twenty minute tour. I promised myself then that I would return, and so this week I did.
I arrived at the Bonaventure station from the Amtrak, and then headed for the Metro to the Berri-UQAM stop, which is part of the Plateau and Latin Quarters. I stayed on Rue Ontario, just off the bustling and vibrant Rue Saint-Denis. Rue Saint-Denis definitely reminded me of the East Village, with its narrow street, lined with cafes and bars, and plenty of people walking about.
Stepping out onto Saint-Denis I looked around for food and came upon a banh-mi shop. This bahn-mi shop was set up like a Subways/Blimpies sandwich shop, which was pretty interesting. The lady behind the glass counter greeted me with a “Bon jour!” as I looked around wide-eyed in awe of the menu, various Vietnamese shrimp chips and colorful desserts. My 7 inch shredded chicken was delicious and only cost $2.49. (Take note NYC!) The can of seltzer and bag of shrimp chips however made up for the low cost of the sandwich. Oh well, what are you gonna do?
The next day, my hostel-mate and I went down to get breakfast, which was basically coffee and toast. If you plan to stay at the Le Jazz St. Denis, don’t expect a full continental breakfast. What it lacked in breakfast selection, however, it easily made up for in a friendly and helpful staff.
The objective of my first full day was to just take alot of photos and videos. I walked everywhere! If you walk from the Plateau heading south on Rue Saint-Catherine then east on Boulevard Saint-Laurent, you will come upon those iconic gold and red ornate gates that can only symbolize Chinatown. Montreal’s Chinatown is very small and less crowded than NYC or LA’s. I went into this one dress shop and asked the lady in the shop where I could buy candy. She told me she didn’t eat candy. I later returned to her shop because I had a hankering for some poutine and wanted some help finding a place. She told me to go to McDonalds and that people in Chinatown didn’t like to eat that kind of stuff. Um, okay…
Head further east on Saint-Laurent and you will reach the Promenade du Vieux-Port. Here you can take photos of the Saint Lawrence River and hang out around Ile Bonsecours with its manmade waterfalls. You can also be attacked by a small black bird, if that’s your thing.
If gallery hopping is your thing instead go to Rue Saint-Paul Ouest in Old Montreal. There are alot of talented artists from Montreal, I was truly blown away by what I saw in these galleries. I suggest you check out Galerie D’Art Le Bourget at 34 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest (www.galerielebourget.com) or Galerie LeRoyer (www.galerieleroyer.com) at 60 Rue Saint-Paul Ouest.
While in the area walk over to Marche Bonsecours or Bonsecours Market for some shopping. Lots of great local designers and some non-local, but Canadian, designers showcase their products in this building whose facade, with its silver dome, resembles a government building. It was here in one of the shops, Lily Ka (www.lilyka.ca) where I got my pink handled canvas tote. The staff was super friendly and helpful, as well. You can also shop for art as there are more galleries in this building, as well.
If you look up while walking on Rue Saint-Catherine in The Village, you’ll see some lovely pink balls hovering overhead in this gay community. Art is everywhere here and interactiveness of the installation/pieces makes this a fun and creative neighborhood.
Since I had an unlimited 3 day metro card (take note again NYC) I wanted to see some other neighborhoods, so I took the green line to the stop at Cadillac. Nothing. It was like the valley. I walked a bit, and then headed back.
Thursday was mainly devoted to street fashion. Boulevarde Saint-Laurent was having a street fair for the Festival Grand Prix. I didn’t stay too long, but long enough to buy 3 skirts for $20 each at Francois Beauregard at 3636 Boulevarde Saint-Laurent. SCORE!
Montreal is an amazing city with super friendly and polite people. I learned so much just from talking to the locals. They initially greet you in French, but once they realize you don’t speak French, they just start talking to you in English. Soooooo jealous of this skill.
Anyways, with so much to see and do, and having so little time, its inevitable that I will return, and hopefully for a much longer stay.
Here’s a short 3 minute video and a gallery of images below that. I’ll also have another post of just road trip images in another post. My favorite part of the video is the end, and if you know me, you’ll know why.
And here’s the photo gallery: