Montreal, QC – There’s something special about this place.
A hangover-fuelled spontaneous trip saw me spend just under a week in this absolutely breathtaking city located in the French-Canadian province of Quebec.
After watching Newcastle lose 4-0 at 11am on a Sunday and seeing out the rest of the day with alcohol, my head and bank account hurt on a Monday in mid February.
A well-timed FaceTime call, desire to do something new and cheap bus tickets meant that at 06:30 the next day I would be travelling east to Montreal.
After spending that Monday night watching Anthony Bourdain’s episode of ‘The Layover’ that focuses on Montreal my mind had developed a pretty good idea of what I wanted to try… Food. More specifically, poutine and bagels. But we’ll get to that.
Falling snow meant the bus was a little delayed arriving into downtown meaning I would be checking in to the HI Montreal just before 2pm.
Luckily for myself friends made in Toronto had recently moved to Montreal so off the bounce I was in a space surrounded by people I knew.
The rest of the first afternoon included catching up, making jokes about H&M and drinking coffee followed by something stronger.
Wednesday comes and blue skies means it’s a nice day to walk around the city exploring different neighbourhoods. A short metro trip finds us in the heart of the Plateu, a buzzing area of the city with a good vibe. But more importantly. Places to find great poutine and Montreal bagels.
After receiving numerous tips and recommendations for places to go, the first on the list is St-Viateur Bagel Shop.
And yes. They live up the hype. Quite frankly, it was the best thing I’ve had between two slices of yeasted dough. So if you’re still reading this and find yourself in Montreal, do yourself a favour. Go find St-Viateur.
A short walk later and possibly getting lost somewhere along the way there is a burning desire to try some glorified cheese, chips and gravy that Canadians call poutine.
La Banquise does not disappoint on this front. There was a reason why the queue was out of the door when we arrived. Another places tried that produced the fantastic collection of food below was Ma Poule Mouillee.
That’s about a stone put on in weight so enough about food and now for what really does make Montreal feel like a special place.
Maybe I’m a sucker for a town that feels more European, maybe it was how nice everybody was or even just the fact it was something slightly different from Toronto. But man, I love Montreal. And I can see why everybody else does.
The next day was the coldest day of my trip, think -18esque cold, so how better to spend the day walking up to Parc du Mont Royal.
The place offers a simply fantastic view over downtown Montreal and you can take in just how special this city is. I couldn’t quite feel my fingers and somehow managed to burn my face by the time the sun went down but that doesn’t change a thing.
Parc du Mont Royal is more than just a great view, the rest of the park area is full of scenic walks and winter sports. I would recommend to anybody planning a visit to spend some time up there.
One thing that isn’t fun is trying to walk back down the icy steps after sunset during the winter. I’ll let you imagine what happened.
The rest of my time in Montreal was filled with warmth (literally) from being inside bars and connecting with old and new friends. Sampling the fun nightlife scene, great food and even greater views made the time spent in this city memorable.
This fleeting trip was not quite long enough for my liking but I have reasons to return to experience all I missed out on the first time around. So expect to see me again soon. But just maybe when it’s a little warmer.
So yes, it’s back to Toronto for now. But who knows what might happen in the future. In the meantime, I’ll brush up on my French.