Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Montreal Like a Local (ish)

Hey guys! Sorry I haven't posted much, but I haven't been home a lot. YC and I spent five days in Montreal and then I went to South Carolina with my mom for another five.

YC and I adored Montreal! I think part of the charm of Montreal was staying a cute little Airbnb. We were located in a neighborhood near the botanical garden, and I think we were the only tourists in the area.

The lovely botanical garden.

The botanical garden was only about a twenty minute walk from our Airbnb apartment, which was super convenient. While I can read French, neither YC or I currently speak a lick of it. The first day there, after all the driving, we weren't up for figuring out public transport. Being able to walk to the botanical garden made it our top choice for the day.

Also, on our first night a little old man ranted at us in French and did not desist no matter how many times we said we didn't speak French. It was rather disconcerting. After that incident, everyone else we encountered was bilingual.

The botanical garden in Montreal is huge and very easy to get lost in. We spent a couple hours meandering around the grounds and trying to find different areas. I was a bit disappointed that the giant flower sculptures I had seen pictures of were only a brief display two years ago. Regardless, the botanical gardens were gorgeous and definitely worth a visit.

Boar sculptures made of branches

Trying to figure out how to get to the Japanese garden

Getting lost in the Alpine garden

Huge red flowers. Probably the size of my face

Chinese buildings in Montreal

More Chinese style

We took the bus and metro into Old Montreal the next day, mostly to see the Norte-Dame Basillica. The cathedral was everything I imagined. The inside is gorgeous and the line to get in wasn't even that long. Even if you're not the religious type, me neither, the cathedral is worth a visit.

Hard to pose with so many tourists

Can't say we weren't contributing to the crowds though.

The amazing inside! Definitely check it out

Old Montreal is very touristy and packed, be prepared. The prices for food are a lot higher then on the outskirts and there are tons of tourist traps. Don't let that stop you from visiting though. Old Montreal is adorable with stone roads and old fashioned buildings. I also tried escargot and maple taffy for the first time in Old Montreal, both are delicious. If you wander even a few streets away from the main thoroughfares the crowds thin out a ton. We found an perfect little maple leaf mug (we have started collecting mugs) and iced cider on a side street beside a museum.

One day in Old Montreal was enough for YC and I, so we spent the next day climbing Mont Royal. The view of Montreal from Mont Royal cannot be beat. We went on Tam Tam day, so there were people playing drums, smoking, and dancing at the base of the mountain. The crowd was a bit overwhelming, but it thinned out immediately once we started walking up.

Check out that view

The food in Montreal was amazing as well. I already wrote a post on my adoration of poutine, but all of it was delicious. Our favorite restaurant was the Pot Masson on Masson street, a five minute walk from our apartment.

They offered small plates for 4,50 CAD each, as long as you bought a drink as well. Their mixed drinks were huge and tasty. I had one with Earl Grey tea, which I drank both nights we went. Every small plate I tried was so impressive. My favorites were the risotto and the oysters. I could have happily eaten there every night.

The risotto with a glimpse of the Earl Grey tea, calamari, and oysters.

I think a large part of the reason we loved Montreal so much was having our own little apartment with Airbnb. I think staying in a hotel in the main tourist area would have been so much less fun. When we were tired we watched Netflix and cooked our own meals (also a great way to save some money).

I would love to go back to Montreal again, and I would definitely stay in an Airbnb again. Perhaps next time we will go in the fall. I bet Montreal is gorgeous in the fall.

Has anyone else visited Montreal? Did you love it as much as we did? Were you impressed by the food as well? Did you wish you knew French?

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