Consider the times you have spent on vacation. Did you have special places that you liked to visit or favourite sites that you liked to see? Did your vacation create memories that will last a lifetime? Did it give you experiences that will make you smile? I think these are the questions that all great vacations evoke. Vacations give us time away to relax and to experience new sites, cultures and memories. Most of all vacations bring us joy. This is why I am happy to share my trip with you that I took with my younger brother, Nathan to Montreal recently.
We did many things that I am sure anyone would enjoy! The best thing about this vacation however was that it was cheap. We used AIR MILES for our flights and went the week just before the busy holiday season in Montreal started. We stayed in a condo about 4 blocks from St. Catherine’s street – the hub of downtown Montreal.
How did we end up staying in our own condo you may ask? Fortunately it was through a great travel website called AirBnB. On AirBnB people rent out individual rooms, parts of their home, whole condos or even apartments for travelling guests. If you are looking to meet nice people and for some advice on certain areas then I highly recommend that you try AirBnB! Or if you’re like us and are looking to save money but still want privacy and proximity to downtown then AirBnB would be the perfect fit for you.
The condo was clean and well maintained. We each had our own room with a bathroom and there was also a kitchen to store food for breakfast. By shopping for snacks and some meals we were able to save even more money on this vacation. We paid approximately $89 per night for a week in the condo – a great savings compared to a hotel!
There were many things I noticed in Montreal but what stood out to me the most was the fast paced atmosphere. The women also dress up quite a bit more than most women do in parts of Edmonton so it was fun to get fancy for a change!
The people of Montreal were very friendly and not at all snobby as I had been told. They were incredibly helpful, energetic, and seemed to love the aura of the city as much as we did. A few blocks to the right of us were tons of delicious restaurants that were both casual and sophisticated. A lot of these restaurants had great patios that were often turned into bars or clubs at night. Mixed in between were little boutiques and salons. All in all, it was a wonderful place to be.
Of the restaurants we tried out, we would recommend: Weinstein Gavino’s, Burger Bar Crescent, Montreal Poutein and Ferrari. Some of the amazing meals I had at these restaurants were: A vinaigrette salad with chicken, grapes, oranges, almonds, and goat cheese; poutein and sangria; part of a chicken in thyme sauce with potatoes, cooked vegetables; and a great little salad with roasted vegetables, some type of lettuce, breaded goat cheese served with an excellent white sangria. Each of these meals was completed with a glass of wine.
Old Montreal is by far the best area to see architecturally. We took a lot of pictures in this area, walked through little boutiques and restaurant districts and took a boat tour at the harbour. The boat tour was one of my favourite things to do and since it was a Groupon, for thirty dollars you could get on a little boat and tour Old Montreal on the St. Lawrence. Free beer and wine was also included and may I say that was the best wine I had on the trip! On the boat tour we saw the old apartments from the Montreal Olympics that previously were thought to be ugly yet now are million dollar apartments. They are cubes balanced on top of each other at different levels and positions so that each tenant has complete privacy.
Groupon’s are a great way to save money on vacations so you should keep an eye out for the available Groupons in the city that you want to visit. You can check Living Social and Team Buy coupon emails as well. We also went to Montreal Poutein on a Groupon deal where 2 could eat with a drink, appetizer and poutein for only $35!
On top of all that, we also saw a clock tower made at the same time as London’s Big Ben and by the same clock maker, a huge black boat that was a spa and various other cool Montreal highlight’s. There are many different options for Montreal boat tours, but I was happy with ours.
Of course, there was lots of shopping to be done in Montreal too. Possibly 8 blocks from where we stayed were stores such as Simon’s, the Apple Store, Armani Exchange, Jack and Jones, American Outfitters, Club Monaco and a whole bunch of underground stores in the Couer of Montreal that went on forever. When we came back to watch Ironman III at the movie theatres, we noticed that the Couer connected to the Reso – miles of underground shopping.
Another great thing was Montreal’s transit system which could take you anywhere around the city on different lines. A week’s pass with a chip card was $29 for unlimited use on the metro and bus system, including the 747 bus that takes people to and from the airport.
There are also a few museums you can see in Montreal, such as, a railroad museum (that was to hard for us to get to), a history museum at McGill University, and another History Museum at Old Montreal. We chose to go to the Musee Des Beaux Arts in downtown Montreal where we saw a fascinating art show on Peru – known as one of the cradles of civilization – to the Incas, to modern Peru fighting for it’s independence. It was all very interesting and there were exquisite artifacts, paintings, and masks for all different Peruvian eras to see. McGill University is also worth seeing if you like to hike. There is a big hike up Mount Royal, if you are so inclined. The only thing I wish I had taken in more of was the nightlife but unfortunately by 9 pm I was always exhausted from walking all day!
So if you like exploring cities and experiencing French culture then Montreal is a beautiful place you should visit as it is full of life and good times!