Going to Montreal for a long weekend was a spontaneous and exciting decision to leave the city for a few days. Taking a plane was too expensive, taking a bus too uncomfortable. Train ride it was then; 12 hours on the Amtrak which dropped me off in the middle of Montreal. Although it was a little too air conditioned, the stunning views made up for it!
After strolling around the area where I was staying, I ended up at Olive & Gourmando which was an adorable little coffee shop with freshly baked pastries and other breakfast deliciousness. Locals and tourists alike were enjoying the goodies on the menu here!
One of the main reasons I went on this trip was to get out of the daily craziness of New York so starting my days in Montreal with some nature seemed like the good plan. I accidentally missed the very obvious tourist way and ended up wandering the park for a few hours. It was beautiful in the shade and a relaxing hike before I ended up at my intended destination: the panorama point for a skyline view of Montreal.
Walking back to my hostel, I ran into a free show at Place Emilie-Gamelin that included dancing, singing, acrobats and so much more. Guess it really is the Quartier des Spectacles!
A Montrealer took me and some friends to the best nightlife in Montreal within walk distance of our hostel: Bar St. Sulpice. With a different type of music on all of the four stories and a huge garden, there was no time to be bored!
Every person and website I consulted about Montreal told me to try one thing: a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz. The line to eat in was pretty long, but we got it to go and enjoyed the neighborhood while we were at it. One of the best sandwiches I've had, well worth it!
Montreal is (kind of) known for its music and during the summer they have Picnique Electronique. Basically, it was a dance party on the beautiful Jean Drapeau Island. You could bring your own food and drinks and sit in the grass to take a break from the EDM. So much fun, would definitely go again if I had the chance.
PS: On the same island you can bike the Formula 1 race tracks which I didn't get to do, but is on the list for next time!
Spending a rainy day in the beautiful botanical gardens was just what I needed. Acres full of so many different plants, flowers and trees, it was well worth the few bucks I spent for entrance. Right next to the Olympic Stadium that was impressive enough from the outside, I'm glad I made the trek up there.
After the soccer game (World Cup Final, which was not as exciting as it should have been), I decided to head back to the old part of town and the port for an evening walk. St. Paul is great with its small, boutique art stores and restaurants. It was definitely the most quaint part of Montreal I saw and had a very French feel to it.
As the weather was beautiful, I ventured out to Jean Talon market after a quick stop at the Atwater Market. Jean Talon is a fresh fruit and vegetable market where you can mostly buy in bulk. I did get to try all the fruits which were deliciously fresh.
After strolling around Jean Talon, I was ready for some healthy lunch. At this cute little place they used the fresh ingredients from the market and I had a fantastic chicken quesadilla with fresh vegetables and a "house sauce". One of the best meals I have had in Montreal!
One of the main specialties of Quebec is poutine, so famous you can even order it at McDonald's (don't do that though!). I went to La Banquise with two friends and had the version with mushrooms, bacon, and bell peppers added to the traditional cheese, gravy and fries. It was a heart attack waiting to happen but definitely living up to its reputation. The restaurant is open 24 hours and it seems like the perfect snack after a night of going out.
My last day in Montreal and it's a rainy one. I had planned to do a little shopping, although not much else will fit in my luggage, and it was the perfect day for it. Going through anything from major department stores such as Simons (love that place) to small boutiques to souvenirs shops, The Underground has anything you're looking for and I definitely found a few cute buys.
I had seen several of these around Montreal, but hadn't gotten to try one yet so to escape the rain and relax my feet after shopping, I stopped at 3 Brasseurs for lunch. It's a microbrewery/gastropub where they have the standard food items (salad, sandwiches, burgers, pizza, etc) but tell you what beer it is best combined with. This location was huge, but the service was fantastic. The exposed brick and open windows made for a fun atmosphere and although I could have done without so many tvs, it is definitely worth going!
Also, their menus resemble a newspaper style and are adorable.
Ran into this cute public piano on my way to the hostel! Free for everyone to use and even looks artsy.
My hostel was located off St. Catherine's, right at the start of The Village which is one of the many nightlife districts in Montreal. Maybe it's because I live in New York and used to some craziness, but it didn't bother me at all to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle. I never felt unsafe at any hour of the day and was so close to everything I wanted and needed.
The hostel itself was very nice; it got fantastic reviews online and those were well deserved. It was clean, the staff was friendly and helpful and they did fun activities every night. The people staying there are super friendly and approachable, and I quickly made friends as most were traveling alone as well. If you are looking for a budget stay in Montreal but still want to enjoy safety, cleanliness and a central location, stay here!