We covered so much ground in Montreal. When we first arrived, we visited an overlook on Mont Royal and then parked at the park, walked to the chalet, and took more photos at the classic overlook. Jess stopped to touch the tame squirrels and Kyle ran back to start the car in the below-zero weather. I had asked about a booth to exchange money and found one on the north side of town, so that was our next stop.
Jess with a squirrel in Parc du Mont-Royal.
Once we had a fair bit of money, we drove a little bit north towards a restaurant, making a stop at St Louis Square to photograph some of my favorite row houses in the town. We then had lunch at the best poutine joint in town, La Banquise. I had mexicaine, Jess had italienne, and Kyle had some Elvis dish – in the big size. Jess and I couldn’t even finish our small portions, but Kyle finished his.
Some of the pretty houses on the square.
Poutine – with toppings.
We left the restaurant to drive to our hostel in Old Montreal (Vieux-Montreal) and check in. I spoke French with the lady at the front at first, but my brother can only speak some and Jess speaks Italian and some Spanish, not French, so the lady spoke in English for everyone. We booked at La Maison du Patriote – the same hostel where I lived during my short term abroad. It’s the best hostel I’ve ever seen, complete with a boot room for wet boots, kitchen, lounge with Wi-Fi and laptops, and a large upstairs with bunks and curtains to section off areas. We were originally going to be a party of four, but the lady let us change our reservations and charged us for only the three. Our bunks were the same bunks where I had stayed before, plus an extra cot. Jess took the cot, I took the top above my brother, and there were two other bunks empty in our section. The rafters are always covered in chalk writing, so we decided we would have to contribute at some time later.
Lipstick Forest at Palais de Congres near Chinatown.
Riding the metro.
We left the hostel quickly to try to catch some places we thought would be closing soon. One was Notre-Dame, but they turned us away because of a wedding. We decided to return later for a light show and were pleasantly surprised by the Christmas decorations all over town. We continued to the Palais du Congres where we skirted Chinatown and found the multi-colored walls enclosing the Lipstick Forest. Below this building was an entrance to the Underground City, RESO, which because a good friend to us against the cold. We could also board the metro at Place d’Armes and paid the $9 apiece for 24-hour tickets. It was well worth our money.
Our first metro ride took us up to McGill University where we wandered the RESO, shops, and churches such as St James Unie. We arrived at Musee McCord and were admitted for free; this was one of my favorite museums from last trip, and we really enjoyed the native history exhibits as well as the photography ones. In fact, we were surprised that they actually encouraged photos as some sort of social media promotion for the artists. It was an unusual concept.
Statue outside of McGill.
Some interesting exhibits (above) and some interesting signage:
We stayed until close, then we wandered back to another metro station against the cold: Place des Arts. We just happened to stumble upon a giant light therapy exhibit: a field of reflectors with a snowy pathway and blue spotlights. It was really interesting. Then we ran back into a new building full of interesting designs, ordering some lattes and catching the metro back all the way to near the Notre-Dame.
Church after church.
Me and Jess gritting our teeth against the uber-negative temperatures and strong winds. Then photos of the St. James Unie church:
The reflectors field:
Metro after metro.
We walked against the wind to the InterContinental Hotel to enjoy one of my favorites, the Susan B. Absinthe bar – first in North America! It was as fancy as ever and we ordered the three different kinds available, then sipped on our green drinks under the water dropper that dissolved our sugar cubes through a grated metal spade. It was like we were in the Great Gatsby movie.
After we finished our drinks, we wandered back through the RESO to P We got out at Square Victoria and walked to see the Bell Centre where the Habs play and turned up the street to see the Queen Mary cathedral. We returned to the Square and rode back a stop to seek out the Notre Dame again. We were 45 minutes too early, so we rushed back down to the street where our hostel is and hit up Les 3 Brasseurs – a place where my friends and I drank in my previous time in Montreal. They brew their own beer, so Jess ordered herself a drink, then Kyle got an IPA and I got the 3B sampler platter which included every beer except the IPA. He and I thus got to taste each one and delayed getting food so that we wouldn’t miss the show.
Windows in the Palais.
Reine Mary du Monde.
Notre Dame (of Montreal!)
Nativity scene at the cathedral.
These poor three women have been sitting there for years.
In a shop window along Rue St Paul Est…meow meow! 🙂
Revisiting an old favorite – Les 3 Brasseurs where they brew their own.
The show was pretty incredible, too. We paid up front and rushed in just after it started, taking headphones and seats in the pews. I listened in French. They had large screens covering most of the church, which upset me at first, shining a movie over the front screen and other graphics and lights around the sides. But they built it up and made dramatic drops of the curtains and lighting over the architecture, bringing the cathedral to life.
Afterwards, we took photos before hurrying to a crepe place on our street called Chez Suzette. This is where I had wine, cider, and a special crepe that I later tried to recreate at home. It was nice to finally have my brother taste the real thing. The wine wasn’t local, so we just ordered a bottle of local cider to share and a crepe each. Kyle also got soup to fill his large appetite. The crepe I was so happy about is a cheese crepe with tart apples, maple syrup, and powdered sugar. Everyone tasted it and also can now claim having experienced local syrup in the city.
To end the night, we chose to hit up a bar rather than a club or discoteque. We were going to go to Les Deux Pierrots, a good music venue, but there was a line in the street and the snow was coming down hard. We decided to walk a couple doors closer to our hostel and went upstairs in a place called Pub St. Paul (the road is Saint Paul – Est). There was live music here too that was pretty good and almost all English, despite the singer speaking in quebecois. There were no huge crowds and we got some drinks easily. I tried a local red brew, Kyle tried Murphy’s to see if he likes stouts, and Jess got a Labatt Bleue – and photographed the French label.
We stayed for a bit then headed back to the hostel in the falling snow. It was magical outside. When we got back, I climbed to the top rafter and put our names next to “Latrobe, PA” in chalk, then we went to bed after some tea at 1AM – ready to get up at 7AM the next day.
Our quarter was on the right.
Our names on the rafter.
The rafters from our quarter.