J’aime Montréal!! What a beautiful city with so much to do, see and eat! Despite only being there for 2 short days, I have fallen in love. If I was not able to live in Vancouver anymore, Montreal would be the my top Canadian city to relocate to.
After our flight from Cuba, we caught the 747 express into downtown Montreal and checked into Hotel Stay (near Mont Royal Metro station). Although it looks ghett-O from the outside, the rooms were actually nicer than the ones in Cuba! Go figure. With some time to kill before meeting up with one of my old roomies, we went hunting for our first real Montreal poutine at Frit Alors. Must say, the French sure know their poutine!
Afterwards, we met up with Jordana and her bf and headed down St. Denis to find a place to watch the Habs vs. Pens game. Twas very nice to catch up with her and her medical school adventures! It had been way too long.
Friday was spent wandering around Montreal. First, we headed to the old port and spent some time exploring the various streets and alleyways. Definitely has an European vibe going. We then walked up St. Denis and headed to the #1 ‘attraction’ everybody has been telling us to go to… La Banquise – home of the BEST poutine in Montreal. They have over 25 different poutines including the T-Rex (bacon, sausage, wieners and hamburger) and the Hotdog ones that we tried. Yummmmm
We then met up with Clout (met him in Cuba) and his gf Christelle who took us on a great tour of Montreal. We headed up to the top of Mont Royal, drove through Westmont, visited St. Joseph’s oratory with St. Andre’s heart on display, visited ETS and UQAM before walking along St. Catherines and through Chinatown. Definitely a great time as they knew a LOT about Montreal. Not sure that I would have as much to say about various attractions around Vancouver if I had to give them a similar tour.
Afterwards, we handed over to Notre Dame to catch their light show in the basilica. Very informative and creative in its approach but I must confess I fell asleep. The stillness and the darkness of the church conspired against me! Nonetheless, the portions that I did catch was very cool.
From Notre Dame, we went to have the coolest dinner experience ever! Mark’s friend told us about this restaurant, ONoir, and after hearing about his experience, we made reservations right away. In this restaurant, you eat entirely in the pitch black!! All the waiters are legally blind and have memorized the layout of the restaurant to be able to serve you. You do all your ordering outside in the bar area – on the menu, is an option for a ‘surprise’ dish. Of course, we decided to try all surprise dishes for our 3 course meal. To get to your table, you need to put your left hand on the shoulder of your waiter who will then lead you to your table. It was almost surreal to realize that there is no difference between closing your eyes and opening them. Forget trying to use your knife and fork – I ended up just pushing my food around my plate and onto my lap. I’m not ashamed to admit that I gave up pretty often and ended up eating with my fingers. The food was delicious but hard to say if it was because all my senses were heightened because my sight was taken away or if 1 week of eating bland food in Cuban made anything flavorful overpowering. Overall, I definitely recommend this experience to anybody!
From ONoir, we walked all the way back down to the old port to meet up with our Montreal friends we met in Cuba. We ended up at Les Deux Pierrot on St. Paul – a Quebecois bar. It was SO fun! They had live bands play everything from old French cartoon theme songs to Beach Boys to French dirty songs to Backstreet Boys to French dirty songs to ACDC and everything in between. With $7 cover and $3.75 beers, twas a fun night indeed! The kids we met from Montreal definitely know how to have a great time and show some Vancouverites how it’s supposed to be done. Although beware, when you guys come to Vancouver, I will show you what real Chinese food at 4am tastes like!
So although our time in Montreal was short, I promise you I will be back.