It seems like it’s been 100 years since Sean and I went to Montreal. (It’s been two months. But in blog years, that’s basically 100-years-to-a-lifetime.) As is usually the case with these things, life got in the way before I even had a chance to move the photos from the camera to my computer. (In this particular instance, “life” took the form of a new job and the subsequent whirlwind of “what in the world is happening!?”) But it just wouldn’t have been right to let those memories languish. Because y’all — Montreal was seriously the coolest place I never knew I needed to visit.
It’s a super modern, trendy city (just look at our hotel room!).
But it also has plenty of European flair. (Those cathedrals! Saint Patrick’s Basilica and Canadian Notre Dame.)
I didn’t really know what to expect when we booked the trip, but every single thing about it blew me away.
Let’s be honest: food is at least half of the reason we vacation. And Montreal had plenty of it. Deville Dinerbar — with its retro-diner-slash-slinky-Vegas-nightclub vibe was the most fun. And that opinion wasn’t formed under the influence of a gigantic fishbowl beverage. Nope. Not at all. Poutineville was tops for big bowls of French fries soaked in gravy and covered in cheese. They served traditional poutine of course, and also every single iteration you could imagine. We even saw someone get CORN DOG poutine. My only regret is that someone was not me. Other notable mentions: a scoop of maple ice cream and a dinner made up entirely of Canadian snacks. (Big NOPE to ketchup-flavored chips, heck yes to Wagon Wheels and Coffee Crisp bars.)
Musée des Beaux-arts
I’m normally not a huge art museum person. But the Museum of Fine Arts had a Faberge exhibit when we were in Montreal, and that was enough to entice me. The Faberge was amazing, but you know what? So was absolutely everything else. We spent hours marveling at Canadian paintings, avant-garde movies, and furniture made out of stuffed animals. I loved every square inch (square meter?) of it. 10/10, would visit again.
Mount Royal is a massive hill in the middle of the city with a huge chalet at the top and picture-perfect views of Montreal. We hiked up it, wandered around the surrounding park for a while, and then promptly got lost and had to march two miles back to our hotel through uncharted(?) Canada.
Montreal’s Olympic Stadium (from the summer 1976 games) is really cool, and visiting it gave me the same utz I get every four years.
BUT. It took Montreal until 2006(!) to pay it off and now it’s just sort of…vacant. Boston’s in the running to host the Olympics in 2024, and a certain segment of Bostonians aren’t thrilled with the idea. And after visiting Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, I can kind of understand their point. It’s a really exciting, high exposure event for a city, but it might not be worth the immense expense in the long run.
ANYWAY. Part of the Olympic Park does still serve a purpose — it was converted into a freaking sweet biodome that showcases American ecosystems. We saw raccoon, otters, sloths, parrots, penguins, AND a lynx.
We heard that lynx sightings were rare because he tends to sleep a lot. And sho nuf, when we got to his enclosure, he was nowhere to be found. But Sean’s something of an animal whisperer, and — this is a true story — as soon as he started doing his call of the wild, that cat came out and looked right at him. Hand to God.
The only letdown was that because Montrealers speak French-Candian, we didn’t hear a single “eh?” or “aboot.” Everyone we met was bilingual, but they all just spoke regular English, not Canadian English. Womp. Still, the whole concept of a bilingual city was fascinating. We saw some locals speaking to each other in English and some in French; how do strangers know what language to use when they strike up a conversation with each other? The mind boggles. Still, what Montreal lacked in accent, it more than made up for with everything else.