Montreal, the city of Mont Royal.

After my delayed flight leaving Chicago, I had an easy trip to Montreal. Arriving, it was very straight forward and despite most signs being in French, I was able to get around just fine. I got a taxi to the address of my Airbnb, and perfectly, I opened the lid of the mailbox and the keys were inside just as promised. I got inside, and it was perfect. Nothing special, but exactly what I wanted. It had a hallway that opened to the bedroom on the left, then a living area kitchen and bathroom. Everything was laid out for me including toiletries, towels, and even maps of Montreal. I was excited for the next morning when I’d be able to explore around everywhere.

 The next morning, I got up and headed for what I thought was going to be a cute little café called Café Depot. Unfortunately, this was a chain like Starbucks but it did the job of getting me a good egg sandwich to start the day. I then met up with Pascal, a Montrealer, and we toured the entire city by foot. We walked through the neighborhoods and made our way to Vieux Montreal passing by the Hotel de Ville. We walked along the cobble streets looking at all the buildings and shops including the Marche Bonsecoure. We then stopped to have lunch at a nice restaurant nearby and enjoyed a couple of salads, one of which was a little odd. Pork with tzatziki, watermelon, feta, which had been recommended by the waitress named Pascale too, and she sported a completely non accented English which was impressive. Along with her, everyone else I’ve met in shops switches between perfect French and near perfect English like a light switch. It’s truly a bilingual city for sure–so much so I’d feel just silly trying to even say anything in French.

We then headed for the Montreal clock tower where we were able to climb up the stairs to the top of the tower to get a great view of Old Montreal. We also saw the 1967 blocks building where now wealthy Montrealers live. It’s an interesting series of blocks that look like they’re stacked upon one another which have been turned into really nice apartments.

 We then went back through the main center of town that was filled of food trucks and stalls serving great foods. I tried a wonderful pink lemonade sweetened with pure maple syrup. I then got my sweet fix (as if that wasn’t enough) from trying a cream filled donut. It was great. For dinner, we made our way to dinner for a great Steak Trite dinner. I had a St. Philip 10oz with bottomless fries! It was great! And well deserved after a long day touring throughout what felt like the entire city. We ended the night with plans for the next day to meet up with his friends.

 The next day I headed back to the Old part of the city to go to the Notre Dame church where Céline Dion got married :) I went to check the lines and decided to get lunch first and stopped at this nice little café run by Greeks. I had a great prosciutto sandwich with a fresh tomato and cucumber salad. After lunch I went back to the Norte Dame St Basilica church for an hour tour. It was interesting to learn about the church, but maybe I’ve been to many beautiful churches now where the tours don’t really show anything too unique much anymore. But we went through to both chapels as well as the back room where priests get ready and dressed. One interesting tidy bit was the white stones out front on the street are there to show the original footprint of the church in the plaza.

 After my tour, I went to meet up with Pascal and his friend Dominic. We walked around an area of town called Mile End for a while. We then went to meet Pascal and Dominic’s friends at a bar called Alexanderplatz. Here it was an outdoor industrial setting with a great atmosphere. All of Pascal’s friends were great and friendly, and we sat for a couple hours enjoying the sun going down and the perfect weather. A few of us ordered some tacos from the stand there, and it was surprisingly good. The sausages were a little dry, but the black bean one was delicious. Moist and a hint of curry, it was a great flavor and a nice homage to Austin :) After our hang out, we all took Bixi bikes to a restaurant that specialized in meatballs! It was so good! We ordered a smorgasbord of various types ranging from a chicken curry meatball, lamb tzatziki, cornbeef (smoked meat), risotto with fish. It was amazingly interesting and rich. We need a meatball restaurant in Austin! We ended our meal with a great cookie sandwich that had ice cream in between. I opted for the maple ice cream sandwiched by two warm chocolate chip cookies. I was absolutely stuffed! We then bike rided back through the city back to Dominic’s and hung out for a bit before I headed home.

The next morning, Pascal invited me to breakfast with his friends and had a great brunch. After a fun brunch full of laughing, we all went to Parco Lorienne after seeing Pascal’s cute apartment loft. We had blankets and games and played while enjoying the beautiful weather. We also watched as these guys tried earnestly to get their little grill lit.

 After a few hours of relaxing in the park, I left and went to look at some shops to see if I found anything specific I wanted from Montreal. I love their Bixi biking system. $5 and you can use the bikes all around the city for 24 hours. It’s perfect for exploring easily and the bike lanes make it very easy and safe to wander around and simply find a station to park the bike when you’re done. After exploring around the city so much, I usually would feel very confident in directions and at least which cardinal direction I was heading but I literally felt so directionally challenged I couldn’t ever tell which direction I was going toward, despite coming across the same streets over and over.

 That night, there was a fire works show of USA’s presentation. Over the summer there’s a big competition of fireworks displays and every Wednesday and Saturday a different country represents.. and Saturday was the USA. So I met up with Pascal and his friends again to view the USA entry–which was timed to music ranging from Vivaldi to Johnny Cash. It was an impressive display!

After the fireworks show, we headed back to Cacao 70, a dessert shop with various chocolate creations. I got an Iced chocolate as they were so slammed full after the show that there wasn’t much that you could really easily get as takeaway. It was good and a great way to end the night.

The next morning, I got my apartment ready to check out and put my luggage over at the owner’s apartment. I then got a bixi bike and ventured all around the town again until finding a place for lunch.. a great place called Burger Royal. It was a delicious farm to table type restaurant with delicious meat and house made cheddar cheese! I then wandered around until late afternoon and went back to pick up my luggage and chatted with the owner who was interestingly entrepreneurial so we had a nice chat about his business. I then Ubered to the train station and boarded the train with ease and got settled in for my journey to Toronto!

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