By: Martha Katechis
Exploring a new country only a short drive away….
“Oh Canada, Oh Canada…” everyone knows that one right? We think of hockey, cold mountain tops and now Poutine. For this year’s wedding anniversary my hubby and I wanted to travel, but with just a few days available and no plane tickets we knew a road trip was our best option. So to Canada we went, specifically to Montreal!
Montreal is like no other, and most Canadians will tell you it is a rare gem in Canada. The trip from the Bronx was a long drive but not complicated at all. Six hours north, it’s as if we got on one highway all the way to the border. Crossing the border wasn’t as stressful as I assumed. Tip: YES, you definitely need your passports, and if you’re an E-Z Pass user, they don’t have that in Canada-so have cash. Seems obvious but yeah we didn’t think of that. Once over the border, everything changes to metric so keep an eye on the speed and as a rule of thumb- don’t go faster than everyone else. There are also trains that go to Montreal and you can pick a route leaving from midtown Manhattan.
To me Montreal felt so inviting and European. The primary language is French, so expect signs and directions all in French. The city is a structured like many older European cities, where it centers the church as the main attraction, and districts like water and shopping and suburbs are placed around. It was like the scene in Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame when they show a map of the city on a necklace.
We stayed at a beautiful modern art deco hotel in what they call the Port District. Hotel Gault was everything we wanted in a hotel when thinking of a romantic getaway! Edgy modern finishes, the hallways had art work of French pop culture, and each room was a different experience. Heated bathroom floors, a deep soaking tub, garden terraces, and floor to ceiling windows! The staff is attentive and sweet, room service or downstairs dining and bar is available.
Exploring the city is a blast! Below are some fun places I recommend you check out.
Start your morning off…
Photo: Food Spotting
I’m a New Yorker, so saying you gotta get a bagel anywhere else is criminal- but I needed to taste the hype! Boy was I pleased! These bagels are warm and fluffy! No seating in Fairmount bagel, so it’s perfect if you’re looking for something quick on your way to sightsee.
We were all about the food and sites for this trip so beware! Arts cafe was our spot for FRENCH TOAST! This place is perfect for brunch, I highly enjoyed the eggs and potatoes and hubby raved about the French toast! It was like no other, authentic, sweet and savory!
Image: Flush the Fashion
Montreal is all about fashion. I really enjoyed seeing toddlers in edgy outfits with rock bands graphic tees and ripped jeans. Babies in sweet pastels and florals with high tops and adults wearing furs and jeans or bow ties and vests. The fashion was for everyone at anytime of the day. Check out Mile End- a strip of boutiques where you can spend a full afternoon.
Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal
This church is awe inspiring. They ask for a $5/per person donation and have free tours. I typically don’t do touristy tours but jumped in because the facts were so nice to hear. We lit candles for loved ones and took beautiful pictures.
More Must-See Sights
Downtown art galleries are abundant, wine bars and dive bars. Fresh fruit and vegetable markets, and cafes. A great resource to learn more about Montreal’s galleries can be found at www.themontrealreview.com.
Must not leave Montreal without trying this………Poutine!
This all-night diner known for Québécois grub & local microbrews, serves poutine in an unconventional manner. Topped with anything you can think of we went for a full on glory or savory meat and cheese. We went with the pulled pork, sausage, mozzarella, curds and of course the poutine gravy. One large was more than we could handle! It was raining and 30 degrees outside and I have to say that kept no one away. The wait was an hour outside under a tiny heater, but what made it enjoyable was the local young crowd chanting a fraternity and laughing up a storm all in French.
We loved everything about Montreal and can’t wait to plan our next trip!
We received a media rate to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are our own.