Oot and Aboot in Montreal

Montreal Travel Blog

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vieux-port
Yes, I went to Canada, and yes, they really do talk like that. Well, sorta. The whole "ay" and "oot" is pretty spot on, and I was in French-speaking Montreal, not even Winnipeg.

When I decided to take a random trip to Montreal for Labor Day weekend, people asked me "why Montreal?" Why not? is always my response (and really, people, you should learn to stop asking such silly questions!). As an eternal vagabond, I'm always up for visiting a new locale, no matter how exotic or mundane it may be - Montreal falls smack in the middle of that spectrum, it's not the most glam city I've ever explored, nor is it the most lifeless (don't get me wrong, it is beautiful). Not to mention, a) I'd never been to Canada (crazy, ay?) and b) I'm trying to hit up all these New England-accessible destinations that will be much harder to visit when I relocate 2917.
lauryn & me
11 miles westward (the exact distance from my cozy 10th Avenue apartment in Manhattan to my even cozier HOUSE in San Francisco).

My overnight bus ride there was perhaps the most dramatic part of my weekend away. Never, and I repeat, NEVER, take the Greyhound through the Adirondacks. Or anywhere else for that matter. The tires were flat, meaning everyone on the bus went sailing in the air approximately every five seconds as the emergency light haphazardly blinked on and off. That combined with the driver making us all get off the bus every 1.5 hour we stopped did not make for a peaceful sleeping environment. Luckily, when we stopped in Albany to refuel, they gave us a new bus (though the changeover put us about 2.5 hours behind schedule). I Amtraked it back, and even though it took nearly 11 hours, I much preferred the serene train ride through the mountains in my comfy two-seater to that of the shaky bus.
And border control is another story entirely (a minimum of 1.5 hours each way - plan accordingly!).

I stayed with my friend Lauryn, who "studied" with me (read: we drank copious amounts of alcohol together at bars with names like Chocolate Factory in response to the harsher-than-average Danish winter we endured) at the DJH in Aarhus. She showed me around the city during the day, and the first night we went to "Spin and Needle," a craft and DJ night at a local dive bar put on by Lauryn's friends from Ottawa. Not being one of creative genius, I made a piece of magazine art for my boyfriend Scott and called it a night. Saturday night was the "I Love Neon" night, a rave-esque party at some club where MSTRKRFT was spinning.
pre-neon party
Not really my scene (24-year-old grannies like myself who prefer 2am bedtimes to all-night boozefests should not be allowed in to raves), but a few Jack and cokes helped ease the pain. And Lauryn's friends were super cool and easy to get along with - I kind of wish they'd come live in New York so I could go out with them every weekend.

I won't bore you any longer with the minute details from my weekend, but I'll leave you with Some Random Observations from the Bilingual City:

-There are lots and lots of bees in Montreal. No really. LOTS. And you know my trepidation of bees. Or maybe you don't. Let's just say an encounter with a beehive in Sewanee + 17 stings + one hospital visit later does not = a fondness for apidae.

-Montrealeans (Montrealites?) like their terraces.
i love neon party
(And that's pronounced tuh-ras in the singular if you're Canadian. For a city where English is spoken half of the time, there sure was a lot of lost in translation going on.) Even the Subway and McDonald's had quaint outdoor patios. It was quite lovely really. Too bad the overabundance of bees prevented any outdoor dining on my part. 

-The Anglos and Frenchies aren't rushing off to buy BFF necklaces anytime soon. Kind of like the Catholic and Protestants in Belfast, only speaking two completely different languages and without that whole minor war thing.

-Lots of people get married in Montreal. And this from a Southern girl who was invited to 13 weddings this year alone and is the only person in her state over 22 not hitched. I saw no less than five weddings taking place in the Vieux-Port area during my leisurely Saturday stroll along the quay.
adam & sarah
Random aside:  Lauryn is Jewish, and I've decided I really want to attend a Jewish wedding and watch them break the glass and hoist the bride up in the air on a chair and sing merry songs and  do Hobbit-like dances. Now I just need to, first, find Jewish friends and, second, convince them to get hitched.

-Punks and hipsters run rampant. Nuff said.

WHERE/WHAT TO EAT: L'Academie on St-Denis is a great, rustic French-Italian joint with a good mix of seafood and pasta dishes. While not cheap, main courses run from about $14-$30 Canadian. Not bad consider I pay that nightly for a meal in NYC that is not nearly as decadent. Also, head to Schwartz's, THE place in Montreal to sample the city's famed smoked meat. And don't leave Montreal without at least trying poutine.
the quay
No really. Doused in fries and curds (or alternatively bits of mozzarella), this culinary staple is what the city is known for. I prefer sweet over salty, and even I could appreciate consuming my daily caloric intake in just one meal of poutine.

WHERE TO SHOP: You'll find your designer stores and chainlets along one of the city's main stretches, St-Catherine. Also, check out Montreal-exclusive deparment store Ogilvy's to browse labels like Chanel, Hermes and Burberry all at once. Personally on my budget, I preferred Simon's, a Canadian store with a younger, cheaper selection. St-Laurent and St-Denis are excellent streets for more indie and one-off boutiques.

WHAT TO DO: Visit the quaint cobblestone streets of the Vieux-Port and the Quay. If you're feeling particularly adventurous, rent a paddleboat or quadricycle and work off last night's poutine.
one of montreal's ubiquitous weddings
Hike the Mountain. Explore the Plateau and McGill's campus (the Harvard of Canada). Smoke hookah and one of the city's many sheesha joints. Train it out to the Botanical Gardens and hit up the insectarium while you're there. And first and foremost, HAVE FUN! =)
kingelvis14 says:
Sounds like fun! My husband and I were within 50 miles of Montreal on our road trip and decided against going there. We had heard that all the street signs were in French and that the folks there weren't very friendly at all. Maybe next time we will give it a look.
Posted on: Jan 15, 2008
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vieux-port
vieux-port
lauryn & me
lauryn & me
pre-neon party
pre-neon party
i love neon party
i love neon party
adam & sarah
adam & sarah
the quay
the quay
one of montreals ubiquitous weddi…
one of montreal's ubiquitous wedd…
take 3!
take 3!
getting down
getting down
lauryn smoking hookah
lauryn smoking hookah
MSTRCRFT
MSTRCRFT
lauryn & adam
lauryn & adam
look at those shorts!
look at those shorts!
condom man
condom man
note sarahs 80s hair
note sarah's 80s hair
vieux-port
vieux-port
elie & lauryn
elie & lauryn
the train ride back through the ad…
the train ride back through the a…
lake george maybe?
lake george maybe?
me & elie
me & elie
elie & sarah
elie & sarah
sarah getting rowdy
sarah getting rowdy
sarah
sarah
adam
adam
adam & sarah
adam & sarah
take 1
take 1
take 2
take 2
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photo by: cvanzoen