Friday, November 13, 2015

Weekend in Montreal

If you live on the east coast and just want to get away for a weekend, then there aren't too many places that are easier to get to and more fun to escape to than Montreal, Quebec-- be it for a fun trip with the girls, or a weekend date with someone special.  On my flight from North Carolina late Thursday night, I noticed that a strange amount of travelers seemed around my age.  Maybe as much as half the flight was full of 20 and 30 year olds.  As I started talking to my seat mate the reason became clear; apparently Montreal is the bachelor/bachelorette capital of the east coast.  I have to say that the reasoning is sound.  Montreal has a friendly personality to tourism, a friendlier American to Canadian dollars exchange rate, plenty of nightlife, and some fantastic food. What more can you ask for in a travel destination?

This is definitely a walking-friendly city, especially if you focus in on your area of interest.  Want great shopping?  Pretty much everything you want is on Ste. Catherine Street.  What about boutiques and independent restaurants?  Head to Old Montreal for the best independent shops and food in the area, plus some great views of the river and historic sites like the Notre Dame de Montreal.

Even the mailboxes are friendlier in Canada
For nightlife, just head to the Crescent Street area and you'll have your pick of bars and clubs over-run with bachelor and bachelorette parties from Jersey, Connecticut, and well North Carolina obviously.

The Notre Dame de Montreal is worth a visit inside.  While the exterior is nowhere near as awe-inspiring as its Parisian counterpart, this cathedral is quite beautiful once you step inside.  It does cost 5 Canadian dollars to enter so bring cash.  You can pay with $5 American but don't expect change back.  If you don't exchange your money for Canadian dollars in Montreal you aren't going to have too hard a time of things; you just won't take advantage of that great exchange rate because most places taking cash only won't convert for you.

Where to Stay: 

We loved the Hotel Le Crystal if you are willing to splurge.  But just keep scrolling if you aren't sure -- the pictures will convince you. 

The view from our suite!

Just hanging out with the bachelorette in the huge bed in our suite at Hotel Le Crystal

Where to Eat
Our best meal was at Olive & Gourmando.  Expect a wait but it is totally worth it.  This is the lunch spot you need to be sure to hit on your trip if you love fresh food.

Where to Drink
Get your night started at the most lovely spot in Old Montreal, Jardin Nelson.  This is a great place to order a glass of wine or a Canadian themed cocktail, get dinner (plenty of seafood options!) and enjoy the lovely scenery and live jazz music.  The patio stays warm into the night with heaters that make you forget it's like 40 degrees in September in Canada.

My photos didn't do it justice so I borrowed this one to give you an idea via
After dinner we wanted to try out a wine bar and we got competing recommendations: Pullman had a great selection, chill vibe, and really good appetizers.  You do have to buy food if you order a drink here, but you'll definitely be glad you ordered an app anyway.  I could have stayed here all night -- warm, cozy, and well priced.
Pullman, the perfectly place to talk politics and South Park over a glass of red.

We also tried out La Champagnerie in Old Montreal, but it was kind of everything Pullman was not. Expensive, and full of loud girls screaming every time they uncorked a champagne bottle (which to be fair is reasonable because the shtick at La Champagnerie is they uncork them with a sword and it's very theatrical). But when there is squealing every 10 minutes it's hard to want to stay in one place for long. Not that the bar wants you to stay anyway -- there are specific serving times when you get a reservation, so you can only stay at your table for a set length of time before you have to leave or move to the bar so they can bring in more people.  Overall not a place you want to just hang out with a glass of wine.

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