North America

36 Hours in Montreal

Neesha and I decided to splurge during a holiday weekend and head to Montreal. Fortunately for us, accommodations were cheap (Airbnb prices are super cheap in Montreal) but unfortunately, we didn’t do our research and stayed in a location that wasn’t for us. That didn’t stop us from enjoying a quick, freezing weekend up north!

Freezing at the Norte Dame

We rented an Airbnb on Saint Catherine. Due to minimal research, we believed that this was the “it” area that we would enjoy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. It was roaming with tourists and big-name corporations which are areas we are never interested in. It took us some time to realize that we enjoy areas that are more grungy, low-key, filled with mom and pop shops, and where we’ll find people who are our age. Luckily, we found our way to Plateau Mont Royal, where we spent most of our time.

Sexuality, Gender, and Race

Being in a progressive westernized country, we weren’t scared to be affectionate in public at all. In fact, it didn’t even cross our minds in the planning process. We held hands and felt very comfortable while doing so. We didn’t receive any stares (from what I know), and we were treated fairly in all spaces. From what we saw, there weren’t many people of color but again, we didn’t feel out of place.

Traveling into Montreal

We landed around 12:00 PM and took the airport express bus from the airport to Saint Catherine. It only costs us about 8 Canadian dollars apiece and we were able to get a short tour of Montreal. It took us about 40 minutes to get to Saint Catherine where we met our lovely Airbnb owner. While we didn’t like the location of the Airbnb, we LOVED the actual apartment. It seriously looked like it was plucked out of an IKEA store. It was also VERY clean – so if you’re a clean-freak, this is the place to go!

We made our way to the Norte Dame Bascila (a 10 minute walk) and this could’ve been done via the underground city (we couldn’t find it though). Once we got there, we realized that we needed cash to enter the church so we went on a search for cash. Once we came back though, it was closed! We took some nice photos and quickly moved on to look for the cobblestones in Old Montreal. It was nice to walk down quiet streets with adorable shops but for the time of day (dusk), it seemed very empty. We quickly wanted to find something else that was more lively. We ran into two locals who told us that we should head over to Mount Royal.

We walked around Saint Laurent street in Mount Royal for a bit and found beautiful street art and awesome mom and pop shops on the way. We headed to Burger Royal for dinner and had great burgers which was supposed to be followed by drinks but we decided to hold off since the next day was our one full day and we wanted to be energized for it.

Awesome burger!

There’s also Cinema L’Amour, a classic in Montreal. It’s a theater that features porn and you’re allowed to do as you please with your partner (or yourself) while watching. I was intrigued to see what it was like but I knew I wouldn’t be comfortable in a space like that. If it’s something you’re interested in though, go right ahead!

Full Day in Montreal

It wasn’t hard to find a brunch spot; there were a couple on Yelp that were super popular and when we arrived to one of them, Faberge Restaurant, there was a very long line. Our Uber driver was awesome and recommended B&M restaurant in Mount Royal/Mile End area which was a couple of blocks away. The food there was great – a basic breakfast with fruit on the side hit the spot for us. After breakfast, we decided to walk around the Mile End to see what we could find. We ended up walking around for hours, stopping into Drawn & Quarterly, a great bookstore known for their unique books, and went window shopping.

If you didn’t know, Montreal is known for its bagels and is known to surpass the quality of New York bagels. We stopped by L’ Orginail Fairmont Bagel and bought two bagels to compare Montreal bagels to New York ones (spoiler alert: New York bagels win). Montreal bagels are sweeter and do not taste like what I’m used to. Great place to try them though!

We reached an interesting bar, Café De Popolo and decided to grab some drinks. This bar was different than ones that we’ve previously been to – there was a “refugees welcome” sign, Black Lives Matter sign and others. What stuck out to me was a sign that reminded folks that if you needed help to get away from a bad date, bartenders were there to help out. The bartender we spoke to was awesome and we wanted to find out where the people of color were in Montreal. Unfortunately, she said they’re all in Toronto.

After a couple of drinks, we headed home, but not before grabbing our poutine! To be honest, the best part of the trip was getting back to the Airbnb early with our poutine and a bottle of white wine, where we danced the  night away. It was the best way to end our mini vacation though, I definitely could’ve done without the poutine (I’m picky).

Overall, we spent more than we should’ve on this trip but, it was a nice get away. Our tickets were about $200 each as well as our Airbnb. With cabs/food/drinks, we spent about $125 a piece. This was not a budget-friendly trip nor did we really keep track on what we spent but for us, that’s what worked. Next time we come back, we want to spend WAY more time in Montreal and come back in the summer.

Places to visit

Because of the weather, we weren’t motivated to do much in Montreal but we are definitely going to hit the spots below when we visit in the summertime:

Fun fact: There are a bunch of phone booths sprawled out in Montreal

What did you do in Montreal? Share your experiences with us!

 – Nancy

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