distaster trip: montreal 2012

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May 12, 2012

First success of the trip? Not getting lost en route to Ottawa! Once we parked, we headed to Byward Market to finally eat (after being on the road for 4 hours) and stopped at Murray Street Kitchen where we promptly encountered a drunk gentleman asking for directions to a convenience store. After telling him that we were from Toronto, he joyously exclaimed “me too!” and that he was also heading to Montreal – we hastily made our way to the patio. 

At this point in the trip, I decided to take food pictures – because let’s face it, food is fun and delicious – just like my pulled pork sandwich (all the food that I ate also reinforced the need to begin a vegetable cleanse once I returned home).

After enjoying our meals, we discovered that our hostel wasn’t actually booked (!!!) – I couldn’t stop laughing (nervous laughter), but we managed to get 2 out of the 3 nights that we wanted – and were left somewhat homeless for our last night in Montreal (my mother would be so pleased to hear that news).

Upon somewhat figuring our accommodations, we headed towards Parliament and I finally saw our government buildings for the first time! (I clearly got shafted when I was in grades 7/8). We were also greeted by many carrying pro-life signs (the images have been forever burned into my mind)

We decided to cut our trip to Ottawa short and head to Montreal to figure things out – but before that, we needed to stop for gas! There would be a gas station near the highway, right? Wrong. And so began our 45 minute search for gas (while using a GPS). This prompted the question – where are all the gas stations in Ottawa?

3 bat caves, 2 detours on the Cote-de-liesse, and 2.5 hours later – we were settled in Montreal (obviously greeted by Montreal’s finest). We made our way to Old Montreal (my favourite) and searched for a place to eat. 

We found a pretty great restaurant to eat – not to mention it had such an amazing ambiance (read: brick walls, low lights, and good music), and enjoyed an amazing meal of pasta and wine. 

Later that night, we walked the cobble-stone streets of Old Montreal – and fell even more in love with the city. 

After spending the majority of the next day shopping (finally found my oxfords!), we headed to Cirque de Soleil! Words can do no justice for how amazing the show was – I’ve never seen anything like it. Everything was brilliant, stunning, thrilling, and spectacular. Move over Broadway, I’ve found my new obsession. 

We left the show hungry, and searched for something to eat (at 11), not knowing that NOTHING would be open. Obviously a trip wouldn’t be complete without walking fast through sketchy parts of town, and ignoring catcalls. Our feet (and stomachs) hated us by the end of the night.  

The next day we ventured to McGill, and bypassed any protests or lockouts. After touring for a bit, we headed up Mont Royal, where we were greeted with an amazing view and had a (unintentional) police escort tour with us around the mountain. 

It felt amazing to finally exercise in the morning – and work off all the poutine from the day before. Nevertheless, we’re still paying for all this walking (I clearly did not exercise in the weeks prior and during exams). 

Next stop: Schwartz’s! This fabulous diner was featured in ‘You Gotta Eat Here!,’ so being the good girls that we are, we took his advice and made the long walk up Saint-Laurent, where we waited for seats (this place had a line-up and was packed!) – it was well worth it. 

This was by far the best sandwich that I’ve ever tasted – Montreal-style smoked meat. I’m salivating just thinking about it. 

We got back to our new digs (we lucked out, and found a place close by for the same price), rested for a bit, and headed to Notre Dame and then dinner. By this point of the trip, we knew Montreal’s Metro system as well as the TTC. 

I’ve never seen anything as beautiful in my life. Having a church as beautiful as this, close to my house, would definitely make me go to church each week. 

Before dinner, we stopped by a grocery store to get some snacks, water, and discovered that they sold wine and spirits, so we picked up a wine with a funny name. We also put back some grapes after realizing they cost $10. Note to self – never buy wine at a grocery store (even if it’s moderately expensive), our lesson of the day: we should have bought the $10 grapes.

We treated ourselves to a great dinner on Wednesday night – before heading back on Thursday. 

Goat cheese and caramelized pecans = delicious! This further established the idea that Montreal has great food. 

Also, by this point in the night, my feet were wrecked and we searched high and low for a pharmacy – but again realized that nothing is open past 7!

Our last stop in Montreal was the BioDome (were we also saw Olympic Stadium – ugly!) Yes, we were probably the nerdiest girls there, but it was pretty fun… and we saw penguins!

Also, puffins are so cute! (Almost as cute as turtles)

We began our journey back to Montreal – without getting lost, and stopped back in Ottawa to lunch, visit the National Gallery of Canada, and indulge in a beavertail! 

Montreal 2013 – only 360 days away!

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