Just an ordinary Montréal Christmas journey

Just an ordinary Montréal Christmas journey
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Bonjour! Ça va ?

We are Europeans who moved to Canada, and Christmas Day for us is one of the most important days during the calendar year. We love to celebrate the Birth of Jesus and to make some small presents for our close friends and families. Honestly, this day is, like someone sang "is the most wonderful time of the year"!

The reason we decided to visit Montreal

Long story short, but as we have some time, we will share it with you.

A few months ago, oh how far was it, we've been thinking with our besties, where we would like to spend our Christmas holidays. During this period we usually have no expeditions with our guests and we like to travel all together. So, as all of us are Europeans, we decided to visit Montreal from Quebec, Canada. You ask me, why? Happy to answer!

Montreal is the most European-like city in the whole of Canada!

At least, people say so.

So, tickets and hotel are booked, backpacks are packed camera is charged and now we are ready to start our adventure.

But! COVID-19 (yes, it is still active) cut our friends, and we (our small team of two) decided to visit this great settlement by ourselves.

The very first day, the very first impression

We arrived in the city of Montreal close to midnight, as our transportation was delayed. Honestly, I was very tired, so right after the check-in at the hotel I fell asleep. So technically, the first day is our second day in the city, but, anyway. Doesn't matter, right?

Firstly, we've been staying at the Novotel Montreal. Nice, affordable, clean with few pinches of luxurious hotel. It has everything you need: meeting rooms, gym, restaurant and concierge service, so I would recommend you to stay there.

Just a block from the hotel, we had a great breakfast at the L'Oeufrier. Their Strawberry Milkshake is a piece of art. Highly recommend!

After having food, we started to explore the Downtown. Honestly, it is a bit boring: a lot of Erotic Massages with huge advertisements, a lot of shops, a lot of convenience stores - nothing special. The Downtown looks boring if you have ever been to Europe, like France, Italy, even Germany!

Then we had lunch at Weinstein & Gavino's. Probably, it was the fastest serving process ever. We ordered two pasta dishes and a glass of wine for both of us, and we received our food less than in 10 minutes! Even, if it was lunchtime, so the restaurant was almost fully occupied! The pasta was really good, with surprisingly good cheese (it is quite hard to find good Italian cheese in Vancouver), so we were really happy. We spend there something around $70 with tips.

After that, we decided to finalize our walk by visiting a few churches in the city centre and listening to a Christmas chorus at one of them. A few pictures from that day are below:

The second day, old Montreal

Oh, this old, ancient town... The architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries was always my weakness. And, honestly, the architecture of the old Montreal is surprisingly good. We took a lot of pictures, maybe more than a hundred, as we missed this type of architecture on our West Coast. Montreal is different. It has this vibe of old European cities but with the spirit of America.

We walked a lot, we had a tour of the Notre Dame de Montreal (it was worth it), and we spent hours just walking and watching the interiors and exteriors. And then lunchtime came.

So, we decided to visit the closest place with a French cuisine tag on Google Maps. It was Modavie. We spent there almost $200! But it was worth it. I tried the onion soup (I had it a few times before, but it was disgusting) and it was really good. Also, I had a grilled salmon fillet with rice and vegetables. Okay, I love fish again after that experience. But food is not the only thing that is good there, they also have great live music, starting at 7 pm daily.

So, after lunch, we continued to walk around the old city, went to the Bonsecours Market, where we bought some presents and souvenirs and decided to visit some bars to try this famous vibe of Old Montreal drinking.

We visited the Pol Bar. Just a good bar with nice signature cocktails, and nothing to share good or bad about it.

As a small tradition: some pictures from the second day.

One more day of walking

Our third day was intense: we visited almost all the churches, we spent time at a Christmas Market, and we tested a dozen coffee shops to find, where is the best coffee in Montreal. Spoiler: we found it! It is great from both sides: aesthetically and taste. But of course, we can not tell you the name of this place, as it is a part of our new tour to Montreal :)

Lunch we tried to have at Mechant Boeuf. Why tried? When we made an order, after a few minutes server said, that they ran out of almost all the dishes. A bit odd, as for me. So we moved to Vieux-Port Steakhouse. Honestly, it is a really good place to grab some delicious food. But the only thing: the server was a bit rude, asking for tips in a very annoying way.

Some additional thoughts

The Underground City, or RESO

The largest disappointment of the trip. As Jack, the information officer at the Central Station said:

The Underground City is a myth. Yes, we have it, but it is more about tunnels, connecting different neighbourhoods, metro stations and shopping malls. I do not like it, but some find it interesting. Dunno why. I would rather visit Ottawa than this. Jack, Information Officer

We visited it, as I am too curious to trust people, even if they gave their words. So, do not visit it, nothing interesting, honestly.

Public transportation system

Metro is nice, but there are a lot of homeless and they are quite aggressive sometimes. So be careful. Also, important to know, that a metro system (busses as well) is divided by zones. But even if the airport is at Zone A, you need to buy a special ticket to have a ride there by bus. Also, if you buy 1 ticket to one zone - you will have just one option to enter the metro, and almost unlimited changes to the busses during the first 240 minutes.

Homeless people

As I said, they are quite aggressive. They may touch you while asking for money. They can just stop the traffic by walking in the middle of the road, or they may just run after you if they do not like you. So, please, be careful.

Architecture

Thanks, Quebecoise Government, that you saved it. Yes, sometimes it needs repairing, but at least your relationship with history is really good.

Prices

Oh, such a nice topic. I would say, everything costs almost the same as at Vancouver, but sometimes more, sometimes less. For example, milk is twice as cheap, but mineral water is almost three times more expensive. But the nice thing is that in Montreal are many more European products.

General impression

During the Christmas time this city is overcrowded, so I would recommend booking everything as early as it is possible. Also, remember, that in Canada almost everything is closed on Christmas Day. The city is nice, great to travel there, but not to live (in my opinion).

If you would like to visit the most European place in Canada with us - you can book an expedition to Montreal with us, the next one is scheduled by the end of March 2024. We will show you all the hidden spots I haven't covered at this note and you will receive a full package tour!

Thank you, Merci!

See you on our expeditions!