Just a quick 1 hour flight away (or a 5-6 hour drive from home [Toronto]), is the whimsically lovely city of Montreal. What a perfect weekend destination to get away from every day life. There is a little bit of everything for everyone here- big city amenities, European charm, non-stop festival action and a foodie’s wonderland.
It was my first visit to Montreal for a number of years, and it is still as great as the first time around. If Europe is not in the cards this year, a quick trip to the province of Quebec will quickly cure the itch. Spending a few hours on a patio in Old Port, enjoying a beer or a glass of wine, watching people go by and street acts perform bring you right back – or bring you right to a nice cobble stone square in France. There is a certain casual/relaxed/enjoyable atmosphere about the city that I don’t think really exists anywhere else in Canada.
On this trip, there really was no plan- other than to have a good time. Nothing screams a good time more that a $40 margarita in Old Port (and yes, it was worth it). Beyond the jumbo drinks, I think the main goal of this trip was to discover one of the best poutines (french fries, mozzarella cheese and brown sauce), and 4 heart-attack inducing meals later, one may have been found at La Banquise a wonderful little find thanks to our cab driver at 3 AM. Montreal is really a foodie’s paradise; poutines, crepes, French cuisine, gourmet burgers, smoked meat sandwiches (go to Schwartz’!) oh… and lets give the poutines another mention! Regardless of your taste, you can really eat your way through the city and that alone could be the attraction, but if food may not be your thing, perhaps swing by to St. Laurent or St. Catherines where night life, restaurants, festivals and street acts take over. It feels as though there is always something going on, and maybe that’s why this city is so wonderful. On a personal level, I was also a huge fan of the street art, from fully graffitied buildings, to evening projections on brick walls, right down to actual performers, It really brings a certain sort of class and creativity to a city, which isn’t always embraced elsewhere.
When not being able to really get away, Montreal is the perfect retreat; relax, shop, party-whatever! Leads me to believe I , and more people should really go more often and enjoy what the city has to offer. For my international friends- those outside of the Toronto area, when visiting Canada, take a peak at our French neighbours and stop by their lovely little city- oh, and I strongly suggest having a taste of our national dish- the poutine!