This past weekend I took a trip up to Montréal. It was a last minute-spur of the moment booking for me. I also did something I have never done before: I booked an Amtrak ticket. The last time I was on a train was over in Ireland. I learned that train travel in the US is very different from that in Europe. But, that’s a story for another time.
I arrived in Montréal Friday evening and left Sunday morning, so I had a limited schedule and I wanted to see and do as much as I could. The weather was iffy, and Saturday morning saw some severe thunderstorms and a lot of rain. Luckily, it came through pretty early, and by 10am it had cleared up.
Needless to say, I didn’t get to see half of what I hoped to, but I tried to make the best of it and I had an awesome time. So, what did I end up doing?
Gay Village (Le Village)
Just a block or two away from where I was staying was the Gay Village. The Village is one of Montréal’s more well known neighborhoods. The area was originally a poor working-class area, but the neighborhood became increasingly attractive to the gay and lesbian community after many gay business owners we pushed out of the city. The balls strung up above run the length of St. Catherine Street. There are over 200,000 balls used and every May-September, the street become a pedestrian only zone. The street is lined with shops, cafe’s, and restaurants. This is the largest gay village in North America.
The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal is located in Old Montréal. I had plans to go inside and look around, but as soon as I got there, the sky opened and people scattered to find shelter. I ran into a souvenir shop and spent around 20 looking around, waiting for the rain to pass. I gave up and bought an umbrella and braved the storm. By the time the rain let up a bit, the line was down the street. I decided to pass on the tour and kept on going.
Old Town (Vieux-Montréal)
Montréal’s Old Town is an area of cobblestone streets and stone facade buildings. Lined with shops, restaurants, and bars, this is a very popular area for visiting tourists. About four years ago I looked into visiting Montréal, and the first image I saw while researching was taken of this area during the winter time. I was instantly drawn in to the European look this area held. Even though I visited in the summer, it did not disappoint.
Jean- Talon Market (Marché Jean-Talon)
The Jean-Talon Market is located in the heart of Little Italy. This is a market popular with both locals and tourists. You can literally find anything you are looking for here from meats, cheese, fruits and vegetables, plants, flowers, herbs, the list goes on. I spent maybe an hour wandering around the different stalls. My advice to you: make sure you have cash handy! There is no way you will be leaving empty handed (or on an empty stomach).
Almost everywhere I looked, I saw some from of street art. Montréal was most definitely one of the most colorful cities I have visited.
I did manage to do some wandering around the city center a bit. There was a lot going on during this weekend. The International Jazz Festival, Montréal City Comic-Con (which I kick myself for not trying to go to!), and Vive375 which is celebrating Montréal’s 375th year! So, pretty much everywhere you went, something was going on. There was never a dull moment.
Here are a few more pictures I managed to capture:
Oh, Montréal, I just did not have enough time to explore. There was so much I didn’t get the chance to see, food I never got to try (I’m thinking of you smoked meat sandwiches), areas I never got the chance to visit. This is one city I will definitely return to. I just never had the chance to really experience what it had to offer. So, I will be back.
Montréal is a French speaking city, and you will be addressed in French first. It is important to know a few key phrases to make your stay a little less stressful. Remember, you are a guest in their city, and learning some of their language will help you in the long run.
Sortie – Exit (knowing this will make your life a million times easier)
Rue – Street
Bonjour – Hello
Au Revoir – Good bye
Merci – Thank you
Poussez – Push (this will be on a lot of doors, and nobody want to be that person trying to pull a push open door)
Je ne parle pas français – I do not speak french