My first trip to a place where I do not know a single soul. My first trip where I speak the language at the very best, at a primitive level. I still played it safe though - it's still Canada, people speak English, it's different enough, yet similar enough. Montréal was the perfect spot for me to try being other versions of myself with no judgements, no mistakes, and no expectations.
I took the first morning train (6:40AM) from Toronto Union Station. I was exhausted from the intense schedule I was following through my days in Toronto, but catching the early train out of the city was worth it. The station was a little quieter, calmer, and I got to catch the beautiful sunrise in between my micro sleeps.
Travelling alone has allowed me to feel some contrasting emotions. Every time I saw something wonderful, a part of me felt lonely that I couldn't share it with a loved one in that moment, but I also had the opportunity to really think deeply about the beauty of things and appreciate it at a more intimate level. I guess having a chance to slow your thoughts down and be your own best friend is the whole point of travelling solo. It was a first for me and it was awkward and liberating all at the same time.
I was greeted by the grey sky and the chilling temperature of April. It felt like I travelled back in time because when I had left Vancouver, the city was filled with pastel pink and yellow blooms, but Montréal was still partly covered with salty ice and snow. However, the charming architecture and people welcomed me everywhere and it made everything extra lovely.
First stop, POUTINE.
I've heard stellar reviews about La Banquise and had to get their poutine inside my stomach. What else would I eat in the province that gave birth to one of the best Canadian treats? There is a loooong list of poutine joints in Montréal and I would have loved to try them ALL, but I wasn't about to eat poutine three times a day, so I had to pick the one that my friend recommended me. It sure did not disappoint.
Parc La Fontaine
Just around the corner from La Banquise is Parc La Fontaine. Although it was quite gloomy with no green in sight, I could imagine how beautiful the park would be once spring and summer arrive in the city. I also met a couple of interesting souls here and shared life stories, which added a little warmth in the air.
I walked around aimlessly and ended up in Old Montréal. Unfortunately, I was unable to go inside to most of the attractions because they were closed...womp womp. BUT I did see some amazing architecture and drooled over Notre Dame Basilica.
Day time... night time!
I had always known that Montréal was a musical city, so I definitely had to see one live show. I headed to Grumpy's Bar on Rue Bishop and I got my fix of jazz and beer. Really cozy, cool basement bar with good draft beer menu and strong cocktails. Check and check. I found that this joint was more filled with Anglophone than Francophones, at least on the night that I went. Everyone was super friendly and I had a great time!
Did I mention I had the best Airbnb experience?
I stayed one night and two days at this lovely space (yes, I picked this place for the exposed brick haha). I stayed with host, Pierre-Olivier, who was kind-spirited and very accommodating. Although I only stayed for one night, he made sure that I felt comfortable in the already-beautiful and spacious room and also made some great recommendations for me to experience the city. Highly, highly recommend staying at his lovely home! He has a very friendly cat who really enjoyed staying in the room. It was nice to have some kitty cuddle time.
I can't remember exactly how I came across Café Parvis, but I'm really glad I went there. It was such a bright and inviting space! It seemed like a hub for grabbing lunch and a drink for people working in the Downtown area. The food was super delicious! Montréal's food was soooo good, I can't wait to go back to explore more places!
Musée d'art comtemporain de Montréal (MAC)
Me: "I have two hours left in Montréal, what should I do?"
Bartender at Café Parvis: "Oh, you should definitely check out the MAC, it's only a five-minute walk from here."
And off I went.
I loved the simplicity and complexity of this museum. My favourite exhibit is shown in the last photo. It was a series of videos of artists playing one instrument (or voice) played all at once in a big, dark room. The harmony created by the artists was truly amazing and I found myself lost in the beauty of their sound for half an hour. If you are ever in Montréal, please go visit the MAC! Thanks, Mr. Bartender, for recommending it!
Yup, Montréal was definitely awesome. Can't wait to come back and experience other parts of the city! Hope you enjoyed the super long blog and thanks for reading if you made it to the end! :D