tourism

Less Monochrome More Montréal

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.

The arrival.

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.

La Reggae Poutine

La Reggae Poutine

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.

Old Montréal

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. 

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

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.

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

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!

Pork meatballs

Pork meatballs

Kale salad

Kale salad

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

I Can Toronto Too - Day 3

Day 3 and I'm feeling great. I set out an ambitious plan to eat brunch, drink good coffee, see some cool sh*t, and drink some good beer. Check, check, and checkity check.

Scroll down to see where I went:
- Saving Grace (brunch)
- Ella's Uncle (coffee)
- Royal Ontario Museum (cool sh*t)
- Grand Electric (tacos)
- Bellwoods Brewery (beer)

Put yo name down.

9 times out of 10 when you visit this delicious brunch spot, there will be a stupid long lineup. Dontchu worry 'bout a thang. Just put your name down and go across the street to treat yourself a tasty house-made banana bread or blueberry scone and a latte, and  you'll feel right as rain. Make sure you don't spend toooo long at Ella's Uncle because if you snooze, you lose (i.e. don't miss your name being called at Saving Grace!)

When you finally make it inside Saving Grace and you are overwhelmed by all of the delicious options AND your decision-making skills are impaired like me, just look around at what other people are enjoying and simply tell your kind server, "I want that, please."
Yes, this is exactly I ordered my food. My friend was a little more civilized and asked, "What's the most popular dish? Okay, can I get that one?" Hence, I am sorry, I don't know the proper names of what we had.

If you ask for waffles, mushrooms, and poached eggs. I'm sure they'll know what you mean.

Beans... potatoes... and avocados? All you really have to know is that anything you get will be delicious.

Da ROM.

Very cool stuff. I typically enjoy going to museums and art galleries and can spend hours and hours there. So if you don't like looking at really old things from different places and learning about them, this probably won't be the place for you. So you can just scroll through these pictures and call it a day.

At ROM, you can find anything and everything including Canadian art, First Nations art, dinosaurs, rocks & gems, the history of evolution, and artifacts from different cultures and fallen empires. Currently, they have an exhibition called "Tattoos" (opened April 2nd). I would definitely love to go see that if I were still in Toronto!

"THAT ALL MEN MAY KNOW HIS WORK"

I'd like to call this one, "Watch Me Whip".

Made from porcupine needles. Whaaat?

Put a ring on it.

Toronto_Trip_Day_3-38.jpg

Head of Zeus.

Toronto_Trip_Day_3-67.jpg

Koreaaa!

Great times call for great tacos.

Grand Electric had some pretty grand tacos. I loved their unique creations and their chill vibe. Be prepared to wait for a seat because it's a smaller joint, but you'll be seated pretty quickly (within ~20mins).

grand electric taco menu

Baja Fish

Pork Belly & Spicy Chicken

Tuna Ceviche

BEEEERRRR!

Toronto_Trip_Day_3-84.jpg

Needless to say, it was a fun and packed day. This view was brought to you by my friend's awesome condo.