A Travellerspoint blog

Montreal

July 1st to 21st

We arrived on a Wednesday, settled in and then spent Thursday planning our 3 week visit around the multitude of festivals and Alyssa’s school holidays. On Friday we visited Old Montreal. Old Montreal is a must for all visitors to Montreal with historic architecture, old port animation, cafes everywhere, good food and a nice compact place with great atmosphere. Old Montreal is similar to Old Town Quebec…like being in Europe and once again the most prominent language being French. In fact, we have found ourselves picking up various French words simply so we can get through our stay. And again we have found ourselves in a predominantly French speaking suburb. Interesting when you have to go shopping, let me tell you!

We visited the Old Port whilst in Montreal. The old port offers a nice walk around the waterfront and if you are in luck, there will be something going on at one of the piers - perhaps a Poutinefest like we managed to stumble upon. Now Poutine is not just Poutine (a dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy originating in Quebec and possibly the cause of many a hardened artery). And before you ask…..yes! we did give it a go. If I can eat guinea pig in Peru, it is only fair I try the Poutine in Montreal, Quebec. However, most of the cafes/restaurants have been re-creating the Quebec culinary staple with the person seeking variety in mind. No longer is poutine just fries, gravy and cheese curd (as if this is not enough to give you a heart attack) because now you can get a variety of toppings including sausage, bacon, onion, turkey, mince, jalapenos and much more. I can categorically say – NEVER again.

20150709 Montreal (32)

20150709 Montreal (32)



While we were in Montreal, we just happened to arrive during the final few days of the largest Jazz Festival in the world. With a who's who of artists, the 33rd Edition of the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal was a fantastic way to spend 2 afternoons in the city where we listened to several free Jazz bands and got to witness a dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment. One of our favorites was West Trainz, a fusion of Retro-futuristic multimedia in a show the band ‘takes on the road’ on an old Mad-Max like train.

20150709 Montreal (36)

20150709 Montreal (36)



Always seeking to just happen upon something a little out of the ordinary, we decided to venture to something known as the Tam Tam on our first Sunday in Montreal. Every Sunday Montreal has a free unofficial festival in a park at the base of Mount Royal. There are artisans who sell their products (including drums etc) and across the whole park you can see several groups playing musical instruments. We also saw Frisbee, slack lining, a pet ferret, hacky sack games, skipping, hula hooping, juggling, a Buddhist playing a drum, sword (with shield) play fighting/acting, inflatable bumper balls, peeps walking around with beers and we smelt Marijuana whilst walking through the park. All in all a happy time was had by all and it appears they have this fun every Sunday. Albeit for the olfactory bit, it reminded us of Alex Salvador’s Full Moon Drum Circle held at the Gregory Street Amphitheatre in Townsville every month.

On Wednesday 8 July we went to an area of Montreal known as Mile End. Here we simply wandered and enjoyed the neighborhood filled with great coffee shops as part of a student neighborhood. Mile End is a quaint spot in the city where you can see the old world architecture, some hippie shops and some great art places and enjoy the "montreal bagel". The two main players in the 'Who has the better Bagel' game are St. Viateur (1957) and Fairmont Bagel (1950) - we chose St. Viateur. The great debate is whether the New York bagel is better or worse than Montreal’s bagel. For now, I think we are sitting on the fence because in all honesty, they are both very different and both very yummy!

20150709 Montreal (83)

20150709 Montreal (83)



After wandering around Mile End for an hour or so, I decided we had sufficient energy to walk to the top of Mount Royal. Mount Royal is a large hill or small mountain in the city of Montreal and has a nice view of the Downtown area. Elevation is not too high, but it has plenty of walking/jogging trails and a refreshing view of the city from the Chateau. We could have opted for the gentle gradual path with lots of switchbacks, or straight up the middle with a shortcut. We chose to do a bit of both. At the end we had the option of 2.3km up the gradual path or 257 steps straight up. We chose the steps. The stairs are quite steep and there are a lot of them but the view of the city when you get there is worth the climb! On the way back down we walked through McGill University back down into the city. All round we walked almost 19km today.

20150709 Montreal (86)

20150709 Montreal (86)



On Friday we took the Montreal Metro to the Old Port again. We decided to do Voiles en Voiles (sail sails). This is an aerial adventure course ranging from 1 to 10 meters high between two 18th century Pirate Ships. There are 7 aerial courses where you are attached to a zip line and have to traverse your way around various routes ranging from a simple ladder or plank to free swinging logs and cargo nets. I managed to last 1 course only before being overcome by my fear of heights (or was it a fear of falling???). Alyssa and Nick stayed the full 2 hours and I think managed to cross all but 2 of the really high courses and the zip line. We then continued to walk around Old Town and got down to one of the 4 man-made beaches in Montreal. The latest addition to Montreal's handful of beaches is the Montreal Clock Tower Beach, a place where locals and visitors can wet themselves by the misting stations and then lounge in the sun or under a parasol in the comfort of a long chair. They even have a bar at the end of the pier/beach.

20150710 Montreal (21)

20150710 Montreal (21)

On Saturday we decided to something a little more low key and rented a car for a little road trip. We didn’t get out of the Avis office until an hour after planned and then the traffic north was at a snail’s pace. We didn’t quite make it as far north as we wanted, but ended up having lunch at 12:30pm (they offered us both the breakfast and lunch menu) at Resto Du Coin. We opted for the breakfast menu and after we ate we strolled down the main street of historic Ste Jerome. With a little time left before we had to head home, we jumped back in the car and drove further north and stumbled across an artisans market in Ste Adele. It was a great day for a road trip. When we dropped the car back in Downtown Montreal, we then ambled along Rue Sainte Catherine because they had blocked the entire street for yet another festival/celebration … la Sainte-Catherine celebre! That night we stayed up late to partake in the L'International des Feux Loto-Québec 2015 (Montréal International Fireworks Competition). On Saturday night it was Italy’s turn to impress and we got to see it all from our own private Terrace. The fireworks displays are on Saturday and Wednesday nights over a period of 3 weeks with 6 countries competing. During summer, Montreal is all about the celebrations that’s for sure!

fireworks

fireworks

fireworks from terrace

fireworks from terrace



Our last Saturday in Montreal we decide to take Alyssa to see a movie at the Montreal Forum. The Montreal Forum was an indoor arena called "the most storied building in hockey history" by Sporting News, it was the home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Maroons from 1924 to 1938 and the Montreal Canadiens from 1926 to 1996. The Forum has been refurbished into a cineplex with more than 20 cinemas.

20150718 Montreal (16)

20150718 Montreal (16)



After that we decided to get lost in the Montreal Underground City. Montreal's Underground City (officially RÉSO) is the set of interconnected complexes (both above and below ground) in and around Downtown Montreal. It is also known as the indoor city and is the largest underground complex in the world. It is very confusing but we managed to traverse our way through a series of underground malls. We stumbled around several ‘tunnels’ that connect several commercial buildings downtown. It's kind of a maze under there and we only managed to walk 6 1/2km of the 32km before heading home on the Subway for the evening. Once we got back to our suburb though we opted again to wander a different route and came across a little street with a variety of outdoor games for kids to participate in such as hopscotch, snake and ladders and the bean bag toss. Pretty cool find!

20150718 Montreal (1)

20150718 Montreal (1)

20150718 Montreal (9)

20150718 Montreal (9)



On our final Sunday in Montreal we walked to the Olympic Stadium to go to the ‘free’ Jackalope Action Sports Festival. Fun for the whole family this weekend with urban and action sports including rock climbing, slack lining, wakeskating, skate boarding and Montreal’s answer to the mechanical bull ride – the mechanical surf board. There were bars set up in 3 different locations, pop up shops and food trucks and free samples of coke, cliff bars, ice blocks and protein snacks (salami sticks for yuppies). Turns out is has been on for the last 5 years and Canadian, American, Brazilian, French, Moroccan, and Japanese athletes come to Montréal to compete in skateboard, climbing, wakeskate, freestyle, motocross, fixed gear, slackline, and highline events for prize money as high as $10,000. If only I didn’t have a fear of heights (or is it falling!). Montreal sure knows how to party in summer.

20150719 Montreal (24)

20150719 Montreal (24)

Posted by V3USA 14:19

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