Montreal: A Guide to Building a Snowman & Other Things to Do

My friends and I welcomed 2017 with a five day trip to Montreal. As a Seattleite, I’d spent a lot of time in Vancouver, but never on the other side of Canada. If you are a West Coaster, there are a few things you should know, namely that getting to that part of Canada takes forever and is kind of a pain…but worth it!

We stayed in the oh-so-trendy, Mile End neighborhood, which is very walkable, and was perfect for our group. Plus, it was colder than hell so it was good to be in short walking distance to all kinds of bars, shops and grocery stores (I know. I know. We went to Canada in the wintertime. Our bad bro!).

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A few spots we hit in the neighborhood included:

  • Sparrow: Good for a nice mellow drink or two.
  • Bar Waverly: Where the younger crowd goes when they *think* they are having a mellow drink. I am pretty sure spontaneous dance parties erupt there regularly.
  • Bishop and Bragg: Where the older crowd goes when they have no intention of a quiet night.
  • Larry’s: We unexpectedly stumbled on this spot and were blown away. The menu rotates, but if you happen to catch the cauliflower-lemon-caper dish, order it. OMM NOM! We are all still talking about it months later.
  •  Drawn and Quarterly: As many of us met in a book club, it was only fitting that we visit a book store. Drawn and Quarterly has a few locations, all of which are charming. This one gave us a great sense of the local literary flavor.

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Since we had a fairly short amount of time to explore, coupled with holiday business closures and a wicked snowfall (even by Montreal standards), we focused on hitting the major must-sees, like Basilique Notre-Dame de Montreal which is stunning. Regardless of what religion inhabits a space, I do believe some structures are truly holy, and this place feels like something divine is listening to you while you are there.

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We also made a stop by the Jean-Talon market on our first day, because we are bougie and had to have fancy appetizers whenever we stayed in to cook. The market was a highlight. Special shout out to the staff at the cheese shop who were funny and helpful.

We also hiked up to the Mont Royal Cross, with a lovely stop at the public ski lodge for some vending machine hot chocolate and to snag a few photos. Most importantly, those of us from cold states had to teach everyone else how to build a snowman (Properly named Olaf. I’m sure everyone in the park loved us singing the same song 12 times in a row). Eventually, we trudged out of the park to wait in line at La Banquise for poutine, which I did not take a picture of, because it looks gross, but tastes amazing!

Pro Tip: The La Banquise line is no joke. Go at off hours to save yourself waiting all day in the cold.

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A few other fun points of interest, we visited Pointe-à-Callière which was a fantastic way to learn more about the city and it’s history. As a museum buff, this one rates high, so plan on making time to explore. The group also stopped by La Fabrique brunch, which was delicious and homey. It was a good walk from our place in Mile End to the restaurant and gave us a great way to walk off the meal, see the street art  and play around the city at eye-level.

Finally, I am making a whole special section for the restaurant we spent midnight in, Les 400 Coups. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

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Literally, someone made a collage of me trying and reacting to all the different wines. It was pure comedy gold!

Photo credit goes to the group I traveled with. We all dumped our photos into a giant sharing stream, and now I don’t know who took what. Thanks ladies!

 

 

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