It’s been a little over two months already since I returned from my August Travels that led me back to Canada after ten years of absence. It was about time that I went back to the place that had been my home for a year. In order to remember some of the precious moments I got to experience upon my return, I’d like to take you on a virtual tour through Montreal [French: Montréal], Quebec’s largest and most diverse city.
My friend who came to visit me in Berlin earlier this year had told me that the two cities somehow resembled each other in their spirits, which is to say that there’s a certain “layed-backness” in both Berlin and Montreal. I must say, it’s somehow true. Their city cultures are different (one being European, the other one rather American) and yet similar (no one cares about how crazy you are as long as you don’t cause any trouble).
So, if you ever find yourself on that side of the globe, what could you see or do?
First of all, I recommend you take a stroll along one of Montreal’s many popular neighbourhoods. The Pleateau Mont Royal, for example. This is the city’s most colourful and artistic district located between the famous Saint Laurent Boulevard and Saint Denis Street. Watch out for the typical exterior staircases which are a common feature of the city’s architecture. Also make sure to pay a visit to Prince Arthur Street, with its many cozy bars and restaurants.
If you’re interested in street art, Montreal is your place to be. How about some graffiti hunting? My friend and I had a blast taking pictures all over the place, especially in the above mentioned Plateau area, where we bumped into one graffiti-covered building after the other.
Saint Catherine Street
If you’re into shopping, you’ll find whatever you need along this street in Downtown Montreal. Should you grow tired of the hustle and bustle of the busy streets or overwhelmed by the many skyscrapers in the district, you can find some peace in one of the many churches in the area, such as Christ Church Cathedral, or in a nearby cozy park called Place du Canada. This leads me to my next point of recommendations…
You need to eat, right? So I recommend you just watch out for a variety of food trucks that you can find scattered around the city, in the above mentioned Place du Canada for example. Indian food, burgers, fries, tacos, sandwich creations and bagels, hot dogs or pizza, vegetarian foods, pastries and coffee products… There’s something for every possible taste.
This historic area contains the Old Port, Place Jacques Cartier and the Notre Dame de Montréal Basilica, among others. Its architecture and cobbled streets remind us of the time of French colonization. The riverside of the old town area is known as the Old Port, situated along the banks of the St. Lawrence River.
The Jean-Talon Market
The Marché Jean-Talon is a farmer’s market in the Little Italy district. Local vendors from the countryside sell their products here, mostly fruit and vegetables but also meat, fish and cheese varieties. Have you ever come across yellow tomatos or purple cauliflower? This might be your opportunity. It was a first time for me. There are lots of restaurants, snack bars and cafés in the area in case you get hungry from all the food shopping.
What else to eat
You can’t leave Montreal without having tried a decent poutine (e.g. at Poutine Ville) and the famous smoked meat from Schwartz’s. Poutine is a fast food dish consisting of fries, grain cheese and gravy that may serve as a main meal or a side dish. Variations include chicken, mushrooms and all possible other sorts of ingredients.
Smoked meat is a kosher beef product generally served in a rye bread sandwich with mustard. You may accompany it with pickles and sauerkraut. I had never before tasted such tender meat. Yummy!
The cherries of the cake
Montreal, like any other big city, offers endless possibilities to its inhabitants and visitors. Trying to do everything in a limited period of time seems impossible. It’s best to pick the cherries of the cake and leave with a sweet appetite for more to return to. I hope to have given you some ideas and inspiration on what to explore in Montreal.
Have YOU ever been to Montreal? What did you like best?