Holiday Greetings from Montreal

Patisseries seem to get Simon Yee’s approval | Photo courtesy of Simon Yee

This past December, my wife, Sherry, and I visited Montreal for our Canadian honeymoon vacation. We were able to squeeze in a week for travel and since we hadn’t yet renewed our passports, we chose Montreal as our domestic getaway, owing to its reputation as a romantic destination with amazing food, historic architecture and old world European charm.

Arriving on a Saturday after a five hour flight (and losing three hours because of difference in the time zone!), we rested up in our hotel at the Loews Hotel Vogue on Rue de la Montagne. The hotel is centrally located in the Golden Square Mile, just steps away from Rue Sainte-Catherine, the major thoroughfare through downtown. Our room was cozy with a large bed and a private tub, which we enjoyed immensely during our week long stay.

During the day, we explored the city. We spent our first two days walking up Rue Sainte-Catherine towards Old Montreal, the Latin Quarter and the Gay Village, browsing the wares of the local stores, warming up in the Underground City network and taking in the city’s nightlife at various holiday festivals. Afterwards, we explored the areas of west and north of downtown, purchasing fresh fruit at the Jean-Talon Market in Little Italy, learning about environmental sustainability at the Biosphere at Parc Jean-Drapeau and looking across the urban island from the Montreal Tower at the Olympic Stadium.

During the night, we dined out, resolving to try the three foods that brought us to Montreal: bagels, poutine and Montreal smoked meat. We devoured soft, fresh bagels at St Viateur Bagel and Cafe in Mont-Royal, stuffed ourselves with local poutine at La Banquise and savoured delicious Montreal smoked meat at Reuben’s Deli. Mission accomplished! Other places of note which we enjoyed include Eggspectations for their great omelettes, M cafe for their delicious desserts and Ferrari on Rue Bishop and Wienstein & Gavino’s on Rue Crescent for their tasty pastas.

Simon Yee is on a food trail. | Photo courtesy of Simon Yee

Montreal, like Vancouver, is a great and enchanting Canadian city and so there were bound to be many similarities, but there were differences. For one, visiting in December, my wife and I got to experience a real Canadian winter. We bought ourselves toques and earmuffs, something we didn’t really need in Vancouver. Also, we were pleasantly surprised with how the effortlessly bilingual Montrealers were. The locals were able to switch between English and French with ease and we had no trouble navigating the city with our limited grasp of French. Finally, the historic architecture along with the Christmas lights in Old Montreal added a distinctive look and whimsical feel to the neighbourhood. Seeing hip and trendy stores in 17th and 18th century buildings added European character to a great cosmopolitan North American city.

My wife and I would definitely return to Montreal again, perhaps in spring or summer and as part of multi-city tour including Toronto, Ottawa, Quebec City, Boston and New York. We’ve not seen the last of la belle province!

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