Spring Getaway: 4 Days in Montreal

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Monster-sized poutine with corn dogs at La Banquise

One of my closest friend’s wedding brought my boyfriend and I from San Francisco to Ottawa for the last weekend of April, which ended up being a 15 hour journey (SF > Los Angeles > Philadelphia > Ottawa). These are the types of flights one must take when one would rather use travel dollars on delicious food. And so we figured, why not take the two hour train to Montreal if we’re already flying that distance?

I visited Montreal on a family trip in elementary school, but have wanted to go back in adulthood (and I’ll admit, mostly for the food). Unlike my parents’ structured trips, we spent a portion of our time just wandering aimlessly hoping to find some special spots. Our plan did not disappoint.

As always, as a frugal traveler, I am writing to share money-conscious tips, random observations, and places I thought were worth seeing.

2 things in Montreal that surprised me:

  • The transit system is PHENOMENAL. Maybe it’s because I’ve been suffering from horrible San Francisco transit, but I really believe that Montreal – whose train system was designed after Paris’ย  – was topnotch. Even as a tourist, it was easy to understand, efficient, and went everywhere we needed to go. I don’t think we ever waited longer than 8 minutes for a train.
  • EVERYTHING there is in French. Of course I knew the city was bilingual, but forgot just how French it really is. I thought at least signs and menus would be in English, but the majority of signage is in French. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for help – they’re all quite friendly.

3 neighbourhoods to stroll:

  • Outremont – I was so disappointed that we discovered this area on our last night once most shops and restaurants were closed. Away from all the tourist hustle and bustle, lies this quaint neighbourhood equipped with stylish restaurants and boutiques.
  • Plateau-Mont-Royal – restaurants, bars, and quirky shops. What’s not to love?
  • Ville-Marie (walk along Rue Saint-Denis) – this area is a good time in the evening. Relatively affordable drinks and food, video game themed bars, and a cat cafe that we found way too late can be found here.

2 restaurants to check out:

  • Cinko (Ville-Marie) – everything is $5 and the food is actually good. WHAT. Check out my drool-worthy photo of my hot dog covered with mac n’ cheese below.
  • La Banquise (Plateau-Mont-Royal) – long touted as the best poutine joint in the city, I’d have to agree. If you like big, fatty foods as much as I do – this is the place for you.

The Trip in Pictures…

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Took a short hike to the famous cross on Mont-Royal (you can see it was a wet day)

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Art at every turn in Montreal

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Me and this chick in the St-Laurent neighbourhood

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More art

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Famous smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz’s (opened in 1928)

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Chilling on a banana peel at Station Mont-Royal

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Quiet weekday at Marchรฉ Jean-Talon

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They have tons of juicy fruits to sample for free

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Biggest tomatoes I’ve ever seen

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Delicious crepes at the market

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Space Art

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Chinese garden at the Montreal Botanical Gardens in its off season (not much to see)

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$5 hot dog smothered in mac n’ cheese with salad (at Cinko in the Ville-Marie Neighborhood)

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One of the most memorable displays at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (I couldn’t stop thinking of the quote from Mean Girls, “That’s why her hair is so big. It’s full of secrets.”

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Part of a Canadian artist’s satire collection (I wish I could remember his name)

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Me, pretending to understand

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A chair made of stuffed animals

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Contemplation

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One of the best bagels with pesto spread I’ve ever had (from St-Viateur Bagel & Cafe)

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The famous Gibeau Orange Julep

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The orange julep tasted just like Orange Julius and I wanted more

Thanks for stopping by! Let me know your thoughts below ๐Ÿ™‚

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