So I've decided to celebrate the independence of my country, the good ol' US of A, in true patriotic fashion: I'm going to Canada for the weekend.
I know some of you guys live out in Montreal. I don't really know what to expect. I've never been. Does anyone have any recommendations for fun stuff to do? Fun bike stuff to do? I'm probably going to bring my bike and would love to go riding through the city with some locals. Also, if anyone has any suggestions for a cool sidetrip to make from there (i.e. more nature/camping type of thing, I'm bringing the tent and camp stuff too) I'll have a car, so transporation is not really an issue... but time is. I'll probably be getting in on the evening of the 1st (Canada day !!!) and leaving on the afternoon of the 4th.
Quebecois, let's get our cultural exchange on. Allez!
Laf - Been there & done that. Just beware: The border crossings are going to be nightmares. (Always are on American holidays...)
Montreal has some great biking trails. There's an IMax theatre in the Old Port. An Insectarium (linky). Lots of good bars & restaurants. Try smoked meat sandwiches, and poutine. (Or smoked meat poutine - Two birds with one stone!)
The hike up Mount Royal is fun. No camping though.
After you've ridden the main trails, namely, the ride up Mount Royal, the ride across rue Rachel, and the ride along the Lachine, you'll be itching for some more. Try going slightly out of Montreal to the scenic eastern townships. It literally looks like you're riding through old world Europe.
This list is definitely not comprehensive as it is just off the top of my head, but here goes:
-Nothing beats a diner breakfast. Try Dusty's (Parc & Mont Royal) for some good eggs and pancakes.
-Ok, I lied. Breakfast at Cafeteria (Prince Arthur & St. Laurent) beats a diner breakfast.
-For a good quick snack in the downtown area, try Al Taib (Guy & Sherbrooke, just south). Their Zaatar and their Chicken Pizza are excellent and cheap.
-Chez Jose (Duluth & St. Laurent, just East) is another cheap eats place, but the crepes and the sandwiches are all good. -One of my favourite places is called Patati Patata (Rachel & St. Laurent). Tasty yet tiny burgers, and great borscht.
-EuroDeli (Prince Arthur & St. Laurent, just north a little) has the bar-none the best pasta you'll ever have. Avoid the coffee though.
-Mondo Fritz (Des Pins & St. Laurent, North) is an interesting burger joint with great fries.
-Schwartz' (Des Pins & St. Laurent, a lot North) is the best smoked meat setup ever. People FedEx their stuff around the world.
-La Banquise (Rachel & Parc LaFontaine, a little East) will serve up a Montreal classic, Poutine. Best in the city.
-Tampopo (Mont-Royal & Mentana, South) is a female-run noodle house. Yummmm.
-L'Barouf (Rachel & St. Denis) is a great bar and always well attended.
-Resevoir (Duluth & St. Laurent) is a great place for great drinks and beautiful but down to earth people; don't miss the scotch ale.
-Laika (Duluth & St. Laurent) is the ultra-sheik bar/lounge just by Resevoir. in my mind, a definitive Montreal spot.
-Blizzarts (Duluth & St. Laurent, a little south) is an NYC style ultra-cool laid back casual bar
-Blue Dog (Duluth & St. Laurent, a little south) has a cool crowd and amazing music
-Jello Bar (Ontario & President Kennedy) is my guilty pleasure, sometimes a live band, sometime free drinks.
Typical Recommendations (that others would say are good):
-737 (a dance club on top of a skyscraper downtown ... great view, cheesy music)
-Saint Sulpice (a historic house converted into 5 bars)
-Santropol (sandwich shop with free trade coffee ... interesting ambiance)
-St. Catherines for shopping (try the cours mont-royal)
-St. Laurent for nightlife (the whole strip north of sherbrook is lit up with those seeking a life of leisure)
Hope this helps, and let me know if you're looking for something in particular.
Addendum (because we all knew that wasn't enough):
-Fairmount and/or St. Viateur Bagels. Best bagels you'll ever have in your life, guaranteed. They grow on you and soon you'll be somewhere else in the world, craving a hot fresh sesame bagel.
-Rockaberry (along St. Denis) - great slices of pie.
-Kilo Cafe (along St. Laurent) - great slices of cake.
-Lola Rosa (along Milton) - Vegan/Vegetarian food tucked right into the heart of McGill community
-Amelio's (along Milton) - also in the McGill community (it's called the McGill ghetto, but it's not really a ghetto), this is some of the best pizza in town.
-Abiata (along St. Denis) - Ethopian food
Manana (along St. Denis) - true Mexican food
Ogura (Union and Sherbrooke) - a one man show, Ogura-san has some of the best value sushi in town.
Figaro (Hutchison and Parc) - treat yourself to a real French experience, and visit this patisseris/cafe/restaurant/bar. Fantastic food and beautiful people. what could be better?
Last edited by food; 06-28-05 at 10:49 AM.
Reason: adding address
Wow, food. Thanks so much. That's definitely way more specific than the Lonley Planet gets on cuisine. Which I love, so good looking out. I will most definitely take the bagel recommendation. Lola Rosa, pie, cake, ... ugh...my mouth is watering (I think it's almost lunch time). Also, I look forward to trying poutine for the first time which while sounding incredibly unhealthy sounds extremely delicious.
I don't really have anything specific in mind as far as activities go. I just like travelling a lot and am going on what's more or less a whim. Long weekend, have the time to explore a little. I'm also excited about those restaurants where you bring your own wine. I guess I'd be most curious about the things that are most uniquely specific to Montreal and Quebec. Is it a good city to bike around? Will it be hard to get around the streets because of the jazz festival and holiday weekend craziness?
Is it a dumb idea to try to squeeze a visit to Quebec city in?
Also, I look forward to trying poutine for the first time which while sounding incredibly unhealthy sounds extremely delicious.
Is it a good city to bike around? Will it be hard to get around the streets because of the jazz festival and holiday weekend craziness? Is it a dumb idea to try to squeeze a visit to Quebec city in?
If you do try poutine, don't try it from anywhere other than La Banquise ... it'll just give the name the wrong reputation. It's gotta be good potatoes, good gravy, and tasty as hell. A good start is the one with Chicken and peas.
It's a reasonably good city to bike around. Keep in mind there's one large hill (Mount Royal) and so every place you bike around will be governed by this: going north means going uphill, and going south means going downhill. There's a lot of construction going on this time of year too, so try and keep off the main streets. Plus, going down side streets is prettier and you run into more adventure.
As long as you stay out of the Jazz festival area, it should be ok. There's a grid of like ... 3 or 4 square blocks where everyone just congeals into one large mass of writhing jazz aficionados. I prefer the smaller concerts myself, and unfortunately, this year's lineup doesn't look that great. Best time to go and catch the free shows, if you're interested, is at night, when it's literally packed like sardines and everyone is smiling.
Quebec city is great, but I think it's more touristy than anything. (Spoken like a true Montrealer) Depending on how long you have, I'd say if you're here for a week, it would be worth a weekend up to Quebec City. I would recommend, if you're planning on going out of town, to go to the Montmorency Falls instead. Great nature-type activity which may interest you.
But to answer your question, I wouldn't try it if you're only here for a long weekend. Montreal, as you'll find out, is all about sitting back, relaxing, enjoying the good life. That, or partying hard until you puke. Either or, nothing disrupts the Montreal experience like schedules.
Last edited by food; 06-28-05 at 11:13 AM.
Reason: more info
bareknuckle, bomber pro, 3Rensho SR, nagasawa special
quebec city is kind of touristy, but has a lot of fun things to do for a "small town." i would definitely go if you haven't been. good restaurants, nice bars, nice european style architecture, and of course, poutine at chez ashton, tabarnak.
i second the poutine at la banquise recommended above hostie. it's not a trip to quebec without saying you tried poutine at least once tabarnak. also, super sexxe and super contact. tabarnak. calisse.
-The Mount Royal is definitely a nice little ride.
-Breakfast at Chez Cora was always my favorite.
-There is a little place at the bottom of Peel St (right next to the Subway sandwiches) that sells some great Poutine...
-Saint Sulpice is a fun old house/bar
St. Laurent - Great Nightlife
Crescent St - Also great Nightlife
Montreal and Quebec city are too far apart to see in one weekend in my opinion. You'd end up seeing very little of each and not get much out of your trip.
Any place on Crescent in my opinion, is not the true Montreal. It`s mainly a strip of bars that exist solely because Americans go there based upon the recommendation of other Americans who have never ventured further West than University.
If you find you`re still craving a warm Anglophone community, try the Old Port area. It`s much prettier than Crescent and at least you still get a little Montreal feeling in there.
I biked around Quebec many years ago, and really loved QC and Montreal; I want to go back and do the same route fixed. Anyway, I have a tshirt from a poolhall called Le Vertigo. I met some really nice people there, total strangers that I partied with all night. When they had their summer break from school, they drove down to DC to visit and see the sights. While they were here, we drove onto a military installation by accident, passed thru the first gate, then sat in a room for 2 hours while they tried to figure out what to do with a bunch of drunk civilians, two of whom didn't speak English very well.
SOOO my point... have fun being surrounded by nice, friendly people. Bring some of that back to the states with you.
Thanks for all the helpful info, guys. I think it's going to be fun. On the other hand, I feel like a giant dumbass now because I totally spaced on the fact that the CMWC was this weekend. DOH! I guess because I'm not racing, the date conflict never really crossed my mind. There's not really much I can do about it now (I definitely do not want to experience the girlfriend's range of emotions go from befuddlement to downright anger when I try to explain that I want to hang around the city for CMWC activities this weekend instead of the nice trip we planned...)
It's all good. These things happen. It's just unfortunate that I miss this HUGE, track bike-centric event that happens to be taking place in the city I live in. C'est la vie. Adieu, bon amis.