Le Petit Europe
Please forgive, my computer is on the fritz so I don't have access to any of my photos today. So I'll have to use ones I've googled.
Everyone knows I'm travel obsessed, particularly to Europe, but my meager paycheck keeps me pretty limited sometimes. However, there are a few drivable slices of Europe in nearby Canada- Montreal, Quebec City and Ottawa. I've been to Ottawa a dozen or so times when I was a kid to visit my cousin, although they moved to Vancouver when I was 17. I seriously love Canada, I don't care what Americans say, you're just jealous of their socialized health system. PLUS (sometimes) our dollar goes so farther there, they have Cadbury candy bars (omg Aero bars! and Crunchie! gah), extra alcoholic beer, clean parks, Lush stores (now in NYC!) and fab makeup at drugstores. Oh, and milk in a bag. We like to poke the milk in a bag.
So when my roommates asked me to take a long weekend trip to Montreal, of course I was game!
Montreal is about 450 miles from Philadelphia. Kind of a grueling drive. We made it to Plattsburg, NY, about 1.5 hours from Montreal, and got a cheap $50
hotel. Crossing the border has its benefits- shopping Duty Free! We each picked up some duty free booze and some cheap make up.
I found a deal at Days Inn on rue Guy for $120/night. I would've preferred to stay in Old Montreal, but hotels were upwards of $200/night there. At least ours was near The Canadian Museum of Architecture (super cool) and walking distance to restaurants and pubs. Who am I kidding, I consider EVERYTHING to be walking distance, so don't take my word for that. Being the boozeloving hounds we are, we immediately sought out a pub, and found a great one with an outdoor balcony called Sir Winston Churchill Pub , aka Winnies.
According to my friend Anna, this pub is for nerds.
However, when we arrived, we found the menu to be extensive, the balcony huge (and the day was perfect for outdoor drinking) and the best yet- two for one specials twice a day. SOLD! Either 2
vodka tonics for $5
Canadian or one double for $5
! That and a $7
giant salad and I was in heaven. We actually went there twice. Which I hate to do on vacations, but when you've got a good thing going...
Montreal is far to great of a city to see in 3 days. Not even 3- it was more 2 full days and a morning. My main focus was sight seeing in Old Montreal. Dating from 1642, the area is an architectural paradise, full of cafes, galleries, shops, museums and the impressive Notre Dame Basilica (c. 1824). We gallery hopped through the winding cobblestone corridors, sipping coffee and stopping in shops. Seriously, that is my idea of a perfect day. Coffee in hand, meandering around a new city. Stopping where ever I feel with no definite plan. Life doesn't get much better than that to me. That is primarily why I rarely take public transportation when in a new city, I just really love to explore. Plus, its free free free!!
We had lunch in the collegy area near McGill University, which was cute and full of cute French speaking dudes.
For nightlife and shopping, we headed over to rue St. Laurent. Boutiques, a cheaper American Apparel and tourist stores dot this street, as well as chic clubs and dives (more my style, being the classless person I am). My roommate wanted to dine at the infamous Schwartz's Hebrew Delicatessen, famous for their smoked meats, but so did everyone else. The tiny diner had a wait of 2 hours. I've faced the facts in my life, and realize that I am somewhat of a hipster,
so naturally we went to the suggested hipster dive called Le Biftek. Being that we pregamed with some Molson Triple X (9% alcohol), the $4
cocktails went down even easier. Pool table in the back, decent music, but no dancing. And as my crazy life would have it, I ran into my friend/mentor Jonathan Levine (of the gallery with the octopus chandeliers). Just as my roommate was telling me "the Montreal version of Jonathan is here!" he yelled my name and proved to be the American Version. The street is alive well into the early morning with wandering drunks, tons of street kids (who will let you pet their dogs) and creeps.
After stocking up on candy bars, pickle flavored chips and cheap beauty products from L'Occitane and MAC (fyi MAC is a Canadian company, so not only is it cheaper but the salespeople don't work on commission and are therefore much more helpful), we drove the full 450 miles back to Philadelphia. I feel like I barely scratched the surface. Can I break my rule of returning to the same place twice? I'll just say its for business purposes. Yes. I need to practice my French...