The very first time I visited Montreal was in 2008. Yup, it was 9-years ago. I went with a bunch of friends who were veterans in vacationing there so I felt at ease. All I knew is that they spoke French in Montreal and that it is a beautiful city. It also was the city’s preparation for its 400th-year celebration. I was enamored by the city itself during my first visit. I was not going to be able to visit again until several years later. Even though I have missed a few years, I still loved it as I loved it when I first set foot on it.
It is what they call, “The Hidden Gem of North America”. It’s like traveling to Europe and it’s right in your backyard. You can drive to it from New York City or Philadelphia. I prefer to fly but we did take a drive during my first visit. We left around 11:00 p.m. and by 6:30 or 7:00 a.m., we were already at the Gay Village.
We stayed at Hotel St André, just perpendicular to the most famous street in the Gay Village called Saint Catherine. It was summer time during my first visit there and the weather was quite pleasant. We did a lot of touristy stuff in the morning and enjoyed the night life in the evenings.
We stay at the Gay Village area because that’s where we love to hang out. There are plenty of restaurants along St. Catherine Street and you will find a lot of varieties in cuisine like Japanese, Chinese, or Mediterranean. You are also close to a food court at the ground floor of Hotel Governeur which is usually our go-to place when we cannot think of what to eat for the time being.
There are magnificent churches and basilicas all around, within walking distance. I always make it a point to visit a church while in Montreal.
This year, we are going again. For me, this will be my third visit for the year. I was there in January, in March and I am returning again this time, we have a total of 16 friends going on vacation. It is usually more fun when we go in groups. We’ve made friends there and it’s always fun to visit them when we travel for long weekends. I sometimes think that I could live there especially now that Canada seems to be doing better than the United States in terms of government leadership… (you all know what I mean…)
The nicest thing about the city is the easy access to their railway system. You can travel pretty much anywhere using the train. The bus system is convenient as well. To get to the Gay Village from the airport, you simply take the bus (CAD$20 each way and I would suggest that you get a round trip ticket from the airport so you avoid the hassle of finding a place to purchase the ticket for your return) and after 8 or 9 stops, you are there! Just get off at Berri-Uqam and off you go! The rail system is very easy to understand.
Another convenience is that the people are very friendly and they speak English! They will b more than happy to assist you to get you anywhere you want to go. I am so excited for this upcoming trip because we will have first-timers with us. This will be their first time to visit Montreal and we cannot wait to show them around.
I have been there during the fall, winter, summer and spring time. Although the winter is a bit tricky, I still enjoy it. I suggest summer for your first visit as it is hopping with events and people from all over.
I will blog about our trip and will share more photos than I normally do. I want to convince you to put Montreal on your bucket list. It is a city you don’t want to miss.
Jusqu’à la prochaine fois, have a wonderful week everyone!