I haven’t written since August and that makes me sad. The fact that I haven’t travelled in four months also makes me sad. Note to self: travel more, write more.
So about a week and a half before Christmas, my boyfriend Nick and I made a really random, last minute decision to have a mini escape from home and drive to Montreal, Quebec. I recently joined the 9-5 life and started a full-time job, which has been insanely mentally exhausting. I didn’t study business in University and I have never had a business related job in my life so it has been a huge learning curve and I needed a break. Luckily we had a week and a half off over the holidays so this all panned out perfectly.
This is really embarrassing on my end since I studied Geography in school… but I always thought that Montreal was a fifteen hour drive from my hometown in Grimsby, which is why I have always wanted to go but never actually did. Turns out it is only six hours from me, which is super exciting because I definitely fell in love with it. Honestly, if I spoke French I would move there in a heartbeat. So anyways, we left Stoney Creek at 4:50 am and arrived to our hotel in Montreal around 11:00 am.
We stayed at the Embassy Suites, which ended up being in the most perfect location ever as it sits in the middle of China Town and Old Montreal. We were a five minute walk from both and a one minute walk from the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. Our hotel also provided us with eleven free drink tickets and had happy hour from 5-7 every night with chips, pretzels, and veggies and dip (which we had no idea about and was awesome!). You definitely had to get there early if you wanted a table but it was a really great bonus because before we went out to dinner or wherever we were going we stopped in and enjoyed some drinks and snacks… for FREEEE. The hotel also had hot breakfasts, not your classic continental breakfast, we’re talking an omelette bar, pancakes, bacon, eggs, cereal, toast, fruit, yogurt, coffee, orange juice etc. also for FREEEE. This helps when you’re two semi-broke travellers and are recovering from Christmas shopping.
The first thing we did was go straight to China Town because we both love all forms of Asian cuisine. Nick literally said, “I really wanna try dumplings” and I turned to my right and there was a dumpling house (it was meant to be) so that was the first spot we hit. He fell in love so I am pretty sure we ate there at least three times until I told him I couldn’t handle another dumpling. I can’t remember the name of the place but it is in the photo below.
China Town was my favourite because I realized I am in love with Asian dishes, dishes as in dish ware, particularly Asian bowls… At one point I was dreaming about them every time I shut my eyes and another time I actually said to Nick, “What would you use this bowl for? Serving guests peanuts?” in the most serious tone until he burst out laughing at me because I didn’t even realize how ridiculous I am seeing as how I don’t even have a house and I am pretty sure the bowls were for rice.
Right behind our hotel and up a little street was the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. The first time we saw it was at night, which was probably the best decision because it was lit up so beautifully for the Christmas holidays and made me feel like I was somewhere in Europe. It is definitely one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever had the opportunity of seeing personally. We weren’t allowed to go inside the first night so we decided to come back and visit it in the morning. It was $5.00 to enter the church and it was so worth it. I was not expecting to see such beauty and detail, I was instantly mesmerized. It was so strange to me that we were in Canada and not in Europe. You’re not supposed to take photos inside the church but everyone else was doing it so we did too but I have to say… pictures do NOT do it justice. You’ll never know the extent of its beauty unless you go see it for yourself.
I don’t remember what day we went but we made our way to the Science Centre of Montreal, which I read on a bunch of blogs was a top thing to do in Montreal. This was located on the water in Old Montreal, which was about five minutes from our hotel. We both really enjoyed it but it was definitely geared more towards little kids and because we went over a school break… there were tons of them running around. Thankfully we both behave like children, especially when we are together so it worked well. Unfortunately the IMAX theatre only showed French movies during the day and English at night, which didn’t really work with our schedule but I guess it can be expected since we were in a French speaking province. We had fun anyways… see photos below.
On our second night in Montreal we had tickets go to the World Juniors hockey game Canada vs Finland. I’ll be honest, I think this was kind of almost the highlight of our trip because we are Canadian… we like to drink beer, we love hockey, and we are patriotic. We made reservations at the Bier Markt, which was just up the street from the Bell Centre (where the hockey game was). Neither of us had ever been to the Bier Markt before and I was all nervous that I would be judged for wearing a Team Canada jersey in the restaurant but when we walked in… the whole entire restaurant (which was packed) was wearing Canada jerseys. The only person who was being judged was the crazy Finland fan who was wearing blue and white in a sea of Canadians in red and white (good on him for having the balls to do that). I honestly can’t explain the way I felt when I was in that bar eating poutine, drinking beer, and wearing the Canada jersey. I always underestimate how unbelievably amazing it is to be a Canadian.
Once we got to the game we realized our seats were literally the last row in the arena and we had to lean over the bar to seen the ice… we just kept drinking… and eventually switched to waaaaay better seats. We waited until the second period and we made sure no one was sitting in the better/new seats and then moved up, which was the best decision ever. Of course Canada won and we went right back to the Bier Markt to celebrate with more poutine and beer.
On our last night in Montreal we went to the most epically amazing restaurant that we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for Nick’s friends who are locals. This epic place is called Imadake. If anyone from Imadake stumbles upon this… can you open one in Ontario, near my house please? We walked in and the place was packed, dark, and loud. This may not appeal to everyone but the atmosphere was actually amazing and I feel it is part of the reason I loved it so much. The food was unbelievable and quick. We ordered a bunch of stuff and it all came out within five minutes of ordering it. I couldn’t even begin to name off the things we ordered because we ordered so much and it was gone so fast. The best part was the Sake Bomb drink that they had, which I was too much of a baby to try but it was really fun. They bring it over and it’s a glass with a little bit of beer with chop sticks on top holding a shot of the sake. They put the drink on the table and they yell at you, “When I say Sake, you same bomb!”, which is repeated three or four times until you bang on the table and drop the shot in the glass and chug. Honestly, I would go back to Montreal JUST to eat at this place again. It reminded me of Melbourne, Australia, the way it was set up and how cool it was. You definitely have to go find this place if you’re ever in Montreal, you’ll know why when you get there and eat.
That sums up our four day getaway to Montreal. Like I said… if I spoke French I would be moving my life to Montreal as we speak. GO.