Early Wednesday morning I headed for the border of Vermont and Quebec and without any drama at all passed into Canada. A couple of hours later and I was in Montreal headed for the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal which is likely the nicest hotel I’ll stay in on this entire trip (and which I got as a great deal on Hotwire.com). After early check-in I set out on a mission to find a great place for lunch. I have a tendency when I get to new cities to take a look at the map for general direction and then just start walking to see where I end up. Since I only had about half of a day on Wednesday I decided to head for the Latin Quartier and Plateau neighborhoods intending to spend the whole of the next day in the heart of Montreal…Vieux Montreal (or Old Montreal for the monoglots). The Latin Quartier and Plateau are both cute neighborhoods with lots of shops and restaurants…I found a lovely French restaurant and had some carrot-ginger soup with orange chicken salad and a wine-infused pear with coffee for dessert (I’m sure you were all dying to hear what I had, no?). After stopping off in the Parc la Fontaine for a bit, I headed back to the hotel to relax by the pool and catch up on some blogging and reading.
View from garden behind Ramezay Museum
of the former governor of Montreal (Claude de Ramezay, built in 1705), where all of the workers are dressed in period costumes. The back of the museum is set up as a traditional garden of a well-to-do family of the time. After lunch (yummy salad, mussels, sangria and fruit salad) I headed to the much-lauded Archeology museum, Pointe-à-Callière. This is a very interesting place in that it is a museum that was built on top of some discovered historical ruins. The location is such that it is considered to be the actual location of the birthplace of Montreal some 400 years ago…though the excavated remains indicate that humans lived at the point many years earlier. In the 1980s, historians and archaeologists spent a decade carefully excavating the ruins and in the early 90s the museum was built on top so that now the ruins are part of the tour. The first 20 minutes is an interesting multimedia presentation followed by an hour-long tour underground where the actual ruins are visible and able to be explored. At Pointe-à-Callière I met a new friend named Guillermo who was in town visiting his younger brother, a chef at the swanky Portuguese restaurant Cafe Ferreira. I met Guillermo and his brother later at the top of the Hotel de la Montagne which is a lively scene on Thursday night…a pool party and salsa dancing with a great view of the port and the skyline of Montreal. Since they were up on Montreal’s restaurant scene we headed for dinner at the recommended Rosalie (halibut with passion fruit beurre blanc and tuna tartare) and then out for drinks later…lots of great food and drink and good company.
After checking out of my hotel the next morning I decided to climb to the top of Parc du Mont Royal, a city park in the middle of town with amazing views of the skyline. It was hot in Montreal last week so a brief nap in the shade on the McGill University campus was required after the descent from the top. One last cup of coffee in the afternoon and it was on towards Ontario where I was to attend the wedding reception of my good friends from Madison Matt and Jen. Some pictures from that event and my current location outside of Pittsburgh shall be forthcoming in the next few days.
View of Montreal Skyline from the top of Mont Royal