• Montreal Summer Learning Moment 2017

    July 16, 2017 | Trip Recaps
  • Please select a day or scroll down to read entire post
  • Day 1 • July 13, 2017

    A photo of store fronts on Montreal's famous St. Laurent Boulevard

    Well, I’m off on another adventure, this time to Montreal, Quebec! I have not been here since my family lived in Vermont, and this is the first time that I’ve been outside of the country by myself! I took Greyhound from Boston to Montreal. The ride was fine, and we left at midnight and we got to Montreal at 6:45 AM. I was worried about crossing the border, but it was a very simple process. Another first activity during this Learning Moment is that I’m staying at a hostel, which is where younger travelers stay when they visit different cities. This hostel is the Samesun Montreal Central, located right downtown, and it’s great!

    Upon arrival to Montreal, a passenger from the bus assisted me to the hostel. The staff at the front desk are great, and since my room would be ready at 2:00 PM, I relaxed, we talked, and enjoyed their free breakfast of muffins and coffee. During the day, I hung out with Jamie, a friend from the Couchsurfing website that I made prior to this visit. She is from Toronto, and we walked around Saint Laurent Boulevard and Ontario Street, I enjoyed Tim Hortons, a Canadian landmark, and Jamie and I both enjoyed our smoked meat sandwiches at Shwartz’s. The weather was great, and there were a lot of people.

    When I checked in that afternoon, I took a nap, because of all of the traveling. I then attempted to go to a convenience store to get food and drinks for the room. Since the primary language here is French, it was  a bit of a struggle, but fortunately most people speak both French and English. I got Canadian cream soda, a Molson beer which is bigger than the beer in the US and you don’t need a bottle opener, and two kinds of cookies which I thought were unusual, but when I got back I found that one of them was just Oreos!!

    That night, I had dinner at Saint-Hubert Rotisserie, a Montreal landmark where I used to eat when I was here during my childhood. However, the major difference is that when I’ve been here, I’ve had family with me, and this time I’m doing this by myself! I thought that “hot chicken” meant chicken fingers, fries, Cole slaw, and the roll, but apparently it meant something else altogether! Fortunately, the staff was great and I learned that it was actually “chicken fillet” that I wanted! Uber is also efficient here, like in Boston. After an awesome dinner, I met up with a friend, Chana, at the M Montreal, a hostel nearby. They have a trivia night on Thursdays, so it was great to talk, enjoy two Canadian beers the pints are bigger than pints in the US, and try our luck at trivia. I got back to the hostel at midnight, and am looking forward to my first full day in Montreal!

  • Day 2 • July 14, 2017

     A photo of the statue of the Queen Victoria adorning the Victoria Square is the work of sculptor Marshall Wood (1820–1882), and was unveiled in 1872 by Lord Dufferin, the Governor General of Canada. At the time, the area surrounding Victoria Square was a prestigious neighbourhood

    What an awesome first full day in Montreal! To start things off, I enjoyed coffee at the hostel, then went to Hinnawi Bros Bagel & Café, to get my smoked salmon bagel. In Montreal, the bagels taste quite different than in the United States, and it was quite an experience! Not only was the bagel awesome, but apparently you get chips with it, and I also enjoyed cranberry soda, another Canadian exclusive. Fortunately, the GPS on my phone is extremely helpful. After an awesome bagel, I enjoyed my first Metro ride, and got my three-day pass. People are very helpful, and I was able to get assistance navigating the station and getting the pass. I went to McGill, which is right in the center of downtown along St. Catherine Street, and is also one of Montreal’s most famous universities. In addition to the university and the street, the station is connected to a part of the underground city, which is a vast array of tunnels, malls, and subway stations that are all connected! It was awesome to walk around both the mall and outside. Along St. Catherine Street, there was a lot of construction, and the street was closed, because there is a festival happening this month. After a little while, I took the Metro back to the hostel and relaxed for a bit.

    Around 1:00 PM, I went up to Square Victoria, another neighborhood of the city and enjoyed lunch at Brit Fish and Chips, and this restaurant reminded me of London! The fish, hand-cut fries, and beer were great, and beer actually came with the meal! After lunch, it poured a lot, and I mean, a lot! So I took Uber back to the hostel and slept for a bit, prior to a big night out on the town. That night, I met two friends from the Couchsurfing website, Valerie and her awesome boyfriend. We met at Brutopia, a brewery near Old Montreal. We enjoyed a few beers, and it was great to get to know them. Valerie lives in Montreal, while her boyfriend is from Brazil. After beers, we went to Burger Royal, an awesome burger restaurant. I had a burger with smoked meat on it, which was amazing, just like all of the other food has been so far. After dinner, we went to a karaoke bar, along Saint Laurent Street. It was awesome to enjoy music while, of course, having more beer. Canadians do like to drink and party! I sang New York State of Mind, Billy Joel’s classic song, and it was great to keep chatting and enjoying the night.

    By this point, it was about midnight, and after they left, I took the Metro to the gay village, to check out a few bars. The bars were pretty empty, but I did manage to meet some interesting people. I enjoyed a few drinks, and I figured out that the gay village isn’t really my scene. I got back to the hostel at about 2:30 AM!

  • Day 3 • July 15, 2017

    An exterior photo of Place Ville Marie (PVM for short), a large office and shopping complex in central Montreal, Quebec, Canada, comprising four office buildings and an underground shopping plaza. The main building, 1 Place Ville Marie (formerly Royal Bank Tower from its anchor tenant), built in the International style in 1962 as headquarters for the Royal Bank of Canada, is arguably the city's most distinctive building: a 188 m (617 ft), 47-storey, cruciform office tower. The complex is a nexus for Montreal's Underground City, the world's busiest, with indoor access to over 1,600 businesses, several subway stations, a suburban transportation terminal, and tunnels extending throughout downtown. A counter-clockwise rotating beacon on the rooftop lights up at night, illuminating the surrounding sky with up to four white horizontal beams that can be seen as far as 50 km away.

    To kick off today, I had coffee at the hostel, then I met up with a new friend, Kassie from Montreal. She works at a pub downtown, and we spent time wandering around several of the underground malls including Place Bonaventure, Place Vill-Marie, and the Eaton Center. We enjoyed coffee at Starbuck’s in the Eaton Center, and we also hit a few bars. We went to Peel Pub, McLean's, and enjoyed lunch at the Irish Embassy, a bar where she works. It was great to enjoy yet another smoked meat sandwich, and I think that this one was a bit better than Schwartz’s, which is the flagship location for smoked meat in Montreal.

    That night, I went on a pub crawl with others who were staying in the hostel. It was great to go to a few bars, enjoy beer, and to get to know them. Many were from Canada, while others were from other countries. I was the only one from the United States. To end the night, I went to Moose Bawr, which is in the neighborhood near the Guy-Concordia train station. There is a big university, so the bar was full of young people. It was great to chat, and to meet even more people. By this point, it was 2:00 AM, so I took an Uber back to the hostel and ordered Pizza Pizza, which is a chain in Montreal. The roasted potato, caramelized onions, and garlic cream sauce on the pizza were great. I can’t believe that tomorrow is my last day in Montreal!

  • Day 4 • July 16, 2017

    A photo of poutine, a delicious Canadian dish of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy.

    To start off the last day of this awesome Learning Moment, I met up with a friend, Stephanie, who I previously hung out with in Boston in 2015. We got poutine, a Quebec exclusive food, at La Banquise, and they have a lot of different kinds of poutine. Poutine is fries with gravy and a special kind of cheese, and it’s great. We split the smoked meat poutine, which was perfect. We then headed off to La Ronde, Montreal’s amusement park. During my childhood, I went to La Ronde plenty of times, so it was great to relive the experience. They had some of the same rides as before, including the Monster, their wooden roller coaster, the Boomerang, and Pirate. However, our favorite new roller coaster was the goliath, which is much smoother than the other roller coasters. There are more drops, and it was great. There were several other roller coasters, including the Vampire and Titan, which were great. While some of the lines were long, we didn’t have to wait to long for each ride.

    After La Ronde, I went with Stephanie to her neighborhood, which is actually near Moose Bawr, where I was last night. We enjoyed dinner at a sports bar on Saint Catherine Street, and I enjoyed chicken alfredo, which was great, as well as a few last beers! After that, Stephanie brought me back to the hostel, and they got me to the bus station for my 11:30 PM bus back to Boston. Overall, it was a great time, and I hope to visit Montreal again at some point!