I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. I saw museums, a climbed a mountain, saw more museums, walked a lot, ate good food, and shopped, so I basically achieved everything I wanted to in my whirlwind getaway.
Montreal is a city on an island, bordered by the St. Lawrence River and Rivière des Prairies, and at the centre of the city is Mont Royal, the namesake for Montreal. Climbing the mountain was day 1, after exploring Rue Ste. Catherine before checking into my hostel. Basically, after that, I was utterly exhausted, having woken up around 5am that morning.
Day 2 brought exploring via the Montreal subway system, bringing me to the old city. I loved it. It felt very much like Quebec City, with winding roads, cobblestone, and buildings that have stood for centuries. Norte Dame Basilica – my goodness, it was spectacular. There is a minimal entry fee, and it is completely worth it. It is grandeous, opulent, and simply stunning. While in Vieux Montreal, I visited the Château Ramezay and Pointe-a-Calliere Montreal archaeology and History Complex. Both told the history of Montreal, but using two completely different interpretation perspectives. Chateau Ramezay had its first floor dedicated almost entirely to a timeline of Montreal, and the bottom floor was set up with rooms representative of a New France home. The first floor was also where a special exhibit was installed, War Flowers, an interesting sensory experience, telling the stories of WWI soldiers. Pointe-A-Calliere, however, told the Montreal story though archaeology and artefacts recovered. The museum was essentially built on top of an archaeological site, a which created very interesting gallery space. That afternoon, I found Espace Tricot, a lovely yarn shop a short walk away from a subway stop. Three skeins later, my bank account was a little lighter.
I started Day three at the Jean Talon Market, a large farmer’s market near the city’s Little Italy neighbourhood. Afterwards, I wandered around the Notre Dame Des Neiges Cemetery, Canada’s largest cemetery and one of the largest in North America. There are a number of notable internment, but I was apprehensive about asking at the office how to find some of them. At the front gates, there was a large sign, and from what French I understood, it basically enforced that the cemetery was a sacred place for remembering, and I just didn’t want to be *that* tourist walking in asking where to find notable burials. Working for a museum and having an interest in history means I’ve spent more than my fair share of time researching and wandering cemeteries. I was concerned my interest may not have translated, so regardless, I wandered about before a quick lunch break and a tour through Montreal’s Mile End neighbourhood. It is known for being a trendy ‘hipster’ locale, and this is where I sampled a Montreal bagel. It holds up to the hype. A quick visit to the McCord Museum capped off the day.
My final day brought me to Montreal’s municipal museum – can you spot a theme? I also found the Maison Tricot, another fantastic yarn shop. I happily bought a skein of Biscotte yarn, notable for being super soft and delightfully self-striping. I tried to take it easy by the last day, having walked far too much in shoes that really shouldn’t have seen that much walking.
Long story short, I really enjoyed Montreal, I was very happy staying at HI Montreal, a hostel run by Hostel International Canada, and at a five hour train ride away, it was a great escape from every day life.