Canada 2017 Pt. 2
Montreal was my next stop. I ended up spending a full week there & had a great time. I met some wonderful people and a coworker (what?!). Montreal is a bit larger than Ottawa with many different, awesome neighborhoods. Mile End & Old Montreal are really cool. Saint Laurent street goes on forever and is lined with tons of amazing shops, restaurants, cafes, etc. Saint Catherine street runs perpendicular and is lined with more mainstream shops, restaurants, etc. Usually full of students and tourists.
Where did I stay? HI Hostel Montreal. I had a really great experience here. It is a bit of a party hostel, but for the most part it stays contained in the basement bar/ common area. The staff were super welcoming, the facilities were quite nice, the wifi was fast, and free breakfast is always a plus. The free (or mostly free) activities were a lot of fun and a great way to meet people. The location wasn't the best, but not too bad. Apparently there's another hostel closer to Old Montreal that is better but is harder to book. Nonetheless, I had a great time at the HI Hostel Montreal & would stay there again.
Where did I work? I bounced around a number of different places while in Montreal. I worked at a WeWork location, lots of Second Cups (the Starbucks of Canada), and a really neat coffee shop/coworking space called GAB. Often, I would start my day working in the hostel while enjoying breakfast then move onto a coffee shop or coworking space.
What did I eat? I had plenty of great food, coffee, etc. I also had a great dinner at this unique joint called the Deville Dinerbar. The one thing I want to mention here is: Schwartz's Deli is not worth it. I have to be honest. This is the kind of place you have to wait in line for, there's a ton of hype about the food, & the food was nothing to wait in line for. At least... in my humble opinion. They're famous because they're the oldest Jewish deli in Montreal that specializes in smoked meats. Keep in mind, if you're from the south... it's not bbq smoked meat... in fact, I don't honestly know how they call it "smoked meat." To me, it's more like slow cooked beef. Yes, it's tender...and that's about it. Flavor is meh and the sandwich is is just some shitty bread with a dash of mustard. Some people might tell you it's a "must-go"...I beg to differ. My experience was fine & I'm not just talking trash, I just want to be honest...It's a tourist trap.
Best experiences? Some of the best experiences I had while in Montreal were going on the group activities hosted by the Hostel. I ended up going on three of the activities—a hike up to Mont Royal where you look over the entire city, a pub crawl, and Nuit Blanche which is an all-night festival. No one knows why, but Montreal hosts Nuit Blanche in early March when it's still winter. This means it's really, really cold outside. I nearly got frostbite but I guess that made it more fun, eh.
Per usual, I also had a wonderful time exploring the city by myself meandering through Old Montreal and up into the hipster neighborhoods of Mile End.
Tips/Recommendations: Definitely make your way around Old Montreal and then up Saint Laurent street into the Mile End neighborhood areas—If I'm not mistaken, this street/neighborhood has a lot of history of being the Jewish dominated area of Montreal & you can see the influence. (Other than Schwartz's Deli, of course) There's tons of shops, coffee shops, restaurants, art, etc. Love me some hipster neighborhoods.
Do I recommend / would I go back? Hell yeah! Montreal is awesome. I'm planning to go back soon to enjoy it with warmer weather.
Next stop: Quebec City.
How did I get there? VIA Train
Where did I stay? HI Hostel in Quebec. I really enjoyed my stay here, it was off season so it wasn't very busy. It's location was also quite good. They had a bar in the basement where I met some awesome people including a native from Quebec who was playing French hip hop for me.
Where / how did I work? I came across a place called BNKR where I ended up meeting the CEO of the space who actually ran two companies that occupied the space. They didn't usually do drop-in days, but they were incredibly gracious & welcoming. They ended up letting me work there absolutely free for two days. We had a great conversation about traveling and entrepreneurial ventures and he gave me lots of recommendations for food and drinks while in Quebec. I hope to visit Quebec again and visit them—awesome people.
What did I eat? A lot of great experiences in Quebec. They know how to do food, coffee, and especially pastries. You can taste the European influence in the food there. One place that was recommended to me was a brewery called Noctem. Ya'll, I was so impressed by this place! Not only did they have surprisingly tasty beer, they also had gourmet food that was nothing short of delicious. I ended up getting a flight & two small plates...I was in heaven. In my experience, Canada doesn't produce a lot of wonderful beer (climate is probably the reason) but this place put out some quality micro brew beer in a range of styles: Porter, Stout, IPA, etc.
Best experience? Hanging out and working at BNKR was definitely one of the highlights during my very short stay in Quebec. I also had a great time wandering the city—it's actually quite small so you can pretty much walk the entire city in a day.
Again, due to the time of year, it was really, really cold. When I arrived to Quebec, the park in front of the train station had about 2 feet of snow that you could tell had been sitting there for quite a while. They don't even bother trying to clear it. I was walking from the train station to the hostel and, to my dismay, I had to walk up a big hill. The roads and sidewalks get very slick at night because the water from the melting snow re-freezes. As I was taking very careful steps, cars would be going up the hill with their wheels spinning—the whole damn place was an ice rink. I experienced the coldest temperature I have literally ever felt in Quebec. The morning I left to head back to Toronto it was -10 F. It was so cold crystals were forming immediately on my mustache from the moisture in my breath.
Do I recommend / would I go back? Yes, I'd love to go back in the warmer months! Also, not speaking French wasn't as bad as you'd think. It definitely helps to learn some basics, but you'll be aight.
Make sure to follow me on my adventures on Instagram & Snapchat: ASWolfe91