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Do you know my only wish for you Canada? That you somehow become warmer, because then I could basically just move to you! No no NO shots to my beloved US of A, but something about Canada, so close and similar, yet so foreign, and so BEAUTIFUL. Alas, I don't have as much experience with this great half of the continent as I should, but I hope to gain more in the next few years. And what experience I do have I like very very much! I went to Quebec on a high school ski trip for a long weekend back in the day, and was not exposed to much except a ton of snow. The next time I returned to Canada was with Joe in mid- September 2013- we spent 4 days in Montreal and ended the trip with running a half-marathon! If I could go back, replan this trip, and flip it so the race kicked off our time there I 100% would. We basically wore ourselves out the days prior to the race exploring, biking, eating and drinking that the race was a bit of a struggle. However, it was a great way to say goodbye and see a ton of places in Montreal we otherwise wouldn't have seen (like the racetrack, an abandoned amusement park, running over certain bridges, etc). For our stay we rented an Airbnb basement apartment in a huge townhouse located in West Montreal. Some pretty awesome perks- free bikes, heated bathroom floors, a hot tub (great for soaking in after that race) and about a 20min walk to downtown. There are plenty of hotels there as well, but our Airbnb really stands out as one of the best places we've stayed in. Joe was lucky enough to go back to Montreal 2 years later with a bachelor party (btw- Montreal is a big bachelor party destination apparently- tons of strip clubs) and they basically took over a hostel, which was good for the trip but from what he told me pretty basic (as many trips planned by dudes are-covers the basics, no frills). When Joe and I went in mid-September, it was pretty chilly, windy and rained a few times. So not the best weather. You are in the north so just plan accordingly, layer accordingly, and you'll be fine.
What did I love about Montreal and what would I do if I were to go back:
- Parc Mont Royal: A huge park right in downtown Montreal. Beautiful views form the top, and pretty high up. You could spend the majority of an afternoon just exploring it
- Bike lanes: They are serious about their biking program in Montreal. Most of the major roads have bike lanes separated by cement from the car lanes. We were able to bike all over the city and on some paths just outside the perimeter of downtown. Not too many hills as one would assume either!
- Old Montreal: This section of the city is gorgeous, you could mistake it for a town in France easily. Lots of shopping and restaurants, great for sightseeing and photos
- Rue St Denis: A huge street with tons of of shopping, restaurants and bars. Has a NYC vibe to it. The street if you are looking for Montreal nightlife. Joe and I had a few dinners and drinks on this street, all super good.
- The Language: French! Sounds so romantic. However, what's nice about Montreal is, most people will greet you in French, but when you greet back in English they will switch it right off no problem and speak back in English- so no language barriers to deal with. And they are really nice about it. Also most of the menus have English translations, always a plus when ordering that you actually have an idea what you are getting.