Trans Canada, Eh: Montreal


Frank and I loved Montreal. Although the weather was cold and the skies were gray, we ventured out to explore this vibrant city full of color and character. Eight days provided us with just a small taste — we were left wanting more.

Montreal is Canada’s second-largest city, with a population of 1.7 million people. It is set on an island in the St. Lawrence River. The city is divided into 19 boroughs (or arrondissements), each with its own unique personality and assortment of neighborhoods.

We stayed in an airbnb in the Little Italy neighborhood of the Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie borough. It was a delightful area with many good restaurants, bakeries and one of the city’s best markets. Our place was convenient to Montreal’s efficient and extensive public transportation system.

Montreal, like Quebec City, felt very European. But unlike Quebec City, Montreal seemed more cosmopolitan and multi-cultural. It was easier to get by in English and the people were much more friendly. We felt welcome.

Montreal has countless museums and many beautiful churches, but our favorite thing to do is to explore neighborhoods. Give us a lively, local market and colorful street art, and we’re happy. Oh yeah — and a good meal. Whether its fresh meat and produce from the markets, countless little cafes and patisseries, diner or fine dining, or any ethnic cuisine you can think of, the city does not disappoint. Montreal is a feast for the eyes, as well as for the stomach.

We did see a lot of traffic congestion. And like most cities in the north, there’s a lot of construction taking place before the snow flies. We arrived on a Friday afternoon and it took us 45 minutes to go six miles! We coped by leaving our car parked for the rest of our stay. Our feet, the metro and an occasional Uber took us wherever we needed to go.

And the weather . . . Yes, the weather wasn’t perfect, but it didn’t stop the people (and us) from being out and about. Bundled up, umbrellas handy, people adjust. We spent one day exploring Montreal’s extensive system of underground tunnels, which connect downtown office buildings, malls, museums and the metro. How great for the people who live and work in that area!

Our list of things to do – and places to eat – was sadly much longer than our time in Montreal. If our take-away from our last stop, Quebec City, was “I remember” (“je me souviens”), our motto for Montreal is definitely “je reviendrai,” or “I will return.”