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July 6, 2010 at 7:07 pm Leave a comment

On a grey Sunday morning, Jules and I left Christina’s condo in Toronto, Montréal-bound. Both of us love Montréal. We really love Montréal. It’s J’s favourite city in the world and it’s my favourite city in North America (if hometowns don’t count). So the weather was a bit disagreeable for us, but fortunately, things cleared up by the time we crossed into Québec, and it turned out to be quite a pleasant day for wandering in Old Montréal.

Since our time was limited and we couldn’t afford to shop anyway, we decided to skip downtown and the bustle of Rue Ste-Catherine. This also meant skipping two of my favourite stops in Montréal—the Indigo bookstore downtown and the Second Cup where I had my first banana mocha—but it was worth it, because there’s so much to see and photograph (and eat) in Old Montréal.

For those that aren’t familiar with this fantastic city, Old Montréal is the part of the city that forms a bridge between North America and Europe. It’s a bit slower-paced, a bit more crowded with tourists during the summer, and a lot more cobblestoned. It’s on the St. Lawrence River, centred around an old shipping port, and it’s full of picturesque buildings, souvenir shops and street artists, restaurants with cute terraces, and music.

Jules and I picked a restaurant with a terrace in back called Jardin Nelson. I ordered a crêpe with mushrooms and the filling was delicious, but I thought the crêpe was just a tiny bit too thick. I’m super picky about my crêpes, though! The highlight was the jazz trio playing on the terrace, especially since we were in Montréal on the first weekend of Jazz Fest, and the sangria, which our waiter swore to us was quite famous in the city. True or not, he convinced us to try it, and I’m glad that we did!

Before we went back out to the west part of the island to stay with Laura, a friend of ours, we stopped at an ice cream stand that was close to where we parked, on one of the quais. Le Glacier Bilboquet didn’t look like much, but the sign out front said that it was the most famous ice cream in Montréal. Well, if that was true, then we obviously had to try it! Again, I’m still glad that we did. Their coconut ice cream (not so easy to find!) was fantastic and light, more like a sorbet than an ice cream.

When we left Laura’s on Monday morning, we had one more stop. In all of our trips to Montréal, neither Jules nor I had ever been to the Oratoire St. Joseph, on Montréal’s “mountain” in the centre of the city. It’s the largest church in Canada and a site of pilgrimage for Roman Catholics. The size of the church, as well as it’s mountainside location, made it impressive, but when we entered the basilica and the organist was practicing, we were blown away. There’s nothing like a pipe organ to make the music geek in me do a little dance of joy. Unfortunately, I think I’m spoiled for all future cathedral visits…if the organ isn’t defeaning as I take in the stained glass, I’m afraid it’s just not going to be as impressive.

It’s the blend of European flair and the sleek, modern North American flavour that draws me to Montréal. It’s easy to imagine myself living here, but in another way, I’m kind of glad that I don’t. I wouldn’t want to risk the city losing its novelty. What if I found out that it irritated me after a few months? I think I’d rather just savour my visits. Next time, I swear, I’ll manage to stay longer than 24 hours. (I said that last time, too. Fail.)

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Entry filed under: Montréal, Québec.

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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.

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