Just got back from Montreal

Jul 31st, 2003, 08:27 AM
  #1  
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Just got back from Montreal

Hi everyone,

I just got back from Montreal. Here are my thoughts on my trip.
My boyfriend and I stayed at the Crowne Plaza hotel on Rue Berri and Sherbrooke. We couldn't have chosen a better hotel and location. The hotel was really nice. Clean rooms, nice staff and the view from the rooms was spectacular. My room had the bed right across a huge window. It was nice to wake up in the morning and the first thing you saw was a view of Montreal high up. On the night I was there, there was the international fireworks competition, and I had a beautiful view of the fireworks. The hotel is on a hill located in the Plateau section. There are two metro stops, one a block away, and the other, Central Station connecting to different lines, 2 blocks away. Also, the bus terminal is right there and you can buy tickets the same day to go to other regions in Canada. I highly recommend this hotel.
We stayed four nights and 5 days. On the first day we got to Montreal in the afternoon, and took a Gray line 3-hour Montreal city tour since we had a free voucher. It was raining and we felt it was the best thing to do given the weather. It also included admission to the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was spectacular inside. We really enjoyed this tour. The guides were very knowledgeable and friendly. We had the opportunity to become more oriented with the city and decide which sights to go back and visit. Later that night, we took a walk down St. Denis to look for a restaurant. There are many restaurants on that street, but we walked about 15-20 minutes before we found one that we liked. I think it was called Piazzetta. Pretty good restaurant.
On the second day, we walked all day. We started down the Latin Quarter, China Town, Old Montreal, the Old Port and Downtown. Yes this was a lot to do in one day. We are not into going to museums so we only stopped to rest and take pictures (lots!!!). The only place we visited was the Mosaic sculpture International Exhibit. Everyone should go and see it. I have never seen such beautiful flower/leaves sculptures in my life. Truly a must see! The ticket to go in was 12.50$ CA. In the evening we went back to the hotel to freshen up, then hopped on the Metro to St. Helene's Island and walked to Notre Dame's island, on the Gran Prix, to the Casino. The Casino was nice, smaller then we were used to (NJ's Atlantic City). It has three restaurant. The first one had a long line, so we headed upstairs to the other two restaurants, but we soon found out that it was a bit above our budget, and went back to stand on line downstairs. It was just a place to grab a sandwich and fries, but did the trick. We played a bit on the slot machines with a 10$ voucher that we received when we booked our trip, and I even won a bit of money for the first time in my life. After that, we decided to take a cab back to the hotel because as you can imagine we were exhausted.
On the third day, we went on an all day Gray Line Quebec City and Montmorency Falls trip. When we arrived in Quebec City we wished that we had stayed there instead of Montreal. It's such a beautiful place! Like a little French village. Even the area around there was beautiful. We only had a 20 minute stop over at Montmorency Falls, just time enough to snap a picture and get back on the bus. In Quebec City, we had about 3 hours free, but not enough time to see everything. We have already decided to go back there some time in the future.
The fourth day, we decided to skip the Botanical Gardens, and Olympic Stadium in Montreal, and take a bus to Ottawa to wonder there on our own. The cost was 69.50$ round trip, and they have busses leaving every hour on the hour. This was a great idea! Ottawa was better then I expected. There is lots of green and trees all around, not to mention the beautiful buildings on Parliament Hill. We took a hop off/hop on double decker bus which allowed us to see everything. The entire ride was about 1 1/2. We stayed about 5 hours in Ottawa. There are many museums, but we skipped those too. Once back in Montreal, we decided to take the Metro up to Little Italy. You really have to walk a bit with a map to find it. It's a bit hard to find. We ate at Il Ristorante Dei Baffoni, on their outside balcony, and it was really good.
Then on our last day, before leaving for the airport, we took the metro to St. Joseph Oratory, one of the most beautiful churches in Montreal with a nice view of the city from the top. I would have loved to have visited the Botanical Gardens, and other areas outside Montreal but we did not have enough time.

Overall (and this is our opinion, you may think differently), my boyfriend and I were a bit disappointed with Montreal. For some reason we expected it to be more beautiful. We thought that it was a bit industrial in some areas. Old Montreal was the nicest area, as well as the areas near and behind Mont Royal. Some areas were a bit shady, especially near the Jacques Cartier bridge and near Central Station, but we never felt unsafe. Maybe it's because I'm from New York City and some of what I saw in Montreal was not new to me. The Montreal Metro was impressive. It was very clean, did not smell and was reliable (everything the opposite of NYC Subways). We felt safe taking it at night. We also thought that most of the restaurants in Montreal were a bit expensive (mostly medium priced). We would have preferred to stay in Quebec City, and taken a day trip to Montreal City, or at least spent less time there.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.
Violettald is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 09:12 AM
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It's always interesting to hear what people think about Montreal. I love Montreal personally (enough so that I decided to live here), but I can certainly see how someone might be disappointed visiting the city, especially if one were expecting Montreal to be more beautiful than it is and less industrial (or with no shady characters). Honestly there are days when the city grates on my nerves and others when I think it's the greatest city on the continent. Anyhow, I'm glad you enjoyed Quebec and Ottawa, so the trip was more enjoyable for you.
Daniel_Williams is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Good trip report! Thanks for sharing


tonianyc is offline  
Jul 31st, 2003, 07:41 PM
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Being a montrealer, I read your trip report with interest and I can understand your preferring the beauty of Quebec city and Ottawa; it's a more uniform kind of beauty.

Living in those 2 cities would be more boring than Montreal though IMO..... but to visit is another thing I guess.....
I can't believe I haven't seen the Mosaicultures yet, thanks for reminding me.

mitchdesj is offline  
Aug 3rd, 2003, 03:06 PM
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Thanks for your trip report - very timely for us, since we're planning to stay in Ottawa two nights then drive to Montreal for two nights, and possibly then drive to Quebec City and stay one night there. The extra night in Quebec City will make it a tight squeeze between summer vacation and school starting, but from your report, I'm thinking it will be worth it. Thanks!
Just_Joan is offline  
Aug 4th, 2003, 06:46 AM
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I agree that Quebec City is much more scenic and exotic than Montreal. Both cities are great in their own way. For a first time visitor who wants a bit of Europe, Quebec City is probably better. However, Montreal is a great city for a 'city' type experience - interesting neighborhoods, world class dining and nightlife, shopping, etc.
An interesting observation : we have met several 20 somethings who have moved to Montreal from Paris because they preferred it, and one girl from Quebec City who was in the process of moving to Montreal because Quebec City was too boring for her.
zootsi is offline  
Aug 5th, 2003, 11:05 AM
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Just_Joan,
Thanks! If you can squeeze it in, I recommend going to Quebec City. If you go on your own you and like to walk, you can probably see most of the sights in one day. Be sure to bring a jacket. It gets quite cool on the upper level of the city. I had a sleeveless shirt and was freezing.
Have a great trip!
Violettald is offline  
Aug 5th, 2003, 11:11 AM
  #8  
cabicou
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Excellent report!!!! It took me a while to warm up to Montreal too much I love now. There are so many wonderful neighborhoods and its such a vibrant city especially in the summer. Quebec City is great too.
 

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