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Trip Report Trip Report - long weekend on short notice in Montreal

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Thanks to those who offered suggestions for trip - Mom/20-year old daughter (to mend her broken heart) trip to Montreal in July. Leaving from Boston, driving up I89 thru VT were at border within 4 1/2 hours, stopping for lunch at a great little pizza place in Royalton, VT. Border crossing wait was about 15 minutes. About 10 miles outside of Montreal we hit annoying traffic, lasting an hour - but still made door-to-door trip in about 6 1/2 hours.

Stayed at Embassy Suites/Old Montreal free on hotel points. For some reaons Ste Antoine did not show up on my GPS, so got a bit lost - but hotel check in was effortless with plenty of parking in front of hotel for guests checking in. Garage under hotel was a bit cramped, but adequate space unless you have a really big car. Room was wonderful - king bed in separate room with pocket door, nice living area with sofa bed, kitchen with coffee maker, sink, m/w - equipment and utensils available on request (which we did not). 2 TVs, large closets - plenty of space. Everything worked except WiFi internet was inconsistent the entire weekend (being an early riser I was trying to get some work done).

After free "Manager'sReception" drinks - 2 per person per night, including mixed drinks - not just usual wine and beer - we walked to dinner in Old Montreal at Portguese seafood restaurant (Solnar - or similar name). Sat outside. Portguese restaurant in a French-speaking city where the head waiter kept calling the roving guitar player "amigo". The pitcher of sangria further added to our confused mental state. Had mixed shellfish over rice dish - for 2 - very good. Walked back to hotel - about a 10 minute walk - would have been faster except for the drinks and sangria.

Excellent breakfast included in hotel - usual cold fare plus chafing dishes of pancakes, eggs, meat - but highlight was omelet station where one picked fillings, put them in bowl and cook prepared eggs. Plenty of food and seating, even though hotel was quite full. Next AM took Metro to Marche Jean-Talon, an open air produce and local products market. Wished I was cooking, as the products were beautiful. Had the best strawberry sorbet at one of the stands. Back on Metro to Ste Catherine shopping area. Back on Metro to Old Port area where we took passenger ferry to island. This would have been a great excursion if we were renting bikes - but a bit large to just walk around. Still a nice trip and a little relief from the heat. Back on ferry and walk to hotel.

More free drinks in the evening. Then to dinner in Old Montreal at Maska. Not as good as Friday's restaurant, but fine. Sat outside and listened to an excellent street performer duo. Salmon wityh mango salsa was good; creme brulee not so much - custard was odd texture and very very over-sweet. Still pleasant evening.

Sunday AM after breakfast drove to Mont Royal - since we were making fun of a famous 700 ft tall "mountain". Nice view of the city - but having driven thru parts of the Green Mountains in VT, seemed a little lame. Drove around McGill - found that interesting. Can't imagine students walking around the hills in the winter here. Then drove to site of 1976 Olympics. One of the most fascinating and saddest sites - I felt like I was at Chernobyl. Lots of concrete, dilapidated facilities, few people. Hard to imagine that after 30+ years they have not found something to do with this. Olympic Village across the street had been turned into apartments. They were trying to sell tours for $20+ - but we were able to wander at will in and out of several venues.

Back in car for drive back to Boston. Border crossing took almost an hour - and daughter was questioned quite a bit by US Immigration and Customs "take off your sunglasses" and "where do you go to school" "why in North Carolina", etc. Not quite sure what she did to warrant extra conversation. Stopped in Burlington, VT for very late lunch and then back home.

Nice trip, wonderful city - would have liked to spend more time since I have not been in Montreal in about 35 years.

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