Following is a report about my time in Montreal earlier this month. Thanks for all the great advice about pubs and restaurants.
We arrived at the VIA rail station in Ottawa in plenty of time for our departure. My daughter actually had time to get her cup of tea! And the train was on time too. We left just before ten in the morning. I was surprised at how flat the scenery was. I don't know why that struck me as odd, but I thought there would be some mountains, even if not that tall. What we did see were fields, lots and lots of fields. They were all brown, having nothing planted yet, at least I think there was nothing planted! There were a couple of tractors working the fields that day, and I was wondering what the crop would be... corn???
We pulled into Montreal just before noon. Again, my daughter got out her phone, and I didn't hesitate to follow her out of the station and towards Old Montreal. It was actually wonderful to witness this new found confidence as I never once questioned where she was leading me!
I had booked one night at L'Hotel, even though the elevator was not working at the time. It still was not working, all these weeks later, but they were close to having it open again, very close. Our room was actually ready, and we gladly walked up three flights of stairs to get rid of our backpack. I had spent an extra 20.00 to make sure we each had our own bed, and it was well worth it. Our room was at the back, and the window had no view to speak of, just the backs of other buildings. We didn't care in the least, as it proved to be oh soooo quiet!
We headed out immediately, and again, the phone directed us to our pub for lunch! We went to Bistro Les Soeurs Grises. This was recommended to me on a thread on the Montreal forum. For $18.00 we had a beer, salad, and a sandwich. It was wonderful, and we ate up every last bit! The food is served on a slab of wood. Really nice presentation. We got the last table outside, and I was happy about that. The music inside was too loud for my liking, and besides, it was still a beautiful day, though the clouds were moving in. I really enjoyed the pulled pork sandwich while my daughter enjoyed the chicken sandwich.
After our lunch (and some more beer!!) we walked along the Old Port, and made our way up the Notre Dame Basilica. I was surprised to find that we had to pay $5.00 each to go into the church. And yes, they use the money for maintenance. We paid it anyway, as I was determined to light a candle for my mom. There were not that many people visiting at that time of day, and it was nice to be able to just sit and "visit" for a while.
We decided to go for a carriage ride, a spur of the moment decision. There were only two carriages making the rounds that day. The one driver said that the weatherman had called for rain, so a lot of the horses just stayed "home" that day. We were not sure what the next day would bring, so we decided to go for a ride right then and there. Caddy was wonderful, and we enjoyed our half hour ride and history lesson. Half an hour for $48.00. I wished I had brought an apple for Caddy!
After our ride, we did our best to keep the economy going, and visited some of the shops, including the SAQ for a bottle of wine for back in the hotel room.
We went back to the hotel room and enjoyed some of our wine, before we headed out for our dinner. I had reserved a table for six o'clock at Bonaparte restaurant. We lucked out, and managed to get the table up in the alcove, with a wonderful view of the street. My daughter chose the 5 course meal, I went with the 3 course. The waitress was wonderful, and I actually ended up with a 4 course meal. One of the courses from my daughter's menu was a "pear fizz", and she actually brought one for me "on the house". It was a great evening, as we didn't even finish until 8:30 at night. More of an event, than a meal! The bill came to 100.00 and a few cents. Taxes and the tip, was 130.00. My daughter was aghast at the bill! I was quite thrilled, given how much food we had, and the wonderful service. We each had a glass of wine as well. No complaints AT ALL!
We got back to the hotel in time to watch the last period of the hockey game. Montreal lost that night, and it was sad to watch. I knew the team was suffering from a lot of injuries, and they didn't have Price in goal either. He is from B. C., and we have always been interested in watching him in his career.
We were up early the next morning. The elevator was working by now, but we chose the stairs to head down for breakfast. The breakfast room was really nice, and lots of people were already there. A great choice of fruit, croissants, yogurts, ham, cheese, and all of it fresh. We had our fill, checked out, and set off with our backpack to see some more of Montreal. It was cooler that morning, but still no rain!
We walked the whole day, from Old Montreal, up to Mont Royal. We walked along St. Catherine Street, but the shops were not quite open yet. So we kept on going, and headed up the hill. We went by McGill University, and eventually came to the stairs to start the climb up... and up... and up! I was put out that I had to rest so much as we climbed the stairs. I had done sooo much walking already this week, and I actually have two paper routes at home, but nothing prepared me for all those stairs!! We did make it, and it was well worth it. The views are really great, and I would have liked to be up there at night to see all the lights. Next time!
We made our way over to the cross, and then made our way down the mountain to the Plateau neighbourhood. That was not so easy! I can see that it would be really easy to get lost up there. We just pointed ourselves downhill, and kept veering over the left. And we did it! We came out at the George Cartier statue.
Strolling through the Plateau was fun. We headed up Saint Urbain Street, heading to the Dieu de Ciel pub. We got there just at noon, but it didn't open until 1:00! Well darn! So we headed over to Rue St. Laurent, and started to browse that street. We ended up at the Schwartz Deli for lunch. We shared a table with four others, and it was tight! We had our backpack and two other small bags with our purchases tucked under the table, but it was still a bit cramped. But the food, oh, the food! It was sooo good! The only complaint I have is that you couldn't get a beer there! That would have really gone down well with the smoked meat sandwich. The best part of our lunch there was using my limited French. I actually asked the person beside me to pass the salt (I had ordered fries) and they understood me! Or they just took a really good guess. I was thrilled anyway!
We continued along Rue St. Laurent, stopping in at a few of the shops. Our train back to Ottawa didn't leave until four o'clock, so we had a couple of hours still. We cut across Ontario Street, and I was surprised to find the musical swings. I just had to have a swing! It was a lot of fun. I can't tell you the last time I sat on a swing, never mind one that makes music! I could have stayed there longer, but we pushed on. We eventually got back to Saint Catherine Street, and my daughter was able to do some more shopping. The shops she wanted were closed when we had walked by in the morning, and that actually worked to our advantage. She bought quite a bit of stuff, and at least we didn't have to carry it all day long! Three bags later, we went to the train station. We got there after three, and people were already in line for the train. We were able to board at three thirty, and departed at four o'clock, right on schedule.
When we got to Ottawa, we followed the same route back, two buses, and a short walk, back "home". It was pouring rain by then, the first I had seen the whole week! I was glad we had the lasagna I had made earlier, just needed to heat it up, so nice and easy. The room mates arrived back from their conference a couple of hours later, so I had plenty of time to repack and get organized for the my flight home the next day.
It was still raining on Saturday, and we stayed close to home. A friend of my daughter actually drove us to the airport, and that was wonderful. I had plenty of time to explore the shops at the airport before my flight time. I had a direct flight to Vancouver, and it went by quickly, thanks to a good book!
I'd love to get back east again, but would like to make the trip during the autumn. Time will tell!