Bonjour de Montreal (Hello from Montreal)! My best friend and I are a blessed with a long weekend thanks to our university’s academic calendar…so what better way to spend it than explore a whole new city & country? In September, we solidified plans for a Montreal trip and couldn’t be more excited to be here! We decided on a Montreal trip because it is fairly close and affordable to get to from our East Coast home and a place neither of us have been.
About the City:
The largest city in the Canadian province of Quebec, Montreal is often dubbed “Mini Europe”. Why? The city’s official language is French and the vibe between the architecture, culture, and language is considered very European. The city boasts landmarks like Mont Royal, the Notre Dame Basilica, and unique places such as Old Montreal. Sadly, I don’t think many Americans don’t take the opportunity to visit our friendly neighbor. However, we are excited to do so this long weekend on our Montreal trip!
Travelling – USA -> Canada:
We left Saturday morning, flying on Porter Airlines, a regional Canadian-based airline. Porter Airlines flies slightly smaller planes compared to commercial jets, but that didn’t majorly affect the experience. You feel a little more turbulence at times, but nothing I couldn’t sleep through. (If you know me, I always fall asleep while travelling.) We flew 2 separate one hour flights with a layover in Toronto. Between the two flights, we checked in through customs. I got to add another passport stamp to my pages. Yay!
Let the Montreal Trip Commence:
To get into the city center from YUL (Montreal’s primary airport) there are a few options: a flat fare cab (~ $40) or bus. So as college kids saving money, we opted for the bus. We bought tickets for the 747 bus in the airport and the ride took about 30 minutes to our hotel in the Mile End area. Driving in, a few things really struck me…namely how French everything is. All of the signs and advertisements are exclusively in French-no English translations. I studied French years ago so my reading comprehension is fine but speaking not so much.
The bus dropped us off at our stop and we immediately marveled at how fall-like Canada feels in October. The trees are not even changing yet back home! The weather forecast is not bad- low/mid 40s during the day, so cold to us but bearable with the right jacket. Although we arrived on a rainy day, it didn’t stop the city from already showing some charm.
Staying in Montreal:
After walking a few blocks from the “Peel” bus stop, we arrived to the Hotel Omni-Mont Royal! It’s in a perfect location- in a neighborhood surrounded by hotels, places to eat, and McGill University. We checked in promptly at the front desk, then headed up to our room. Let me tell you guys- the hotel is treat to stay in…a “treat yourself” moment! There are a total of 31 floors, and riding up the elevator your ears actually pop. Upon arrival, the room and bathroom were spotlessly clean. We flopped down on the beds after putting down our stuff and discovered they are simply amazing. Seriously, it’s like sleeping on a cloud. I haven’t been sleeping much the past week thanks to midterms, so falling asleep in such a comfortable and quiet place makes it an extra good night’s sleep.
Exploring Montreal (Day 1):
After we rested for a bit, we did a little late afternoon exploring. Since it was rainy and windy, we Ubered to Marche Bonsecours, an indoor public market in Vieux (Old) Montreal. To ease the chill of the Canadian weather, we ordered lunch in the cafe. We both ordered a chicken pesto sandwich+ un chocolate chaud (hot chocolate).
We ordered in French and while the lady understood us, she replied in English. Sooo I guess we have pretty heavy accents oops. Afterwards, we browsed and shopped inside among the different stores! Marche Bonsecours is filled with small stores on both the left and right of the hall. Some sell tourist gifts (shot glasses, mugs, etc) while others sell clothes or unique jewelry pieces. It is a great rainy day activity and fun way to spend a few hours.
We are also a big fan of the going exchange rate where 0.75 USD = 1 CAD. In simple terms, you can get more with your US dollar. An excuse for a little extra souvenir shopping- am I right?
At that point, the night was still pretty young but after a long day of travelling we were just ready to relax. Given the Hotel Omni’s proximity to McGill, there is presumably nightlife around, however, we were too tired to explore the bar/club scene that night. Instead, we opted to go to the Alice Bar (the hotel bar) and enjoy a nice glass of rose wine together. The drinks and service were great, and it was the perfect way to end an exciting day of travelling.
First Impressions from Montreal Trip Day 1:
I really like this city so far. Montreal is a vibrant, diverse place that feels as though I traveled much further. I love seeing and hearing French everywhere (such a beautiful language!). Although in that sense it feels European, it also possesses a distinctly proud Canadian vibe. The people are friendly from our experiences, and we couldn’t come back to a better hotel than the Hotel Omni. I personally am glad we decided to go in the fall because with the leaves changing, and the tourist season a little off-peak, we see Montreal in all it’s beauty and gain a more true sense of the city.
The rest of the trip’s activities include visiting historic sites, exploring into the city center, and a walking food/culture tour. Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog posts and follow me on Instagram to keep up!
A tout a l’heure!
FTC: Thank you to the Hotel Omni Mont-Royal for sponsoring part of my stay. All opinions are honest and my own.