Oh The Places You’ll Go…2017

Well, it’s been 2017 for 10 days now and I’m planning travels for this year! Here is a list of what we’re thinking for 2017:

~ Montreal or Ottawa road trip with our friends for our 30th birthdays.

~ Italy for our 30th birthday slash five year wedding anniversary trip (I’m thinking a road trip of the north with a few day stop in Rome – of course!).

~ Perhaps a second trip to Europe, for an extended long weekend.

~ Las Vegas!

~ Boston or Chicago (or both) road trip.

~ Rounding off the year somewhere hot, if our time off allows. I haven’t had a beach vacation in years!

places

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Magical Doors: Montreal

There is something…magical…about doors in different cities. Each time I go to a new place, I notice that they each have unique doors and I fall in love.

I assumed wrongly when I thought all of North America had boring doors. Not in Montreal! There are ton of beautiful and unique doors to be found if you slow down and take a look.

Here are some that caught my eye:

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A Montreal Food Tour

One of the things we were most excited about during our road trip to Montreal was the food! Montreal is definitely a foodie town, and is known for some classics like poutine, smoked meat and the Montreal bagel. Before we left, we compiled a list of restaurants recommended to try the best of those three foods, as well as some other Montreal spots.

Poutine

Ah poutine – fresh french fries topped with cheese curd and gravy. A Canadian institution, and something Montreal is well known for.

Since we were only in Montreal for 48 hours (or so) we only had it the once at Frites Alores! a chain restaurant. We had a long list of places to try it (including Resto La Banquise and Nouveau Systeme) but we were stuck on time, it was raining and Frites Alores! was close by.

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I definitely wasn’t disappointed. I would have loved to try more places but, like I mentioned, we were short on time. I really wanted to get the lobster poutine at Garde Manger but we couldn’t get a reservation.

Smoked Meat

We HAD to eat at Schwartz’s Deli – it’s pretty much the most well known smoked meat sandwich place in the city. There’s almost always a line up (we got pretty lucky and only waited about 10 minutes at noon).

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Here’s the thing – the name is famous but the sandwiches aren’t amazing. I found they lacked flavour. The servers are trying to get you out quickly because of their never-ending line.

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We were also recommended to try Lester’s Deli (which we never got to). Overall, I’m glad we went – Schwartz’s is an institution. But next time, I’m going to try somewhere else.

Montreal Bagels

In Montreal, there are two competing bagel houses: Fairmount and St Viateur. We made it to both!

Fairmount

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This place was a hike (seriously, I recommend driving if you’re staying anywhere near Old Montreal). The line was fairly decent but quick moving. We got our two everything bagels with cream cheese and sat outside on a bench eating them.

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About half way through, I declared we must get a third (to split). Smoked salmon and cream cheese on a fresh Montreal bagel. Ah-mazing!!

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Overall, delicious. But (in my opinion) not as good as…

St Viateur

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These bagels we so delicious we got four dozen. St Viateur is a chain and has locations all over the city. We grabbed them on the way home and had a ridiculous and hilarious cream cheese explosion all over the car.

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The car smelled like bagels for a week. Not exactly a bad thing.

French Restaurants

As we were in Montreal, and frequently dream of our meals from Pairs, we had a list of recommended French restaurants including Chez Leveque and Tandem, but these are the two we ate at:

Le Pois Penche

A really delicious French bistro fairly close to our air bnb.

We started with oysters (freshly shucked at the bar) and escargot (excuse the poor photo quality, they were taken with my phone in a fairly dark restaurant).

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For our mains, my husband had the duck and I had the salmon.

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Everything was incredibly fresh and tasty. The table next to us had the “Prime Coupe” and said it was the best meal they ever ate.

La Maison du Magret

This meal was incredible. It completely blew my mind and palette. I was a little concerned because of the “all duck” menu, but figured worst case scenario I’d have the duck poutine.

No need!

We were both intrigued by the planche du canardaille – 5 tastes of duck, including duck salami, duck gizzard salad and more. Our server recommended we only get it “for one” if we intended to share and get something else from the menu each (which we did). While we waited we were brought a tasty amouse Boucher of duck topped with a pepper jelly. Wow! Delicious.

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Then came our planche du canardaille. We shared it (almost fighting over who got the last bite of everything). Each bite was so flavourful your mouth watered in anticipation of the next.

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On to our mains! I ordered the ravioli confit and my husband ordered the Magret de canard. This ravioli was so unique and beautifully prepared. Each piece stuffed with duck confit. The sauce was a mushroom cream and topped with cheese. My husbands duck was cooked perfectly with a delicious dipping sauce and a side of fries fried in duck fat.

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And now my mouth is watering! We had some incredible foodie adventures in Montreal and wouldn’t hesitate for a second to go back. In fact, I’d drive the six hours back just for the  planche du canardaille.

Road Trip: Montreal

Sorry not sorry you won’t get me to shut up about Montreal for a little while. What a fantastic city! Although it confirmed my suspicions that I’m not a great city explorer in insane heat (or rain), we persevered and had the best time!

Here are my favourite parts of Montreal…

The juxtaposition between old and new. So many old buildings beside some that are modern and new.

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The architecture is beautiful and reminiscent of Europe.

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Stunning churches. Even if you’re not religious, you can appreciate the beauty of the churches across the city.

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The street art is incredible and everywhere!

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The food! If you’re a foodie, Montreal is a must! I’m going to be dedicating a whole post to it.

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The views from Mount Royal.

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…and Old Montreal, which is also getting a dedicated post. I can’t wait to share more of our road trip with you!

Quick Take: Montreal

We visited Montreal in the summer of 2016. Here is the quick take!

Visited: July, 2016
Days in Montreal: 2+
Traveled to Montreal by: Car from home
Stayed at:
Air bnb though I’d recommend staying closer to Old Montreal.

Favourite site:
Old Montreal
Favourite restaurants: La Maison du Magret and St Viateur Bagel
Favourite Squares: Place d’Armes
Tours: Guided Siteseeing Boat Cruise
Must Do:
See the top of Mount Royal, walk across St Catherine, stroll through Old Montreal including visiting Place Jacques Cartier, St Paul Street, Montreal City Hall, Bonsecours Market and, of course, the Notre Dame.
If you have time: Take a boat trip along St Lawrence River. Try both of the famous bagel shops (St Viateur and Fairmount).
Day trips: None.

Quick Take_