Montreal was the first stop of our monthly trip around North America. We just finished work at Camp America and we headed towards Canada. We wanted to get to Chicago, but the direct planes were so expensive so we had to take a bus. Therefore, crossing through Canada seemed to us the most interesting way. Montreal was the closest big city, that’s why we made our first stop here. It is the second largest city in Canada, located on the St. Lawrence river. Actually, this is a huge island that lies on this powerful river. It’s hard to notice that Montreal is an island. You need a map to understand what the topography of the city looks like. Montreal means the royal hill (Mont Royal). We spent 2 days in Montreal. It’s not enough for such a big city, but enough to see the best attractions! 🙂
How to get to Montreal?
As I mentioned above, our journey began in the United States. We started from the small town of White River Junction in New Hampshire using direct connection by Greyhound bus. The trip took us several hours. I must admit that control on the Canadian side proceeds quickly and efficiently. It is a pity that before the control I didn’t establish with Ewelina (my travel companion) several technical issues … The border guard asked us if we have any presents for someone (something like that) for which I answered no, and Ewelina at the same time yes. Surprised and terrified, we looked at each other in silence. Then, I quickly added that I have magnets and postcards for my friends. 😀 The guard smiled, asked how many days we would be in Canada and wished us a pleasant stay in Canada. 😀
Where did we stay?
For the first time in my life I was on couchsurfing! I’m not convinced of this form of traveling, but the lack of money and the fact of traveling in a duo gave me more courage. We spent the night with a guy from Mexico who turned out to be a fantastic man. He shared breakfast with us and showed us Montreal in the evening. Interestingly, during our couchsurfing in Canada, only once we slept with Canadians – with my friend. 😀 Our host was at work when we arrived, so we left the luggage in the locker at the bus station. There is also a cantor, so no problem if you don’t have Canadian dollars!! 😀
Do you speak French?
Our first language adventures started quite quickly. After 3 months of trouble-free communication in the USt, we suddenly couldn’t get along with locals. This is quite surprising, because Canada is a bilingual country. Meanwhile, in Montreal most of the people will answer you in French. Not always, but it often happened to us.
Montreal – a typical city in North America?
Our first impression when we left the bus station! Montreal, at first glance doesn’t seem to be different from its American cousins. Modern and high buildings are trying to convince us that we are still in the United States. However, Montreal is a transitory city. There are many skyscrapers here, but there are also lots of look-alike European monuments (literally !!).
We visited the campus of the best University of Canada – McGill University. There were open-days, so it was quite crowded! Generally, the University building doesn’t make any staggering impression, but there are several towers that bring to mind Hogwarts and Harry Potter. It is also worth climbing to the nearby hill, where you have a great view of Montreal!
Basilica of Mary the Queen of the World
As I mentioned, Montreal is such a city that wants to look like European, but also American. This time, however, Montreal reveals its European side. The Basilica of Mary the Queen of the World is a faithful copy of the Roman basilica of St. Peter on a scale of 1:3. It was built in the 19th century, so as for the Canadian criteria, it is an old building!
City of churches
Montreal is also a city of churches. 😀 There are a lot of them and most of them is really beautiful. Being on the way to the main cathedral, we passed a classic Anglican church. This is not a monument of the „must see” series, but it is worth paying attention to such things along the way! 🙂
Notre Dame Cathedral in Montreal
It is the oldest and most important church in Montreal. This monumental building was built throughout the 19th century. Thanks to this, it can accommodate up to 5,000. people and thus is the largest church in North America. Interestingly, its architect was a Protestant, but to rest in the underground of the work of his life he became a Christian. Perhaps the Montreal Cathedral of Notre Dame is not as beautiful from the outside as her Parisian cousin, but its interior is just stunning. Entry costs 5 CAN (2015), but you won’t be dissapointed. During our visit, 3 young couples were preparing for their wedding ceremony. 😀
Old Port and Town Hall
The day was slowly coming to the end, so we decided to look into the old port. It is a very interestingly landscaped area. In addition to the park and bicycle paths, there are also basketball or volleyball playgrounds, food trucks and even mill wheels! Young people love this area.
Don’t forget to visit the town hall. Again, we found a common thing to Paris, because it is called the same as the city hall of the capital of France – Hotel de Ville. It was built in 1878.
In 1976 Montreal was the host of the summer Olympics games. To this day, near the Olympic stadium stands a commemorative podium with Olympic rings. It is a great place (especially for former athletes), where everyone can feel like an Olympic champion. 😀
P.S. that day we also had to use the subway. We couldn’t believe that it is so old!!! 😀 😀 😀
It seemed to be the biggest attraction of Montreal, but it turned out to be a disappointment. In general, let’s start with the fact that I’m not a fan of botanical gardens, but sometimes I visit them. When I was looking for top attractions of Montreal, I found this botanical garden. It is described as one of the most beautiful in the world, because of the fairytale characters created from flowers. This description and outstanding pictures totally encouraged me to visit this garden. We spent over a dozen dollars and excitedly moved deeper into the garden. We spent a few hours in it and with each minute our frustration grew. No trace of the figures … As it turned out they were prepared for a temporaly exhibition (nobody mentioned that?) …
On the other hand, I can’t say that it is not worth coming here. There are many great plants specimens here. They also have an amazing Asian section, along with Pagodas, statues of dragons and beautiful vases! 🙂 We also visited a pavilion with insects, in which one I could hold some funny worm on my hand! I don’t know why I did it … 😀
Oratory of St. Joseph
Once again, my words are confirmed – Montreal is a city of churches! 😀 This time, we visited the tallest church in Montreal. Its dome is located at an altitude of 97 m. Oratory is the most important church dedicated to Saint Joseph in the world. It is also the most visible building in Montreal. The Oratory is visited by over 2 million tourists and pilgrims each year. It is worth coming here by bus, because the entrance to the Oratory can be hard for you. 😀
After such physical exertion, hunger was only a matter of time. My Canadian friend recommended me a great bar in Montreal, where you can eat a traditional snack from the province of Quebec. Let me introduce you Poutine. This is pronounced like the name of the Russian Tsar, but I would not find further similarities in this matter. Our Poutine consists fries, a characteristic type of cheese and a roast sauce (these are the basic ingredients that can be replenished). It took us some time to reach La Banquise and in the end we were starving. Luckily, Poutine, despite being just a snack, is a very filling dish. I highly recommend it!
After lunch, we picked up the luggage from the apartment of our host and went to the train station. We had a direct train to Quebec.
Have you already been to Montreal? 🙂 Let us know!
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