Fun fact: I’ve never traveled outside of the United States. Well, unless you count the fact that I was born in South Korea, but no one counts that, right? Right. Anyway, this all changed this past weekend when I made a somewhat spontaneous decision to join the Boyfriend on his trip to Montreal. Don’t worry, I was invited, I didn’t just show up at the bus station yelling, “Surprise!”. We spent four days and stayed in the “Gay Village”, which was a really fun and unique area to be based in and pretty central to everything I wanted to see/do. The city was in the midst of its comedy festival, Just for Laughs, so there was a lot of buzz and bustle, which further added to the fun.
Day One: Underground City, Indigo, and Hyprov
On the first day, we explored the Underground City, an extensive underground collection of interconnected businesses, centers/venues, shops, and other offices that spans the central section of Montreal. I was told it was built as a way to travel from place to place when the weather is too harsh to travel above ground. In one of the spaces, there’s a piece of the Berlin Wall, which I wasn’t expecting, so that was a cool sight to see.
But my favorite part was, of course, Indigo, the most beautiful bookstore I have ever seen. I would live there, if I could, no joke. The Boyfriend is amazing and let me wander the store for a good hour or so and I ended up buying the Canadian paperback of The Girl on the Train because it has French flaps and deckled edges, which are two “special effects” that I’m a complete sucker for. The store also carries a wide selection of UK editions and I ended up going back (again, the Boyfriend is wonderful and supportive of my bookish love) to pick up Avon UK’s The Years of Loving You by Ella Harper.
Later that night, we attended one of the last Just for Laughs events: Hyprov with Colin Mochrie, an improv show featuring hypnosis. I was familiar with Colin from his time on Whose Line Is It Anyway, but I wasn’t sure what to make of the hypnotism aspect at first. My doubts were unfounded, though, because the show was hilarious and even now, we still talk about it and laugh as we recall our favorite moments. (Our favorite was the sketch where Colin had the hypnotist make the participants believe they lost their belly buttons.)
Day Two: Burgundy Lion, Mount Royal, and Poutine
The second day was spent eating breakfast at Burgundy Lion. I ordered the “Sir Francis’ Toast”, which was French toast drowned in caramel and topped with caramelized apples. Decadent, splendid, and absolutely filling.
Later that day, the Boyfriend and I took the metro over to Mount Royal, where we spent a good portion of the afternoon walking up the mountain. Yes, you read that right, I climbed a mountain. Go me! It was a great way to wind down the day and while we didn’t make it all the way to the top to see the cross, we made it to the Chalet du Mount Royal, which offers a spectacular view.
We ended the day by meeting up with a friend to eat poutine. I ordered mine with sweet potato fries, cheese curds, and the traditional poutine gravy. Another A+ dish!
Day Three: Biodome and Old Port
Aside from Indigo, the other site I wanted to visit was the Biodome, which houses five different ecosystems. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it ended up being a glorified zoo, which wasn’t bad since I like zoos in general. I loved seeing the sea otters and penguins. Though, the sturgeon/fish tanks were pretty amazing, too.
We then spent the rest of the day wandering around Old Port, the historic district of Montreal that runs along the St-Lawrence River. I loved this area and its architecture, especially since it reminded me of New York’s Seaport district. The atmosphere and aesthetic in Old Port was, in a word, magical. When I go back, I definitely want to spend more time wandering its streets.
Day Four: Cacao 70 and Home
Our final day in Montreal was spent eating decadent desserts at Cacao 70 and watching Doctor Who while playing board games. We took it easy since we were catching a bus back home late at night and would be traveling until 6:00 AM the next morning.
Overall, I loved Montreal and am so glad I decided to go. Our friends were excellent hosts and tour guides, and I can’t wait to go back. If you’ve visited before and have suggestions for what I should see and do the next time I go, let me know in the comments!