You would think that with only three exams, I could finish my third year of university early and go home right? Wrong. The university seems to have scheduled my last exam for one of the last days of exam period. Left with two weeks in between my first two exams and last exam, what was I supposed to do with my time? It has been two years since I last visited my Aunt and her family in Toronto so I thought, why not pay them a visit? This is how I ended up in Montreal. My aunt seems to frequent Montreal for business trips and invited me along this time since going to Toronto to visit them just means being stuck in a suburb for most of the week. In Montreal, I am flying solo and getting lost on my own. It’s quite exciting actually! So this is what I have been up to!
Monday, April 17, 2017
My day started at 5:00 am. I stayed up until 1:00 am packing the night before so I am surprised I even made it up in time to catch my train! Once I got on the train, I was ready to go back to sleep which I think I managed to do for 10 minutes before the coffee cart passed by and I had to borrow some change from the lady next to me to afford the $2.25 coffee (yeah. I’m poor and cash doesn’t exist in my wallet. sorry pickpocketers!). The lady next to me happened to be headed to Vancouver from London, but raised in Montreal so we spent the rest of the train ride to Toronto exchanging tourist tips on our home cities.
Once in Toronto, I changed trains and was on my way to Montreal. The whole trip took around 7 or 8 hours so I made it to Montreal around 2:00 pm. I immediately got lost after getting off the train. Very typical of me! Google maps probably saved me from landing in some dead end corner on the other side of the city. I finally found my hotel and settled in before heading to Vieux-Port (Old Port) and Vieux-Montréal (Old Montreal) in the borough of Ville-Marie. First stop: Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal.
The Basilique Notre-Dame was only a short walk away, not even 10 minutes. There was a large line-up outside so I chose not to go inside. Maybe I will get a chance to get take a look around inside but today, I was pretty hungry so I went to find some food down by the St. Lawrence River.
Next stop: Maison Christian Faure. Not really a meal place but dessert can be a meal right? It took me while to make up my mind but I finally settled on a slice of flan and three macarons (mangue passion, caramel, and pistache). The flan was a lot tougher than I thought it would but it was creamy, delicious, and just the perfect amount of sweetness. The macarons were tangy, with vibrant flavours. The mangue passion really hit me at the first bite. I didn’t expect it to be so sour and strong. The pistachio macaron had a creamy texture with a mild flavour in comparison to the mangue passion macaron. The caramel was rich and dark, more so than most caramel macarons I have tried. All three were very, very sweet. If you have a sweet tooth, this is the perfect place for you! The macarons are rich in flavour, and have the perfect crunch. Pricing, however, is on the steep side. Each macaron cost $2.50 so I had to choose very carefully.
After dessert, I strolled down Rue de la Commune and grabbed a coffee from Magasin General before making my way back to Rue Saint-Paul. Rue Saint-Paul is pretty much the oldest part of Montréal and true to its reputation, it is rustic with cobblestone roads. It is almost like being transported into a miniature version of Europe. I just walked around and took pictures before heading back to my hotel to meet up with my aunt for dinner. We ended up checking out a Chinese noodle restaurant located in Chinatown called Nudo. The noodles are hand-pulled in house, making them pretty special, but the noodles were starchier than I would have liked. I got the dry noodles with BBQ pork…the pork was AMAZING though. It has been such a long time since I have had good BBQ pork. London needs to step up their BBQ pork game (and all things Chinese cuisine, honestly).
It had been a long day by the time we finished dinner so we headed back to the hotel. I spent some time by the poolside before retiring to bed VERY early in the night. All in all, it was a chilly but productive afternoon of exploring Vieux-Montréal!