Three Days in Montreal

I was recently in Montreal with a well developed itinerary for my friends and I to get the most out of the city in our short time there. So if you are planning a trip anytime soon, try this-

Thursday- Day 1

Our trip involved a 9 hour drive, so we left at 8am and arrived in the city around 4:30- perfect time to check into our Airbnb and take in its beauty. Although there are many different accommodations in the city, we chose travel on the cheap and found an Airbnb in Plateau, a perfect neighbourhood that is accessible for transit, and close enough to grocery stores and attractions.

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This evening we walked over to a hole-in-the-wall restaurant down the street from our apartment called Restaurant Les Belles Soeurs. It was small and cosy, with dim lighting, plants and art covering the walls.

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After that, we walked over to La Distillerie No.2, which is also in the neighbourhood. It is one of three branches of this bar chain in the city. It has an industrial feel with exposed brick and hanging pipes. But we were there for the drinks- the bar is known for its litre sized cocktails. So find a table, and enjoy a very large mojito. IMG_8520tripadvisor.ca

Friday- Day 2

This was my birthday, so today started with well wishes and gift giving. After this we found a retailer that sells transit cards, we purchased 3 day passes for 18$ that give you access to the metro and bus. Between construction and crazy city drivers I recommend looking into transit. We went for brunch at Restaurant L’avenue – a place on Avenue du Mont-Royal that is known for its brunch. They serve every meal with a plate of fruit. It was really busy so I recommend planning to wait a bit or going early. If you do visit L’avenue, make sure to stop in the bathroom- but don’t expect to touch up lipstick or hair- it probably won”t be very helpful.

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We stopped across the street at Cacao 70 for a warm drink before heading up Mount Royal. Of course, we chose the easy way and took the bus up to the look out point, but you can also hike up. We still got a bit of a hike when we got off at the wrong bus stop and were forced to walk the road back to the lookout.  But the views were great.IMG_8295 3.jpg

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From here we rode the bus down the side of the hill to Rue St.Catherine for some shopping. Here you’ll find most retail stores like Forever 21, H&M, Sephora, and Zara. After purusing through the stores of interest we caught the bus to La Banquise for poutine- something Canada is known for, but is specifically native to Quebec. It is another small, but busy restaurant- so go early. The poutine here is SO GOOD- it is hard to find a good poutine gravy, and La Banquise has it. I had the Bacon Poutine, but you can explore with lots of options.

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After dinner we walked home and had a rest before throwing a mini party at the apartment.

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This evening we visited a few of the city’s bars, so I’ll give you a little review for each.

  • Bily Kun, 354 Mont-Royal E, known for it’s live jazz happy hours and a great speak easy vibe. The walls are lined with ostrich heads and they serve various Czech beers.
  • Newspeak, 1403 Rue Sainte Élisabeth, a bit scary to approach, as you’ll find yourself in a dead alley way. However, inside you will find a new bar which is prided for being packed with live DJs and bands.
  • Stereo Bar, 856 Rue St Catherine E, literally in a basement. It is quite dark and mysterious, but inside you’ll find a really modern club with black lights and neon paint across the walls.
  • Unity Bar, 1171 St Catherine St E, by far my favourite stop of the evening. It is a great place to dance and hear music you’ll know. Especially if you are a person who prefers pop/throwbacks to EDM.

From the club we ubered home- an easy way to get home when you just don’t feel like finding the bus at 2am.

Saturday- Day 3

Today was a day I was thoroughly excited for. We started off our day with bagels from Fairmount Bagel (which by the way, if you want butter on your bagel- bring it or prepare to buy a full tub).

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We enjoyed our bagels in front of the building and then caught our bus to Old Montreal. Old Montreal is the best example of the European feel that Quebec has. It has old buildings, the Notre Dame Basilica and cobblestone streets. We started at Tommy, a magnificent cafe that has plants hanging from the ceilings and serves really aesthetically pleasing lattes. towertrip.com

We walked up and through the Notre-Dame Basilica– which is 6$ for entry (cash only) so come prepared! Inside is a beautiful church where Celine Dion was married. After paying my respects to my Quebecois Queen we ventured on.

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We walked through the streets, stopping along the way for candy, chocolate and any other treat we could find.

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IMG_8420 3.jpgright along the streets of old Montreal is the old port on the St.Lawerence River. From here you can walk along and view the ships, the Expo67 location and look back at the city skyline. It was getting really cold so we walked back through the city to find our next cafe, which is housed inside of the Old Royal Bank. Crew Collective Cafe is a really cool cafe with chandeliers and work rooms in old bank tellers booths. It was really busy inside (a common theme in the city) so seating was impossible.

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We walked back to the basilica to catch our bus, from there we went for dinner at the famous Schwartz Deli, a restaurant that serves smoked meat sandwiches. Nestled in between bars on the busy street of St.Laurent Boulevard, this busy restaurant is often paired with a line out the door- but it is worth the wait. In under 20 minutes you will be faced with a large sandwich with coleslaw, fries and a pickle (at your request [I recommend you get them all]).

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Sunday- Day 4

Today we were getting ready to go, so after spending the evening packing and cleaning our apartment. This morning we were up early to pack the car and find breakfast. At the end of our street called Croissant Croissant. It is a beautiful little cafe that serves various croissants (obviously) on pretty wooden boards with coffee. instagram.com

After this we hopped in the car and drove across the city to go to a spa. But three words- so. much. construction. We found parking after being rerouted around the city about 5 times. Once again, if you thought you could drive through the city- you are wrong. We decided to end our weekend with a bang by enjoying a morning at Bota Bota. Which, technically has no land to park on- as it is literally a boat. So we found daily parking for 18$ nearby. and walked along the port to the spa. We did the water circuit, which gives you access to thermal baths, cold baths ( go all in!), steam bathes and saunas. the website recommends that you do a cycle of sauna/steam room, cold bath, thermal bath or relaxation and do this a few times. I have literally never been so relaxed, the spa is silent so for three hours you are left to relax, look out the port holes at the city and just decompress. I was so relaxed after my three hours here that the  drive home (in the rain, with construction) seemed like nothing.

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I recommend trying a combination of one or all of these things in your time in Montreal for the ultimate exploration/gastronomical/relaxation weekend.

have fun!

-B.

The Great Canadian Roadtrip

Recently my friends and I drove from Vancouver, British Columbia to St.Catharines, Ontario, a 44 hour drive.

I won’t say that the footage is the best, but it is our journey and it is relatively caught on camera.

Moments to watch for:

  •  Kayla almost getting puked on while whale-watching
  •  Majestic man on the whale-watching boat
  •  Kayla coming out of the pool with water on her face
  •  Kayla attempting to use a roadside port-a-potty

Enjoy!

*Credits to all the music we used- Portugal, Trixie Mattel, Kesha, and Clairy Brown.

My Favourite Day

It’s ya girl, coming at you from her apartment, she is home, but her heart still longs to be on vacation. So instead of sharing all of my days on my blog, I figured I would save my journals for me, but share some of the highlights. So the first of these: my favourite day.


My favourite day in Budapest was perhaps the most unusual, it was my fifth day there and up until this day we had been doing the more tourist-y sights in the city, and today was different.

As with the rest of my trip, I let my friend Tom make all of the plans, as the leading tour guide/local for my time in the city. Every once in a while I would be charged with the task of making small decisions, such as the type of food we would eat or whether or not we should stay in or go out. This day was no exception, this day was all at the hand of Tom’s guide. I believe he had heard about the chairlift from a friend and that was enough- we were off with some directions in hand.

We had to tram across the city, from the centre to the Northern corner. But I found this an exciting part of the experience, I was ushered around to places I am unfamiliar with and upon arriving I was always faced with a great experience, each better than the last.

This day exemplifies this, as this city is filled with beautiful lookout points, this was the hardest to get to. First a tram to the station, then a 45 minute bus ride through Buda and up Buda Hill. I may be one of the few, but I find taking transportation to be a great part of the experience, as it gives you the time to relax and see the city. In this case, it offered us a chance to see the residential side of Buda, with large houses and vast gardens. It was something that you may assume doesn’t exist if you spend your time in the city centre. Plus, the bus did half the work for us, bringing us up the hill, so we didn’t have to walk it. A great plus when the person you are traveling with is equally as lazy and slightly hungover as you are. Which brings us to the chair lift, or “Zugligeti Libego”, which was an unexpected experience. As we arrived at the chairlift we bought our return tickets for our trip up and back down, but I quickly realized that this was more than we bargained for, we were quickly scooted up onto the lift and forced into a 1040m lift up the side of the hill. Photo Apr 23, 9 14 25 AM.jpg             This, though simple, was a lot of fun. Well at least for a little while. Tom and I are both scared of heights and were greeted by a great challenge of fear vs. laziness in our decision to ride up instead of walking. It was so different from everything we had previously done and although scary, it was really funny and entertaining to watch Tom squirm in his seat as the lift bumped and slowed. Photo Apr 23, 9 24 39 AM.jpg

By the time we were nearing the top, we began to see snow, if that is any indication of how high we were. When we arrived, we hopped off the lift and vowed to find a different way down. From there we were on our way up, yes, more up than the 500m we had already gone. After walking up a little further you are greeted by a lookout point better known as “Erzebet Kilato”. This is the highest lookout yet, it is a small castle-like building with four levels. However, as we reached the top, it began to snow. That didn’t stop me from continuing on the theme of “facing my fears” and going to the top level while barely surviving being blown right off by the wind and snow. We wandered around, but there wasn’t a whole lot going on up there, and as it had been decided that we wouldn’t be taking the chairlift back down, we set off to find our alternate way down.  IMG_6295 copyPhoto Apr 23, 9 38 08 AM.jpg

Instead we took a nice long walk through the forest to find our alternate way down- the children’s railway. But first a small hike, where I found myself constantly hoping we were going the right way. A 200m walk became no less than 1.4km. But the walked offered us a new break from the city and it’s smells. We took in the sights and smells of the hill as we made our way to the railway.

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Finding the railway was like finding Narnia, it is a small building hidden in the forest with a few children playing on the tracks. (I guess here I should explain that the railway wasn’t made for children, but was made by and run by children). So here we found another delightfully weird experience. Being ushered onto the train by young children in uniforms who take their job extremely seriously. The ride down was more comfortable, we rode through the hills, with views of the countryside and the city as well as journey through the green surroundings.

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Once at the bottom we rode back to the city. At this point the sun was already beginning to set. We headed back to the apartment where we stayed until Tom’s phone had enough power to go on and from there we went out for dinner.

We made our way back to the Buda side of the city for dinner to a cozy grill place, which was a great change from the Italian-Hungarian places that we had been eating at. (the most popular food style here). Here is where I realized how good of a day I had, I was tired, but in a good way and I was in good company. Yes, it was simple and nothing typically exciting happened, but it was good. A nice change from the super populated city, filled with many random experiences and new views. We chatted over dinner about our day and it was comfortable and relaxed, a feeling that I hadn’t really felt since arriving. And this feeling stretched over how I was feeling in the city, comfortable, relaxed, excited. The city’s weird secret places make it a trip for the books and this day especially.

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The evening was no exception, we took tram #2 along the Danube to see the beautifully lit castle hill by night. Budapest is strange, its busy, populated and has a crazy night life but it is also home to many great attractions that they put on display by night for everyone to see. We ended the night like any friends hangout- watching Grease in the apartment. Once again, I realize that this may seem too simple to be part of my favourite day, but this is a small privilege that our cross border friendship lacked, being able to just chill together and watch movies. So there you have it, my favourite day. By the way, the simplicity of this day doesn’t mean my other days were boring, but in its casual nature triumphs over the rest. However, there are many other exciting experiences to share yet!

Thoughts From Terminal 1

That’s right, ya girl is back at it again with the crappy travel blogs. But seeing at today was an unexciting 2 on the excitement scale, I figured I would just start this series off with some thoughts while migrating through the airport. 

  • To pass the time, people watch (wow revolutionary). It is surprising the type of people that all show up at the airport. Mostly because all manners and grace are gone once you are past security and you see barbarians strewn across 3 seats or a nervous wreck plowing through their suitcase.
  • It is truly an exciting experience being at the airport- make sure you take it all in, I know it can it be a stressful place but it is also filled with excitement and that feeling should be remembered.
  • Why are these places so complicated, I feel like I walk/stand on the people movers for so long I feel like I’m in Narnia.
  • Also the Toronto airport is a bit unorganized in the sense that as soon as the first boarding call is made, everyone runs to line up and leaves no space for any one else walking through. 
  • Also while being at the airport, I find that I am trying to be extra “Canadian” and say thank you and sorry. 
  • But that being said, it is hard when a woman cuts you in line to not yell “exqeeze me bitch. Back of the line”.
  • Also, traveling alone is rather boring, because when things like that happen you have no one to turn and laugh to, everything is a private joke with just you, boring. 
  • When going through security I thought I was being so helpful, I had my watch off, phone out and coat off. 
  • Well that went to shit when I realized I left both my iPod and camera in my bag and became an embarrassing mess. *whoops*

Anyways, my plane is about to board, I’m glad I got to bring you some thoughts while I wait.

Airports

Oh  hey, hi there! Yes, I am alive, and yes, I will continue to say that every time I get too caught up in netflix to make a blog post. I recently went on vacation with my family to Florida and after arriving back a day late after spending the day in the Orlando airport.


 

But anyway, back to the focus of this post. I truly love the airport, it is a chance to people watch in a weird global bubble where people are coming and going from places all over the world. However, the airport can be extremely trying at times and so this post is dedicated to just that.
Delays: No matter what class you are, nothing can exempt you from the dreaded delay. Bonus points if you have a connecting flight that you miss or have to run too. However, this can easily be taken as an opportunity for an extended vacation, or at least an afternoon in a city you didn’t expect to hang out in. good for you, ya mighty traveler!

Food: personally, I try not to eat more than a snack at the airport but when you are at the airport for an 11 am flight that gets cancelled, you are slowly pushed to buy an over priced meal that is probably twice what it is worth. *I’ve learned since writing this that Toronto airport has some of the highest taxes on food and purchases, which makes more sense as to why Mc.Don’s dollar menu is creeping upwards of 5$

People: I love people watching (as previously mentioned), but it is particularly confusing why once people enter the airport they tun into haggard beasts with no manners. Like, your flight was delayed 20 minutes, that is no excuse to lay on the floor of the terminal as if the end has come. -and of course as soon as i finished writing this my flight was cancelled and karma kept in Orlando an extra day.

Security: I will never understand this process, it is longer than necessary with people who do not understand what ” empty your pockets” means. This is also the process I find differs the most airport to airport. In Orlando, security is very disorganized and can get out of control. But in Schiphol, security is when you board the plane, which makes for less people but also less chance of missing your flight.

No matter where you are or where you are going , the airport brings exhilaration of an adventure to come that only it can bring. Just know that the airport can come with bumps and isn’t always smooth, but it is always interesting! Happy travels!

-Brittany

 

 

The Last One.

Here is my PSA for why twentysomethings shouldn’t travel alone, otherwise known as my last day.


So Demi and I woke up at 5:15am so that I could get ready, which just meant putting on stretchy clothing and pretending to be mentally prepared. At 5:45 Demi took me to the train station after filling my entire backpack with snacks (bless her). She helped me with my bag and sat with me until my train came.

It was an odd feeling since I had already had my dramatic goodbye a few days before and so now I was doing the thing I feared the most, saying goodbye again. Nothing feels worse then saying goodbye to people with undisclosed futures. Neither of us knowing when we will see each other again, but that is the reality.

On the train I was left to my thoughts, which left me mostly stuck thinking about my unhappy feeling I was left with after my last day. In reality all disappointments while traveling allow for different experiences but having expectations can really kill your mind. I thought of all the things that could have happened and felt a bit sad at the reality I was left with.

(I can be strangely philosophical at 6 am in the morning.)

Once at the airport I went into full panic mode trying to find my check in section and getting lost, mad, and finally making it to have a damn bottle of dry shampoo in my suitcase (which I still haven’t replaced). It’s cool that they had to get it, I understand that, but to do that they had to go through my carry-on which I had not organized and basically exploded upon opening.

I mean the rest of my time was spent lonely wandering through the airport because literally no one that I knew was awake yet. But once we boarded everything was cool, until the plane was delayed an hour and NO ONE would say why. ???? wut ????

Eventually we got into the air and I was stuck in limbo between 4 channels that were just “comedy”, “drama”, “action” and “children” and each had an hour an a half of programming. It was a 9 hour flight. Who let Satan choose the programming for my United Airways flight? I can assume I watched both the action and comedy sections at least twice. So. Many. Regrets.

Once we arrived in Chicago I was once again left struggling to figure out where the hell I was supposed to be and stressed that I didn’t have enough time. First going through claiming my stuff, then baggage claim, then check in, then security once again. Here airport security asked everyone transferring flights to leave their suitcases in a pile which was extremely questionable but I accepted the potential loss and continued on my way.

After a second sift through my now extremely unorganized suitcase I was allowed to eat and do the homework that was due while waiting for my transfer back to Toronto. Did more thinking about why I ever thought an unnecessary transfer would be an okay way to save a couple bucks (I am definitely my father’s daughter..)

Finally I boarded my last plane back Toronto, which departed at 8:30 so I had been up for like 20 hours. After dealing with the reality that I had lost my aisle seat to this large ignorant man who thought it okay to steal my seat, I made it into my seat and passed out. Aside from the discomfort of having neither armrests, I slept pretty good for the hour we flew. (Also I need to mention that this 1 hour flight had an immense list of in-flight entertainment that made me extremely angry.)

We landed in Toronto at 9:30 and I did the whole process again. Claims, baggage claim, and finding my ride. It was such a comforting feeling to see my friend Coleman after today that I could have cried.) It was an exhausting test of strength that I will quote as the toughest day of my trip.


This trip ends with Coleman and I driving back to St.Catharines and leaving the adventure behind. I’m not quite sure how to end this because writing these has been my last claim to this trip. No, ending these blogs won’t mean the memories will fade, but I will have to fully return to the reality that I have now been home for two weeks.

To anyone who has read till now, thank you. I hope that this was mildly entertaining or insightful in anyway. To all of the people I seen on my trip, you are all truly amazing people who I was lucky to meet and spend time with, thank you.