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Published: August 1st 2013
Due to the problems with our ride from Quebec City we arrived late to Montréal and because of this we were a little worried about getting into our place to stay. We had again booked through airbnb, a site to find rooms in ordinary peoples homes, and our hosts weren't actually home so we were supposed to get the key from one of their friends. However, when our arrival was delayed she decided to stay at the apartment for the night in order to let us in and give us the key. After the first night we had the whole apartment to ourselves, a town house apartment with a nice little backyard and excellent cooking opportunities at the price of renting a room!
Our apartment was only a few metro stops away from downtown, so on our first morning in Montréal we decided to walk to the city center via a bagel shop where we planned to have coffee and bagels. So we started walking, and walked and walked, quickly realizing that the distances in Montréal are much greater than they look on a map. Eventually we arrived at the bagel shop, and found a queue reaching out to the
street. There weren't really any seats, so after some queuing we only bought bagels (and a lot of them as we wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything extraordinary!) and then set out searching for a supermarket to buy something to drink and a park where we could enjoy our bagels.
We enjoyed our newly acquired bagels in the Central park of Montréal, Parc du Mont-Royal. Montréal is famous for their version of the bagel, smaller than the New York bagels, and we had purchased ours from one of the most appreciated bagel shops in town. The sesame bagels were really good, the other bagels we were not that impressed with. The garlic bagels were covered in roasted garlic (and almost too strong to eat), the blueberry bagels were bluish, but didn't really taste like blueberries, and the chocolate bagels had too much orange in them. The park were we sat was however really nice, green and sunny, and we sat there on the lawn for some time just watching people walking and running by.
We skipped the city center that day, instead we just walked around in the neighborhoods east of Parc Mont-Royal. Montréal is divided
into neighborhoods of which most looks quite like a normal North-American city, but some differ quite much from the norm. The area east of Parc du Mont-Royal is called Plateau, and contains a lot of cute brick houses with wall paintings all over them. Also elsewhere in the town there are a lot of wall paintings and other art, even garbage bins are painted in bright colors. Another neighborhood we liked a lot is the Village, the local gayborhood were the main street had a "roof" of pink Christmas tree balls and people were really friendly. Also the beer really was cheap, the main drawback was the gay porn they were showing on a TV behind the bar in the pub we visited.
The next day we took a free walking tour around the main sites in the old town. The free walking tours is a concept were the tour is free, but you are expected to tip the guide according to what you think the tour is worth. The tour was nice, and we heard a lot of stories about the city. We also met a guy who was arranging wine tours to the Quebec wineries, and we
decided to take one of those a few days later.
After the walking tour we went to an event called Tam-Tam, a drumming jam in Parc du Mont-Royal that goes on for all afternoon every Sunday. We bought some picnic food and some beer from a store on the way, and enjoyed the drumming and dancing for an hour. Then it started to rain, and rain a lot. We first went for some cover under the trees, but the water was soon dripping through the trees at the same pace as it was pouring down out in the open. We eventually gave up and walked home through the rain, luckily it was warm even though it was wet. The rain seemed to have the opposite effect on the drummers and the dancers, they just increased the pace when the rain started to pour.
The next Tuesday we took the wine tour mentioned earlier to two different wineries near Toronto. The tour company had an old minibus that they drove us around with, and the tour guide also drove the bus. The guiding during the bus ride itself wasn't that extensive, but once we got to the wineries the
owners were giving really nice introductions to both wine making and to their wines. The local specialty is ice wine and ice cider, where the harvest takes place once the grapes (or for ciders apples) are frozen. This gives a much sweeter and more aromatic wine with a lot of fruit flavors. The wines at the winery weren't that special, but the ice wines and the ciders were really good, and if we would have had possibility to bring some with us we would definitely have bought more than one bottle of raspberry flavored cider from the shops at the wineries!
Generally we really liked Montréal. It seemed to be a city with something for everyone, people were really friendly and the city had the best shopping opportunities this far on our trip. Also the French language and culture makes the city (and all of Quebec for that matter) more interesting! Compared to Quebec City Montréal has the benefit that everyone actually speaks English so even though all signs and most menus are in French there is always someone around you can ask for help.
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