First off, I have a small victory to share: I reached 50 followers! I am thankful for each and every one of you 🙂 I never thought people would be that interested in what I had to say, but every day you inspire me to share more and more. I would like to do a fun giveaway when I reach 100, so stay tuned!
Now onto Montreal! I always have a difficult time figuring out how to sum up a trip. Ryan and I were originally looking to have a “relaxing” vacation. We almost just rented a small cabin in Central Ohio, but the travel-bug in me always thirsts to experience new places. We settled on Montreal because of proximity, renowned culture, and affordability. I’ve also never been to a French-speaking location before, despite having taken 3 years of French in high school. I could not believe how every. single. person. seemed to be completely fluent in both French and English. That was really a wow-factor for me. I was able to recognize some phrases and vocab, but was thankful for the bilingual convenience.
Day 1: Flight, Martinis, and Lola Rosa Cafe
It started off w/ a pretty normal travel day. We bought 1-day bus passes on arrival and were taken to the drop-off location “near” our hotel, which ended up being a half mile of suitcase towing and no phone data to assist. Once we settled into our hotel, we got half-priced martinis in the hotel restaurant/lounge.
I will start off my description of our trip with the word tasty. Wow, I seriously had some of the best food of my life. I’m not a full-blown foodie, but I love trying new things. Everything was delicious. Everything. I am not one to take pictures of my food and post it all the time, but I am going to make several exceptions in this case.
Lola Rosa Cafe – Vegetarian Cuisine
If I had one recommendation of where to eat in Montreal, it would be this cozy little place about a block from the heart of McGill University. It serves all vegetarian food, with vegan options if you don’t consume milk or eggs. There is NO lack of flavor or fill though. I left completely stuffed after consuming this bad boy:
This burrito was about 3+ inches in diameter and was full of black beans, corn, tomato, cilantro, mozzarella, sweet potatoes, spicy sour cream, green onions and jalapenos, all washed down with L’Alchimiste Pilsner Blonde. Whether or not you’re vegetarian, this is a place you simply cannot miss, with plenty of options for everyone. In addition to the amazing food, our table was actually a little desk with drawers on either side stuffed with love-notes, math homework, jokes, poems, etc. It was a fun little treat to find (and I’m assuming the other tables have the same). We didn’t have a pen to add to the collection though…
Note: make reservations if you do go, as we got one of the last unreserved tables for the evening around 5.
Day 2: Pikolo Cafe, Acropolis Ouzerie, and Casino de Montreal
Please ignore my uncoordinated scarf/sweater combo. It was around this time that I realized I forgot to bring my coat, and so I suffered for a day or two until I bought a little fleece zip-up in a souvenir shop.
Pikolo Espresso Bar – College/Hipster Cafe
Nothing crazy special here. Ryan and I stopped in here on Thursday morning to get a cappuccino and some croissants. I was immediately uncomfortable because it was like standing in a hallway. It was shoulder-to-shoulder and there were no tables available, even in their little alcove-section upstairs. Everyone had computers or study materials out, and as we left I wondered how they would get anything done. They also dropped our ticket on the floor, so we ended up waiting 10-15 minutes before they realized they had not got us anything. I guess it happens.
Acropolis Ouzerie – Greek/Seafood Cuisine
This little gem was completely empty when we went in for lunch. The place had a very authentic vibe w/ beautiful natural lighting and additional seating in the upstairs alcove. The owner was our waiter, and while we enjoyed talking with him at first, he became increasingly chatty throughout the meal, passionately going-on about politics, the economy, family, religion, anything. He was a sweet man, but it made for a slightly distracting lunch.
The food, however, is another story. It was delicious! I got a veggie-pita w/ lettuce, tomato, onion, and big herb-covered blocks of feta cheese. It also came with Greek potatoes, rice and a salad. The price is a little higher than I like paying for Greek food, but the portions are enormous. I made it through about half of my meal and a Mythos beer.
Casino de Montreal – 100’s of game tables & 1000’s of slot machines
Call me a newb, but this was the very first time I have ever set foot inside a casino. We read a lot of bad reviews calling the place outdated, workers rude, the food bad, etc. Because of all this negativity, we almost didn’t go. I am SO glad we did though, because it was a blast and completely worth it. We didn’t have one bad experience with a worker, the food was fine, and as far as I could tell, the place was completely modern.
The casino is 6 floors, with a big opening in the middle so you can see onto almost every other floor. There are several bars scattered throughout and four sit-down or a-la-carte style restaurants on the top floor, each with views of the city/water. A live band was taking requests for both French and English songs, and the lighting/hum of the slot machines was exhilarating.
Ryan dabbled in the live roulette-tables, while I favored the slot machines. Neither one of us are big gamblers, so we did it mostly for fun. I gambled no more than $20 (call it the conservative-accounting side) and Ryan $40. I ended up being down $10 towards the end of the evening, made it all back in one pull, called it quits, and walked away $0.34 richer…though we spent about $80 between the drinks and food. Ha. Only on vacation…
Note: the casino pic is a stock picture.
Sorry for the loooong update. More coming soon 😉