Question by rajeever: Travel tips to Montreal!?
I’m travelling to Montreal from Boston on May 24th (Thruday) and returning on May 28th (Monday).
I want to see the city, meet lot of people and party…
Any ideas and recommendations where i should go and stay. Also i’m planing to stay in the youth hostel. BTW, i’m 28yr old straight guy.
Answer by Marie
Unfortunately the youth hostel is located on the near west side, mostly English speaking and usually inundated weekends by American kids that come up to party and get drunk and get laid and make noise. However, the McGill university area, and a couple of the best Museums on Sherbrooke Street are also a short walk away.
Otherwise, you are probably going to be told to visit Old Montreal (where the movie “The Score” was filmed) and the adjoining port and it is nice but also touristy, not too much different from your Fanueil Hall and Chris Columbus waterfront park but quite a bit larger. Actually there are just a handful of truly old buildings in Old Montreal; most of it was actually the financial district in the first 2/3 of the 20th century but taken at that the 1900-1925 bank buildings’ architecture (the buildings now converted to restaurants and shops and condos and artists lofts) are quite interesting. And nothing has been torn down and turned into parking lots. Although touristy as I just wrote the district is worth an afternoon and early evening’s wandering and dining.
The REAL Montreal, with the people that define its true character, much as the REAL Boston is an amalgam of Back Bay and South End and Southie and Allston and Cambridge and Somerville, etc. etc. is found in the more French speaking (though all are bi-lingual; still remember to be courteous if you do not know French and first say “Pardonnez-moi. Je suis ameriçain/e et ma français est mauvais.”) eastern side, areas called The Plateau and The Main and the Quartier Latin with the principal streets being St-Laurent and St-Denis and upper Park Avenue and to a lesser extent Ontario and East St Catherines. Plenty of places to party, to meet and see people, with a large music scene and hundreds of restaurants and shops. To a much lesser extent but still very interesting is the Atwater Market and St-Henri district on the near southwest side. Beyond those areas (and seeing more museums – Montréal is a much greater museum town than Boston) it will also be interesting to visit the vibrant ethnic areas. Immigrants mix well in Montréal and are not ghettoized (kind of like your Everett-East Somerville-Malden area), in fact there is an area with notable populations among others of both Hassidic Jews and fundamentalist Muslims and as yet they are not bombing or shooting at each other. Wandering around areas like Côtes-des-Neiges, Jean-Talon, Outremont-Park Ave and Beaubian is very pleasurable and interesting. There are no slums in Montréal to speak of and although there is crime it is less than in the States and there are no specifically dangerous neighborhoods like parts of your Roxbury and Dorchester.
Most of the aforementioned areas are easily reachable by métro. Our public transit system, except for commuter rail, is somewhat better than Boston’s and several bus lines run all night.
Of course while here you should treat yourself to at least one great Québec French restaurant. Most menus have at least one or two game dishes and bison and occasionally horse (chevaline) dishes should you wish to try something carnivourous not usually offered in the States. And also have a sandwich meal from a renowned “Montréal smoked meat (viande fumée) place, which is our version of pastrami. Most people who know both Montréal viande fumée and New York pastrami feel Montréal’s is better; unfortunately we Canadians suffer from an inferiority complex and are afraid to agressively promote our stuff in the States (did you know that 90% of maple syrup is harvested here, not in Vermont, as are 85% of the lobster catch, not from Maine waters?); but just try to tell me after you’ve had a fine viand fumée sandwich
if there would not be lines of people at Montréal smoked meat places if they were to be in the Boston area (especially before games at Fenway Park of the Bank North Center!). (By the way, the version of “Montreal brisket” sold by your DemoulasMarketBasket chain is pure crap and I have called and complained vorciferously). But if you like spicy brown mustard on your pastrami bring your own; for some cockamamie reason it was not sold here until just recently (French’s brand, not Gulden’s, has just come to our market); most viande fumée places offer only the traditional sweet yellow, although occasionally some will be able to find a jar of dijon if a customer demands.
PS: You may be straight but know that Montréal is a very gay tolerant city, more than San Francisco, but with a gay population that does not show off and rub faces in it. Also, as you probably have heard, we Canadians and particularly Montréalers are generally more libertine (and without guilt or denial) than are most Americans. Public partner-swapping clubs are legal here, for example.
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