While the travel time to Montréal was longer than a trip to Ottawa, the experience was more pleasant due to our preassigned seating in Comfort Class. Comfort Class entails more leg room, an overhead compartment that is accessible from your seat (though some passengers still insisted on standing in the aisle while putting away their bags), and better head support. A satellite issue also resulted in complementary Wi-Fi for all passengers, which pretty much guaranteed five hours well wasted.
As usual, Joe and I walked until our feet hurt all three days that we were in Montréal. Here's a brief recap of our tour.
Heavy rain and a midday arrival in the city made us decide that we should 'take it easy' but our concept of the phrase differs from most other people. Joe and I had an average brunch, the highlight of which was a half-pint of Boreale beer. I had raved about this brand to Joe after my last visit to Montréal about seven years ago only to be let down by the six pack that I had hauled home for his tasting pleasure. Boreale from the tap still failed to live up to my golden memory, but the bitter taste dissipated with each drink and the aftertaste proved to be very clean.
We explored Rue Sainte-Catherine, starting in the bustling shopping district with all the usual brands (H&M, Futureshop, Old Navy, etc), passed the Université du Québec à Montréal, looked around the student friendly Quartier Latin, then stopped by La Grand Bibliothèque, whose gift shop featured an inordinate amount of Tintin products. Actually, Tintin products could be found throughout Montréal.
That night, instead of going out, we stayed in our hotel room to watch UFC 104. We are ashamed to admit how lame we were but we really enjoyed lying on the king size bed, watching men beat the crap out of each other.
We stopped first in Chinatown, which boasted a charming pedestrian only street, and bought some Vietnamese subs for lunch despite the fact that they were more expensive ($3) and less tasty than the equivalents in Toronto. We then spent a whole afternoon exploring Old Montréal's attractive buildings and cobblestone streets. We were pleasantly surprised when Notre-Dame Basilica allowed visitors in during their Sunday service, and Joe was quite impressed with the interior of the church in spite of his pagan ways. When we arrived at the Marché Bonsecours, we inadvertantly came across a bi-annual designer fashion sale, La Grande Braderie de Mode Québécoise. Only in my wildest dreams had I hoped to find Eve Gravel clothing while in Montreal and, without planning to, I bought a skirt that I had been lusting after at a discount!
For dinner, we ate at St-Hubert, a chain that once competed with Swiss Chalet in Toronto but now only reigns supreme in Quebec. Joe had never eaten at St-Hubert so we gave it a try and Joe's conclusion was that it tasted like Swiss Chalet.