Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Our Summer Travels: Montreal

And so, from Iceland we travelled on to Canada. A surprise upgrade on the flight from Reykjavik was a bonus, a nightmare experience with Air Canada on our connecting flight to Ottawa less so. We spent a short time in the city before travelling to my family reunion in the Ontario countryside: I'll write more about that soon (at the moment I'm still processing the whole experience!). And from there we went to Montreal, at the heart of French-speaking Quebec.

Montreal was amazing: totally and utterly our kind of place. Awesome vegan food, good local cider (thank you French influence!), amazing street art, cosy bookshops, and a very winning combination of European and North American sensibilities, which seem to result in a completely unique city.

To me, this is the ultimate Montreal image: beautiful old architecture mixed with anarchist graffiti. The Catholic churches in the Old Town and surrounding areas are just stunning, and I loved the juxtaposition of Parisian-style buildings, towering spires, and huge skyscrapers.

As lovely as the Old Town was, though, my favourite neighbourhoods were the hip Plateau Mount Royal and the slightly grungier Mile End, both to the north of the city. The vegan food here was so good: Thomas was in raptures over the vegan crispy duck at Chu Chai. I adored both the cider and the huge veggie nachos at Lola Rosa, while I think T would quite happily marry their vegan poutine. Honestly, we barely scratched the surface of vegan Montreal and are already planning our next visit.

Also in the area, we came out of Drawn & Quarterly a good few dollars lighter. Specialising in graphic novels but with a superb fiction and non-fiction selection too, this English-language bookshop was a real highlight.

On Sunday we stumbled upon Under Pressure, an international festival of street art taking place in the Centreville. With sound systems booming, skate ramps set up in the street, entire buildings being used as canvases, and artists working everywhere, it was quite a sight. A couple of pints in a nearby rock bar (I'm happy anywhere painted black and covered in graffiti) made for a happy afternoon.

It honestly broke my heart a little to leave Montreal, as I feel that our four days there barely scratched the surface of what the city has to offer. If you get the chance, go go go!