Thank You Montreal

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I just got back from a few days (not long enough!) vacation in Montreal.  I'll be posting some more photos and other things soon, but a few things that are fresh in my mind about this great city and international travel in general:  

  • If you have the opportunity, take any chance you can to travel abroad.  Especially to places where English isn't the primary language, it really puts things into perspective.   

  • French is probably the most intimidating language I have ever encountered.  It seems too elegant for me to attempt to speak it.  I feel like I am mangling a beautiful rose when I try.

  • Google Transit directions are amazing.  I would have been lost on this trip without them.  They helped me get around the Metro on both train and bus and were extremely accurate with times and ETA's when doing so.  Yet another reason not to use Apple Maps.

  • If you are going to try to learn a few phrases in the native tongue to assist in getting around during any international trip I highly recommend learning how to say "I'm sorry" (in my case je suis désolé). I'll be honest I did not use it much because of my fear of mangling it, but I'd be willing to bet it goes a long way when trying to interact with locals.  In the few times I got the courage to attempt to speak French, I got a genuine sense of appreciation.  

I've said it before, if you live in the Northeast this is the best budget international vacation you can get.  There are so many things to do.  Historic sights, a good nightlife scene, and amazing food; all within a few hours drive depending on where you live.  I can't wait for my next visit.

Montreal! You Must Visit!

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 I've talked to a few friends recently that live in the Boston area who have never been!  This baffles me.  

Montreal is just under 5 hours from Boston (depending on the way you drive) and boom, you feel like you've been transported to Europe.  The city is beautiful and so clean, and the people who for the most part are not fans of Americans, are nice to tourists.  And the food, oh my lord the food!

Here are a few of my favorite things in Montreal:

  • Rue Ste. Catherine (Saint Catherine St) - This is pretty much the place to be when it comes to bars and nightlife.  This is where you'd find me when I was visiting in my late teens as the local drinking age is 18.

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  • The Biodome - I am a sucker for zoos and such.  The biodome in Montreal is one of the best I've visited if you're in the mood for a visit to the rain forest.  

  • Underground City - Montreal has a HUGE expansive underground area that is almost like a second city beneath the first.  It is basically miles and miles of mall space and restaurants.  Pretty cool if you need to do some shopping (or have a long indoor walk).

  • Vieux Montreal (Old Montreal) - This is a pretty historic area and awesome if you're into taking pictures.  It dates back to New France when Canada was first colonized.  If you plan to eat here brush up on your French.  I've visited a few times and in each experience, not many people spoke English in Old Montreal.

  • Japanese Garden - I'm a sucker for gardens too.  This one is part of Montreal's botanical garden and is quite amazing.  

Do yourself a favor and make Montreal your next vacation or long weekend destination.  All you need is a passport, it isn't that bad a drive, and it is by far the best way for those in the Northeast US to get a taste of non-American culture.  I think it is quite refreshing, and something everyone should do at least once.  I'm going back this summer, and I can't wait.

Oh and they have excellent street art too.  

Montreal Graffitti