The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth
L'Academie: 4051, rue Saint-Denis Montreal, QC
H2W 2M7 (514) 849-2249
Queue de Cheval
Montreal Museum of Fine Art
The Underground City & Metro
I've always enjoyed sharing information on places that I've traveled to with my friends, especially restaurants, clubs, and sightseeing. So here it is, live and in colour, my travel blog. With pictures of course. (Note the Canadian spelling of colour.)
Recently my husband Shankar and I went to Montreal, Quebec to celebrate his transition to the era of responsibility aka his 30th birthday. Having already driven from Ann Arbor to Cleveland for Christmas and then to Toronto we decided to take the train straight into downtown Montreal and save ourselves another drive. What a relaxing way to travel. The highlight of our trip was staying at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, I called ahead and reserved the Bell Canada corporate rate of $129/night (they didn't ask for id during checkin!). The hotel is beautiful, and connected to the VIA station very similar to the Royal York in Toronto. We went for three days and two nights, which was just enough time to see a few places and have a good time.
Day 1: Despite heading to Montreal in the dead of winter we still forayed all over the city by means of the amazing undergound PATH system. Its much better than Toronto's. The first day we spent walking to Old Montreal (which we did above ground so as to take pictures and froze in the process!) We crossed Notre Dame, landed up in Old Montreal, and just wandered around until we found a restaurant with a menu that suited our mood. Crepes Suzette! A great place with fantastic crepes, and decently priced menu. We enjoyed a very leisurely meal as we listened to the sounds of people chattering away in french all around us. We then headed back to our hotel in a taxi, of course making a stop at the local SAQ. The highlight of the afternoon was a church next door to our hotel that is simply beautiful, La Marie Riene du Monde. Very peaceful, and totally took me back to Paris and Italy where my girlfriend Geeta and I went to some spectacular churches.
I actually made use of a few hours that Shankar needed to fiinish some school work by going to the excellent gym facilities at the hotel. A workout and a few glasses of wine later my good friend Anand Pavamani stopped by. Anand is a childhood friend of mine who decided to make the move from good old Toronto to Montreal, and he is loving it. It shows, he looks great! He took us to this fantastic restaurant called L'academie. The ambience was very NY, but better since there people were all french and very friendly. Our appetizers were very good. Again an SAQ right next door and you can bring your own bottles of wine to the restaurant, where they charge you a small corking fee. Amazing! After dinner Anand took us to the Middle Eastern quarter of Montreal, which really reminded me of the Latin Quarter in Paris. One of the crazes that has taken over Montreal is the sheesha cafe. They don't serve liquor, but you can get these incredible tea's that are very savory along with a whole variety of sheesha's. We tried the ultimate combo, and it was very good. The cool thing about this place is they have flat screens all over the place playing Middle Eastern music video's that are totally addictive to watch! This place rocked.
Day 2: We headed out to the Museum of Fine Arts, walking to the subway underground and grabbing panini's on the way. The underground is full of these amazing european bistro's and cafe's with amazing food. The museums in Montreal are so much better than those in Toronto. The collections are better, we saw a lot of really nice Renaissance paintings (some as old as 1100 AD), and my favourite modern masters like Picasso and Monet. Their contemporary art collection is pretty interesting too, most impressive being the size of some of the works. I mean you need a Museum to house it! We headed back onto the metro, and walked through the underground again doing a little shopping. They even have an Eaton Centre in Montreal!
Day 3: We got up late, checked out and left our bags with the concierge. After grabbing a nice lunch at one of the cafe's in the train station, we headed outside since it was actually pleasant and sunny! We walked around town, mailed out a few postcards and headed up to McGill University. It totally reminded me of UofT, being smack in the middle of downtown Montreal with the older type of architecture. It was a pleasant walk and we grabbed some hot drinks on our way back. Grabbed our bags, and a few slices of pizza for the train ride home. My ultimate relaxation could really be described as some good munchies, a good book, and a comfortable quiet place to read! A great way to end our trip.
Click below to see a slide show of our trip!