Last weekend Victoria and I went to Montreal, we left on a Friday and came back on Sunday afternoon, so we enjoyed a Canadian Halloween. It was very short, there's a lot to see in Montreal, but during the school year is hard. The reason for us going was that my brother and his family were there, studying some french. You know, when I was in France I automatically switched my thinking to a different language (my french used to be good, but is very, very rusty), but in Canada, my brain didn't get it. I couldn't say anything in French, the first thing that came out of my mouth was English. Faster than I could stop it, very frustrating.
Montreal is in the French-speaking part of Canada, so everything you read is in French first, than English. When you walk in restaurants or certain stores, they greet you in French, than English, which I find it double the work for the employees, but quite cool.
My brother stayed in a very centrally located area, Milton Park, about 20 min from the airport by taxi (C$44). They were there for 3 weeks, and booked a flat on airbnb, which they were very happy about. It was super cute, with everything they might need, perfect for a family of 3. They also bought a pair of folding bikes, so they could explore the city, and then take it back home, excellent idea!
Milton Park nowadays is a hip area, full of artists, college students, and parks, there were also a few playgrounds for the girls to enjoy. This is basically what we did Friday all day, and they loved it. Playground hopping is the new cool thing, did you know? You can tell at some point it was an area of struggle, but it looks like it's changed a lot.
The weather was beautiful, but so cold! On Saturday morning it was 26F, and coming from Arizona... with no real winter clothes... we were freezing our bums off, seriously. Besides being so cold, which I actually enjoy, but come on, you need to wear the right outfit, the combination of blue skies, colorful leaves on the ground, squirrels everywhere, it was just perfect.
Taxi - We took a taxi from the airport to the flat (about C$44). It's very easy, the airport is not very big, so, just follow the signs and you can either take the bus or the taxi. Any questions, do it like me and ask the information desk. They can direct you to either the taxi or the bus. I had a feeling he was kind of pushing for us to take a taxi, but to be honest, we had woken up at 3am, Victoria was knackered, so choosing taxi over the bus wasn't a big deal. The good thing is, all taxis from the airport take credit card, the driver told me they prefer cash (of course, who doesn't), but honestly, he accepted my card without a problem (the only choice in the matter, ha!).
Bus - The only day we took a bus was on the last day, heading to the airport, so I can't really comment on it, but my brother and my sis-in-law used it a lot and it seemed very reliable. There is an app for the schedules for both iPhone and android or you can get the same info on their website or via sms.
The bus to and from the airport is the 747, a very important number to remember. It has a few stops around the areas near the hotels. Right now there is some construction going on and some stops are closed, so it's important to pay attention to that, because you might have to walk a little to the next stop, they tell you where you must go to.
Oh and before I forget, wait for the 747 right at the bus stop!!! I mean, right under the sign. On Sunday it was raining and we took shelter in front of a building (5 steps from the stop), suitcases and all and the driver was not going to stop! Luckily the traffic light was red and he saw Victoria in the rain, I'm pretty sure this is the only reason why he opened the door. The bus looks just like a city bus, some of them have wi-fi, and inside there's space for the suitcases. On a Sunday morning, the trip was super quick, but I'm sure on a week day, it can take up to an hr to get downtown.
Metro - The metro system doesn't have many lines, but it has many stops, which is great. Since I don't know Montreal all that well, not sure how much it covers of the city, but we could get to where we wanted with the metro, no problem. And honestly, I was being guided, so I didn't really pay attention to anything, I just knew which stop took me home, in case I needed.
- Buy ticket before getting on the bus, otherwise you will need the exact change.
- Children under 11 don't pay on weekends, with at least one adult and up to 5 children together. Children under 6 don't pay ever.
- Tickets are valid for buses and metro and the daily pass is valid for 24 hrs, and not only until midnight.
The maple tree is the symbol of Canada, it's on their flag and it's everywhere. When I lived in Toronto, I didn't really notice the love for this tree, but then again, I was 15 and couldn't care less. But while in Montreal, I tried, maple water (yes, that's a thing) and brought maple biscuits home. I didn't even buy the famous maple syrup, but they're everywhere.
By the way, that market is such a cool market, it smells of freshness with cute little stores that you just want to buy everything. If I'm not mistaken it was the Jean-Talon Marche, but they have other farmer market styles in Montreal.
Planetarium, the Botanical Garden and The Olympic Stadium
On Saturday we passed by the Botanical Gardens and the Olympic Stadium. It's a little far from downtown, as they usually are, but worth the trip. The Olympic stadium has a football stadium in the back of it, there was a game going on when we were there, I am assuming they use it for concerts, but it was closed the day we went.
We went quickly inside the Botanical Garden's restaurant to get something for the girls (and that's where I found the maple water, ha!), so I didn't see much of it, but they said it's small and very nice, but not super amazing, like some others that I've been to.
My sis-in-law bought us tickets for the planetarium, so that's where we headed. Before the show the kids can play and during it, you lay on giant bean bags so you can see the whole ceiling. I loved it, the kids thought it was too loud. They're not very long, about 20 min, and after 30 min you can watch another one, but the kids weren't into it, so we left.
Before I went I had a few people ask me if they celebrated Halloween in Canada. I assumed they did, but I wasn't 100% sure, and let me tell you... they do and they do it well. Very scary indeed.
We took the metro to a different neighborhood because we didn't see any signs that there would be much "candy giving" going on where we were. It was great, we walked a few streets, my brother and his family saw what Halloween is like, Victoria, besides almost having the scare of her life, enjoyed her favorite holiday of the year (after Christmas) and we headed home. Due to the weather, you must ring the door bells or knock the homes with Halloween decorations and lights on. Unlike Phoenix where most people giving out candies sit outside, and make potluck with their neighbors.
Halloween in Montreal is really cool.
Montreal is a city with such great charm, the houses are so cute, the people are very friendly and polite, I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I'd love to go back at some point.