Relatively close to the heart of Montréal, at the foot of the hill "Mont Royal" and by the "avenue du parc", is one of the biggest parks in the city. On weekends, the Parc du Mont-Royal is the kingdom of the rasta, the hair of every color, martial arts, juggling, picnics, sunglasses and outdoor sport. Although you can find this kind of environment in cities, this is on a very large scale, hundreds of people spend hours of their weekends in the Mont-Royal. But that's not all, there is also the gothic-medieval phenomenon. A clearing in the forest with a dirt floor, surrounded by trees is the scene of battles between medieval crowd of all ages, with shields and swords hand made with soft materials such as foam, faced against each other as a way of fun. Something very strange to see. The southern part of the park, down the avenue (avenue du parc), has a large baseball field, a large soccer field and volleyball nets some bowl on a green grass very bright.
When it comes to Canada and waterfalls, everyone thinks of Niagara Falls, but there's much more to it than just that, and some of them are even more impressive! We went to one on a rainy day in 2007, and we went up by cable car. We crossed a bridge over them, and went down the other side. The show is awesome, and you never have to stop to think about what would happen if the bridge fell. Everything there is like a water park in a storm. The views are tremendous and the entire landscape is incredibly beautiful. You can't help but get the feeling that man is there because allows him to be there. A must-see.
When I lived in this beautiful Canadian city, the Vieux Montréal area was definitely my favorite area. Notre-Dame, which the Spanish called Cathedral of Heaven, with a starry sky infused with incredible peace. That sad candle on the floor with a great message. The light on in the old market where the European immigrants passed through. Those contrasts between the light of the lamp and the window were amazing. Or the changing of the leaves in autumn with its beautiful, contrasting colors, are images that remain burned into the memory of the people who visit it.
The Montreal Botanical Garden is located in the north of the city. We came by bike (With Bixi service, it takes about 40 minutes from the centre, and we stopped halfway). It's a huge garden where you can easily spend the whole day, and there are plenty of designated picnic areas. Within you can find different areas: 1. Japanese garden area, with small houses containing activities aimed at the public. 2. Green houses with species from ecosystems from around the world. 3. Museum of the Indigenous Canadian people. 4. Garden area, containing Canadian species which are basically the same as in Europe.
This was a strange visit, to be sure. It's a place of worship for many Canadians, which we saw upon our arrival. The exterior is stunning and even a bit austere. There are so many stairs that go up and down that a few pilgrims went up and down on their knees to show their devotion. This feeling of coldness disappears when you get to the chapels with plenty of hanging rods, demonstrating cures that have taken place there. Entry is free and the whole atmosphere is memorable. Perhaps if I had gone alone I wouldn't have visited it, but as the trip was organized beforehand, it's what we did.
Very near Saint Denis Avenue is the Jean Talon market. It is an outdoor market that is open every day and sells all kinds of vegetables, fruit, plants and flowers. The produce is spectacularly presented.
The Mont Royal Park offers several viewpoints from which visitors can admire the city. In winter, one of the most accessible is the Belvedere, which can be reached by car (beware that parking is not free), or by bus line 11 from the Montroyal metro stop (a bus every half hour). From the parking lot (across from the cemetery) it's just a 10 minute walk to get to a great big house and terrace from which you can see much of the city of Montreal, with its skyscrapers, and Saint Laurent as a central point of interest. A good alternative to the other viewpoints you'll find elsewhere in the area.
If you visit the old town, the "Vieux Montreal", you'll come to the shore of the St. Lawrence, along the street "Rue de la Commune". I advise you to take this opportunity to explore the docks and its various attractions. If you go in the spring or summer, you could try some adventure sports or take a cruise, and in winter you can use the skating rink by Bonsecours Hall, Commune Street up to the north, or head to the palace of science, going to the south (the palace is more for children, with games and fun experiments). Right now (winter / spring 2012) Cirque du Soleil has just been installed on the banks of the Saint Laurent, in the group's hometown. In short, taking a stroll along this street and the waterfront is a nice way to get away from the city noise, and enjoy a variety of different activities!
The neighborhood of "petit champlain" is situated below old town. You can get there by going down the stairs or by taking the the "funicular," a little train that costs $2. Seeing the street in winter with all the snow and Christmas decorations is like entering the town of Santa Claus! The holiday magic continues in the form of colorful houses, lights, and ice sculptures. As for the shops and restaurants, there´s a bit of everything. There are souvenir shops, a place that sells maple products, clothing and fashion and a theater too! It´s a fun and magical place for children too!
Yes, it's true that the Montreal Metro exists, but I don't know if you can call them "underground hallways" because what's down there is immense: Huge shopping centers. Three floor fountains. Restaurants. Bars and it's quite possible that people haven't heard of it because it's only in the center of the city and due to the poor underground network that the city connects the central stations of the same. What surprised me is that I can go up an escalator and suddenly appear in a crowded store :)
Drink Bubble Tea in Chinatown in Montréal. "Bubble tea" is one of the things I miss most when I'm in Europe. Despite its Thai origin, it's a popular beverage in North America that is often bought to go at Asian food establishments. Despite its name, "bubble tea", has no bubbles or even tea most of the time. This is a smoothie-like beverage that can come in different flavors (lychee, kiwi, strawberry, coconut ...) with a milk base, and sometimes tea and black tapioca pearls are added. These pearls, little black balls, are what make bubble tea such a special drink, as they have a very strange texture similar to gum and are sucked up from the bottom of the glass with a particularly thick straw that the balls pass through one by one. When you catch one of these balls, you have to chew it for awhile while still sipping on the rest of the drink. I discovered it by chance in a mall in Ottawa, in a "fast-food" Japanese place without any particular interest in it, and I started trying it in different parts of Canada and the United States. But without a doubt, the most authentic one I've tasted was from China Town in Montréal. There are different addresses and places where you can get bubble tea in Montreal and there are chains (such as "Bubble Tease") but the one seen in the pictures is a place with only Chinese customers and although the place may look a little dodgy it's worth it for the genuine experience. The place is called L2 and you really have to know where to find it since it used to be an internet cafe and the bar appearance is a bit disguised. It's number 71 on the Via De La Gauchetière Ouest, which runs perpendicular to Saint Laurent (Main Street China Town Montréal). The door of the store is in front of a small Chinese temple and you can recognize that it's L2 from the posters of bubble tea on the wall. You need to open this door and go up a flight of stairs. Once there, it's best to try and communicate with the waiters with hand gestures since fluent English and French don't seem to help.
In the Place Royale you will see a large mural on the side of a house, more than 400 square meters long which represent many historical characters of Quebec, situated in the windows, bridges and elements of a "supposed" Quebec Street. In front of it you can find a panel in which you can identify all of them. It's like a giant trompe l'oeil in where you will see a ton of visitors taking pictures of it.
Orleans Island (or Ile d'Orleans) is a very short drive from Quebec City. You will cross a bridge from the highway and land directly amongst traditional rural living in Quebec. Be sure to drive a complete loop around the main road, Chemin Royal. You will find many shops and stands selling fresh produce, jams, jellies, preserves, wines, ciders, and so much more. We were able to buy some delicious farm fresh jam, and we were able to try samples at the shop. You will be surrounded by farmland with each farmer growing their own fruits and vegetables that are used in the products they sell. A specialty of the island are products made from blackcurrants, including wines and jams. I highly recommend that you stop at some scenic lookout points for beautiful views. Another option is to rent bikes on the island and ride your bicycles around the Chemin Royal. This is a great place to relax, take it easy, and enjoy some time away from bustling city life.
We visited the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City on a rainy day during our stay there. Rain or no rain, this museum is definitely worth checking out if you're into learning about history, art, or the heritage of the people in Quebec and Canada. There were several exhibits at the museum when we visited, including "Haiti in Extremes", "Masters of Olympus" (Greco-Roman artifacts), "This Is Our Story: First Nations and Inuit in the 21st Century", among others. We were primarily interested in visiting the Haiti exhibit, where we learned that many people from Haiti have immigrated to Quebec City and Montreal over the years. There were many works of art by Haitians on display, especially pertaining to their religion, and responding to the aftermath of the earthquake in 2010. Whether you are looking to learn more about the people of Quebec, Canada, or around the world, definitely set some time aside to visit the Museum of Civilization in Quebec City.
It's strange to say that a project of such ambition has been such a failure for this Canadian city, having generated multiple debts and problems that are only just beginning to be solved. On the plus side, the public space around it really is beautiful, and you can do some fun things in the area, like visiting the botanical gardens. But the construction suffered from a number of technical problems. First, it wasn't ready for the 1976 Olympics, because construction workers went on strike. While the work was halted, the tower caught fire and had to be restored later.
Ten years later, the work was finally finished, but the roof of the initial design had collapsed under the weight of ice and snow in a harsh winter, and had to be replaced. Following stumble after stumble, today it has been modified slightly in size and structure, and is the setting for some sporting events and presentations. You can take a tour of the different rooms or climb the tower to overlook the city and its surroundings, but honestly, my favourite part was the space outside the complex.
The Place Royale is located in Quebec. The Notre Dame des Victoires is a very interesting and photogenic place that is worth a peaceful visit without the hustle and bustle of other tourists. I recommend going at 9 am in the summer to quietly observe everything before the hourdes of tourists begin to enter.
The Montreal Jazz Festival takes place from San Juan to mid-July. In the Place des Spectacles Quartir there are concerts every afternoon for three weeks. Some concerts that have less "cache" are free but you need to buy tickets for the best known bands. If you are interested, check out the website as it lists all of the artists who are visiting the festival.