After a short 5hr flight from Reykjavik we landed in Montréal. One of Kim’s friends from high school now lives there and kindly offered his spare room as our stop in the city, so we took an Uber to his apartment in Little Italy for our first night in Canada.
First impressions – it’s a bit of a strange France/America mix. They speak French (or sort of! With their accent I understand even less than usual). Throw American icons like Walmart and Starbucks in to the mix, and you have Canada. Our first impression, anyway!
The following morning we took a 3hr bus to Québec City. The bus was comfortable, with free wifi and plug sockets. We had a modern studio apartment to base ourselves in, which was a short walk from the bus station and had everything we needed. Where we were staying, Saint-Roch, was very hipster and had plenty of bars, cafes and shops. A few junkies around for good measure; it was a bit like our suburb in Sydney!
We arrived just after 2pm, and after dropping our bags off we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around some of the nearby neighborhoods.
We headed to the observation deck to get a high viewpoint of the city, walking via another lovely suburb, Saint-Jean-Baptiste. More gastropubs, cafes and boutique stores lined these streets.
When we arrived at the observation deck building, we dismissed the $15/person entry cost. We decided to hunt for a bar with a view to enjoy drinks for that price instead. We tried the Hilton down the road, no luck there, however the concierge did point us in the direction of the Concord Hotel.
Hotel Le Concorde was a great decision. We had drinks and a snack and it still cost us less than the observation deck entry fee, and was a cool high revolving restaurant/bar that gave us brilliant 360 views of the city.
Afterwards, we headed back to our ‘home’ neighbourhood, this time walking through Cartier Avenue in the Montcalm suburb. This is known as the arts district, with theaters and a cinema, and again lots of bars and cafes lined the pavements.
The following day we headed to the old town. Our research showed this is where most of the things to see were located, so we gave it a full day and headed out early (the 4hr time difference from Iceland meant we were up and raring to go earlier than usual anyway).
On the outskirts of Old Quebec we passed many shops, and of course more cafes and restaurants. We browsed around the old town and stopped off for a coffee in a nice courtyard. The old town itself is quite small, but the small laneways continue further towards St Lawrence River. It didn’t take us long to stroll around these streets, and before long we were thinking what else we could do.
We walked the long way home, and jumped online to see what else was around for the afternoon. In the end we took a short bus to a shopping mall for a look around, and came back to our neighbourhood for dinner. We weren’t caught out by needing exact change (coins only) for the bus this time, I’d looked it up. We learnt our lesson in Edinburgh.
Dinner was Poutine, the Canadian delicacy of chips, cheese curds and gravy. I was very much looking forward to this. We went to Poutineville and had their house specialty: crushed potatoes, cheese curds, mozzarella, braided beef and red wine gravy. A great meal!
Our bus back to Montreal wasn’t until 3pm the following day, so we checked out of our apartment and walked back to Cartier Avenue (via a punishingly steep hill).
Here we enjoyed leisurely coffees and started to plan our next few days in Montréal.
- Two nights in Québec was probably a bit much. One and a half days would be more than enough to go around the city to see the main sites.
- Don’t pay $30 to get to the observation deck, go to Hotel Le Concorde instead. The Ciel restaurant is nearly as high and the view is fantastic from up there. You’ll get drinks and snacks and still have change.