Sergio and I are spending the entire day traveling back from Brazil. We are accustomed to taking night flights when traveling between Boston and Brazil so this will be a new experience. The point is that I will be 30,000+ feet above ground for nearly the entire day so approving comments and responding to emails will be nonexistent.
Category Archives: Travel
Sergio and I recently returned from spending several days earlier this month on vacation in Montreal. Our stay happened to coincide with Montreal’s annual Jazzfest, which is absolutely massive and happens to include a few hundred free outdoor performances in downtown Montreal. This was the first trip back to Montreal in about 10 years and our first trip ever in the summer.
While we initially were looking at AirBnB’s in the Gay Village, we ultimately booked our stay at the Westin Montreal, which is just two blocks from the Notre Dame Basilica and a five minute walk to Old Town. We divided our time between Old Town, The Plateau and the Gay Village. Below are some suggestions and observations, which I’m writing down as much to help others who may want to plan a trip as much as it is to help me remember what we did and where we went, because we will definitely return to Montreal in the summer.
What To Do
HIKING: While there are a lot of things to do in Montreal, we decided to be outside as much as possible so despite a record breaking heatwave, we stayed (kind of) cool by spending an entire afternoon hiking around The Mount Royal Park. The park was designed by Olmsted and is an easy hike to the the summit, which affords you some great views of the city.
BIKE TOUR: We spent half a day riding approximately 10+ miles around old town, the canal, Pointe-Saint-Charles and the two islands, Ile Notre Dame and Ile Sainte Helene. The photo above is of Sergio and our tour guide riding on a portion of Montreal’s Formula 1 race track. While there are a lot of bike tour companies, I selected Ça Roule Montréal because of the price, convenient location and they allow you to keep the bike for the rest of the day if you want to continue to explore Montreal by bike. This was more fun than we bargained for and gave us a much better appreciation for the city.
JAZZFEST: is the largest festival of its kind and set a record attendance of 2 million spectators several years back. There are several large stages set up in the downtown with musical acts starting early and playing until Midnight (or there about). It is easy to walk from one outdoor stage to another and there are plenty of interactive sections as well as food and drink to keep you happy. We really enjoyed the festival and returned to it if only briefly nearly every evening. Next year’s festival will run from Friday, June 28 to Saturday, July 6, 2019.
NOTRE DAME: For approximately $25 you can purchase tickets to the lighting show, AURA, inside Montreal’s most beautiful church, Notre Dame. The show was a surprise for Sergio. We really enjoyed ourselves, and I would recommend it to anyone planning a visit. You can see the show online but it doesn’t do it justice. Here is a video of one scene from the show. After the show you can walk across the square to Brasserie 701 for a drink or for dinner if you’re hungry.
NEIGHBORHOOD STROLLS: We divided our time fairly evenly between Old Town, The Plateau and the Gay Village. Shown above is an interesting view of the colored balls strung across Rue Sainte-Catherine in the Gay Village to create a rainbow that runs for about a mile and provides an interesting view when you can get above these colorful strings to see the full impact.
Each neighborhood has its own vibe. Old Town is charming and has great places to eat, drink or grab a snack. It is also ground-zero for all tourists so take that into account when you visit. We were pleasantly surprised to find that in the evening the city projected interactive lighting displays and avant-garde videos on many large buildings in Old Town. It added a lot of visual interest, while helping to brighten dark alleys and corners in such a creative way that it only added to the charm of evening strolls through the neighborhood.
The Plateau is a vibrant neighborhood, featuring some of the most engaging street art and wall graffiti you will see. It is worth visiting for a drink or dinner and an evening stroll. The neighborhood has many affordable, casual dining options that line the streets filled with far fewer tourists and dominated by the 20 and 30-somethings who like to live here near Mount Royal.
Where To Eat
Below I’ve listed some of the restaurants Sergio and I enjoyed while visiting Montreal and which I would feel comfortable recommending to others who are planning a trip to the city.
Brasserie 701, which is steps from Notre Dame, was a place we visited twice in part because of the handsome and friendly bar tender who consistently poured a generous glass of wine. The restaurant is a cool and comfortable space with good food and friendly atmosphere. I wouldn’t cross town to try Brasserie 701 but if you are in the neighborhood and want a drink or bite this is nice place to try.
Le Cartet was a last minute recommendation from our concierge for brunch. This place was a total surprise and will be a place we revisit when we return to Montreal. The restaurant is located in Old Town – and was a short walk for us, but I would cross town in the winter to eat here again.
Les Enfants Terribles this restaurant in downtown has the best view in the city for dining. Located 44-stories above ground, the dining room and bar are lively and was filled with a fun crowd. The space gets very full around dusk as people come to enjoy good food and drink alongside a gorgeous sunset.
Maison Christian Faure We were told by our bike tour leader that this pastry shop located in Old Town was the best in town. While I couldn’t get to every patisserie to confirm that endorsement, I can say that Maison Christian Faure was worth the visit, and I’d certainly stop by (if not for a breakfast) then to grab something for a snack.
Saloon Bistro & Bar is located in the heart of the Gay Village and while there is no great dining options along Rue Sainte-Catherine, this place provides fairly steady service, good food and large portions. We ate on their outdoor patio overlooking the street which provides ample people-watching opportunities.
Have you been to Montreal? Share thoughts you have about places to see / sights to visit and share your comments about places to eat and drink.
Sergio and I have booked a trip to Montreal that will coincide with Montreal Jazzfest 2018, which takes place next month. We’ve both been to Montreal before but have not visited the city in about 10 years so I’m looking for suggestions on places to go, sites to see and / or favorite restaurants. I’ll be doing a bit of research on my own, but I’ve come to rely on readers’ suggestions.
I’d love to hear from you about:
– Sites we should definitely visit
– Neighborhoods of interest
– Restaurant and dining suggestions
Feel free to leave suggestions / tips as comments on this blog post or you can reach out to me directly at email@example.com.
Just as the temperatures started to drop in Boston earlier this week Sergio and I made a dash south of the border to Cancun, Mexico to celebrate a friend’s birthday so apologies if I’ve been slow to approve comments or share blog posts.
For those of you in Boston and elsewhere that is chilly, I’ll raise a margarita and toast you later this evening. Stay warm.
Starting sometime next summer Bostonians will finally be able to fly nonstop to Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, according to this article posted today.
Chile-based LATAM Airlines Group is smart to cash in on the more than 60,000 Brazilian residents who now call Massachusetts home (making the Bay State the second most populous Brazilian born population in the United States).
The announcement by LATAM continues a trend with Logan Airport, which is neither home nor hub for any single US carrier making it a potentially lucrative market for airlines that can come in and dominate a particular route. Traditional US carriers currently require Bostonians to travel to hub cities like Atlanta for Delta, Miami for AA and Chicago for United, before boarding night fliights. The new nonstop route will likely be very popular.
LATAM said it plans to offer flights from Boston Logan International Airport by next summer, subject to regulatory approval.
I spent most of this past week in Denver, Colorado. Flying out a few days early for a business meeting, I used the opportunity to spend time with friends who recently moved to the area. I’d only been to Denver one time previously approximately 15 years earlier and had a hazy memory of mountains, getting altitude sickness after going for a brief run and a cute, little downtown.
In just a few days time, I was able to reconnect with friends who no longer live in the area, peruse and buy several books from my new favorite independent bookseller the Tattered Cover, sing karaoke at Denver’s gay bar Glady’s: The Nosey Neighbors and witness Denver’s first snowfall of the year.
The mountains still ring the western edge of the city and the downtown is as tiny as I recall, but the city is definitely growing. Denver very much struck me as a city that is still growing into itself. Neighborhoods like RiNo (short for River North) is an emerging art district with lots of potential. The buildings in this neighborhood blend existing older architecture with newer remodeled one and two story industrial buildings, but there remains a lot of open space all within a mile of downtown, giving you the impression that there is a lot more to come.
The restaurant scene is clearly growing with many serving either Mexican or Southern cuisine; two types of food not common here in Boston. As was expected, dining and drinking in Denver was very affordable with most of my dinners $30-$35 with tip (and yes I did have a drink). The plentiful housing and affordable dining combined with a relaxed view towards drinking and marijuana makes this city a haven for Millennials. If I was in my 20’s I’d probably seriously consider spending a few years here.
All told, Denver really exceeded expectations and made my business trip a fun visit. Next time I go, I’ll have to bring Sergio and get up to Boulder.
VIRGIN HOLIDAYS ASKS: What if straight couples WERE treatED LIKE gay couples?
Earlier this month Virgin Holidays released this funny video. Sergio and I definitely take into consideration where we will travel based on situations like this which are comical in the video but very uncomfortable when it happens in real life. Leave it to Virgin to create such a cheeky promotional video.
You can read more about research done which highlights the disparity between the experiences of LGBT+ and heterosexual couples when they travel by visiting this Gay Times article.