I've spent very little time in the great city of Montreal in the past so wanted to get to know it a bit better. We booked a week at the Embassy Suites by Hilton which is on the doorstep of Old Montreal and were all set. Flew in on Aeroplan points and took a taxi to the hotel downtown and were ready to go. First order of business was to head out and down into the old historic part of the city.
We walked around the corner of the hotel and up Rue. St. Urbain into Place d'Armes by the Notre Dame Basilica. We headed east past the old Bank of Montreal and the next thing i know, i'm flat on my face on the sidewalk!!!! My poor partner nearly had a fit, and helped me up. I test the bones and joints. No twisted ankles, no sharp pains. There's a bit of blood but upon inspection, that's from grazed knuckles. The camera i had in my had is unharmed and my face didn't hit the ground (I think i bounced off my padded tummy!)
Ok, then, no crisis. Onward we walked.I knew i'd be sore the next day (and i was) but walking would be good.
We were looking for a place to have lunch so that really was the first order of business. We peeked at quite a few menus but most of the ones we saw were for fancier restaurants and bistros and we were only looking for a cafe or something low key. Along the way we walked along the main "spine" through the old area, Rue St. Paul which is lined with shops and restaurants. It leads to the larger Marche Bonsecours (Market) and we went in there thinking there might be some cafes. There were, but they were a bit too posh for us as well. There are some nice boutiques in there, though, so we may get back for a browse, who knows?
Across the road from that, we saw a likely cafe finally, called Serafim. It advertised all organic food including a burger on it's menu so that seemed to be what we wanted. The waiter/owner was quite nice, really friendly and we ordered. My partner had the burger which, unfortunately, turned out to be dry as paper and about as tasteless. My spinach pie was nice, though. There are no fries here, you would have to have salads with your meal. It filled the hunger gap, that's about all. A bit disappointing but if you are looking for organic (and it had lots of vegetarian fare) then you probably would find this quite good. Just avoid the burger.
We walked back through the narrow cobbled streets, poking into a few of the shops. We walked along the waterfront where the "Old Port" is. the Old Port doesn't look very old, though. It's all been renovated and it has cruise ship docks, a big park, the Imax, a science centre and some industrial areas. The docks are built out so far that you can't really even see the river from the road!
There are horse and buggies for hire as well and the drivers are cheeky trying to drum up business. The street has older warehouse style buildings on it and had we gone far enough, i think there was a heritage museum as well.
We walked back up by Place Jacques Cartier, the main square of the old city which is also lined with restaurants and has a little cobbled street featuring artists who paint out on the side of the road and sell their artwork. Rue des Artistes, oddly enough ;) This square is usually heaving with tourists in season but was pretty empty in early November. City Hall and the old and new Palais de Justices were at the top of the inclined square.
Getting tired and sore now, so we went back to the hotel for a bit of a rest. Where to go for our evening meal? We looked through the guide books and realized we are only a block or so from a small Chinatown so that sounded about right.
Later on we walked across and around the corner from the convention centre across from the hotel and up into Chinatown. One small pedestrianized street is lined with restaurants and crowded little Chinese shops. We almost went into one place but it was a bit crowded so we walked on towards Rue. St. Laurent where there were more Chinese, Viet and Thai restaurants and we chose one that seemed to look popular. It was cozy and warm and the food was plentiful and absolutely delicious and not very expensive at all! We couldn't eat it all and took leftovers back. Nice thing about a suite hotel with a kitchen is you can do this!
We walked up along the road a bit further to have a look at the Chinese arch. We also noticed a bunch of red spotlights outside a building. Turns out that's a common sign for a club in Montreal.
To end the first long day, i soaked my aching body in a jacuzzi bath. My knuckles and fingers on the one hand were bruised and sore and my back and leg muscles were feeling that fall.