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05-03-2011, 10:51 PM
  #205
les Habs
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Milwaukee
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OK, so I'm back. Before I get into this post, I just wanted to thank everybody who took the time to reply to my post. I knew it was last minute, but I knew I'd get replies (I don't post about hockey because I'd have to be on this forum 24/7 to keep with you guys).

I usually like to research where I'm going a bit so that I know where to go and what to see based on what I like so that I don't waste a lot of time. This trip was VERY last minute though as I stumbled on the flight deal on Wednesday night and had to switch up my work schedule to accomodate. Then I didn't book it until Thursday night because I had to sort it out with work that I could go. Then Friday I had to work 8-5 and then go straight to O' Hare (from Milwaukee) to catch my 9pm flight. So I picked up two books from Barnes and Noble on my lunch break on Friday. Having had good luck with their Barcelona edition, I picked up Frommer's Montreal Day by Day as well as The Rough Guide to Montreal. The Former is a really quick read and handy little reference. The latter though, assuming you have the time, is a better read and a better guide to the city as the maps while... inconvenient as they're within the chapters so you have to dig, they're very detailed. ALSO, based on some of the bar/resto recommendations some of you made I hit up Yelp! for some reviews. It turned out to be a great move as I found an interesting sounding bar that turned out to be perfect in the end, but more on that later.


747 Bus from the airport and the Metro

This is a great service and was really easy to use. It's $8 and the route takes you to just about anywhere you'd have a hotel, especially if it's downtown. Much better than the $35 flat cab rate (plus tip). I arrived at midnight though which meant a 45 minute wait, but if you arrive during more normal hours you'll get a much more regular schedule. They have PDF of the brochure online. ALSO, the ticket works for 24 hours (and this is to the hour from what I can tell, so you really get full value for you money) afterwards on all metro lines and buses. So for $8 I got a free ride to the airport and a full day of metro rides (probably at least 8 rides that day) my first day. I then got a 3 day pass which covered Sunday, Monday and then Tuesday's ride back to the airport. Just note that it's cash only, and coins at that, but you can get a ticket at the airport using bills.

The Metro was fast, clean and easy. My recent comparisons would be Barcelona and San Francisco. Barcelona's system is much bigger and covers more areas while also being fast, clean and easy. However Montreal's is easier as you can change lines in 60 seconds when you're at a connecting station. That's to be expected as there are less connecting lines, but still it's really convenient. Compared to San Francisco, the Montreal Metro covers a lot more area, has more convenient lines and is much faster and cheaper. Overall the trains their peak seemed to run every 5 minutes, at their longest every 15 minutes. It all depends on the time of day. The green line was the best for me, but I just wished it ran parallel to the orange line up Saint Laurent so that you didn't have to walk to Saint Laurent at night. The walk isn't far mind you and trust me, I pounded a lot of pavement in 3 days, but it just means an extra 10-15 minutes generally depending on where you're going. Overall though the Metro was great.


Hotel: Hyatt Regency downtown/Latin Quarter

I was very happy with my hotel. As somebody mentioned, it can be had pretty cheap on Priceline. I got it for $105 a night, but I've seen that some have had it cheaper. I did my price based on what they were saying for a 4-star room downtown via Priceline (and Hotwire), which was $125. Anyway, it's a bit of a dated hotel, but it was still quite clean and nice. I left the room at noon/1pm twice and even though housekeeping had passed over the room already, they came back and cleaned it without my having to ask. The location is great as you're right at the Place des Arts which is nice at night. Of course you're also at the Place des Arts Metro station which is very convenient. I even walked back to the hotel on Sunday night at 3am from Saint Laurent and it wasn't bad at all. In fact I walked back from Outremont (through Mount Royal). I did leave two shirts in the room, so I'll find out tomorrow if they found them and how they'll handle that. Hotel also had a pool if you're interested in that sort of thing. Oh, and a Starbucks across the street was nice as I was able to get bottled water every day.


Pizza

I was told by "locals" that Montreal isn't good for pizza. I'm inclined to believe them as well based on what I read and saw. I hit Woodland Restaraunt based on WeeBey's recommendation and what I'd read online. No offense to WeeBey (who had other great suggestions like Biftek which helped me find bars I'd like), but the pizza is horrible. Exactly what I would expect from that sort of restaurant. I honestly can't believe it advertises itself for pizza, though that's probably more locally. I gave Pizzedelic a try after getting hungry one day and not having a lot of attractive options. I had seen one up off of Mount Royal, but I was closer to the Vieux Montreal location so I went there. It was much more of a nicer restaurant than the one on Mount Royal looked. To the point though, the pizza as quite good. Very thin crust, but very good. My waitress was gorgeous as well. I would definitely recommend Pizzedelic.


Poutine

As I suspected, I'm not a fan of the gravy. I hit up La Banquise and ordered a regular serving. The fries too were so-so too, but it was the gravy that I didn't like. Still I like the concept and I did come up with own Poutine recipe. I call it "Poutine Amerique" and it's fries, curds and ketchup. Anyway, are the curds supposed to warm, cold or room temp?


Bars

Reading the posts from some of you and checking out Yelp! I had a shortlist of places I wanted to check out. Biftek lead me to Blue Dog via Yelp! as well as Korova. Billy Kun's and Baldwin Barmacie seemed interesting as well, but a bit more polished. Well by the time I got to the hotel on Friday night it was 2am and I was dead tired (only one hour of sleep the night before I left and I had to work the day I left). So Saturday night I set out to check out Biftek, Blue Dog and Korova. All sound similar and all are pretty close on Saint Laurent. I had maps too, but I left them at the hotel figuring I'd see them all. In fact I'd passed them during the day and noticed Biftek and Blue Dog then. So I set out. Biftek was standing room only and being a lone traveller I wanted a bar where I could sit at the bar. Blue Dog was dead other than the kids playing Nintendo. So I head up looking for Korova knowing that it was on Saint Laurent. I went all the way up Saint Laurent to at least Outremont and still couldn't find it. I met a girl, a young drunk girl, on the way back. She nor her friends knew of it and I couldn't find it. I just headed back to the hotel after a while as the trains were going to stop. Next night I went armed with the knowledge of the exact address and I knew then it was close to Blue Dog. Well I nearly missed Korova again as it has a small sign and is upstairs. So checked out Biftek and Blue Dog first. Biftek was slower than Saturday night and Blue Dog was oddly closed. So I went straight to Korova.

From the off I liked the place. Total dive bar and they're my thing. Thing was, apart from the bartender and the DJ, who'd followed me upstairs, there was nobody else there. It pretty much stayed that way most of the night until after midnight and probably after 1am. I had a great time though as the bartender, DJ and another bartender who'd just stopped by were all great and I got to know them by name. Great talking to them all and I stayed all night 'til they closed up shop. Literally the last customer there. The DJ that night played garage rock, but when the crowd picked up it at the very end he did more of a dance thing. So after Sunday night I went back on Monday night. Another great night as the second bartender was now bartending. Monday was "dance" night and it was dead again. That was 10:30, but they just opened at 10. It picked up my earlier this time, but more of a 30s crowd (my age). Then the university kids came in. Overall another great night and me 4 girls which of course being just my look was on the last night. Anyway, if you like dive bars, Korova is the place. One of the best bars I've ever been to.




OVERALL, I loved Montreal. I already looked into job openings with my company, but there aren't any and I don't speak French. I'd love to just go back to school and enroll in a university. I know that's the cute girls I met talking, but... Still I'd love to go back soon. In fact I'll probably head back in the Fall. A great city and one of the best in North America I'm sure. Everybody, and this was mostly people who originally are from outside of Quebec, said it's better than Toronto and even better than Vancouver. I've been to neither of them, though I'm sure it's better than Toronto and while I'll be in Vancouver some day soon I'm guessing I won't like it was much. Montreal does have a bit of European flavor, the Canadian San Francisco or Barcelona. You guys have a great city and I pray for the next Quebec referendum to come soon (sadly it won't) so I can buy a cheap condo when everybody flees.

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