Montreal – The Northern Jewel

Champlain Bridge/View of Montreal in distance

When I lived in Northern New Jersey, my husband and I would often take the nine-hour drive up Route 87 through the Adirondacks to Autoroute 15, and eventually onto the Champlain Bridge, into downtown Montreal.  We would then maneuver our way to the Montreal Marriott Chateau Champlain Hotel (the Cheese Grater Building as it’s known by the locals).  It still also has the name, Le Chateau Champlain.  Now that we live in Virginia, it is easier for us to fly, although Canadians do take the seventeen hour drive from there to here.  Once we make it to the front desk, we request a room on a floor above fifteen, and facing west in order to overlook the Marie Reine Du Monde Church, and the city – the view is incredible.  As I have already professed, out of all of my travels, Canada happened on my list of places not visited, along with the west coast.  Both locales were introduced to me by my hubby.  Now, not because I had stars in my eyes, but this northern jewel left me with nothing short of amazement.  If you like a cosmopolitan metropolis and need a romantic getaway, then this is a fantastic jaunt.

Alternate view

Marie Du Monde Church

Something very interesting to note, if you drive, once you arrive and park your car at the hotel, don’t worry about catching up to it until it’s time to go home.  If you fly into Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (formerly Dorval), it is just as easy; outside of rush hour a relaxed thirty-five minutes will get you downtown, and for a reasonable amount of money.  Those wanting more adventure – an Amtrak train will deliver you to Gare Centrale Station, where you will also find your pick of taxis. Incidentally, the station is located directly across the street from Le Chateau Champlain.  Just make certain to have the proper documents, a Passport for instance – remember, although it’s attached by bridges, it is another country.  Once, you’ve settled in, and you don’t want the cab out front of the hotel or the subway up the block, you’ll simply hoof it to wherever you fancy.  There is absolutely no need to drive in this concrete jungle.  Oh, and two little notes – the subway has rubber wheels, and at any given time you’ll find someone washing down the walls – yes, I did say the subway.  One other note, when it comes to the language, probably half of the populace speaks English.  Simply be polite and ask, and if the person you’re talking to does not, there’s usually someone close by that does.  So, not to worry.

Lastly, Montreal came up with a clever concept for their cold winters, and they named it Underground City.  The town receives up to thirty-nine (39) inches of snow a season.  When that happens, along with the brutally cold temps, everyone escapes under the streets.  It is for this reason I recommend going in summer.  Even in the middle of July temps can range in the mid sixties.  (Can you tell I don’t  like the cold?)  This idea hosts a concrete maze of shops, restaurants, movie theaters, connecting subway stations and entrances to hotels.  It truly is a remarkable.  Now, if you will, let me list a few of my faves.  Simply click on the first picture.

In summary, maybe I love this place because the city from which I hail is very similar.  Like Manhattan, Montreal is an island – somewhat larger though (approximately 31 miles x 9 miles).  It also has more inhabitants, over three million.  But in any event, I would have to say the city has something for every adult: art, history, nightclubs, comedy clubs, shopping and eating, and one that I never tire of visiting.  I think, calling on the friendly inhabitants, and strolling down one of their seasoned streets, you too will be captivated.

Images courtesy of Google Earth

Photo of Escalator courtesy of iStockPhoto

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