BY CARRIE MAH
What do you do when you’re attending a conference outside of your city? Go on vacation, of course! Montreal holds a computer security conference every year called Recon. Naturally Mike’s hacker interests and skills lead him to the conference, so we spent a few extra days in the cultured Canadian city.
Bed & Breakfast
Le Simone Bed & Breakfast
This view is what was outside of our room.
Instead of shelling out money at a hotel, we stayed at a small bed & breakfast. Our room was nice and had refreshing air conditioning, and we were served home-made breakfast (omelet or pancakes) when we woke up in time. The location is convenient, as it’s a block away from the main metro station. Montreal also has a BIXI public bike system, and one of them is beside Le Simone. The bikes, however, are not designed for short people like me.
I love seafood. So naturally I would find an oyster bar (Maestro S.V.P.) and indulge in their oysters and mussels. I was super stuffed and had my fill of seafood…
…Until Mike and I had a fancy lobster dinner in Old Montreal! We were the last ones there, enjoying our meal. Omnomnom.
We also had smoked sandwiches and the acclaimed best poutine place in Montreal called La Banquise. The poutine had a lot of fixings depending on what you ordered. World best? Considering we’re not huge fans of poutine and enjoyed it…I think it lived up to its name!
This place is what I’d imagine Europe to be. The walkways are made of cobblestones, and there’s lots of small shops for souvenirs. Beware of the tourist shops, they’re a bit overpriced!
Water is beautiful, and so is Old Port. You can rent leg-motored boats or carts to explore the place more.
Canada Day Fireworks
If you’re every around for Canada Day, walk towards the end of the port and head upstairs to the roof. It’s not extremely crowded, and you’ll be standing across the island where they release the fireworks.
Montreal’s downtown is full of parks and interesting things to see. Some places in downtown don’t open until the evening (there’s one place that has all-night hotdogs and poutine for the drunkards), but I enjoyed walking around in their downtown. There’s a different feel to it, and people are definitely more cultured and bike-conscious. The night life in downtown is awesome, because Calgary barely has one. We went to a pub a few blocks from Le Simone, which had a huge scotch collection. Mike was very, very happy.
We rented bikes in Old Montreal and rode around the area and downtown. Montreal’s bike lanes were designed very well, and Montreal on Wheels have a ton of selection (even for someone short like me!). We even rode up a steep hill. Our bike ride was very relaxing, and we rewarded ourselves with ice cream.
La Ronde is Canada’s only Six Flags theme park, full of exciting rollercoasters and rides. Mike and I thought we would have time to go to the biodome, but we were able to spend the entire day there. Highly recommend going, but only on a slow day – the gates created for line-ups extended quite far, and you could wait up to an hour to get on rides.
I’ve never been to a huge casino before, but this place was a lot of fun. We met up with some friends and they played roulette (which I totally should have, because I guessed quite accurately) and blackjack. They also have a buffet full of delicious desserts and friendly staff.
Foonzo and Amusement 2K are about two blocks away from each other, so if you’re bored of one place, then try going to the next place to get your gaming fix on. Mike and I went to Foonzo and were presented with a sticky environment. This place has tables for old game consoles, and instead of paying a fee, you pay for drinks. The drinks are very mediocre, and we ordered a Caesar that had a disproportionate amount of Worchester sauce to alcohol and clamato juice. We went to Amusement 2K and found a lot of fun arcade games there. Highly recommend going if you like pinball machines. If you want to read more about these places, check out my reviews on Yelp!
Mike and I checked out a few performances while we stayed in Montreal. I gotta say, the musicians are skilled and it’s a relaxing place to experience live music. We sat at the TD stage, which is one of the biggest venues for the free outdoor shows.
Mike and I got upgraded to Plus seating – more leg room and complimentary drinks, food, and snacks. The seating is worth it (even if you have to pay) for longer rides. Just remember to bring your own ear plugs! You can also request to move to the Plus seating when you see available spots on the plane. If you ever want to explore Canada, I highly recommend Montreal – it’s full of creative busking musicians, delicious food, a busy night life, and great sights to see!