Montreal, Canada- Win Shi
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Whether you are familiar with the largest city of the French province or not, Montreal is a must visit. Especially if you appreciate history, good food, and the juxtaposition of the new and old French and British architectural styles.
Stepping into this province feels like going into another country. Couple things you should know before visiting Montreal, Quebec:
Quebec is one of the high tax rate provinces, the total tax rate is 14.975%. So when you are buying something, let’s say a medium double-double from Tim Hortons, $1.75, your final bill would be $.175 + 14.975% = $2.05. Keep that in mind while you are doing your shopping there, it’s not a good idea going over your budget.
This province is the only one to have a predominantly French-speaking population, with French as the sole provincial official language. You will feel like in France while you are here. Though, fret not, Montreal being one of their most popular tourism highlights, it is very easy for non-French speakers to navigate around.
Winter in Montreal, or everywhere in Quebec is brutal. Though I have been during both summer and winter, I think the snow paints Montreal perfectly.
Personally, I have been to Montreal many times, here are some of my favorite things to do in the city.
The best way to be introduced to this left-me-in-awe building is through their light show. The history and best feature of the basilica were narrated through the perfectly orchestrated light and music. It was the house of the largest organ in North America as well.
Saint Joseph’s Oratory
The largest church in Canada, not only has breathtaking stained glass, there is also the heart of Brother Andre being displayed in a vault! Though, the view from the uphill was my favourite.
I like to call it an indoor zoo, it allows visitors to experience 5 different ecosystems under one roof. This space was used as a venue for Olympic Games 1976 track cycling and judo events, then converted into the now Biodome.
Montreal Olympic Stadium
Yep, its the slanting tower behind the Biodome. It’s a great place to see Montreal from above. Since you will be visiting Biodome, why not take an elevator to the top of the tower anyway?
As a huge poutine lover, pilgrimage to the birthplace of poutine is a must.
Montreal-style smoked meat
No one really knows the origin of it, there are more than one claimed that their family started it. Anywho, Montreal smoke meat most commonly served in a form of a sandwich, with thick seasoning packed smoked meat slices and drizzles of yellow mustard. I had mine at Schwartz's Deli.
Move away New York bagel, you ain’t got nothing on Montreal bagel! In contrast to the New York-style bagel, the Montreal bagel is smaller, thinner, sweeter and denser, with a larger hole, and is always baked in a wood-fired oven. It contains malt, egg, and no salt and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked. St. Viateur Bagel shop is one of the staple shops in Montreal. They even sell tubs of cream cheese for you to eat with your freshly baked bagel!
So here you have something to put in your Montreal checklist! Of course, Montreal has so much more to offer than what I listed above. Other things you can do, for example, take a stroll in Old Montreal, walk on the cobblestone, enjoy the old European style buildings. Visit one of the top universities in Canada, McGill University. Indulge in the decadent desserts like chocolate, macarons, there are specialty stores just for these sweets.