Road Trip to Montreal
The weekend before Easter my boyfriend and I were hanging out with our Canadian besties and decided we'd take advantage of the upcoming long weekend and hire a car and drive to Montreal together. We quickly looked up AirBnBs and found a great deal and that was that. Although the weather in Toronto didn't pick up for another few weeks after this trip, we got lucky in Montreal and had a couple of "warm" days (by Canadian standards) where the sun came out. Although we were surprised at how much ice/snow was still on the ground while we were there!
We thought about going to a few different places in the US but Montreal was more affordable (no exchange rate to deal with) and once I realised the Leonard Cohen exhibit was still going for another week or two at the MACM, Montreal got my whole-hearted support. My boyfriend and I visited in November last year for a Leonard Cohen tribute, and this exhibit stupidly opened the week after that, so I was very excited at the prospect of going back again in time to see it.
I shot a few rolls of film while I was there and love how they came out, and it was nice to get to see a few new places while also going to back to some that we really enjoyed the first time around. The weather wasn’t great on our last trip so we didn’t get the chance to walk up Mount Royal until now, and although there were some very precarious, icy inclines at certain points we all managed to get up unscathed and see the beautiful view.
If you didn't know, I’m a completely tragic Leonard Cohen fan. He’s one of my absolute favourite people in the entire world, and about a year after his passing in 2016 an exhibit at the MACM opened, which is the only thing I desperately needed to see on our trip this time around.
The concept of the exhibit is taken from a line in one of his songs, “there is a crack in everything / that’s how the light gets in.” There were works in the exhibition that were loosely inspired by the concept of light, and there were works (that were far more interesting to me) that were directly about Leonard. Rather than go into all the details of the exhibit, I’ll just say that if it ends up in other cities around the world, and if you’re a fan of his, then I completely recommend seeing it.
I was in tears the whole way through, mostly because I love him so much and it was beautiful for me to see so many people come together to create things inspired by him and his work. I went on my own because my boyfriend and friends aren’t really into him, and frankly it would have been a bit weird if I just cried at them for 3 hours straight. In any case, I had a wonderful time and I’m so grateful I was able to see it.
Aside from the exhibit, there are now also two huge murals of him in the city, because one just isn’t enough! I had seen the purple one last time we were here, but the other hadn’t been unveiled just yet so I was also very much looking forward to seeing it in person as well. Although you probably won’t be able to spot it in the photos, the grey one is located downtown and is facing Mount Royal, so you can see it from the top of the mountain. The purple one is in the Plateau neighbourhood, and this time around our accommodation was only about a block away so I got to walk past it a thousand times which made me very happy. The house he lived in when in Montreal is also in the neighbourhood (right across from the Parc du Portugal) if you want to pay a visit yourself.
As I mentioned, we ended up going to quite a few of the same places as last time because we enjoyed them so much and knew we could recommend them to our friends. The one place my boyfriend HAD to go back to is Northstar, which is a cool little pinball bar a stone’s throw from the purple Cohen mural. They have a jukebox (although they play their music from vinyl) and range of great pinball machines to play.
In the last year or so he’s become obsessed with pinball, and we both particularly love the vintage machines that manually tick over rather than the newer digital ones, so he takes every chance he can get to play a pinny. Initially our friends were happy to humour us and come along, but after a few games of their own they were hooked and we ended up going back for a second round the following afternoon.
We spent some time wandering around the Old Montreal area and spotted the famous Habitat 67 (above) across a still semi-frozen St. Lawrence River.
Where to Eat
When it comes to food, my boyfriend and I are both vegetarians and our friend Chelsie has a gluten intolerance and a nut allergy, so everywhere we go we have to make sure it can accommodate all of us, which meant that a lot of the places I’d scoped out for Mark’s and my first visit were on the cards.
On our first night we ate at Burger Royal and frankly my burger wasn’t life changing, but they do have a hot cookie with ice cream on the dessert menu, and that seriously was! If you’re a dessert person like me it’s worth going there just for that.
For lunch the following day after I’d been to the Cohen exhibit we went to No. 900 which Mark and I both loved when we were there last time, and they offer GF bases as well. They have seriously good Neapolitan style pizza and I don’t know what they do to their tomato sauce but it’s incredible.
For dinner that night we went back to L’Gros Luxe who cater for just about all dietary requirements very well. They have several locations around the city and we had gone to a different one last time, but we ended up chatting with the owner who warmed to us as soon as we walked in the door and he said that location had to close down, so it’s a good thing we chose a different one.
They were absolutely packed and had run out of quite a few things on the menu which just indicates how popular they are, but the owner and staff were super lovely and he ended up chatting with us until they were closing and did a round of shots with our table (I don’t drink but it was nice for everyone else). He then wrote out a list of bars for us to head to next, but since it was our last night unfortunately we only made it to two of them. But basically he's super cool and I love this restaurant and wish he'd open one in Toronto!
In case you're new here, that's me and Mark below! :)