VIA Canada 150 Trip Part 9: Montréal, QC

Montréal is just a heaven for street photographers. I myself am not one, and I never thought I would be interested in becoming one as well, but once I made my first visit to Montréal I just knew right away that I wouldn’t actually mind to give it a shot for the upcoming three days. Cause, frickin’ Montréal!

Every corner in every neighbourhood just got their own artsy–and sometimes slightly edgy–vibes. From the Old Montréal, to the Port of Montréal, all the way to the effin’ colourfully aesthetic Gay Village and basically everywhere else in the city, they’re all just gems the way they are. To be honest, it requires so little effort to find beautiful housings with nice-looking paintings or beautiful vintage decors. And the place where I stay in the University of Montréal area is no exception, where I couchsurf for the second time with another super-lovely host and another amazing guest as well.

Yuan was a Francophone Canadian who became my host for those 4 days, and I was very fortunate ’cause she was just such a gem. We clicked really well rightaway, and upon my arrival she immediately let me watch Game of Thrones S07E01 from her laptop ’cause I was still on the WiFi-less train when the show was first aired. Bilbo was the other Francophone guest, and he was really friendly and fun to talk with as well. He had been travelling to way too many countries than I could remember for the past two years, so he basically lived in a nomadic way for the past couple years and he’s just got so much to share about that.

So I stayed with the best people I could find, and then went exploring the best kinds of places as well. And because I adore this city so very much and I want you to see it the way I do too, I would like to try to give some deeper insights into my specified itineraries as an addition to the basic itineraries you’d find easily by googling out. I also include some pro tips that I just realized after doing the whole exploring thing, so if you by any chance ever plan to visit this wonderful gem of a city this might be useful for you. And here goes the list:

Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal

This museum is now already my favorite art museum in the world, ever. Not that I’ve been to many art museums, but I’ve at least been to the Museum of Metropolitan Arts in New York City where people would glorify it as one of the greatest one of its kind, but to be honest it didn’t leave me some deep impressions just like Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal did to me. Although it might be because I paid extra for the specific exhibitions that were happening in the museum, and one of them turned out to be the most charming exhibition I’ve been to throughout my life.

Love is Love by Jean Paul Gaultier was the one that was my favorite. The other one was Revolution where I get to buy a real cute and high-quality tote bag for only 12CAD (120,000 IDR). Love is Love showcases “thirty-six haute couture and pret-a-porter wedding outfits created by the humanist couturier between 1990 and 2017. A great celebration of marriage, it brings together every type of union–straight, gay, transgender, cross-cultural and interracial–to rejoice in love in all its diversity” as quoted from the signage before the exhibition room. And as idyllic as it sounds, all the bridal gowns shown were indeed truly captivating that I’d probably die in bursting happiness if one of them gets to be my future wedding dress.

Habitat 67

I won’t explain about the entire history of this historical building because you could just read about them here, but the point that I want to tell you is that this is such an art worth adoring and staring at, period. And of course, Instagrammable at the very least.

Pro tip: if you have limited time, you don’t necessarily have to come right to the front of the buildings just to check them out. You could basically head to the park where Place du Genie is located (I’m not sure if this park has an actual name, but it’s a reaaally long route of green pedestrians next to Bassin Alexandra with real nice view and beautiful flowers) and you could still get a really great view of the buildings.

Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal

I haven’t been to many churches or cathedrals, nor travelled to cities which major tourism is of religious spaces, but I’m quite sure that this basilica is one of the most fascinating you would ever see. You have to pay to get inside, but such price is really worth it for the sort of vibe and feeling you’ll get once you’re inside. Even the fact that there are hundreds of tourists trying to take pictures of the same spot inside the cathedral didn’t seem to really bother me who was just trying to feel the atmosphere of such historic and holy place.

Pro tip: the 20-minute free tour is really worth joining! I myself am no fan of history to be very honest, but this tour is just different in a great way. And it’s just nice to let yourself sit for 20 minutes listening to the guide’s lecture while staring at the magnificent interior of the church if you feel that you’re processing too much information and just want to adore your surroundings at last.

Strolling around the Old Montreal

This is my favorite part of the city, and I’m quite sure most people would say so as well. Every old church and building here is just preserved beautifully, and all of sudden your camera roll will be filled with pictures of historical constructions as if you were visiting England or even Vatican.

Pro tip: walk around. You don’t want to take any means of transportation while exploring this neighborhood. Chances are you’re either stumbling upon majestic edifices or people dressing up fancily that are worth shooting some pictures as well.

Gay Village

I actually came across this neighbourhood by accident when I was just walking around trying to find a bus station. Suddenly I noticed that typical rainbow flags, and the more eye-catching thousands of colourful rainbow-themed spheres hanging and extending all the way from each edge of the street. I did not bother checking out the stores obviously, but walking below that burst of bright colours is just something you’d like to try by yourself.

Dragon Flowers and Restaurant Nonya Cuisine Indonésienne

Dragon Flowers are probably the most remarkable-looking florist I’ve ever been to. This is not the kind of a extravagant florist with expensive-looking flower collections, this is the one that is budget-friendly but the unique exterior would catch your sights in a second. I literally sat doing nothing for 10 minutes just for the sake of waiting for the truck right across the shop to leave so that I could take a proper picture of the shop. I also bought a big bouquet of white lily, baby breath, and rose for my Couchsurfing host and little did she know it all only costs 8$!

And Nonya was actually the very first Indonesian cuisine I’ve ever encountered in Canada. (Although probably it’s just because I was never really looking for one anyway.) When I came, there was a bunch of Caucasian Francophone hanging out on the patio which quite surprised me ’cause I never knew they’re actually into our kind of food. But the thing about Nonya is, the decor was so ethnically pretty that I already felt happy by sitting inside and eating my first green bean soup after a year.

Jardin Botanique de Montreal

It was a mistake that I came here. It was a mistake because I came here around 3P.M. which means I only have few hours left before the park closed. This botanical garden is extremely huge and their collections are just mindblowing, that I was sure if only I had another day to be spent in the city I would dedicate that one day to fully explore this garden. I can’t recall how many gardens are there in the park but I am quite sure it was more than 10 parks, and each was pretty huge as well so if you’re really into botany just like myself, I guess you’d be safe to at least spare five hours to explore the whole garden.

This is actually my favourite spot, just because I am so very into flowers and they have every single flora and herb I’d wish to see. But even if you’re not a fan of flowers, you could relax in one of the beautiful benches surrounding the ponds while watching ducks or frogs, or just laying on the grass while reading some great novels.

Pro tip: if you’re into photography, come about 1.5 hour before sunset time when the sun was low enough to spark the tangerine kind of shades, hence lifting up the beauty of all the flowers. I was exploring the rose garden during this hour, and it was just magical to see all those beautiful roses of all possible hues soaked in sunrays.

Graffiti Alley around Boul St-Laurent

This one is such a hidden gem. If you go to Centrale Bergham in Boul St-Laurent then keep walking northwest along the road until you catch the first sight on your right side on a big wall of what looks like old apartments, that’s the one. Keep looking because they have some more hidden across the road, and some more if you keep walking from that first stop.

And of course, other than these places there are just a bunch of other mainstream destinations in the city that you wouldn’t want to miss either. Thus just keep walking, and you could easily spot some interesting corner just anywhere you look.

See you in another post!

Written by

A geologist, self-taught photographer, hobbyist writer, and wanderer who loves subtle colours, sunrays, mother nature, wilderness, adventures, flowers in the afternoon, quiet corners of a city, being literally - yet not figuratively - on top of the world, solo travels, trips by train, fascinating rocks, vintage postcards, and aesthetically pleasing urban landscapes.

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