Below are some of my favorite pics from my quick and unexpected trip to Toronto and Montreal in December 2014. Turns out that Air Canada cancelled one of my flights and I wound up having a three day stopover in Toronto. I decided to take advantage of this mishap and see a bit of both Toronto and Montréal. Looking back on my trip, I managed to see a lot and cover quite some distance in just three days; putting sleep and comfort on the back burner was well worth it! I landed in Toronto just after midnight on Day 1 and took the 6am Megabus to Montréal.
Sleeping in the airport for a few hours never seems like a big deal when you book your ticket, but there is always several moments of regret in the moment. It was a long night of scouting out the best seats to nap in, people watching and dozing in and out of “sleep.” Getting from the airport to the bus station at the crack of dawn was quite the challenge, as a snowstorm had just begun. I managed to grab two busses and hike through the snow for a few blocks (with all my luggage) to find the bus stop. Boarding the bus to Montréal was such a relief as I could finally relax and get a decent nap. Strangely enough, I felt like I was taking the bus from Kansas City to Chicago, as the landscape was almost identically flat and uneventful.
When I arrived to Montréal just after noon on day 1, I took the métro to my hostel for the night. I had always assumed that some people spoke French in Québec, which was wrong. Everyone speaks French all the time, which was a bit intimidating at first. It was surreal for me at times being in Montréal because it felt like I was dropped somewhere in Europe, but in reality was very close to the USA. This also sparked my interest in wanting to learn French, as I spent the next few days trying to pick out words I could understand here and there. After I dropped my things off at my hostel. I wasted no time and began exploring on (wet and soggy) foot, as the snow continued all day long.
It was a pleasant change traveling to Montréal after spending so much time traveling throughout Latin America, everything seemed to work out just as planned and I could use google maps with ease! The snow-covered city was beautiful and I think I got a good taste of downtown and also spent some time in the Contemporary Art Museum. At the end of the day, I fell hard against my pillow as I had only slept a few hours during the past few days.
I woke up on day 2 energized and ready to get back out and explore the city. I started off by walking up to Parc Mont Real, which is located on a hill that overlooks all of Downtown Montréal. The park was beautiful and covered with snow, and I was treated to an awesome view of downtown (and a snowman) once I reached the lookout point. I also made my way to Old Montreal, which is the historical part of town where old French architecture has been preserved. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Montréal was unreal – such a huge and intricately designed and decorated basilica unlike anything I had ever seen. Although I got lost a few times, I had a great time wondering around and before I knew it I was on an overnight bus back to Toronto.
Day three, my final day in Canada, started bright and early at the Toronto bus station. After a quick breakfast in Denny’s at 5am, I set off on foot to explore downtown for a bit. I got to do some exploring before the rest of the city woke up. It was a bit surreal wondering around such a big city almost alone, but the rest of the city eventually woke up and decided to join me. I made my way to the St. Lawrence Market, which was huge! You could find everything from fruits and veggies to breads, juices, coffee, etc. I must say that the best part of the market were the free samples at the cheese stalls. After the market, I spent some time walking around downtown and saw the CN Tower make its appearance between a few buildings. Finally, I made my way to the Ontario Art Museum before I had to get back to the airport and board my flight to Chicago. I am a big fan of long layovers and stopovers. Depending on how determined you are to get out and explore, you can see a lot in a small amount of time and get a taste of what that city is like.