Bunny’s (Almost) 24 Hours in Montreal
Why Visit Montreal?
Montreal has a reputation as being the most European city in North America. That alone would be an incentive for Bunny to visit but there are other attractions as well.
Montreal oozes history and old world flavour. It has a long history of diverse immigration and a cosmopolitan vibe that appeals to visitors. And it has more restaurants per capita than any other North American city!
Bunny was in town as a stop-over following her 11-hour train ride (anything to avoid flying) from New York, on her way to Canada’s capital of Ottawa. It was her first time in Montreal, and she had slightly less than 24 hours to get to know the city.
Mr. Bunny, a Canadian passport holder, had visited Montreal a number of times in his youth but was pretty useless as far as tour guides come. Luckily, Bunny wasn’t into hard-core sightseeing; she wanted to just hop around cobblestone Old Montreal, get the feeling of the place and enjoy delicious food and drinks.
Arriving in the Evening
Bunny arrived in Montreal around 8pm in the evening. She was eager to hop around and stretch her Bunny legs after the long train ride, so she headed straight to Old Montreal.
She decided to skip a proper dinner and opted for snacks and delicious beer cocktails at Les 3 Brasseurs instead. It was a beautiful summer evening and the pub’s terrace had a lively atmosphere.
Located on a pedestrian street in charming Old Montreal, it was also a perfect spot for people-gazing - and a one-minute walk back to the hotel once Bunny felt like she had consumed enough cocktails for the day.
Staying at William Gray
Hotel William Gray was Bunny’s choice of hotel for her one night in Montreal. This boutique hotel, a Mr. and Mrs Smith property, is right in the heart of old Montreal. The location could not have been better for Bunny. She was able to walk everywhere of interest and when it came time for sleeping, it was blissfully quiet which was a nice surprise considering its lively surroundings.
Bunny’s Alcove King room was quite small, but stylish and comfortable, with various luxurious touches, such as plush bathrobes and slippers, a Nespresso machine, a big flatscreen TV and fully-stocked minibar. Bunny also noted beautiful wooden floors and an interesting ceiling.
Bunny’s short stay did not allow her to use the fabulous-looking spa or any of the hotel’s restaurants, but she did get a peek of the rooftop terrace which had a great view over Montreal.
Bunny also availed herself of the hotel’s cool courtesy car to go to the railway station at the end of her visit. That was cool.
But not everything was perfect. For some reason, turndown service at the hotel was for one person only. This meant one piece of night chocolates to share between the Bunnies. Major catastrophe, Bunny says.
Breakfast at LOV
Bunny’s booking at Willem Grey did not include breakfast so she wanted to find a nice place for brunch. She soon noticed she was spoiled for choice. Lonely Planet calls Montreal’s food scene as “one of the most exciting in North America”. Bunny was very pleasantly surprised by the abundance of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in town too.
For brunch, she eventually decided on LOV, a fully vegetarian restaurant a short walk from her hotel. Bunny didn’t have a reservation but managed to snag a table in the busy restaurant on a Saturday morning.
The Bunnies ordered apple pancakes and avocado toast, special coffees and smoothies for their brunch. The dishes were beautifully presented and very tasty. The healthy smoothies, in particular, were delicious. In addition, the restaurant had rustic charm and very stylish interior. Bunny would go back in a heartbeat.
After breakfast, it was time to explore the old city. Bunny didn’t have any specific places in mind, but she figured she had to check out the most famous sight in town: Notre-Dame Basilica.
To be honest, Bunny is a bit of a churched-out traveller. She has seen the finest churches, cathedrals and mosques in the world and appreciated them at the time. Nowadays, she is rarely impressed with religious buildings. She usually prefers natural beauty and gorgeous landscapes to any religious pomp.
But, surprisingly, Bunny loved Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal! The Gothic architecture, the magnificent wood interior, the colours and the ambience of the place came as a lovely surprise to her. Sure, it was a bit too crowded inside (people trying to ruin her photos - how dare they) and she had to pay a modest admission, but it was all worth it in the end.
Lunch at Copper Branch
Bunny was not too keen to try poutine, or any other local delicacies, when in Montreal but she did discover, almost by accident, her favourite vegetarian fast food chain ever.
Bunny bumped into Copper Branch online when searching for vegetarian eateries in Montreal. She decided to check it out for a quick lunch and boy-oh-boy!
Imagine a wholesome, super tasty, fully plant-based fast food chain. That’s Copper Branch for you. Montreal is lucky to have a number of branches and more are being opened around Canada (and even in France!) soon.
Bunny visited the branch on Boulevard René-Lévesque which, although a bit of a walk from Old Montreal, was totally worth it. The place was fresh, clean and quiet, the service was fast and friendly, the prices affordable and, most importantly, the food was delicious!
Try the General Copper Bowl, with Shiitake mushrooms, avocado, broccoli and brown rice, layered with super tasty non-GMO sauce. It is quite possible that this fast food bowl is the best vegan food Bunny has ever tasted anywhere in the world! Mr. Bunny wants to add that his oven-baked nachos were delicious as well, even the vegan cheese which Bunny often finds quite inedible.
After lunch, Bunny was ready for another stroll in Old Montreal, starting with the Old Port. It was a nice, sunny summer day and the waterfront along the St. Lawrence River offered a pleasant environment for some post-lunch wandering.
Bunny was tempted to try the Old Montreal Ferris Wheel but settled for posing in the foreground instead. She also browsed the many craft and food stalls by the riverside and enjoyed an ice-cream before finishing her short stay in Montreal and continuing onwards to Ottawa.
Just under 24 hours were enough for Bunny to appreciate the instant charm of Old Montreal. The cobblestone streets, old architecture and atmospheric cafes and restaurants reminded her of her beloved Europe.
She would be happy to return any day. Even if only to eat that delicious bowl of shiitake mushrooms at Copper Branch again. Yes, it really was that good.