Thursday, February 14, 2013

Winter traveling in Quebec

Montreal. Photo © by Judy Wells.

 Montreal and Quebec City in winter?

Winter travel into snowy, icy climes send chills down the spines of Levelers and not from the cold. It's the very real specter of slipping on that ice.

In some of us, though, the travel urge can be stronger than common sense and we find a way.  Here are my recommendations for visiting two beautiful Quebec cities.


 An island like few others, it harbors an incredibly active and well-supported arts community, high fashion and a world's worth of cultures within the 1.5 million on the island itself, 3.25 million in the greater Montreal area. Namely 117 different languages, 152 nationalities, 17 religions, 90 different cuisines among the 5,000 restaurants.

Montreal is very human in scale with no buildings allowed higher than Mont Royal.

It's hilly. though, anathema to Levelers, but it's still doable even in winter thanks to the relatively mild climate. (Relatively means there are enough winter days above freezing that most of the ice skating rinks require refrigeration to maintain a safely frozen surface.)

Our guide, the extraordinary Ruby Roy,  gave us some tips for getting around safely.

Use the Metro; a travel carte costs $8.
The #55 bus cuts through all neighborhoods and one comes by about every 10 minutes.
• There is an underground city with shops, restaurants and everything you'd expect to find in a mall.

My tips.

Dress appropriately. That means gloves, hats, layers and boots with soles designed for gripping.

Each neighborhood is an entity unto itself. Have breakfast and wander around one, lunch and look around another.
Museum of Fine Art. Photo © by Judy Wells.

If the weather is particularly nasty, spend the day in the Fine Arts Museum with its many wings and buildings on both sides of the street.

When in doubt, take a cab. It's cheaper than risking a spill.

Don't misses include, for starters:
Basilica of Notre Dame at night. Photo © by Judy Wells.

Basilica of Notre Dame. It's a stunner that faces the Place d'Armes Square. Take a good look by day and return for the sound and light show inside at night.

• Take in the island in the St. Lawrence River where World's Fair Expo 67 was held. Even if you don't gamble, dine in one of the excellent restaurants in the Casino of Montreal  in what was the French Pavilion. The Biosphere is in the U.S.A.'s Geodesic Dome by Buckminster Fuller and Expo Habitat, the innovative housing creation of Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, holds up extremely well.
Don't miss the fromagerie at Atwater Market. Photo © by Judy Wells.

• Graze through one of Montreal's four markets. Atwater was our choice; 90 percent of the products come from less than 30 minutes away.
Smoked brisket from Schwartz's Deli. Photo © by Judy Wells.

• Speaking of food, and in Montreal you do that a lot, try smoked brisket at Schwartz's and fresh from the oven bagels at St-Viateur or Fairmount Bagel.
Get your bagels piping hot. Photo © by Judy Wells.

Next, Quebec City.



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