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Report 908: Martha's Vineyard Summer

By MarionP from Canada, Summer 2005

Trip Description: A stress-free vacation in Martha's Vineyard with stops in Montreal and Boston along the way.

Destinations: Countries - North America; Regions/Cities - East Coast, Montreal

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Beach; Shopping; Independent Travel; Single Traveler

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Page 1 of 3: Montreal

Under my physician’s orders to have a “stress-free” summer, I decide that Martha’s Vineyard would be perfect. Mapquest.com recommends a route from Toronto through upper New York State, but that drive is extremely boring. I decide to go to Martha’s Vineyard via Montreal and Boston.

Montreal

On a lovely sunny Wednesday, I drove from Toronto to Montreal in just under five hours and checked into the Marriott Chateau Champlain. I like the Marriott Chateau Champlain because it has unusually large half-moon windows and it is across from a lovely small green park.

I have a fond memory of this hotel. When I was a high school student, I worked at the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. Because Chateau Champlain was then also a CP hotel, a girlfriend and I were able to stay there for free for an entire week so that we could attend the World Fair celebrating Canada’s centennial. One of my uncles also generously gave us two free week-long passes to Expo 67. The Trinidad and Tobago pavilion believed that we were old enough to have an alcoholic cocktail. To be acknowledged as an adult was quite a thrill back then!

I have stayed at the Chateau Champlain three times in 2005, and I was delighted that the check-in clerk recognized me this time and asked if I would like a room with a view. My room was 1602 and it had an utterly magnificent view of the city and the mountain.

The hotel is a 10-minute walk from rue St. Catherine, Montreal’s main shopping street. I had just enough time and energy to shop at Simons, Les Ailes (pronounced “laz eye”), and Ogilvy’s. When I reached Crescent St., it was happy hour and the street was being transformed for a Caribbean festival beginning the next day. There were lots of business people and shoppers dropping by for a drink. I hopped a cab to go back to the hotel, dumped my parcels, had a quick shower and power nap, and then got the car from valet parking to go out for dinner.

I got clear and easy directions from the hotel, but they neglected to tell me that I would be driving through streets clogged with people heading to the Montreal Jazz Festival. I finally found a parking lot, and meandered my way to a very cute little bar on St. Laurent for a nice martini before dinner. This 1970’s retro bar had red leather chairs with backs shaped as the fingers of a hand. There were whimsical white and red plastic mobiles with soft lighting, some very large red and white op art wall hangings, and lots of red beads everywhere.

In the same neighbourhood, I found a lively place for dinner at Buonanotte. There were no tables available, but dining alone has its advantages. I was seated at the bar alongside four men who were good friends with the chef and he was personally serving them off-menu small plates. The food was delicious. I had roasted asparagus served with warm chevre with a balsamic glaze as my appetizer; and slow roasted duck with mashed sweet potato for the main course. The restaurant also has a very good wine list.

As is typical in Montreal restaurants, people were laughing and talking and having a good time. It is a less sober environment than Toronto. It is also prettier: Montreal women wear more make-up, put more time and effort into grooming, and they dress up more than Toronto women. (This is one of the occasions where you remember a business school marketing lecture dating back to the 1970’s. What was true then, is remarkably still true now. Statistics Canada continues to report how much more Quebec women spend on makeup, hair and grooming.) And the men aren’t hard on the eyes either. I didn’t stay out late, but Montreal is a city that I could comfortably party-hardy. Downtown feels safe and is very walk-able at night.

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