I haven’t taken a vacation-only trip yet this summer.  Most of my trips are a combination of business / vacation.  But, I want to travel somewhere for a few days of R & R before the fall semester starts at Georgetown (this year it will start in late Aug, not the usual start in Sept).  It’s fairly easy to fly to Europe from the east coast but I’ve decided to head to one of my favorite cities in the world, Montreal, for a few days right before the fall semester.

Why did I decide to visit Montreal?  So many reasons (in no particular order):

– it’s so easy to fly to Montreal from DC.  It’s only a 75-minute flight (unless we get the usual travel delays due to summer thunderstorms).

– the people.  I love my friends in Montreal.  The people are nice, cool, eclectic, fashionable, interesting, hip and fun.  There’s also a good mixture of ethnicities and backgrounds, somewhat like what one finds in Brazil.

– it’s like you’re in Europe – but it’s so close to home.  Most of the people in Montreal speak both French and English, but if you venture outside Montreal, it’s much more heavily leaning towards French.  But, walking through the streets of “Old Montreal,” one definitely feels like you’re in Europe.

– Old Montreal: what a fantastic place … so many great streets filled with excellent restaurants and bars, excellent art galleries, cool little souvenir shops, scenic hotel rooftop venues, etc.  Also, my favorite sandwich shop, Olive et Gourmando, is located in this funky part of Montreal.

– Restaurants.  Montreal has a wide array of terrific eating establishments.  Fortunately, a couple of my friends are foodies and always recommend the best places to go eat.  I do like the nice restaurants but I also love the bistro’s where you can chill, read and have a nice meal while sitting at an outside table on the sidewalk.

– Poutine: this is a silly one but this is a dish so near and dear to Canadians.  It’s like getting a slice of pizza in NYC, a cheesesteak in Philly, crab cakes in Baltimore, ramen in Tokyo, acai in Rio de Janeiro, etc.  It’s a popular Canadian dish that is made up of french fries, brown gravy and cheese curds.  And, often, it’s eaten late night.  It’s a favorite of the locals.

– Underground.  Montreal’s “Underground City” is fantastic.  There’s over 20 miles of the city connected underneath – so many tunnels, shops, restaurants, etc.  It’s an entire city built in the underground.  Why?  I assume because of the very cold winter weather.

– The nighttime scene.  Montreal has a very vibrant and active club and lounge scene.  There’s always something going on.  I don’t go to out the clubs as much as in the past – but I do like the more chill lounges.  Also, I love jazz music and Montreal offers a world-class jazz scene.

– Lastly, Montreal will always hold a special place in my heart — specifically June ’08.  I lost my father in ’08.  I spent a great deal of time preparing for the memorial service, delivering the eulogy, coordinating the interment at Arlington Cemetery, hosting the reception, etc.  My friends encouraged me to “get away” and get some “alone time” to grieve in peace and to recharge.  So I spent a few days in Montreal right after my father’s service.  I took a long walks in Old Montreal and along the waterways there.  I read books at the small cafe’s and bistro’s.  It really did help me with the healing process.  So, I will forever cherish this city in my heart.

I’m looking forward to visiting this wonderful city next month.  Cheers.