72 Hours in Montreal: Day 1

My little jaunt to Montreal was both a whirlwind and super relaxed. Because I was on my own, I did whatever the hell I wanted. This meant that I pushed myself a bit too far physically when the sun was out (biking up Mont Royal in a defective Bixi bike) and then rewarded myself with leisurely lying around time when it started raining.
The flight was less than an hour, which was amazing, and getting through customs was a breeze.

Here's what I packed:
I knew the weather wasn't going to be ideal and I knew I wanted to walk and bike a lot so I planned on wearing trainers the entire time.
As I was leaving the airport, I popped by the ticket machine and got myself a 3 day metro pass. This thing has a chip (so freakin' sophisticated) and it works on the bus and the subway. It was $18, which was already worthwhile as a single bus ride would have cost me $10.
For lodging, I booked in at the Boxotel because of its location and aesthetic. It's located in between the trendy neighborhoods of Plateau Mont-Royal, Vieux Port, and the Gay district which also puts it near the subway and several bus routes. And as for the aesthetic, it has a clean industrial vibe, which is right up my alley, and there is a really big, luxe tub in the room.

It's maybe not an ideal room if you're traveling with your brand new boyfriend/girlfriend because the loo is just a frosted glass room within the studio because I'm assuming you don't want him/her to see your shadow behind the glass taking a wee.
After dropping off my bags, I went out in search of lunch.
I decided to get the famous smoked meat sandwich for lunch. There was an insanely long line to dine in so I made the decision to just grab a sandwich to go and eat it in the park.
I was so happy to find out that Montreal had its own bike share (I learned about this just a few days before my trip) especially because this city has a reputation for being an amazing city for cyclists. (It lived up to this reputation.)

It's $5 per day or $14 for three days and you get unlimited 30 minute rides. It's exactly the same as the bike shares in New York City, DC, Toronto, Boston, London, etc. One thing to note is that if you can, get one of the non-grey bikes. The grey bixi bikes are 3-speed but the green/red/black Manuvie bikes were 7-speed.
I sat in the park to enjoy my sandwich. It was bomb. The meat was incredibly tender, the bread was so soft yet it was hearty enough to stand up to the meat, and that smear of mustard is all it needed. The pickle was a great accompaniment, as it helped to cut through the fatty unctuousness of the meat.

The only complaint I had about this meal was that seagulls kept trying to creep up on me to get a taste.
After I had my fill of lunch, I decided I wanted to take a ride up to the summit of Mont Royal in a Bixi bike. I stupidly picked a defective bike that started making a bunch of weird noises about a mile in, but at that point, I was committed and just powered through.

I thought I had maybe gotten into decent shape; I mean, I have been going to the gym regularly since January. But I was sadly mistaken and this bike ride kicked my butt. I do have to give myself some slack since the entire ride was uphill and I was stuck with a crappy bike. But then again, there were plenty of other riders, including children, who didn't seem to be struggling the way I was.

However, I did make friends with a guy who suggested we ride together and about a third of the way up, he said he was over it and he turned around and headed back down the mountain. Quitter!
If you do make it to the top, you'll be rewarded with the chalet and an awesome view of the downtown.
I could have also made my way up towards the cross (which is some wireframe thing) but at that point, I was pretty beat and super sweaty so I decided to just coast back down the mountain. I found that super enjoyable.
All in all, the trek up and down the mountain took about an hour and a half, which meant I had to pay the extra fees for the Bixi, but it was worth it. Plus, it was still less than what it would've cost to rent a bike from a bike shop, which are on the order of $30 per day.

After that, I decided to just leisurely bike around the neighborhoods surrounding my hotel.
As I was biking towards Vieux Port, I ran into the basilica. It's gorgeous and I wish I'd had time to go inside and look around, but I also didn't think it would be cute for me to go inside whilst I was sweating balls.
There's a lovely biking path running along the water and I highly recommend a ride. It's picturesque and really easy biking.
I learned about Expo 67 and this little community housing project (designed by Moshe Safdie) in my architectural history class back when I was an architecture major at Cornell (ever heard of it?). The concept is awesome: it's a way to combine the benefits of suburban life (fresh air, green space, privacy) while still maintaining the ability to densely populate the space. The result is this odd formation of concrete blocks. And yes, people live there.
You can certainly get to the little island and see it closer up, but it's easy enough to enjoy from the mainland and just as fascinating.
This pleasant little square made me feel like I was in Europe for real. It's a bustling area with loads of shops and vendors with stands selling prints and candy.
This doesn't quite compare to Paris's Champ-de-Mars, which is where the Eiffel Tower is, but it's quaint nonetheless. I really enjoyed how much green space there was in this city.
I walked past this community garden a few times, and fell in love. It was so lush and people obviously really cared for their plots.
Despite the fact that I sweated my ass off riding a bike all day, for whatever bizarre reason, I decided I really wanted soup so I had pho and spring rolls for dinner. It hit the spot.
After dinner, I made friends with some of the other hotel guests and we went up to the roof terrace of the hotel to have drinks and hang out. It was leisurely and a really nice way to end a busy day.
And then because I couldn't resist the giant tub, I had a bath to soak my aching muscles before heading to bed.
And here's my map: