When I woke up a few days before New Years Eve, I realized I still had no idea what I was going to do to celebrate. I made plans with Erin, my best friend of 14 years, but we were stumped on what to do. While showering, the idea of traveling to ring in the new decade occurred to me. The day before New Years Eve, after researching options like NYC and Cape Cod, we booked a trip to Montreal. Although last-minute travels during a major holiday can be daunting, our successful adventure taught us that it’s entirely possible. If you ever travel to Montreal or anywhere last-minute, here are some tips we used to make our unforgettable visit run smoothly.
I travelled by car when I first visited Montreal two years ago. With snowy roads, no spare cars in our families and no free parking at potential places to stay, we turned to public transportation instead. There is a bus that travels from Boston to Montreal and makes a stop in Manchester, NH and a few stops in Vermont. The cheapest place to book tickets was on the Greyhound website, and a round trip was around $120-$140.
The bus rides back and forth weren’t too bad! It was supposed to be a 6.5 hour bus ride whereas a car ride would have been 4.5 hours for us. On the way to Montreal, it was our driver’s first day and he was having trouble with his GPS so he had people use their phones to help him. Not a big deal. The only really annoying thing was being stuck at customs for over an hour because two people on the bus were’t allowed to continue on with us (I don’t know why). At the border, they have everyone get off the bus and go into a room to get checked out. The biggest problem with taking public transportation instead of a car is having to hope the dozens of strangers you’re traveling with packed correctly and won’t keep everyone held up at the border.
Where We Stayed
We didn’t have enough money for or interest in getting a hotel, and by the time we decided to go to Montreal, there were very few options for Airbnbs. After feeling a little stuck, the idea of staying in a hostel popped into my head and I began searching for options. Hostel World made it super easy. We eventually found two open beds in a dorm for three females at the Auberge Bishop for about $30 per spot. It was near a variety of restaurants and bars and a short walk / cheap Uber ride away from our bus stop.
The hostel was beautiful with painted glass windows, a gorgeous wooden staircase and a large kitchen. Checking in and out was easy and the staff was super nice. The only thing we had to do before checking out was put our linens in a laundry basket in the hallway. Our dorm was very hot at first, but the heat was adjustable. Our third roommate was very ill which made us nervous at first, but (knock on wood) it looks like we are in the clear from catching it. There were shared bathrooms and showers throughout the hostel, but we showered before we left home so we didn’t have to the day we were in Canada (lots of dry shampoo was packed). The building was buzzing with chatter and laughter throughout the night, with quiet hours from 10 pm until morning. In the morning, they had things like toast, oatmeal and coffee for breakfast. Although Airbnbs will always be my first travel choice, I would recommend this hostel to anyone!
Restaurants and Bars – New Year’s Eve
For New Year’s Eve we stayed near our hostel! We had dinner and our first few rounds of drinks at a restaurant called Warehouse. This is a chain throughout Canada and all meals are $5.95! I had a wrap with fries and it was delicious. After having a few drinks there, we moved on to another bar, but the cover was expensive and their complimentary NYE champagne was in a SHOT GLASS! With all of that taken into consideration, I don’t feel the need to try to do internet research to remember the name. All in all, the energy and atmosphere everywhere we visited was great, and we had a blast!
Restaurants and Bars – New Year’s Day
After we checked out of our hostel New Year’s Day, we decided to spend the remainder of our visit in Old Montreal. We looked in a variety of gift shops and small businesses selling handmade items and art from all over the world. There were also a lot of fur shops that had stuffed animals (not the toy kind, the wild kind that was killed). Taxidermy isn’t my favorite thing, but it is fascinating to see how big wild animals really are, and it seemed like the animals they had stuffed had been there for decades- not ones that were hunted recently.
For lunch, we went to Chez Suzette, a cozy restaurant that had three floors and was still decorated for Christmas. There was no wait to get in. They had a variety of drinks, appetizers and brunch options, crepes being one of their specialties. It was great getting out of the cold, and my Nutella and strawberry crepe was to die for!
We wandered around a bit more before heading to the bus and went on the Ferris wheel in Montreal. I went at night during my first visit to Montreal and during the day during this trip. I definitely recommend going while it’s light out because it was fun looking down at all the people walking. Bonus: in the winter, you can watch people ice skate!
I loved this trip and couldn’t imagine a better way to start the new year. I recommend visiting Montreal at any point in the year to anyone! If you have any questions, feel free to message me or comment! I hope you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve and are starting 2020 with peace, clear intentions and joy.