Let’s take a look at today’s travel trends. Where are the world’s tourists and business travelers coming from, and where are we all going? Some of the answers in this graphic from Hipmunk will surprise you. Bet you can’t guess which country’s residents take the most frequent trips, or what the top destination was in the 2010s. Spain and France remain popular as destinations, but where do the Spaniards and the French go when they want a vacation? If Americans aren’t going overseas much, where are we going? This infographic packs a lot of data into a small space. It gives a fascinating glimpse into worldwide travel patterns with a focus on what Americans have been up to for the past forty years or so. Take a closer look at where we’re all going, where we’re coming from, and which destinations are falling in and out of favor over time. Then tweet @thehipmunk and let Hipmunk know where you’re going this year.
I’m on my way to Montreal and wondering what it will have en store for me this time. There’s always something happening. A vibrancy that’s hard to describe. As I check into my hotel, I’m told “you can’t drink the water”. Bottles of water are at the check-in desk and are on each floor. In fact, the entire city of Montreal is under a “boil water” alert. A major Canadian city! You can’t even brush your teeth with tap water! This same day, coffee shops are running out of bottled water and trucking it in from Ontario. A Quebec-er without coffee, or the ability to sit at a coffee shop or patio, this is serious stuff. Overnight, the problem is solved and its front page news the next day.
The other thing missing on this Montreal trip is a festival. Hard to imagine in this city of Festivals. I’ve just missed the Formula 1 Grand Prix “festival” and I’m too early for the Montreal Jazz Festival (the world’s largest with over 650 concerts), and the Comedy Festival, and the festival after that.
What I’m not missing, as always, is that Montreal good feeling. Montrealers have a sense of style. Their fashionable look and cool demeanor. But appearances are deceiving. Because most people from Quebec are very passionate- about everything. They love life and have an opinion- on everything. Nothing wrong with that. Just be prepared for a full and thoughtful conversation on whatever the topic is.
Come to think of it – a trip to Montreal is always special. It’s the “Joie de vivre”- the cheerful enjoyment of life. The food and beverage is somehow better (even at a chain restaurant). Every activity seems exciting. A simple dinner feels like a party. A celebration of food, drink and friends. Like a festival…
I travel to Montreal at least once a year, usually a few times. Like most visitors, and even as a Canadian, I get the “it’s like going to Europe” feeling. Montreal is consistently rated as one of the world’s most livable cities.
French is the dominant language. Contrary to popular belief, the province of Quebec and Montreal, are not bilingual. They are uni-lingual (French). Signs must be in French. Almost everyone speaks French- not everyone speaks English. I always try to start a conversation in French but I’m pegged as English the moment I start speaking. A Montrealer will normally move the conversation to English (assuming they speak English).
Quebecers are a passionate people. A kiss on the cheek is a real kiss on the cheek (not a brushing of cheeks). A conversation can become a spirited debate in a heartbeat. Montreal reflects this passion and is a truly vibrant city. Cafes are everywhere as are restaurants with window walls pulled back. There seems to be a festival almost every week (or at least every time I go there). The Comedy Festival, the Jazz Festival, and the list goes on.
A couple of travel tips if you are heading to Montreal:
For shopping and dining, get onto St. Catherine Street. That’s where the action is. Several department stores, chain stores, take-out food, restaurants and more. Montreal is famous for its deli restaurants. The best are: Reuben’s, Dunn’s and Schwartz’s. Smoked meat is the sandwich. The second food specialty is Poutine- french fries with brown gravy and fresh cheese curds. Although Poutine can be found across Canada in varying styles, the best is found in the birthplace of Poutine- Montreal. If you’ve had a drink too many the night before, it tastes really, really good! Bon Appetit!
It’s hard to beat summer in Montreal (winter- not so much). Montreal has the increasingly popular Bixi rental bikes and lots of bike paths. And more patios than you can imagine- many bars and restaurants have retractable walls and windows. One of the best patios with a view is on the rooftop of the Hotel de la Montagne. Enter the hotel and take the elevator to the 20th floor. La Tarrasse Magnétic has a pool and some of the best views of the city. It’s a great spot and is a popular spot with after work crowd.
Hard to go wrong and hard to not have a great time in Montreal!