Money Diary #3: A long weekend in Montreal

Cardigan: Reformation /Jeans: Madewell (old), current season here /Sneakers: Veja / Bag: Clare Vivier

Two weekends ago, Vadim and I spent a long weekend in Montreal with our friends.  We rented a car and turned it into a road trip up north. This was our first time driving there. It was also the first time I realized that New York is HUGE. We were basically in New York 99% of the time during our 6.5 hr drive. Who knew? I definitely didn’t.

Anyway, we rented an airbnb, ate at two restaurants notorious for hard to come by reservations, and made a bunch of memories that will probably make me laugh till I pee when I think about them in old age.

If you’re curious about how much we spent on our five day adventure, keep reading for all the details you didn’t ask for.

Day one  

Every road trip should start with a breakfast at Cracker Barrel. So that’s exactly what we did. We got biscuits and cornbread to share and we each ordered our own meal. I got an egg sandwich for a balance of protein and carbs (my fave). But seriously, order the biscuits…you will not regret it.

My friends were kind enough to pay. $0

On our way out of the restaurant, we browse around the Cracker Barrel store. We realize we forgot to bring water with us for the road. A true rookie move. So we pick up two bottles of water and a mini hand lotion made of goat’s milk (Dionis Goat Milk Hand Cream). My hands are so dry and the lotion will definitely come in handy (haha) with all the hand washing we’ll be doing at rest stops.

By the way, the lotion smells heavenly. $6.21

A few hours later, we take a bathroom break at a gas station and grab another bottle of water. $2

Once we check ourselves into our Airbnb, we notice that the hand soap in the bathroom has a broken dispenser and I don’t have the patience to deal with that so we decide to go on a drugstore run. Luckily, a Pharmaprix is right down the block from where we’re staying. And of course, you can never leave a drugstore with just what you need so I stock up on hand soap from one of my favorite brands, Le Petit Marseillais as well as these essentials: antibacterial wipes, small bottle of listerine, a six pack of kleenex to use on the go, and a box of green tea. $20.20 CAD = $15.39 USD

*I tried my best to convert everything from CAD to USD. So some dollar amounts are based on Google’s dollar convertor and some are referenced from our credit card statement.

For dinner, our friend, Christine managed to get us a table at Garde Manger. Everything on the menu is written on the wall but the restaurant is dark and we’re sitting too far from the English menu so we wait for our waiter. He comes over and introduces himself to us. He tells us about the tasting menu for $100 CAD. We all look at each other and unanimously decide to go for it. Long story short, we had a lot of food. A lot of really freaking delicious food. There were three desserts!

I highly highly recommend the tasting menu. P.S. Our waiter, Alessandro was amazing. He surprises us at the end with a round of shots that honestly taste like the most refreshing juice. No burn going down. This trip is already off to a delicious start. Our friends pay for the meal to kick off Vadim’s birthday weekend and we are eternally grateful (love you guys!). $0

We drop of our friends at their hotel and we head back to our Airbnb. We park and cross our fingers that we read the sign correctly. Parking in Montreal is a lot trickier than we thought it would be. Anyway, we realize we need more water so we walk to the Tim Hortons around the corner and pick up two bottles of water. The cashier tries to be funny with us but in the dryest way possible. We just want our water! Our New York attitude is clearly kicking in at this hour. We pay and head back to our Airbnb. $3.14 USD

Day one total spending: $26.74

 

Day 2

We must have been thirsty the night before because we’re running low on water. Vadim heads out to the Pharmaprix and picks up a large bottle of water. $1.51 USD

After getting ready, we head to the car. We are so relieved to find that there is no parking ticket waiting for us. Bullet, dodged.

We pick up our friends at their hotel and drive to breakfast. We go to Chez Jose, a Portuguese breakfast spot. Vadim and I ate here everyday during our stay in Montreal last year, so it was a no brainer to go back. I get a omelette sandwich with kombucha and everyone orders their breakfast of choice. 

We pay. $80 CAD = $61 USD

We walk to a park close by and lay out until we get hungry again. $0
P.S. Make sure to bring a blanket with you, there are so many opportunities to lay out and relax.

Our friend Christine tries her luck at getting a reservation at Joe Beef. She uses this app called “DINR” that lets you book last minute cancellations at restaurants. So far, it’s just in Canada but it came in real clutch. Anyway, after watching the Montreal episode of Parts Unknown (RIP Anthony Bourdain), we were intrigued and knew we had to visit some day.  She finds a 6:45 pm reservation and we decide that it is more than okay. Dinner plans made.

We get hungry enough for snacks and beers. Well, kombucha for me and beers for everyone else. We head over to Dieu du Ciel, a popular pub in Mont Royal. It’s too packed to sit outside (boo!) so we head inside and luckily, there’s a free table. We order a delicious charcuterie board and everyone orders their drinks of choice.

We finish our food in no time and order another board but this time the veggie spread version. We need more bread and order it. The waitress tells us it’s a $1.50 more but we don’t care because the bread is so good and we need more of it to finish our spreads. Highly recommend coming here if you love beer and want to hang out in a pretty chill place.  We split the bill with our friends. $44.15 USD

Since we parked the rental car back by where we had breakfast, we decide to leave it there until tomorrow since parking is so hard to come by. We all take an Uber to our friends’ hotel to hang out before dinner. $12.51 CAD (including $1 tip) = $9.60 USD

It’s about time to head out to dinner, so we uber there and our friends pay. $0

We are seated in the back and it’s the perfect spot to enjoy good food and even better company. We split some appetizers, entrees, and two desserts. I highly recommend the hazelnut cake (dessert on the bottom of the pic).

My only complaint? There wasn’t enough of it. We split the bill. $148.59 USD

It’s still early and we don’t want to call it a night so we walk over to Couchetard (“night owl” aka their 7-eleven) and pick up two bottles of wine and two beers. $29.65 USD

We catch an uber back to their hotel and our friends pay. $0

We play ‘never have I ever’ and it turns into a roast of the guys. We have so much fun, we almost lose track of time. It’s time to head back to our Airbnb. And yup, you guessed it, we take an Uber. $13.51 CAD (including $1 tip) = $10.36 USD

Day 2 total spending: $304.86

 

Day 3

Vadim wakes up bright eyed and bushy tailed and gets four croissants and a strawberry rugelach for the four of us from this bakery called, Hof Kelsten.

Our friends come over and we have our pastries with tea before heading out to brunch. We expect a wait for brunch since it’s Sunday, so we decide to carb up. P.S. Highly recommend the strawberry rugelach.  $15 CAD = $11.50 USD

We walk to this brunch spot and there’s a 30 minute wait. No thanks. We decide to find something else close by. After a bit of walking around, we stop at Restaurant L’Inconnu. Sounds crazy but their salads are really good. And the best part? Plenty of space and no wait for a table. $58.45 USD

We leave brunch and walk two stores over to a beer shop (Veux-tu Une Bière?) that caught our attention earlier. We pick up a large bottle of Kombucha and a beer. $13.57 USD

We leave the store and it’s now raining cats and dogs. We abandon our plan to walk to the rental car where we parked it yesterday. We decide to Uber it there instead. $9.23 CAD = $7.08 USD

We are finally reunited with our rental car and decide to go to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. It’s free to get in if you’re 30 years old or younger. Otherwise, it’s $15 a person. We spend a few hours perusing. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially, if you can get in for free. $0

We leave the museum after a few hours and head to La Banquise for poutine.

Warning: Don’t get the vegan cheese. It tastes sweet. Get regular cheese curds if you can handle it. I would have eaten the fries with gravy without the extra stuff to be honest. The fries are perfectly soggy. Just the way I like it. It was no chum change, but we’re satisfied enough to hold us over till dinner. We pay for the four of us. $80 CAD (including tip) = $61.34 USD

Vadim drives us all back to our Airbnb to rest our poutine food babies. We watch an episode of this show called “Fear Thy Neighbor” on the Investigation Discovery channel.  It’s equally weird and dramatic. It keeps us intrigued and highly entertained until we head out for dinner. Turns out, the creepy neighbor was the culprit. Go figure.

We drive to Saint Sushi bar for dinner. We must be creatures of habit because we came here for Vadim’s birthday last year too. But seriously, their $35 CAD per person tasting menu is hard to beat. It’s as delicious as we remember. And we are FULL.

Our friends are too kind and they pay for dinner. $0

Apparently, we’re not too full for ice cream. We walk to Cremerie Meu Meu.

I get the coconut almond milk flavor and it’s delicious. Everyone else likes their chocolate soft serve. Too bad I’m lactose intolerant. Doesn’t my body know, dairy is not the enemy? Guess not. Our friends sweeten the night by paying for our ice cream. $0

On our way back to our Airbnb, we stop by Pharmaprix. We get 2 large bottles of water and a two-pack of floss on sale. $8.87 CAD = $6.79 USD

Day 3 total spending: $158.73

 

Day 4

I wake up and my upper lip has this dry patch, and it’s feeling tight. I think it’s a cold sore flare up and Vadim does me a solid and goes downstairs to, you guessed it, Pharmaprix to get me a tube of Abreva. Turns out, it wasn’t a cold sore, just sunburned lips. Better safe than sorry though. $22 CAD = $20.99 USD

We attempt to go to Restaurant L’Avenue for brunch. We figure it’s Monday so we’ll get a table no problem. We drive there and find that there’s a line out the door. No thanks.

We walk a while and find this brunch spot that looks good enough. It must be pretty authentic since they don’t even have an English menu. Our friends pay. $0

On our walk back to the car, we stop by St-Viateur for a dozen bagels to take home and have on the road. I may be biased but these bagels just don’t compare to NYC bagels. I like them fluffy. Anyway, we pay cash and if I remember correctly it’s about $12 CAD which is about $9 USD

The weather is rainy and gloomy so we decide to check out the Biosphere (a museum about the environment). We sit in for a presentation on climate change and what we can do about it. It’s pretty informative. We then go to this experiential presentation but it doesn’t make any sense. Fake rain and snow comes out of the ceiling which is cool but we don’t know why. We then head upstairs and outside for a cloudy view of Montreal. We pay for four tickets but honestly, I would save the money. $68.99 CAD = $52.60 USD

We drive back to our Airbnb to drop off our stuff and head to a bar close by for some drinks with our friends. We each get a drink and some mixed nuts and olives to share. We sit outside and a bee lands on my collarbone. I stay so still but I’m freaking out on the inside. It feels like forever and finally, everyone tells me it’s flown away. Phew! Our friends pay for our drinks and snacks. $0

We walk to dinner at Les Deux Gamins. We were also here last year during our trip. Highly recommend this place if you want to sit outside and enjoy a delicious dinner with a low key vibe. If you love escargot, get it. It’s delicious. Our friends pay. $0

Everyone still has room for gelato so we stop by a gelato shop (Pagliacci) a block away from Les Deux Gamins.

I don’t get anything since I’m still so full but I’m impressed by the flavor selection here. We pay for three gelatos. $15.90 CAD (including a $2 tip) = $13.81 USD

We share an uber with our friends and we get off first. Our friends pay. $0

Day 4 total spending: $96.40

 

Day 5

GAH! It’s our last morning in Montreal.

We pick up our friends from their hotel and head back to Chez Jose from day 2 to fuel up before our road trip back home. Highly highly recommend their omelette sandwiches. I get the veggie one without cheese, in case you are wondering. We pay for breakfast. $60 CAD = $45.93 USD

We hit the road. We get through border patrol and bam, we’re back in the good old US of A.

We notice that we need more gas so we stop at station in North Hudson, New York. $22.93 USD

We eventually get hungry and stop at Ulster Travel Plaza (a rest stop in Ruby, NY). We scope out all the food options and decide to grab snacks at Travel Mart. Vadim and I get beef jerky for protein, Sabra pretzel and hummus, and a small pack of edamame and nuts.

This keeps us hungry enough till we get home. $14.95

We drop of our friends and we head home. Esteban lazily greets us at the door. Our long weekend is officially over and I miss it already.

Day 5 total spending: $83.81

Final Numbers

Food and entertainment: $670.54

Car rental (5 days via Enterprise): $503.46

Airbnb (four nights): $572.52

Total spending for Vadim and I: $1,746.52

Final Thoughts

Visit Montreal! But seriously, we had such an incredible time. We weren’t trying to budget on this trip, we usually don’t but I figured this might be helpful if you would like to plan a future trip 🙂

Thanks for stopping by.

See you in my next post!

Sophie 🙂

P.S. Want more Montreal? Read my post recapping my trip from last year here.


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