What I Spent: 4 Nights in Montreal

  • 01 of 06

    Upfront Costs

    Old Montreal lit up at night
    DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

    The upfront costs of vacations are predictable. It’s the little things – airport snacks, cocktails before dinner, tipping a tour guide – that can throw even the most well-planned vacation budget off track. In this new series, we’ll look at the spending patterns of real travelers in popular destinations, so you can estimate what you’ll actually spend.  (Thanks for the inspiration, Refinery29!)

    For this installment, a family of three adults travel to Montreal for bike rides, sangria, and a quirky B&B.  

    Train tickets: $124 round-trip from Rhinecliff, NY to Montreal (via Amtrak)

    Hotel: La Loggia Art & Breakfast $676.08 for three guests, including breakfast ($169 each night)

    Size of group: 3

    All costs have been converted from CAD to USD, based on the current exchange rate.  

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  • 02 of 06


    Pedestrian zone on Rue Sainte Catherine in Montreal, Canada
    Tibor Bognar/Getty Images

    9:30 a.m. My parents and I have a ride to the train station, and we make a quick stop to pick up sandwiches on the way. We get two enormous tuna subs to share between us (I will later eat an entire one myself). Cost: $13

    10 a.m. The platform for the train at Rhinecliff is at grade, so when the Amtrak pulls in, you can shudder in awe of its size and might — and feel a little like a Victorian traveler who requires a step-stool and someone to hold her hand as she climbs aboard.

    5 p.m. It’s been hours since I ate that entire footlong tuna sub, we’ve been stuck at the customs check at the Canadian border for ages, and we’re all bored. We share a mini pizza. Cost: $6.75

    8:30 p.m. At last! We pull into Montreal and are eager to get to the B&B. The ATMs flummox us for a while, but we withdraw cash and hop in a cab. Cost: I think we threw $11.52 at the driver, including a generous tip, but the coins are confusing. No ATM fee for me since my bank reimburses them all.

    9:30 p.m. Having checked into our adorable, funky B&B, we set out to nearby rue Sainte-Catherine to find a light meal. At Dann Sushi we had tasty rolls served with huge, edible exotic flowers for garnish. Cost: $55.53

    10:30 p.m. We stroll around to walk off our flower petals and spy some kind of installation in the street: four bicycles fixed in place which, when pedaled, make an oldies-tune light and sound show. Cost: Free

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  • 03 of 06


    Inside Montreal's Notre Dame basilica
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    9 a.m. Breakfast is served on the back patio until 10 by the delightful Guy (that’s “ghee” en français), who made us eggs to order—all accompanied by a spread of toast, cheese, and fruit. Cost: Free

    10:30 a.m. We decide to try one of those hokey hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus tours. It happens to have a stop just a couple blocks away, and the buses are vintage and cute. It’s ridiculously expensive, but we learn that we can use the tickets for two days. Cost: $42.25 each

    11:30 a.m. We hop off at Saint-Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal. The church houses a shrine, reliquary, garden and spectacular views. Most impressive: watching the pilgrims climb the long stairway up on their knees. Cost: $2.30 each

    12:30 p.m. After so much stair climbing, we’re famished. We find Boulangerie Première Moisson and all agree that the gazpacho is on point. Cost: $25.90 for three lunches

    1:30 p.m. We hop on the bus again and take it up Mount Royal, getting off to wander around the park, getting only occasionally lost in its deep woods until we feel drowsy again.

    4 p.m. Next stop, Dorchester square. Sitting under Café Buongiorno’s umbrellas, we savor a fruit smoothie and something that we thought would be ice cream but turns out to be ice coffee with Nutella in it. Cost: $6.91 

    4:30 p.m. We get on a fresh bus and make it to Notre-Dame. It looks a lot less impressive than France’s version from the outside, but it’s much more my taste in basilicas on the inside.  Cost: $3.84 each

    5:30 p.m. We wander along rue Saint-Paul in the Old Montreal historic district, admiring the lovely buildings with galleries and tourist traps inside them. We do go into an artisans’ cooperative shop where we buy some handmade gifts. We walk all the way back to the B&B, admiring the multitude of cyclists commuting home on Montreal’s extensive protected bike lanes.  Cost: $26.89 for souvenirs 

    8 p.m. After a long rest and showers, we head for Kitchenette. The place is nearly empty, but the service and food are sensational. The veal ($28) was definitely the tastiest dish, and the chef came by at the end of the meal and just chatted us up about how we were liking his city. Cost: $143.68 

    10 p.m. We stumble across an outdoor screening of some kind of documentary about the US feminist movement and hang out for twenty minutes or so watching. Then we realize if we get back we can catch some of the DNC convention on TV and watch some feminist history in real time. Cost: Free

    Visiting Montreal? Compare Tripadvisor's Best Hotel Deals in Montreal

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  • 04 of 06


    A waterfall at Montreal's Botanical Gardens
    L. Toshio Kishiyama/Getty Images

     8:30 a.m. More delicious breakfast al fresco at the B&B, then my parents take off to see the Olympic Park (it happens to be the 40th anniversary of the Olympics in Montreal) while I hang around to take a conference call.

    12 p.m. I take the Metro to meet my parents at the Botanical Garden. They’ve already gone through the Insectarium and eaten, but I get a lunch combo deal from the cafe while they keep me company. Cost: $2.50 single STM ride; lunch $10.76 

    1 p.m. It’s about nine million degrees and ninety-nine percent humidity, so I pop into the gift shop and buy a bandana to soak in water and wrap around my neck. That powers me through the next couple hours of seeing the incredible, enormous gardens. Cost: $4.61 for the bandana, $15.17 for garden entry

    4 p.m. We rest in the shade of some trees at the edge of the gorgeous lake-pond to revive ourselves for the journey back to our B&B. Cost: $2.50 

    5 p.m. Just before the B&B we duck into Café Pourquoi Pas for three ice coffees and a brownie. Cost: $10.83 

    6 p.m. Fresh from showers, we lounge on the back patio. B&B owners Rob and Joel bring down some beers and shoot the shit with us for a while. We hear a lot about how great Canada is, and in the midst of our presidential election, I’m glad we’re drinking.

    8 p.m. Rob and Joel say the best grilled octopus they’ve ever had is at Grill Barrosso. We get a variety of grilled foods, and a misunderstanding leads to a very large pitcher of Sangria arriving. Cost: chicken salad, $9.95; grilled octopus dish, $9.95; full sangria pitcher $23.05

    9:30 p.m. The extra sangria goes into takeout coffee cups—their idea!—and we walk to an overpass that’s been closed to cars for all us lucky ducks to watch the weekly fireworks show. Cost: Free

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  • 05 of 06


    A beach cruiser in Montreal
    Alex Williams/CC/Flickr

    8 a.m. Guy makes scrumptious French toast! We forget to ask what they call it in French-Canadian. Cost: Free

    10 a.m. This is our big adventure day! We rent bicycles to try out the city’s fabulous bike paths. We opt for a nine-mile round-trip route along Canal Lachine. We’re riding in protected bike lanes, but we get helmets anyway because they’re included in the price. Cost: $19.21 per bike, plus a $230.45 deposit (ayoille!)

    12 p.m. We stop at Atwater Market to gape at produce and pick up lunch provisions. Cost: $28.79 ($37.48) for sandwiches, cookies, and drinks, $5.38 for the basket of 16 peaches

    4 p.m. So nine miles turns out to be 20, but it’s gorgeous and we feel pretty impressed with ourselves. When we get back to Old Montreal, we stop for ice teas to reward ourselves. Cost: $3.46 each

    6:30 p.m. Dinner at Chipotle & Jalapeño is a homey and delicious affair, with tortilla soup, ceviche, and coffees to go. Cost: $13.06 for my dinner special

    8 p.m. This is what I’ve been waiting for all week: We get to see Robert Lepage’s virtual reality exhibit La Bibliothèque, La nuit at the BANQ. Cost: $7.68 each

    10 p.m.  Axe Throwing is closed, but if we’d planned ahead, it would’ve been $40 for the three of us to throw an hour’s worth of axes. “It’s like a bowling alley,” the guy explains.

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  • 06 of 06


    New York City's Penn Station

    8 a.m. I savor my last breakfast-by-Guy on the verandah, call a cab and make it to the train on time. My parents fly out later that day. Cost: $11.52 

    9:30 a.m. Nervous, having seen food sell out on the train ride north, I purchase an instant ramen right away and stash it for later. Later I buy a pizza and never get hungry for the ramen. Oh well, another souvenir! Cost $8.50

    9 p.m. Ah, Penn Station, you hot mess, you. I take the subway back to my apartment, thinking all the while of how clever the subway cars in Montreal were, with poles that split into three vertical hand-holding bars in the middle. Cost: $2.75


    Food & Drink: $372.04

    Transportation: $28.04

    Entertainment: $90.45

    Misc: $31.50