Eclipsing the Norm in Montreal

A couple of weekends ago we got back to one of our favourite Canadian cities, Montreal. It always amazes me that in just about an hour you can go from Toronto to what feels like a little part of Europe. It's not just the language differences it's the whole approach to life that makes Quebec feel European to me.

Our view at Esterel.

Our view at Esterel.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in Octane Blue

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross in Octane Blue

We took off from Pearson on Friday morning and in just over and hour we landed at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal where our Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross was waiting for us at the valet. From there we ventured North in an Octane Blue Eclipse Cross, it was peppy, spacious and had some excellent curves. It took us about an hour and a half to get up to Mont Tremblant, a place I'd always wanted to visit. We parked the Eclipse Cross at the bottom of the mountain and took the gondola up to the village. The weather was amazing and we decided to test our abilities on the luge which was a course that went down the hill using a small little go cart. The luge was actually a blast, the little 4-wheeler could really boot down the hill and I got going at a pretty good clip at certain points. After grabbing a quick iced tea we made our way to the Esterel Resort about 30 minutes south of Tremblant. The resort is situated on a beautiful lake in what looked like Montreal's version on Muskoka. There were some massive cottages surrounding the resort and we had a constant water ski show from the neighbours. We had dinner at the 260 Degrees restaurant overlooking the lake, I indulged in their Steak Frites and Dara decided to try the Pizza. The food was great and by the end we were absolutely stuffed so we retired to our wonderful room. 

Pizza and Steak Frites at 260

Pizza and Steak Frites at 260

The next morning we enjoyed breakfast on the terrace before asking the valet to pull up the Eclipse Cross. It was a comfortable ride all the way back to Montreal in the Cross. I loved the quick acceleration that allowed me to overtake just about any vehicle I needed and the interior is very ergonomically designed. I also really like the large windows throughout the Eclipse Cross, it really gives you excellent sight-lines all around the vehicle. 

It didn't take long to make our way into Old Montreal, we found out our room wouldn't be ready till 3 so we parked the vehicle and decided to wander the historical streets of Montreal. We realized pretty quickly that the Montreal Triathlon had taken over a large portion of the city which caused streets to be blocked off and  made it quite difficult to navigate the city. While we waited for our room at Hotel Place D'Armes, which is basically kitty-cornered to Notre Dame Basilica, we had a quick lunch at Brit and Chips. They made some of the best fish and chips i've ever had, I was extremely impressed by the flavour in the batter and the crunch in the chips, 10/10 would recommend. After wandering the streets and grabbing some iced coffees we decided we'd go grab the Eclipse Cross and make our way over to the hotel. The problem was that because of the street closures there was actually no way to park in front of the hotel without going the wrong way down a one way street. Being a real rebel like myself I had no problem breaking the rules :). 



We checked in, jumped in the shower for a quick clean up and then made our way towards Saint Catherine St for some shopping and dinner. We were originally supposed to have dinner at Le Serpent but made an audible and decided to check out a Spanish restaurant called Iberica. It ended up being a great decision because Iberica was absolutely delicious. We started with some Serrano ham on bread with crushed heirloom tomatoes, it was simple but absolutely delicious. We then tried the chicken croquettes, heirloom tomato salad, salted cod and a giant jug of sangria... it was an incredible meal. After stuffing our faces with delicious Spanish tapas we had a nightcap at Nyks Bitro Pub where they had a great patio on the street for people watching. 

There's nothing I enjoy more than waking up early, finding a nice coffee shop at walking around the city on a Sunday morning. So that's exactly what I did on our final day in Montreal. Dara was nursing a bit of a hangover so I got up, packed and took off by myself. I stumbled upon an excellent little coffee shop called Paquebot Vieux-Montreal. It was quiet, excellently styled and they played vinyl on a record player right by the window with a massive record collection behind it. I grabbed a latte and decided to watch some of the Montreal Triathlon, the cycling portion was underway as I stood against the barricades. After hanging out for about an hour it was time to head back and see if Dara's headache had subsided.

It was a rainy Sunday so we decided what better way embrace a rainy day than to get ourselves some ramen. Dara did a search and apparently one of the best ramen joints in the city was called Yokato Yokabai. It has a 4.6 rating on Google at the time of writing this and was honestly some of the worst ramen we'd ever had. The broth was boring, the noodles were mediocre and it wasn't even hot. We were extremely disappointed (Dara actually wrote a nasty review which i fully supported). I'd never been so disappointed in a restaurant, it really made me wonder if all the reviews were made up. The only good thing that came from this excursion was finding this cute little row house that was painted the exact same colour as the Eclipse Cross. We decided to make a quick jaunt up Mont Royal with the Eclipse Cross to see how did on hills, let's just say it tackled the incline like a Montreal Alouette. 


After our little excursion it was off to the airport, if you didn't know the major highway into and out of Montreal is under repair so we had to take a crazy detour to make our way out the the airport. Make sure to give yourself time if you find yourself in Montreal anytime soon, the only good part about the detour was that we had a little bit more time with our Eclipse Cross. We dropped it off at the valet and were on our way back home.



Just wanted to say thank you to the folks at Mitsubishi Canada, we haven't been back to Montreal in a couple of years and it was great to make our way back in such a wonderful vehicle. Thank you!




Prince Edward County in the BMW X3 M40

We travel a lot. And sadly, about 95% of the time that travel is without our two fur-babies. It's usually tough finding someone to take care of Bernard and Walter but this time we lucked out in finding a fantastic Air BnB that was dog-friendly! Destination: Prince Edward County. What also made our lives easier, was driving the 2.5 hours in the BMW X3 M40 (M40 stands for Mucho Fast). This thing has a 335hp turbo 3.0 litre V6, firmer suspension and M sport brakes with painted calipers... aaaaand goes 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. If you're not a car person then that's car-people talk for "real fast."  


So we leave Friday evening for PEC, we take the 407 and I initiate the Dynamic Cruise Control feature to make the drive that much more enjoyable. Dynamic Cruise Control adapts your speed to the car in front of you. Meaning, if you set it to 120km/h and someone pulls in front of you, the car will automatically lower its speed to ensure a safe amount of space. You can also set the X3 to keep you within the road lines, should you have to take a look in the back seat to check on your dogs. Not that I know from experience... These features are quite remarkable and clever first steps to autonomous driving.


After the painless drive, we get to PEC around 6:30pm and are amazed by the location that BMW chose. It's owned by exceptional Toronto Chef, Grant van Gameren, who owns Bar Isabel, Bar Raval and a few others. The place is stunning. We're staying the converted barn (we later find out that they used to keep pigs there). The Cressy Longhouse is decorated like a 1930's hunting lodge with some surprising twists like taxidermied chickens complete with Wu-Tang medallions. The floors are heated and the view onto Lake Ontario is spectacular. There is also a small vineyard home to Chardonnay grapes and a lavender field to top it off. 


We had a bit of a late night that night but woke up to a spectacularly sunny day and sipped coffee on the deck overlooking the vines. Our first stop of the day was Three Dog Winery for a nice light Chardonnay to kick it off. After a few more stops, we quickly learned we enjoyed the breweries more than the wineries. Parsons Brewery was a group favourite with a number of excellent craft beers on tap and a to-die-for pretzel with mustard seed. After Parsons we took a 40 minute drive in the X3 over to Wellington to see Norman Hardie Winery which I was told we had to experience. The location is spectacular and the pizza was awesome. We made a stop at Kinsip Distillery to pick up a bottle of Gin and finished the day at Barley Days for one last pint. As mentioned, our next trip to PEC will likely be more brewery-focused than winery-focused.

One thing I would say about visiting PEC, is to expect a lot of driving if you want to fully experience the county. And if you can, do it in the BMW X3 M40 because it really makes it an enjoyable ride, that's for sure.

Anyway, we finished our long day with dinner at Waupoos Winery. Our timing was perfect as we were there for Countylicious which get's you a three-course meal for $40 - not a bad deal at all. 





Waking up on Sunday, we watched the dogs run around the vineyard and while sipping on a cup of coffee and taking in the warm sun and beautiful view. We had been spoiled with another absolutely beautiful day (Saturday was so beautiful that I got a sunburn...).

Mid-morning we set out for Picton, about a 20-minute drive away. We had breakfast at the Vic Cafe, a hip, quaint little spot right next to the town's old movie theatre. The food was simple and fresh and the decor was definitely Instagram-able. 

All in all, I would definitely recommend checking out Prince Edward County as there is so much to do and see. It's a quick jaunt any Torontonian can enjoy time and time again.