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It’s below zero degrees outside and I’ve found myself in Montreal, Quebec, Canada of all places, in the dead of Winter. I’m looking out the window at white covered everything, wondering how I’ll ever find the courage the step outside in my highheeled boots to make my way into city center. This place is covered in snow and I did not come equipped in gear or spirit….
What am I going to do?!
I’m afraid I’m way in over my head and won’t last the month I planned here…
I flew to Montreal just after New Years for what has been one of the coldest January’s to date. It was a spontaneous trip, with
very little zero research done. People on my flight in looked at me and giggled through their words. “You really picked a bad time to come here!”
I’m so screwed. Is it too late to go back to the sunshine and my beloved beachfront hotel?
Growing up in California, I can honestly say I’ve never experienced a true Winter- not like WINTER up here in Quebec anyway. That, mixed with the fact that I’ve been chasing summer around the globe for most of the last 2.5 years, did not lend to me being a “Winter person.”
On January 2nd, I showed up straight from Costa Rica, tanned and in flip flops- you should have seen the looks I got at the airport. I was not prepared for these conditions, to say the very least.
In order to survive these sub-zero temperatures without losing my mind, I desperately needed to find myself little sanctuaries around the city, and ways to escape frost bite.
New mission: Become a “Winter person.”
I need to find BLISS in this BLIZZARD…
Week one, I did some research and found a few places and spaces where I could potentially feel warm and fuzzy inside and out. I scheduled spa days, dinners and bought a warmer jacket. I geared up, and psyched myself up.
I can live in the snow. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.
I found a cozy boutique hotel called Hotel de Paris on Sherbrooke street near La Fontaine Park where I slept like a baby and felt more than comfortable. I love boutique hotels for this very reason- they make you feel at home.
I carved out my own little heaven.
One of the first stops on my “Tour de Bliss” around Montreal was Place Ville Marie where I took in the highest view of the city at the Observatory deck. (They had the heaters running.)
One floor down from there, is a restaurant called Les Enfants Terribles.
Over forty floors up above the city with snow falling, I sat smiling ear to ear with a cocktail in hand. I ordered the “Sainte Marie” first which features Sainte-Marie rum, vermouth Rouge Gorge, Angostura and Orange Zest. It was delicious and the meal was even better. Before this, I hadn’t even ventured out for a dinner yet. It felt great to be amongst locals, enjoying yummy food and a fun ambiance.
I warmed up quicker than I thought possible and had comfort food like roasted cauliflower and baked Mac n’ Cheese with kale and bacon (had to do it).
It was SO good, to say the very least!
Word of the wise: If you’re ever in Montreal, you MUST plan a visit to this restaurant, and the observatory deck of course. It’s a very lively place in the evening with many people to mix and mingle with, cocktail in hand.
If I lived in Montreal, I’d make this one of my regular after-work spots.
What’s a little cold weather when you’ve got a place to have dinner and cocktails like this?
I thawed out a little more each day and explored more, even if it meant spending time outside bundled up in every layer I could wear at once.
Walking around in the snow became less daunting each day, but also made my body ache- maybe from all the effort of trying to keep myself warm? I don’t know…but when it came time for my appointment at Espace Nomad Spa I was beyond READY.
The “Wonder Woman” package made me feel like a new woman! Four hours of pampering included a full body massage, body scrub, facial treatments and a honey wrap (yes I was covered and wrapped in honey like a burrito- and it was AWESOME). They even gave me a little snack break and served me a fresh juice and chia pudding.
All I kept thinking: I love this spa! I love Montreal!
When it’s freezing cold outside, being pampered at a spa like Espace Nomad is a heavenly experience, and I needed it.
Can I just do a spa day everyday?
As I researched other spas in the area, I kept coming across Bota Bota. A ferry boat turned into a spa on water, surrounded by snow and gorgeous trees? Sign me up! I scheduled a day to try the water circuits- sauna, steam rooms, cold baths, hot baths, etc..
The baths themselves reminded me of the Turkish baths I experienced in Budapest, but the scenery was NO comparison. Bota Bota is probably the most beautiful spa I’ve ever seen. Nestled on the river, covered in fluffy white snow, overlooking the city, it was a safe haven. And resting in those hot baths while snow fell overhead was beyond wonderful- it was something I will never forget.
Bota Bota was a peaceful sanctuary that made me feel so calm and happy. I was envious of the crew who get to work in such a beautiful location everyday. Between all of the baths, the scenery and the fact that we were on a boat, I felt transported to another world where there wasn’t a single thing to worry about and only more bliss to be found.
After a couple spa days and sight seeing, it was time for a chilled out afternoon in a cafe for lunch, so I went over to Cafe Kiffin– an adorable cafe filled with artwork and throwback decor.
Cafe Kiffin is run by two California transplants, so we already had quite a bit in common. It was fun chatting with Natasha about how we both found ourselves here, in Montreal of all places, during Winter. The whole afternoon at the cafe felt cozy and made me want to return with a good book and spend the whole day by the window.
My thoughts surprised me.
I could totally see myself living here.
Maybe I’ll end up in Canada someday permanently, who knows! It’s certainly a possibility now…
After a month exploring, bundling up, eating delicious food and discovering spas with breathtaking views, I found my bliss after all. Amid the freezing cold temperatures, I ended up falling in love with this city more than I thought possible. I realized (for about the 100th time in my life) that I had been ignorant- swearing off cold weather all together, and limiting myself to warmer climates.
Turns out finding appreciation for both Montreal AND Winter is extremely easy- especially with the right sights and activities to be experienced.
Thank you to all the places and people that welcomed me with open (warm) arms this month. I truly had an amazing experience and can not wait to come back, regardless of weather conditions. 😉
Use this link to book your trip to Montreal, and let me know how your trip goes!