Woke up refreshed for an early start for Day 2 of Montreal. After breakfast, we headed to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Even though I’m not a big art person (the Bestie is the art lover), I was excited when I found out we would be there to see the Pompeii exhibit on its last day.
I’ve always wanted to see Pompeii, but since I wasn’t invited on my parents’ last vacation to Italy, I’ll settle for this exhibit. It featured a large number of sculptures, art pieces, and other artifacts recovered from Pompeii. It seems as though photography was allowed in this museum (as I snooped on a couple of people having a photoshoot with a table while a security guard looked on), but they DO NOT allow recording (learned the hard way by the Bestie when she tried to Snapchat part of the exhibit). Apparently the Pompeii people created a lot of mosaic-like artwork (which is beautiful, BTW) and some of the walls of the display were covered in a wallpaper mimicking a mosaic style. WALLPAPER. Even though I know it’s cheaper and faster to put up wallpaper, I was pretty disappointed when I touched the wall and found out it wasn’t real tile.
One of the more interesting parts of this exhibit was the “Secret Cabinet.” As soon as I saw the sign, I knew I had to go see it because I’m nosey. It’s basically a collection of objects that some folks in the 19th century decided shouldn’t be shown to the general public. I guess I can understand that it would be difficult to go to the neighborhood museum with your children and then have to explain to them why there’s a wind chime-like object in the shape of a dick with bells hanging off of it (seriously, one of the artifacts displayed. Apparently it helps ward off evil. On a side note, I’ve been warding off evil the wrong way my whole life).
The end of the exhibit displayed a timeline of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the subsequent destruction of Pompeii. Included are a few casts of those who were unable to escape the event (including a dog still chained to its post) and were buried in the ash.
With a couple of hours to spare before our scheduled beer tour, the Bestie and I decided to see the sights from Mont Royal, which I believe is the highest point in Montreal. If you’re okay with walking, just walk ALL the way up Rue Peel from downtown, and then up so many stairs and upward inclines that I feel like I should have met some sort of deity at the top. I should take the time to point out that if you have the notion that Canada is always cold and that you should ride your moose up and down the streets, you’re dead wrong. Montreal, especially during the summer, can get hot and muggy, which intensifies the heat in a bad way. And I didn’t see any moose. The view was pretty awesome at the top of Mont Royal (AND THERE WAS A BREEZE) and we found a genius peddler who sold water and ice cream at the top. Apparently there are other things to see on Mont Royal, like Saint Joseph’s Oratory, but I didn’t feel like hiking in the heat anymore.
What goes up must come down, and we made our way down to meet our guide, Sebastian, for the group beer tour. This guy and his tour have high ratings on travel websites, according to one of my group-mates, and for good reason. You can still go on this tour even if you don’t like beer or don’t drink altogether, and I would recommend that you do. The Bestie loves beer, and I always feel a little bad that we don’t go bar hopping like other BFFs do. I purchased a non-alcoholic ticket for myself (because I’m sure Canada has enough problems without another sloppy drunk stumbling through the streets) and I still had a great time. This tour runs about 3 hours, and you visit 3 microbreweries, drinking 2 beers per bar with food pairings. Sebastian makes it a goal for you to not only drink beer (if you want), but to also taste it and pretty much analyze the color and flavor and whatnot. He’s really knowledgeable, and you’ll walk away from this tour with new information about beer, the process of making it, as well as anecdotes related to beer culture and some Montreal history. If you’re wondering, my ginger ale and cranberry juice were superb, and I had more than my fair share of various snacks and chocolate. You can get a 10% discount on a tour by using the code “foodfriends10” when you book (see montrealcraftbeertours.com).
The Bestie and I ended the day exploring in Old Montreal. It was a national holiday on this day, so many tourist sites and establishments were closed early, but we were able to find a few things still open. After dinner, we strolled down towards the waterfront for the last day of the YUL EAT festival, which was recommended to us by our hotel concierge. We got there about an hour before the festival was scheduled to close, so the main hall was pretty much empty. There were still several food trucks and a number of booths outside the venue that were open, but nothing that caught our attention, so we decided against dessert. We finished the day walking around Old Montreal, marveling at their buildings, and counting the number of tourist souvenir shops along the alleyways.
There’s a lot.