Trip Report: Montreal and Maui
PART 1- Montreal on a BUDGET
This year we decide to do something different. Instead of backpacking through Europe in five star hotels, we made our first trip to Canada and then hopped over to Maui. Kinda an odd trip but we like to make the most of our vacations.
Our trips have always been a bit unusual with our point churning and when telling family/friends about this one, they all had the same reaction. Why? Why would you possible fly to Montreal and then Maui?
Simple. It was a compromise. My husband was never really fond of the idea of going to Hawaii. Honestly, neither of us are really beach people, but I wanted to see what Hawaii had to offer. Meanwhile, he wanted to check out Canada.
So, we decided to get the best of both worlds.
We booked our flights and planned our trip starting in Montreal, Canada for 3 nights and then flew to Maui, Hawaii to spend 4 nights at a beachfront resort. Here is how we did it…and on a tight budget!
Flights CMH to YUL
One way flights from Columbus (our home airport) to Montreal were inexpensive so it wasn’t worth spending miles booking these. We were able to snag flights for $132.45 each for a total of $264.90.
We had a layover in New York at the Laguardia airport. Unfortunately, that day New York was slammed with severe thunderstorms causing the airport to cancel a large number of flights, leaving many people stranded while attempting to get to their final destination.
By the time our flight was ready to board, it was 10:30 at night, we were exhausted and, best of all, the flight needed to kick off 5 passengers due to weight issues.
The way the airliners were picking passengers to remove from the flight was by who checked-in to the flight last. Now, check-in is important especially with an international flight so I honestly did not have a problem with this method.
But let me tell you…Some. Were. Furious.
This woman who couldn’t have been bothered to stand up and show her passport during check-in was last. She had an attitude problem to begin with and once she was told she would have to catch another flight, the show began.
This woman was hysterical.
She cried, loudly. This lady got on her phone and called family or friends yelling at how she was missing her flight because she wouldn’t stand up to show her passport at the desk.
(Uh, Hello. That IS your fault.)
She was causing such a commotion in the airport making everyone else uncomfortable. Now remember she wasn’t the only one who would be re-routed and the others took the news in a calm manner.
That is when the airliner started offering flight vouchers for volunteers to take their place.
The voucher was $500 in airline vouchers per person plus hotel accommodations and food vouchers.
My husband and I looked at each other. We were already going to be late getting to Montreal and a bed sounded wonderful.
So, we volunteered.
We spent the night at a Holiday Inn on Long Island, got up early the next morning, ate at the Centurion Lounge in La Guardia using our American Express card to get in, and continued our travels to Montreal. Now with free food vouchers and $1000 to spend on flights for another trip, we actually saved money on this venture!
I’d say we made it out pretty great.
Hotel in Montreal
You are probably thinking…How did you stay here…on a budget? Here is how…
The Ritz Carlton/Chase credit card was running a promotion for the 3 free nights promo when we picked it up (now 2) for spending 4,000 in the first 3 months.
We got the card, put all of our expenditures on it, and voila! Now we had 3 free nights at any Ritz and we chose the Montreal Ritz as our destination.
Fun fact, the Ritz Carlton in Montreal is actually the very first Ritz! It was built in 1912 and still has its beautiful Edwardian Era charm with its chandeliers, and bright, light filling floral print walls.
The staff went above and beyond to make us comfortable, we were greeted to our room with a hand written card welcoming us to the hotel and delicious macaroons of quality you would find in the heart of France.
What to do in Montreal
Montreal is a city full of little gems.
You will be walking down the street and come across the best restaurant or a metro station that turns into an underground shopping mall.
Montreal varies from a mountain to hike, a bustling city center of tall, modern buildings, to their historic district of Old Montreal taking you back to French colonization with the towers of Notre Dame.
Here are a few spots we suggest when traveling to Montreal, Canada.
This is by far my favorite site in Montreal. We took an Uber to the Olympic Park where the 1976 summer Olympics was held. They re-used the old building, turning them into a Bio-dome, planetarium, etc. We bought passes for the Bio-dome and Insectarium. This is well worth the money.
The Bio-dome takes you from the tropical rainforest with monkeys, birds, alligators, and even a capybara to the local wildlife of Canada hosting starfish, penguins, raccoons, otters, and the cutest beavers. You truly feel immersed into the wildlife, a great experience for adults and kids.
The Insectarium is pretty cool but does not hold up to the bar of the Bio-dome. You learn about insects of the world…many dead but plenty live. In the warmer months, the Insectarium is surrounded by many outdoor gardens that would be well worth the trek. Unfortunately for us, it was cold and rainy that day.
Cost: $70 for both exhibits, two adults (Canadian Dollars)
Hike up to the top of Mount Royal and visit the Chalet Du Mount-Royal overlooking the city. A must-see view! This is a pretty easy hike with slow inclining pathways or take the faster route of steps. Stop along the way, enjoy the wilderness in the middle of the city and gaze at the many statues placed along the park.
Take a walk down Old Montreal and see some historic buildings and cobblestone streets. There are tons of cute restaurants, patisseries, and pubs to check out while you are there. Not to mention it is water front so you can stroll along the water for a picturesque site!
We checked out the inside of Notre-Dame in Paris so I wasn’t about paying for another tour for relatively the same church in Montreal but it is still pretty cool to see the resemblance from the outside in the setting of beautiful Old Montreal.
Cost: $0 if you just marvel from the outside! Tours cost: $12 per adult (Canadian)
This is the strangest but intriguing part of Montreal. Under the city there are many tunnels connecting buildings and Metro stations. In these tunnels, a mall is sprawled out. There are numerous food courts and levels to this mall. Caution! You can easily get lost and end up on the other part of town!
We took a stop at the Underground Mall to pick up some coffee and snacks at CocoBun, a Hong Kong style patisserie.
Cost: Whatever you spend!
Where we ate
My husband got the burger and I got seared sushi-grade tuna on grilled veggies. The food was great and the beer selection was even better. This did cost us a pretty penny with 4 beers (alcohol is expensive in Montreal), two entrees and an appetizer coming in a little over $100.
Cost: ~$100 USD
Reuben’s Deli and Steakhouse
Oh My Heavens…this place was DELICIOUS. I’d even go as far as to say, better than Carnegie’s Deli in Las Vegas…
My husband got the hot “famous super sandwich” which is smoked roast beef and I got the cold turkey club. Each were stacked high with fresh sliced meat that was beyond tender and a side of fries. After a long day site seeing in the city, we each practically inhaled our food and even had room for a slice of their cheesecake.
A MUST try when in the city.
Best of all? It is relatively cheap for the amount of food served!
Cost: ~$40 USD
There are many other places to visit in Montreal including a long list of museums. With our delayed travels in New York, we only had one full day to see the city. Honestly, our jam packed day was plenty for me.
Stay tuned for Part two of our trip report where we board the plane and head for Maui all without paying for flights or our 4 nights at a lavish beach front resort!