My weekend trip to Montreal felt more like a brief stint in France. From the French architecture to the actual language spoken, the seven-hour drive could have just as well been a seven-hour flight. Of course, the accent is different -- my friend Carly had spent a year in the south of France and was surprised to learn French-Canadian words that were dialect specific -- and people spoke English, but Montreal felt foreign. I became very good (read: people continued to speak to me in French) at saying “merci” and “pour moi."
Most of the trip was pre-booked, such as the Airbnb we slept in for three nights ($60) and the Osheaga concert tickets ($100), so I needed to budget for spending money. I figured I’d spend about $30 to $40 on gas to and from Montreal and maybe $40 a day on food. I was pleasantly surprised that I spent about $85 for the three days, including food, souvenirs ($48) and gas ($38).
The highlight of the trip -- food-wise -- was going to the Jean-Talon market, which is one of the biggest farmers markets in Montreal. We sampled incredible fruits, saw beautiful flowers and tasted unspeakably good oysters ($2). I asked for the briniest ones available, which come from Ireland. It tasted like I had a giant gulp of salt water, but in the best way possible. We also stopped for tacos at El Rey del Taco for authentic Mexican food ($8). I was so excited to speak Spanish at the restaurant but everyone spoke French! Mon Dieu! Another incredible stop we made was at Le Pain dans les Voiles, where I had the flakiest almond croissant with mediocre filter coffee ($5).
The low point of the trip was when we returned to her car, which I had parked on a street at midnight, to find a parking ticket. It was dark when I parked and I didn’t see the street cleaning sign, and we made the mistake of not checking on the car in the morning. The ticket will set us back about $38 each.
To keep track of how we spent our money, I wrote down every purchase in the notes section of my phone. Carly had Canadian dollars with her, so she would often pay for the small purchases. I paid for our one swanky dinner, a BYOB sushi joint, and a bottle of wine I picked up at the convenience store nearby. I added up her purchases and mine and then divided them in half to determine how much we spent per person. With the original total, I divided that by two to see what the average should have been. For example, if Carly spent $90 and I spent $70, the real cost would have been $80 each. So I would have owed her $10. When we did the math on the way home, we discovered the difference was about $2. Because she brought cash and saved me from the foreign transaction fees, we called it a wash.