Thank you again for letting me relive my trip to New England and Canada. I’m having so much fun sharing my photos with you but promise to wrap things up this week. If you want to read about the beginning of the trip, see the recaps of Boston; Portland, ME; Littleton, NH; and Quebec City.

Out of all the stops on our summer road trip, I was most excited for Montreal. I had read wonderful things about the city’s restaurants, shops, and overall vibe and couldn’t wait to get to the flat we rented off of a listing on airbnb, which I highly recommend.  Our little studio was in the heart of  Plateau Mont Royal, just around the corner from loads of adorable vintage shops. It was decorated simply, but had its own kitchen and office area, which was a wonderful respite from the cramped hotel rooms that marked the beginning of our trip.

We loved the flat but didn’t stay there very long… there was a festival to catch! And not just any festival. This one had a parade, marching bands…

and public chess tournaments. Totally normal. I challenged Scott to a match but he wisely declined.

After all, there was chocolate to be eaten.

And fireworks to be seen.

These weren’t just any fireworks–they were part of L’International Des Feux Loto-Quebec, an annual fireworks and pyromusical competition held along Montreal’s Saint Lawrence River. Every Saturday from June to August, one of the 10 competing countries puts on a fireworks show which is matched to music. Each show is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 by a group of international judges, who name a winner at the end of the summer. The competition is known as the Olympics of the pyrotechnical world, and for good reason. It blew every childhood fireworks show out of the water, and I’ve seen some good ones!

We watched the show from the riverside, but tons of Canadians took it in from the city’s Jacques Cartier bridge, which I thought was beautiful in its own right.

We spent the night in our flat, where we were greeted by a visitor of the feline variety who ventured in through an open window. We woke up the next morning cat-free and ventured out for some of the infamous Montreal bagels.

Holy bagelhole. I’d heard a lot about Montreal bagels – particularly those from the St. Viateur and Fairmont bagel shops – but I have to admit that those doughy bagel piles are pretty impressive.

But while both shops had massive piles of bagels and long lines of people, I wasn’t really impressed with either of them.  I’m not sure if it had to do with the lack of flavored cream cheese (I’m a veggie girl at heart), the absence of toasting (crucial in my opinion), or the fact that we live next to an awesome bagel shop at home, but they just didn’t do it for me. I did get a kick out of their name for everything bagels though – they’re called “all dressed.” So, there’s that.

After carbo-loading we grabbed a couple of public bikes and did a quick tour around the city. It was a beautiful Sunday and the streets and parks were filled with shoppers, dancers, musicians and sunbathers. We witnessed two dueling drum groups, loads of picnics, and a large group of people practicing what appeared to be a mix of tai chi and breakdance. Don’t worry, I was confused too. This mural made me feel better though.

Montreal has a very young, hipster-like feel to it, but I must admit that it didn’t live up to my admittedly lofty expectations. It was a little edgier (read: dirtier) than I expected, and even with the beautiful, brimming parks and the swarms of bikers, I couldn’t get past its rough edges. Maybe I was expecting too much, or maybe Montreal’s just too cool for me.