Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Montreal {Part 1}

A little over a week ago I left on a short study abroad trip to Montreal. I went with my freshman learning community/scholarship program called KBS. There were 31 students that went plus 2 of my professors, and it ended up being an absolute blast. We've all had classes together all year and have really gotten to be friends, so it was just a great trip. Hands down, it was the best experience I've had in college so far. I didn't even know it was possible to have that much fun ;)

We were only there for 4 nights, but we really made the most of the time we had (which meant averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night!), but it was an unbelievable experience that I am truly grateful to have been able to go on. When I got accepted into the KBS program last year, I had no idea how much of a positive impact it would have on my college years and life in general, which sounds corny but it's totally true!

I'm going to have to break up my trip into several posts because there are so many things I want to talk about and pictures I need to post.

We left on Saturday, April 26th. My flight didn't leave until the afternoon, so my family went out to breakfast at the Cracker Barrel per my request because Cracker Barrel is always a vacation tradition in our house.

Since there were so many of us, we couldn't all fit on the same flight, so this is our small group getting ready to leave Cincinnati. Our flight left first before the other group, and we had a layover in JFK. One of the best parts of flying into that airport was the fact that we got to see the sun setting over the New York City skyline - so cool!

Our layover was 3 hours, so we went and grabbed dinner at the Shake Shack....

....and dessert at a bakery called Cake Tin. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had scoped out the JFK airport prior to leaving just to see if they had a bakery there.

Seriously - how cute?!

I got the Red Velvet (I am so predictable....), but I was a tad bit disappointed. The actual cake was good, but the icing needed to be a bit sweeter.

When we got back to our gate, we discovered that our flight had been delayed. Then it was delayed again. And again. What was supposed to be a 3 hour layover turned into a SIX hour layover. Let's just say it was a little frustrating considering the other group was in Montreal while were still in the JFK airport. Oh well though - we ended up having some interesting bonding in the airport. We also got free food since I think Delta started feeling sorry for us....

We ended up finally getting to our hotel at 2 AM on Sunday morning, and I basically just crashed. Who knew that just sitting around in an airport would be so tiring?

Sunday morning we took a bus tour around the city and the different ethnic neighborhoods. One of the interesting things about Montreal is how culturally diverse the city is. When people move to Montreal, they hold on tight to their culture, so there are distinct areas of the city for different cultures like the Jewish, Italian, Chinese, Indian, French, Spanish, etc. It was kind of cool being able to go to one city and feel like you visited several countries.

We went to a bagel shop in the Jewish community since they are known for their amazing bagels. They were good and different from the ones you get in the US. They were hot, slightly crunchy on the outside, and light and doughy on the inside.

We also visited a market that sold all kinds of fresh food. I think I could have spent hours there!

My favorite place in the market was this little bakery - so many things to choose from!

I settled on a chocolate caramel macaron, which was such a good choice. Montreal is very heavily French (almost everyone there speaks French), so I had to eat as many macarons as I could since they're much harder to find in the states.

We also went to a pretty overlook of the entire city. The tower sticking up in the middle is the Olympic Stadium!

We then had lunch at a Chinese restaurant where we had Dim Sum, which I didn't know until we got there is basically like appetizers where they bring out a bunch of small portions of different things to try that you share family style.

The rest of the afternoon was free to do whatever we wanted, so after lunch some of us headed into Old Montreal (my favorite part of the city because it felt like I have envisioned Paris to be like).

We saw the Notre Dame Cathedral, which reminded me of the one in Paris.

How cute is this Christmas shop? I'm now wishing I would have gone in.

Seriously - these cobblestone streets? I die....

Some of my friends and I then went to the cutest little trendy coffee bar for an afternoon pick-me-up. I loved how many cute little coffee shops they had all over the city.

We then set out to do some more exploring. We didn't have anywhere else we needed to be the rest of the day, so it was nice to just wander the streets and go wherever we wanted.

Modeling in Montreal :)

I don't even know what any of these buildings are, but I just thought the architecture in them was gorgeous.

A group of us went out to dinner at a place called St. Hubert that night. The food was just okay, but the atmosphere was neat, and going out with friends is always fun.

We all went out that night as a group and ended up having a ton of fun. Running on only a few hours of sleep ended up being so worth it!

I'm going to stop there and post more about the rest of the trip another day. Hope you all are having a great week!

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