What hidden gems are buried in Montreal? I discovered a charming church - and some hockey heritage.
Inspired by our past success with the $200 Challenge, I was eager to take on a new travel trial. For those new to the concept, the $200 Challenge was built on a simple premise: can two people travel for two days on just $200? The answer was a resounding yes! We've had two very successful trips, in Vermont and in Algonquin Park, and even more planned for the future. It’s been so exciting to prove that wonderful, enriching, luxurious travel can be achieved on a shoestring budget. Chalk one up to great value!
Taking On A New Challenge
But there’s more to great travel value than money and I am just as passionate about getting the best possible value for my time. I want to enjoy every experience, I never want a to waste a minute (I’m looking at you, long lines!) and I want to squeeze a lot of enjoyment out of a short trip, while never feeling rushed, overwhelmed, or missing out. I want to see beyond the most popular attractions and step a few feet off the beaten path.
Off The Beaten Path = Jungle Grubs?
Detouring from the beaten path doesn’t mean abandoning a 5 star resort to eat live grubs in the jungle, or giving up New York shopping sprees in favor of meditating in Kathmandu (although there’s nothing wrong with either of these things). Sometimes all you need to get off the beaten path is a short tangent of a few steps – perhaps 200 meters worth?
Why 200, Exactly?
200 meters is roughly the distance from the boundary of the Lourve to my favourite, top secret Parisian bakery. I know a beautiful tiny garden that’s about 200 meters from London’s Big Ben. 200 meters drive from a tourist stop in Oahu brought me to the doorstop of an incredible, family run coffee roaster – still my top choice for coffee, chocolate, and pineapple pancake mix in the world. 200 seems to be a lucky number for me, a pattern I hope to see continued.
Is The 200 Meter Challenge For You?
If your travel time is limited and you are really trying to balance visiting the popular sites with more intimate experiences, if you are stuck with a group who has a different idea of fun than you do you, or if you need a short break while you wait for a lineup to clear, the 200 Meter Challenge is for you! It’s also a perfect plan if you are short on time, have limited transportation options, or find yourself not enjoying your original destination. Pick a direction, walk about 200 steps, and see what amazing things you can discover!
Our First Official Challenge – A Success!
For our first official 200 Meter Challenge, I focused on business travelers. Of course, the joke of business travel is that you jaunt around the world, but you only ever really see the inside of your hotel room. I think it’s time that changed and I hope business travelers can set a personal 200 Meter Challenge in each new city they visit. And if you happen to be in Montreal, the 200 Meter Challenge will be a wonderful, enriching experience.
Our Starting Point…
Our starting point: The Fairmont Queen Elizabeth Hotel in the heart of downtown Montreal. Built directly over the city’s central station, it attracts a strong number of business and convention travelers, as does its many hotel neighbours. Brand names such as Marriott and Sheraton are just a few steps away and make for equally suitable starting points.
Heading west on Rue Rene Levesque, walk the few short steps to Rue Stanley and turn left. Attached to the side of the Bell Center hockey arena is the Montreal Canadiens Hall of Fame. This small museum greatly impressed me, a non-hockey, non-sports fan. The curation was excellent and the historical displays of rare hockey artifacts dating back over 100 years were a real treat. The descriptions were clear and straightforward for a novice like myself, but detailed enough to intrigue a dedicated fan.
This Museum Will Blow You Away!
The Hall of Fame does an excellent job showcasing the devoted relationship between the hockey team and their fans and it really highlights the important role hockey has played in the shape and development of the city. While the Montreal Canadiens on-ice success is legendary, what I found the most interesting were the lesser known facts of the team’s history. There was a great display of stories and artifacts from when the team used to take the exhaustive rail journeys across North America to play in other cities, as well as a great exhibit of the historic rivalries the Canadiens have enjoyed with other franchises.
The Hall of Fame strikes the perfect balance of appealing to both devoted fans and first time visitors and paying homage to your grandparents’ heroes while still connecting with young children. I would highly recommend the Hall of Fame to anyone visiting Montreal and, because it is a small museum, you can easily enjoy a thorough visit in under an hour.
Admission starts at $11 for adults, with reductions on special days and for those holding same day hockey tickets. Closed on Mondays, the hours occasionally change due to the hockey schedule, so it’s worthwhile to confirm hours before visiting.
For An Added Bonus!
If the Hall of Fame isn't available during your visit, you’re still in for a treat. Just a few steps away from is St. George’s Anglican Church. I fell in love with their cheerful red door and I immediately thought it was such a charming, peaceful spot to visit and reflect. St. George’s has a vibrant musical program and a beautiful sanctuary, with exquisite stained glass. Visitors are welcomed to visit and in particular, they host a Wednesday “Noontime Nourishment” program of light lunch, informal worship, teaching, and fellowship. Even those not of the Christian faith will appreciate this striking, welcoming house of worship and the congregation is a great example of the many energetic spiritual communities in the city.
I Want Your Help!
If you’ve discovered the world’s most charming wine bar hidden about 200 meters from the Spanish Steps, or a tiny public park just steps away from Dublin's Trinity College, or a quirky museum hiding next to the London Eye, or an art filled café with killer pastry behind your dry business hotel, I want to hear about it! I would love to learn about the hidden gems you’ve encountered on your travels and I eagerly await suggestions on where I can discover more of my own.
As always, I welcome and encourage your comments. Have you ever found the proverbial hidden gem tucked away beside a popular, mainstream attraction?
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My tour of the Hall of Fame was compliments of Montreal Tourism. This did not affect my review and all opinions remain my own.