Thursday, August 4, 2016

If wacko Trump is elected, you can't beat the exchange rate in Canada

In downtown Montreal, bicycle lanes are two ways and separated from vehicular traffic by an island, above. A strong U.S. dollar makes Canada a great place to vacation, and that's especially true in the sophisticated, French-speaking city a day's drive from northern New Jersey.


The U.S. dollar equals $1.30 Canadian, so as an American you get more bang for your buck in sophisticated Montreal, where I vacationed for 10 days this summer.

With the possibility wacko racist Donald J. Trump will be elected president, I'm looking north to Canada as a place to take refuge from his madness.

When I attended the International Jazz Festival in Montreal with my wife and son, the favorable exchange rate meant everything cost less -- our hotel, restaurant meals, tickets to concerts, taxis and such everyday purchases as toothpaste.

I used my U.S.-based credit cards for nearly all purchases in Montreal in late June and July, when the U.S. dollar was worth $1.27 to $1.29 Canadian.

But on June 30, I withdrew 60 Canadian dollars or loonies from an ATM just in case I had to pay cash for something.

My bank only debited my account for $47.96, including the ATM fee.

The Eaton Center is part of Underground Montreal, a vast network of offices, hotels, shops, restaurants and concert halls linked by the metro -- the Montreal subway -- that allow residents to get to work and enjoy cultural attractions during the city's brutal winters.

The awning of Sophia's provides a quick French lesson: It's a neighborhood sandwich shop (sandwicherie) with salads (salades) and juice (jus). Nearly all Montrealers are bilingual.

Wrought-iron staircases are a distinctive feature of apartments in Montreal neighborhoods.

Homes on the outskirts of the city, above and below.

Like Manhattan, Montreal is an island city with many ethnic and fine-dining restaurants, and residents who come from all over the world. But this one near the Hyatt Regency Hotel and major concert halls serves the worst version of Vietnamese-style pho -- a noodle soup with an anise-flavored broth -- that my wife and son ever tasted.

A restaurant and bar called Le Date on St. Catherine Street East, in a neighborhood called East Montreal. The city's annual LBGT pride festival will be held from Aug. 8-14.

A free jazz concert, as seen from my 10th-floor hotel room. The Hyatt Regency provided earplugs for guests whose rooms overlooked outdoor performances, which ran from 11 a.m. to midnight.

Talented music students from universities and colleges in Canada, above and below, gave many of the free concerts during the 11-day run of the jazz festival.

One of the student big bands that performed had more than 20 members, including a singer.

Jugglers and acrobats kept the crowd in the plaza amused and entertained.
The fare on the subway and buses in Montreal is $3.25 Canadian, $3 when you buy two trips at a time and $2.70 when you buy 10 trips.

A new, sleeker subway train undergoing tests didn't carry any passengers. Montreal subways ride on rubber wheels.

In Montreal's Chinatown, you'll find Chinese, Vietnamese and Asian fusion restaurants.

Bao Bao Dim Sum, a bakery at 83 Rue de la Guachetiere Ouest in Montreal, offers a wide selection of filled buns from $2 to $10 Canadian, above and below. Takeout only.

A mural just off St. Catherine Street.

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