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More to Montreal | The Star

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MONTREAL—Its cobblestone streets and French architecture make Old Montreal, the original settlement on the St. Lawrence Seaway, compelling. But Montreal, now 376 years old, also has much to offer in its surrounding neighbourhoods. From the new restaurants of the Gay Village to the annually updated murals of the Plateau and the trendy shopping of Mile End, the city’s districts make a strong case for buying a subway pass. Street festivals, outdoor performances, pop-up markets: Montreal so likes to mingle that even tourism boosters call it “the smoking and drinking section of Canada.” Come for the innovative food and drink — namely, the recently opened natural wine bars, speakeasies and restaurants serving Quebecois small plates — and stay for the culture, especially the new mural tours, digital light shows and symphonic experiments.

Friday3 p.m. Meet Montreal’s masters

The expansive Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is known for its vast collection, including encyclopedic holdings of graphic and decorative arts. Narrow it down by focusing on its Quebecois and Canadian art housed in a former Romanesque Revival church, one of five pavilions at the museum. Start at the top level with Inuit art and work your way down over five more levels, progressing from the 1700s to the 1970s. This is an immersive dive into Quebecois painting and the talents of Montrealers specifically, starring the moody landscapes of James Wilson Morrice, 1920s modernist portraits from the Beaver Hall Group, the urban landscapes of Marc-Aurèle Fortin and the abstractions by Jean-Paul Riopelle.

6 p.m. Cathedral of Light

Montreal is a city filled with churches, but few match the architectural splendour of the 19th-century Notre-Dame Basilica whose original Protestant designer, James O’Donnell, was so moved by the work that he converted to Catholicism when he finished the job. In its new sound and light show, Aura (admission, $24.50), the neo-Gothic interiors get the 21st-century digital treatment from Moment Factory, the Montreal-based multimedia studio that is also responsible for the climate-influenced lighting of the river-spanning Jacques Cartier Bridge. The 20-minute sound-and-light spectacle traces the arches, columns, altar and vaulted ceiling in colourful rays and uses them as canvases for projected images of lightning, shooting stars, crashing waves and autumnal leaves, all of which generate non-denominational awe.

7:30 p.m. Village People

When chef Antonin Mousseau-Rivard opened Le Mousso in 2015, it became an instant classic for inventive set-menu meals in a laid-back setting where diners could hear the jovial staff shouting out orders in the subterranean kitchen. Now the team has expanded, opening Le Petit Mousso, offering an à la carte sample of Le Mousso in the original space and moving its parent next door. The menu changes frequently but may include bites like a foie gras nub within a cloud of cotton candy and crab folded taco-style in a thin slice of rutabaga (dishes run from about $15 to $85). The grazing format makes it easier to hit two hot spots in one trip to the Gay Village neighbourhood. Head around the corner to Caribbean-rum-centric Agrikol, backed by Win Butler and Régine Chassagne of the band Arcade Fire, for Haitian beignets and a ti-punch.

Saturday10 a.m. Street Art Stroll

In the past five years, the commercial buildings lining St.-Laurent Boulevard in the Plateau district have emerged as a gallery for street artists in Montreal, and many of the walls are painted over during its annual Mural Festival in June. Take a two-hour walk ($25) to two dozen of these vibrant works with the mural tour from Spade Palacio, an innovative company run by Montrealers Danny Pavlopoulos and Anne-Marie Pellerin, who are so keen on their city they leave tour-goers with a list of their favourite bars, breweries, coffee shops and restaurants. The tour visits Kevin Ledo’s monumental portrait of the late Leonard Cohen; local street artist Fluke’s depiction of Jackie Robinson, who first played professional baseball in Montreal; and a 2018 contribution by Michael Reeder facing the mural-ringed parking lot that is the centre of the annual festival.

Noon. A Storied Sandwich

Montreal is known for its bagels, but its Jewish community has also made smoked meat a culinary centrepiece of the city’s delicatessens. Join the line at Schwartz’s Deli, which has been smoking brisket since Reuben Schwartz, an immigrant from Romania, opened shop in 1928. The narrow room festooned in old press clippings is perpetually crowded, and good cheer prevails at shared tables and counter stools. The substantial smoked meat sandwich ($9.95) comes with a generous dousing of yellow mustard and is accompanied by a large dill pickle and a black cherry soda.

1 p.m. Style by the Mile

Montreal’s creative class — a group that includes Cirque du Soleil performers, and digital art and video game makers who helped the city earn UNESCO’s City of Design distinction — surfaces in striking street fashion, and the Mile End neighbourhood is the best place to shop for Montreal-made style. Annex Vintage combines carefully selected thrift items with Stay Home Club T-shirts, pins and patches. Designer Sabina Barilà sells her vintage-inspired wrap dresses and striped palazzo pants at La Montréalaise Atelier. Yul Designs showcases the work of local fashion, graphics, housewares and jewelry designers. Lowell Mtl sells locally made leather bags, with several styles named after Montreal neighbourhoods. Nearby cafés provide ample respite, including Brooklyn Cantine, where sidewalk seating consists of vintage folding lawn chairs, or the competing bagel shops Fairmount and St-Viateur.

5 p.m. A Movable Feast

Judging by the number of new wine bars, Montrealers love natural wine. Follow the throngs to the new Mon Lapin in Little Italy. From the owners of the acclaimed restaurant Joe Beef, Mon Lapin (meaning My Rabbit) serves mostly small plates on a daily-changing menu — recent dishes included peppered whelks ($13) and duck with rhubarb ($25) — in a small and perpetually packed room decorated in cheeky rabbit-themed art. The place does not take reservations, so if you are squeezed out, head over to Montréal Plaza. Its partners, Charles-Antoine Crête and Cheryl Johnson, formerly worked at the high-end Le Toqué downtown. Here, in an energetic brasserie with an open kitchen, they let their hair down — the Star Wars theme song plays during birthday celebrations — but keep culinary standards high. Specials may include succulent lobster salad that arrives under the shell ($25) or veal heart shaved in a salad ($21).

8 p.m. Culture Trip

Montreal’s cultural scene covers the spectrum, from circus troops and comedy festivals to theatre in both English and French, the Montreal Opera, Grand Ballet and the symphony. The multi-venue Place des Arts makes one-stop shopping for many performing arts companies. A ticket to the Montréal Symphony Orchestra, directed by conductor Kent Nagano, provides entree to the acoustically state-of-the-art, 2,100-seat concert hall the Maison Symphonique de Montréal, where programming ranges from the classics to science fiction soundtracks.

10 p.m. Speakeasy Hour

Those in the know in Montreal scuttle off to drink at secret addresses in increasingly hard-to-find bars. Among a pair of newcomers, the Coldroom in Old Montreal is marked by a black door with a duck logo in the cement threshold. Ring the bell and a staffer guides you through a warren of pipelined stairways to the basement bar, a circa 1887 cold storage cellar, where bartenders specialize in seasonal cocktails like summer’s gin-basil-cucumber-green-strawberry Starling ($13). Even more discrete, the Cloakroom Bar in the Golden Square Mile is concealed behind a mirror in a men’s clothing shop. Only 25 people can squeeze into the walk-in-closet-size space where bartenders fittingly mix up made-to-order cocktails based on your flavour preferences (starting around $16).

Sunday9 a.m. DIY river tour

Montreal has 650 kilometres of bike paths and an extensive shared bike system called Bixi ($5 for one day; download the Bixi app for maps to bike stations). Pick one up near the river in the Old Port and follow the St. Lawrence to a series of riverside architectural sites starting with Habitat 67, the influential housing project of stacked boxes designed by architect Moshe Safdie for Expo 67. Catch the roughly 9-mile bike path that follows the park-buffered Lachine Canal past the grain silos that attest to the area’s industrial heritage, repurposed warehouses and plenty of new construction. Double back to the canal-side Atwater Market, one of Montreal’s lively green markets, to browse the bakeries, butcher shops, cheese mongers and flower stalls with a café au lait in hand from Première Moisson Atwater bakery.

11 a.m. Anglophile brunch

Reward your cycling efforts with brunch at the grand Bar George, newly opened in what was once the elaborate 1880-vintage home of Sir George Stephen, the former president of the Bank of Montreal and the Canadian Pacific Railway. Grab a seat at the oval bar in the main lounge to gorge visually on 300-year-old stained glass, the carved Ceylon satinwood ceiling and Italian onyx fireplace (impressive even in its day, the house was temporarily dismantled in 1893 and exhibited at the World’s Fair in Chicago). Savour it over George’s full English breakfast ($20), including black pudding and a Bloody Caesar ($11), Canada’s favourite eye-opener.

Lodging

St.-Laurent Boulevard threads through three distinct neighbourhoods — the Plateau, Mile End and Little Italy — that are popular on Airbnb, easily reached by bus and close to the Metro Orange line subway. One-bedroom apartments, condos and lofts in these areas tend to cost between $42 and $128. Airbnb.com.

The modern new Hôtel Monville near Old Montreal has 269 loftlike rooms with window walls, a lobby papered in black and white photos of city landmarks, staff uniforms designed by the local brand Frank and Oak and room service delivery by robot. Rooms from $198; 1041 Bleury St., hotelmonville.com.

Newly renovated, the 950-room Fairmont the Queen Elizabeth now has a trendy lobby bar, Nacarat, and a gourmet food court, Artisans. Guests can splurge on room 1742, the room where John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their 1969 “bed-in” protest of the Vietnam War, newly decorated in period style. Rooms from $299; 900 René Lévesque Boulevard West, Fairmont.com/queen-elizabeth-montrea

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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