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Underground City
Directly under the heart of the city, 19 miles long, the Underground City is probably the most famous aspect of shopping in Montreal. It is a web constantly growing, linking many major buildings and multi-level shopping malls in the area, and a shopper's paradise in any season.

Thousands of boutiques, major hotels, restaurants, universities, dozens of office buildings and attractions are all linked together by brightly lit, scrupulously clean passageways. The "city" is definitely the Montréal of Montrealers offering to more than 500,000 people every day a connection to work, shopping, dining or entertainment.

One major section is reached via Peel and McGill metro stations on the green line, and another via Bonaventure station on the orange line. Safe and sheltered from the elements, the Underground City offers a huge range of goods and services as well as a handy way to get from place to place without weather or traffic problems.

After my official Montreal bike tour, my individual explorations of the Lachine Canal and my chat with André from Ça Roule, I decided to go for a little stroll to explore Montreal’s Port area which was hustling and bustling with celebrations on this Canada Day. I strolled out on Jacques Cartier Pier to an outdoor concert stage where two well-known Canadian singers, Kim Richardson and Sylvie Desgroseillers were enchanting the audience with Mo-Town and R&B melodies.


Kim Richardson

I walked east and happened onto a huge playground area on the little island in the Bassin Bonsecours that was a family entertainment zone. Kids were sliding up and down and in and out of a whole variety of huge inflatable slides. Freestyle skiers were jumping off a large ramp and performing summersaults and various aerial acrobatics. The whole area was packed with people enjoying themselves on a beautiful summer day. I walked up Place Jacques Cartier and into a small pedestrian street called Rue des Amables which is full of portrait artists and galleries. At the end of this little street I found my dinner destination: Galiano’s.


Kids are having a ball

Galiano’s is located in a 200 year-old building on a small cobble-stoned street in Old Montreal. Formerly a “boîte à chanson” it opened its doors eight years ago. The restaurant stretches over two floors with an open area in the middle and a wooden staircase leading up to the second floor with seating on an interior balcony. The street-side patio adds additional seating capacity and ambience to this rustic restaurant.


Rue des Amables, full of artists and galleries

Always a big fan of Italian cuisine, I was looking forward to a filling meal after a day packed with exercise and activities. The whole area around the restaurant and Old Montreal in general was absolutely hustling and bustling with people and everyone was in good spirits, ready to celebrate since it was Canada Day. Street performers were entertaining the crowd. At just before 6 pm it was still a bit early and I was fortunate to find a seat in the lounge area of the restaurant that features several tables flanking an arrangement of leather couches in front of the fireplace.


A crowd gathers in front of Galiano’s

For a few minutes I was able to catch the owner, John Tsinas, to find out more about this culinary establishment. John is part of Montreal’s famous Antonopoulos family that owns a variety of hospitality restaurants and hotels in Old Montreal. His uncles are silent partners in Galiano’s. John’s younger brothers Manny and Peter also work with him in the business. At 40 years of age John is the oldest, and the two other brothers are each five years apart. John says that Manny is the people person and today Manny was seating customers, tryig to keep up with the sheer onslaught of customers that were just streaming into Galiano’s.


John and Manny Tsinas

Manny is also the man with the creative ideas and he was the one that came up with the idea for lounge area and some of the new decorating styles featured at Galianos. Another new idea is to use a small balcony area above the entrance door as a location for a DJ or some live music. And a wine cellar next to the entrance is presently under construction and will be opened in the near future.


My tasty calamari

John has a lot of experience in the hospitality industry: he started working in the restaurant business at age 14 and has worked his way up all the way from the bottom. He even ran a food warehouse for McGill University which included restocking the vending machines and was a waiter at three different restaurants prior to opening Galiano’s. John added that he still thinks like an employee and because of his hands-on experience he always treats his staff members with respect. His working style is very hands-on, he says that today he will be calling out the orders in his kitchen and preparing them for the waiters.


And a very filling Galiano’s Salad

Galiano’s is known for its Italian cuisine and its generous portion sizes. Everything is made from scratch at Galiano’s. John mentioned their signature dishes: Scaloppini alla Veronica, their Antipasto Misto, a Filetto Tre Sapori, home made Lasagna as well as their Quattro Stagioni Pizza. John recommended that I try Galiano’s Calamari Fritti. Just about 10 minutes after my order a steaming plate of juicy and tasty calamari arrived, the perfect introduction to a filling meal. I followed it up with a Galiano Salad: a huge plate of salad with cold cuts and cheese. John wasn’t kidding when he talked about huge portion sizes!


View down from the second floor

John of course had to get back to work after our little chat, but I thoroughly enjoyed my evening meal and by the time I was finished, the lineup was stretching all the way out the door and down the street. Galiano’s is obviously a favourite destination for many in Old Montreal and for me it was a great starting point for my evening discoveries which would include the official Canada Day Celebrations and a big concert in the Old Port of Montreal.

Susanne Pacher is the publisher of Travel and Transitions (www.travelandtransitions.com), a popular web portal for unconventional travel & cross-cultural connections. Check out our brand new section featuring FREE ebooks about travel.

photo credit-www.travelandtransitions.com

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