“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Destination Information – Montreal, European flair without Euros

This island city in the St. Lawrence River has Europe’s old world charm and cafe culture without the long flight and unfavorable currency exchange. In a recent story, the Associated Press describes Montreal as maintaining the culture and language established by its first French settlers in 1642, while adding some new world ingredients. You can stroll down cobblestone streets in Old Montreal, touring la belle ville by foot. Montreal’s Web site has a comprehensive walking tour guide map.

If walking’s not your thing, hop on the metro. The city’s STM (Societe de transport de Montreal ) will efficiently take you between sightseeing spots across the island for just $2.50 (Canadian $2.75) a ride and a transfer slip enables you to switch between the metro and bus at no extra cost. An unlimited tourist pass is available for $8 (CA$9) a day or $15.30 (CA$17) for three days. A number of lines are linked to the Underground City, one of the world’s longest underground pedestrian networks of shops and walkways.

Montreal has some fabulous city-based B&Bs. Or if you’re up for hosteling and sharing a room of three, four or six people, you can stay in downtown Montreal for $28 (CA$31) a night. An annual summer hotel promotion called "Montreal Sweet Deals" offers a third night at half-price if you book two nights in various hotels. This year because of the economy, some hotels are offering the third night free. (In winter, the promotion typically offers a second night at half-price.)

For an authentic eating experience, try one of the city’s affordable public markets – Jean Talon, Maisonneuve and Atwater Market are three of the most famous. Before dinner, you can join the locals for the nightly "cinq a sept " (a 5-7 p.m. cocktail) when popular bars along St. Laurent, St. Denis and around the Plateau and Latin Quarter neighborhoods offer specials: two or three drinks for the price of one.

Look out for restaurants with the "Apportez-Votre Vin " (bring your own wine) signs. Restaurants that serve their own alcohol charge a high mark-up per bottle to cover the cost of the license required. You can also bring beer.

Of course, you can’t leave the city without trying poutine, a messy melange of fries, gravy and cheese curds. Sounds odd, but it is a must-try. Let the smell of freshly baked bagels guide you to Saint-Viateur Bagels on 263 Saint-Viateur Ouest street.

Plan ahead to next summer and visit in early July when the sounds of jazz take over the city during the Montreal International Jazz Festival . The jazz event is always followed by the Just For Laughs festival, running this year through July 26.

Or consider visiting in the winter. The Montreal High Lights Festival at the end of February features free ice skating, fireworks, live music and the Montreal All-Nighter, when galleries, theaters and dance venues stay open through the night. The 10-day festival also features a host of internationally renowned chefs who take residence in some of the city’s best restaurants.

The Redpath Museum exhibits over 17,000 anthropological and archaeological artifacts covering Ancient Egypt, South America, and more, from dinosaur bones to fossils to Egyptian mummies. It’s a great place for kids, offering an interactive learning experience. The permanent collection at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts is free at all times. And that’s just the tip of the museum experience in Montreal. Many museums in Montreal are free, but for those that aren’t, think about the Montreal Museums Pass , $41 (CA$45). For three consecutive days, you can visit 34 various museums and have unlimited access to the metro and bus.

Walk, bike or drive up to the summit of Mount Royal for a great panoramic view of the city. (The trek is approximately 45 minutes by foot.) From May to October you can enjoy the Tams Tams, an outdoor hippie-fest drum jam session on Sunday mornings (located around the monument to Sir George-Etienne Cartier). You can also check out the Piknic Electronik , an open-air electronic music event, also hosted every Sunday. There’s a $9 (CA$10) entrance fee, but it’s worth it if you’re looking for a unique, family-friendly Sunday in the lovely city.