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Here’s the great thing about Montreal: It’s less than an hour flight from JFK. Wait, let me rephrase. It’s supposed to be less than an hour flight from JFK, unless both Delta Air Lines and JFK team up to turn your allegedly brief trip into an epic saga.

It all started when, after boarding the plane in record time, maintenance decided to check the tires only to discover that one of them needed changing (perhaps something to check ahead of time, boys?). After deboarding and reboarding (and another two hours of sitting on the runway due to signal chaos), finally we were airborne (and all a little cranky).

But despite the headaches of JFK and Delta, the arrival in Montreal is so pleasant that it’s easy to transition seamlessly into laid-back European mode.

How could you not love this city? It’s a destination for Francophiles, artists, musicians, foodies, barflies, young, old….the list goes on. Home to four universities, the city has 40,000 college students, which breathes energetic life into sleepy, cobblestoned streets. Case in point: Every Sunday night in the summer, Montreal is home to Piknic Électronik – an all-day outdoor festival with wine and electronic music that only gets more and more frenetic as the night goes on (and inebriation sets in). Around 10 p.m. the scene erupts into an all-out dance party – on a Sunday night. Who doesn’t love coping with the Sunday night blues by grinding up with their fellow neighbor on a wine buzz with a fresh suntan? Ahh youth.

Tomorrow is set aside for a full day of exploration, but this evening we were given a taste of local cuisine at Restaurant L’Autre Version. The restaurant sits in a building that dates back over two hundred years. Inside the atmosphere is modern and urban, while the back garden is more Provence-meets-Miami with ivy-covered walls and canopied daybeds. Chef Pascal Cormier came out to greet our table (and I was not disappointed…hello ruggedly handsome chef with a French accent…) to talk about his menu of Mediterranean-inspired dishes. I opted for the venison tartare and grilled mahi-mahi served ‘puttanesca’ style with Kalamata olives and capers.

Tonight we crash at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal in the heart of downtown. Tomorrow is devoted to a culinary tour of the city and individual exploration. Not bad for a little taste of Europe just an hour outside of New York…assuming JFK will actually let you leave.

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I know I typically wow you all with the hot new scene, but you may be shocked to know that I am often sorely out of the loop. Fortunately I have a circle of people whom I can easily contact for the latest scoop on dining, technology, local news and yes, sometimes travel.

Over the summer I met a good friend for dinner at  an adorable French bistro in Long Island City (another tale for another time) and she told me all about Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list and book unique spaces around the world either online or from their iPhone. (She is very tech-savvy.) Seriously this site has everything from castles to sailboats to apartments. It’s a great way for people to showcase their spectacular spaces and have visitors come rent them out to see how the other half lives.

So far Airbnb exists in over 16,000 cities in over 186 countries with over 2 million nights already booked. It’s like sleepover social networking.

How to book:
1. Find your space using the search page to find a property. Enter dates you need and browse availability.
2. Book it by entering your credit card information (it’s a secure site) and within 24 hours the host will accept your request. (Note: Hosts can also choose to deny if you do not seem stand-up.) After confirmation the exact address will be distributed.
3. Travel. Get your itinerary details and enjoy!

How to host:
1. Create an Airbnb profile and list your space with photos, price and availability. Listing is free!
2. Answer guest questions using the onsite messaging system. You can feel free to accept or decline requests.
3. Host your guest! You will be paid 24 hours after they check in.

Are your tastes more of the silver spoon variety? Fear not. I’ve just received word that Airbnb now has an “In the Lap of Luxury Collection.” Travelers can use the site to now access some of the world’s most in-demand accommodations (think a ski lodge in Squaw Valley, a private island in Fiji, or yacht cruising in Miami).

Get clicking friends. If you like to travel and mingle, this is right up your alley, and the friends I have who have used this service say it is truly memorable.