Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Trip to Montreal

A few weeks ago, our friends Christian and Laci had a brilliant idea.  It was time for an Alford/Gentry vacation...and the perfect destination was deemed Montreal!  I managed to find us a great deal on hotel rooms using (I'm such a huge fan after getting 65% off in Saratoga Springs) that were right in the middle of downtown.  Perfect for walking or catching the subway for all of our excursions!

We ended up leaving Boston a little later than planned on Friday night.  Instead of 6:30/7, we left after 8, and we drove through the night into Canada.  Good news...there was no traffic at the border.  Bad news...we got in at 2:30am.  Thankfully you can sleep in on vacation, so we decided to start our Saturday at 10am.  We found a cute coffee shop (Second Cup) around the corner from our hotel and got a quick breakfast before heading to the Biodome and Botanical Gardens.  These attractions are located on either side of the Olympic stadium, which was also cool to see.

Berkeley had a good time with the dandelions. 

Christian pouting because he came in 3rd.
After waiting in a giant line for tickets at the Botanical Gardens, we decided to take the bus to the Biodome and start there.  The building was originally constructed for the '76 Olympics and lets you walk through each of the four ecosystems found in the Americas: the Tropical Forest, the Laurentian Forest, the Saint Lawrence Marine Eco-system, and a polar area that has both Arctic and Antarctic areas.

Each are done really well with beautiful surroundings and lots of animals.  There are birds, monkeys, fish, otters and penguins everywhere!  This is not your typical sleeping animals zoo - all the animals were up and moving, which made for a really fun time!

This cute orange monkey wouldn't turn around and look at me.  Super shy...

Berkeley loooved the fish!

After the Biodome, we caught the bus back to the Botanical Gardens.  This is considered one of the most important botanical gardens in the world because of the extent of it's collection and facilities.  You could seriously spend an entire day here - there is SO much to see.  I'd definitely recommend visiting the gardens on a weekday.  The Saturday traffic was totally overwhelming and eventually prompted us to leave before seeing everything.  People. Were. Everywhere.

Part of the garden is broken up into different exhibits - the Chinese Garden, the Japanese Garden, the First Nations Garden, and the Alpine Garden.  My favorite was the Chinese Garden.  There were traditional Chinese buildings and plants along winding paths, as well as mesh figures throughout.  There were lanterns in all of these figures, so if you visit at night they're all lit up among the water and plants, which I imagine is beautiful.

The other main features of the garden are the HUGE carved of the coolest things I've seen in a while!  They were intricate, sometimes tiny, other times gigantic, and so creative.  You're going to love these...

The giant piano.  No one could figure out why there was a waterfall and flying turtle coming out of it.  Silly Canada...

A turtle mosaic made of apples!

Once we made our way through all the large, carved hedges, we decided to head out.  The people became too much.  We caught the subway to Place des Arts and found some food, passing this beautiful church along the way.  

Dinner was fine, but what was fantastic was dessert.  We stopped into Reuben's Deli and decided to take some cake back to our hotel.  Just look at this...YUM.  Our favorites were the carrot cake and the double chocolate cake.  The cheesecake was "eh"...too much ricotta for me, but if you're into that kind of thing you'll love it.  Splitting 4 different kinds of cake at 11pm...not a bad way to end your first day of vacation!  

The next morning we looked up a place to get brunch.  Eggspectation got great reviews, so we decided to try it out.  What a good decision.  The food was fantastic - great eggs, amazing french toast, and a large (but not overwhelming) menu!  Our waiter was a trip too, which made the morning fun...and you could even sign the wall!

After brunch we headed down the street to Suite 88 chocolates (since we hadn't eaten enough this trip...).  The shop is pretty and light...and filled with BEAUTIFUL treats.  These were some of the most beautiful chocolates I've ever seen.  The staff was so nice and told us all about the options and even let us try a few.  We left with a few truffles, a box of chocolate "mosaics", and a handful of tiny milk chocolates.  

On the way out, I mentioned that if I'd known they had gelato, I might have just skipped brunch to have ice cream.  The staff, feeling my pain, told us we could try some of it if we wanted, so we obviously took her up on that!  We had (giant) samples of 2 or 3 flavors each, and then she went into the back and gave us a new flavor they were working on to get our opinion!  

After the chocolate shop, we decided it was time for some walking, so we headed to Old Montreal.  It's truly a beautiful city!

This was my second time there, and I still haven't seen everything I'd like to.  Who's up for another quick trip?


  1. I love Montreal in the summer time. I live in Ontario (Toronto) so it is an hr flight or a 5 hr drive to Montreal. Have you been to Toronto?

  2. I've never been and it looks like a great city to visit. The shrubs in that park are awesome!!!

    By the way I are you on twitter? I meant to tell you that me and a few other bloggers (2 I've met and 2 I haven't) are going to The Paint Bar on Nov 22. Let me know if you want to join us and I'll give you the info.

  3. Wow!! Lauren, so beautiful. I have enjoyed all the beautiful pictures. You are a master with your blog and I feel like I have been there. Thank you!! You are special.

  4. Funnest trip ever! We need to do another road trip soon, perhaps something a little longer.