Montreal – Life on the Island
On our way back from Quebec City, Samira and my next stop was Montreal, Canada’s second largest city (behind Toronto). Only a 2 hour drive from Ottawa, it is always a great destination for a weekend getaway or when you are in need of a change of scenery. The shopping in Montreal is superior to what you would find in Ottawa. Not only are there many shopping districts in the city, but the malls also offer up different stores than what is available in the Nation’s Capital.
To me, Montreal is best visited in the summer. With us visiting in April, unfortunately many of the attractions are still closed from the winter season such as La Ronde (the only Six Flags Park in Canada) or the African Park Safari (where you can actually feed Ostriches, Zebras and Giraffes by hand – very cool). So, given the time of year, one of the places we opted to visit is the Biodome where the climate is moderated all year round. Your entrance fee is $17.75/adult including taxes (this is actually less if you are a resident of Quebec). The Biodome is made up of 5 ecosystems and is completely indoors.
You visit the Tropical Rainforest ecosystem first. It is very warm and humid inside, be prepared to peel off the layers. In this ecosystem you will be able to catch glimpses of monkeys, capybara, many tropical birds and if you are lucky, the neighbourhood sloth.
The Maple Forest features a great deal of Canadian/American wildlife. What is really cool about the Maple Forest is that it offers views of both above and below water level.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence offers an underwater look at the fish native to the St. Lawrence waterway.
The Sub-Antarctic Islands is the only place at the Biodome where the wildlife is closed off behind glass. Still very cool to see the puffins and the penguins!
You should also note that if you are interested in visiting the Botanical Gardens or the Insectarium in addition to the Biodome, there are ticket bundles available so you can save some money.
Located right next to the Biodome is the Olympic Stadium, which was built for the 1976 Summer Olympics. After the Olympics, it became home for the Montreal Expos, but when Montreal lost their MLB team 8 years ago, the stadium is now used for special events, conventions or the occasional Grey Cup. This stadium is the largest in Canada and the tower you can see incorporated into the base of the stadium is known as The Tower of Montreal and is actually the tallest inclined tower in the world.
Montreal is famous for it’s cuisine and a great place to try out some food that Canada (specifically Quebec) is well known for. We made our way to Maamm Bolduc so Samira could try her first poutine. If you aren’t familiar with this, the traditional poutine is a plate of fries with cheese curds and gravy. Many places offer a wide variety of poutine styles that include different meats and even vegetables from time to time. We opted for the traditional poutine. Featured in my picture is a “petite” order for $5.99 plus taxes. Looking back, we should’ve shared a large order for $7.99. This was just way too much food!
You also can’t miss out on Schwartz’s, the best place for Montreal smoked meat in the city. This world famous deli is a popular stop for celebrities and of course the locals.
We ordered a Large Platter to share. This way you get the pile of bread and the pile of meat and you can make your sandwiches the way you like them. Pickles are sold on the side and absolutely humongous, I recommend you get one and share it if there are two of you. The deli is small inside and to be seated with strangers is very common, empty seats will fill up as they become available. We arrived at about 11:20 and didn’t have to wait in line, but as we were leaving, at about noon, it was really starting to fill up.
The island that the city calls home was named Montreal, after the three-peaked hill Mount Royal. Mont Royal Parc to the French, is a favourite for fitness fanatics and nature lovers alike. There are multiple paths to explore and the Chalet viewpoint offers up a gorgeous view of the city. The squirrels and chipmunks are also used to people and will come eat right out of your hand if you are offering up delicious snacks.
Like Quebec City, Montreal also has an Old Historic Sector down on the waterfront. This area is home to the Notre-Dame Basilica, the old Port as well as many shops and restaurants.
I hope you enjoyed visiting Montreal with Samira and I. We had a lovely time, but I won’t lie – I was sure happy to get back to Ontario where we actually repair our roads. 🙂
Thanks for reading!