That Time We Went to Montreal…

The last holiday weekend of summer is a time that you should spend wisely. The end of summer for some means back-to-school, back-to-work (for teachers!) and back to the hustle and bustle of life, leaving memories of warmer temperatures, days at the beach, and cottage vacations behind for another year. With that being said, we knew we wanted to do something exciting for our final long weekend of summer, so what better way to go out with a bang, than by going on a trip! Montreal was where we ended up.

We woke up early on the Saturday morning of Labour Day weekend and were on the road by 5:50am, as we had a full day’s drive ahead of us. Arriving in Montreal by around 3:00pm, we admired all of the gorgeous streets and shops on our drive through the downtown area to get to our hotel. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Downtown and were treated with excellent service. Once we checked in and were settled in our room, we headed out to pick up our Passeport Montreal cards and set out on our Montreal adventure.

Our first activity was our hike up Mont-Royal to catch the breathtaking view of the city below. While we weren’t appropriately dressed for the hike, and didn’t anticipate how much of a hike it was going to be until we were halfway up, it was worth it! Check out our Mont-Royal post for all of the details!

Once we recovered from our hike (up the side of a freaking mountain) we headed over to Au Summit and took in the views from the fantastic glass-enclosed 360 degree observatory. The views were spectacular, and we timed the location of the sun just right to see a golden glow pour over the city in it’s late afternoon hours. (Head over to our post for the Best Views of Montreal to see more photos from Au Summit).IMG_20171004_143408_554IMG_20171004_143444_890IMG_20171004_143522_458

Heading back down to street level, we decided that it was time to eat our first meal in Montreal. Walking down Bleury St., we came across a lovely bistro/pub called “Nyk’s” and spent part of our evening dining on duck confit and drinking the best craft beers in the province. (Check out our Montreal Food Guide post to see all of the delicious meals we had).

Bellies full, we started the walk back to our hotel, only to stumble upon an enormous rave/concert taking place in the middle of the street. Fortunately for us, it was free admission, and upon entering the gates, we learned that it was a Bud Light-hosted party. Making our way up to the stage to catch a better view of the DJ and light show, we spent the rest of our evening dancing to EDM and enjoying the outdoor spectacle.IMG_20170927_073053_700

The next day we woke up early, once again, as we knew that we had a full day of exploring ahead of us. However, upon opening the curtains to view the street below, we were greeted with a downpour of rainy, inclement weather. Knowing that we weren’t going to let rain ruin our weekend getaway, we popped down to our hotel’s front desk and borrow 2 oversized umbrellas from the staff members before heading out for breakfast at La Crepe 2 Go, a delicious creperie.

After eating our delicious breakfast crepes, we hopped in our car and headed to the island where we would first check out the Biosphere, an environmental science museum. This place was quite fascinating, as it provided a lot of information on the environment including how pollution and, well, human life, is affecting the weather, and our earth. There were a lot of different exhibits to explore, but because we were short on time, we didn’t spend more than an hour there. However, if you are interested in learning about environmental sciences, this is definitely the place for you!IMG_20171004_144630_819IMG_20171004_144732_295IMG_20171004_144659_128

Next on the list was a visit to Montreal’s Biodome, which is essentially a zoo-type exhibit for plants and animals that are housed within 4 different living ecosystems in the Americas for you to experience. Check out the Biodome website for a more in-depth explanation, because it was actually very interesting. The line up to get inside was absolutely insane,  but admission was free for us because of our passes so we decided to wait – it was so worth it! We saw a lot of unique plants and animals and learned about their natural habitats. Entertaining for all ages!

Following the Biodome, we visited both the Olympic Tower for more views of the city (did you check out our post about the BEST views in Montreal yet?), as well as the Insectarium and Montreal Botanical Gardens. The Insectarium was surprisingly large, and packed with beautiful insects, both living and preserved. Not to worry though, they were all in enclosed spaces – nothing was wandering around unnoticed!IMG_20171004_151959_556IMG_20171004_152035_318

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Yes, those are ants carrying leaves…like in The Lion King (or, you know, real life).

Although it was raining during our trip to the Botanical Gardens, we had our oversized umbrellas to keep us (mostly) dry! The rain did work out in our favour to an extent, as the gardens were practically empty! We had the entire place to ourselves, which we definitely took to our advantage, photography-wise. There were 3 themed gardens: Chinese, Japanese and North American. Although we didn’t have the chance to explore the final garden due to inclement weather, and the fact that they were closing for the day, we did have a lot of fun at the Chinese and Japanese gardens!IMG_20171005_154741_156IMG_20171005_154822_669IMG_20171005_154905_461IMG_20171005_154946_859

Not having visited anything similar to these attractions before, we were so fascinated with all of the cool insects, and themed gardens available for us to wander through. If you haven’t visited before, we definitely suggest that you add it to your list!

After our soggy trek through the rain, we headed back to our hotel and changed for dinner, which was at a fantastic Mexican restaurant, Escondite, close to our hotel. We ordered some delicious tacos and appetizers, all of which you can see on our post about what we ate during our time in Montreal!

After our late dinner, we headed back to our hotel to rest up for the long drive home that we had ahead of us the following morning. Although quite a jam-packed weekend in la belle province, we certainly had a wonderful time taking in all of the sights of Montreal.

Have you visited Montreal? What did you see and do while you were there? Leave us a comment below and let us know!

–The Calkins’

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