Sunday, March 27, 2011


We took a couple trips during Spring Break this year. First we traveled to Bethlehem, PA to visit Kacey's family for a couple days and Nolan had lots of fun playing with Sophia, Kali and Brenna.

Then this past week we loaded up the car and headed towards Montreal! We found a place with an indoor pool so it would feel a little like Spring Break. On our way up on Wednesday, we stopped off at King Arthur's Flour. We bought some, you guessed it, flour, as well as lunch. And since we were there, we drove around Dartmouth for a few minutes. It was a nice stop, but we had another 3 hours of driving.

The first evening we were there we walked to the underground mall as we were pretty close. Well, a lot of it closes by 6pm and there isn't much food in the area. So after a brief walk, we decided to just eat at the hotel restaurant as we had a discount and Nolan ate free (we normally would never eat at the hotel).

Thursday we got up, got some free breakfast, and headed to the pool! It was a pretty good size heated indoor salt water pool and Nolan had lots of fun. After 30-45 minutes we headed up to change so we could head down to Old Montreal. Our first stop was Notre Dame and there was a tour right as we got there so we were able to enjoy that. This church was interesting and different than most we have seen. The colors were unique and the structure was wood with a stone facade. The wood structure allows for windows in the ceiling! We enjoyed our tour but were very hungry. We found a little Italian restaurant a couple blocks away so we ate at Da Franco Ristorante. The food was ok and the prices were reasonable (will Kacey and I ever find great Italian food again??).

Next we walked to the Centre de Céramique (ceramics gallery). Kacey looked around for a bit then we headed on our way. We walked down toward the river, walked by some shops, and headed for the Bonsecours Market. This place wasn't that lively, probably due to the time of year. We found some real maple syrup here to bring back home. Next we decided to just walk around more of Old Montreal to find a place to eat for dinner. Kacey spotted a store called Canadian Maple Delights, so we went in. I wanted to eat some maple stuff, so while I sampled a couple of their ice creams, I saw the ultimate dessert. It is called the Da Vinci. Two shots of espresso, two scoops of maple ice cream with maple chunks and whip cream on top. Nolan was asleep so I ventured downstairs to check out their Maple Museum. It was some interesting reading. We weren't super hungry but it was time to eat a little something. We spotted a Tapas place called Santos. The food was really good and it was good we weren't too hungry; it was expensive! After eating we headed back to the hotel to find some food for Nolan to eat and so we could rest for the night.

The next day we figured we would get in a little pool time before heading back to Old Montreal. Our goal was to go to the Centre d'histoire de Montréal. We walked to Old Montreal and found the museum pretty quick. It had a lot of great information on the history of Montreal and we enjoyed our visit. But, it was now time for lunch and it was time for crêpes! We found a place that wasn't too expensive called the Marché de la Villette. The food was really good; I got a crepe with ham and cheese and a little salad and Kacey got a three cheese crepe. Nolan even got a little one, but he didn't really eat it (so I did). Then the nice manager brought Nolan out a piece of Belgian waffle. But it was time for our next endeavor, Mount Royal. Parc du Mont-Royal is a large park on a hill (not a mountain) that overlooks Montreal. We drove up and parked near the Smith House so we could walk out to the scenic overlook at the Chalet. It wasn't too far of a hike, but with the bitter wind and slushy/icy walkway, it wasn't the nicest hike. The view from the lookout is not quite as grand as I expected, but it was still nice. The view is blocked by trees to the sides and in the middle the skyline is filled with the large buildings of Montreal (and you can only barely see the river). I can see how in the summer this park would be a great hangout for hiker, bikers, runners, and families.

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Panoramic view from the Chalet atop Mont Royal.

On our way down we stopped at the other overlook but this view isn't as great and looks toward a different part of Montreal. From here, though, you can see the Olympic Stadium.

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Panoramic view looking east toward Olympic Stadium.

The last thing to do for the day was find some dinner. While driving to the park we noticed a few restaurants in another direction than we had walked from the hotel, so we checked those out on foot. Unfortunately they didn't see like great options, but we did find Caffe & Cucina. We got our hopes up with Italian in the name so we checked out the menu. We decided to give it a try. Nolan and I got pizzas and Kacey got mussels. The food was pretty good! There may be better pizza somewhere else in Montreal but if you are in this area give it a try! Since we were on vacation we decided to treat ourselves to some chocolate cake that evening, which we seldom do. It was very tasty. But it was time for rest as we had a couple more places to visit the next day before driving back to Boston.

After our last free breakfast we packed up the car and headed out to Olympic Stadium (be weary of traffic signals, they are generally not hanging over the street and often hard to spot as they appear at more intersections than expected and blend in well; we almost ran a few). I wasn't sure if we would be able to get in or not, or whether we would maybe hit the Biodome. Well, we could do neither. I thought Biodome was free, but it was like $16/person, and small, and crowded, so no. The stadium we could walk in the ticket area, but you could only go in if you had tickets to an event. Oh well. Then we were hoping to find a grassy area to walk around but there was only some back near where we parked. No wonder the locals call this place the big mistake.

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Panoramic view of Olympic Stadium.

Our last stop was going to first be lunch somewhere and then a stop at St. Helen's Island on the way out of Montreal. We found a little diner called Miami Deli. This looked like a local favorite type place. I got another smoked meat sandwich (very similar to corned beef) and Kacey got fish n chips (looked so-so). We headed out to St. Helen's Island to drive around the Parc Jean-Drapeau. We didn't have a ton of time, but there also isn't much to do here other than walk around, and it was cold and snow covered. We drove to a parking lot near the water and got some nice pictures of Montreal. We found the Biosphere (this is what was free) but it didn't look that enticing. So we headed out on our journey back to Boston.

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Panoramic view of Montreal from St. Helen's Island.

On our way home, we had a stop or two we wanted to make. We wanted to stop in Burlington for a view of the town and Lake Champlain. This is a nice looking cozy little town. We stopped enough to stretch our legs and get some pictures of the lake and got back on the road (and filled up on gas as Canada is more expensive). As we were driving through Vermont Kacey found an advertisement for Ben & Jerry's; it was right off the interstate about 10 mines further down the road. So we called information and decided to stop in. While tours were done for the day and production was not up, it was still a cool little place to see and visit if only for a few minutes.

Check out our pictures here. S.V.P! (