A Weekend in Montreal

Apparently my birthday was the same weekend as a Civic Holiday (a.k.a., "We Need a Long Weekend Now") in Canada, so it seemed like a good time for Debbie and Chris to drive up to Montreal from Ottawa and for us to fly in and have a good visit. We were able to get cheap tickets on Porter Air (though Robert kept grousing about the change of planes in Toronto) and I booked us all an AirBnB in the Village, just two blocks off St. Catherine Street, near lots of restaurants and the Beaudry subway station. Here are some pictures from our weekend, starting with Samantha's favorite Canadian coin, above (she told long stories about it, and named the turtles, and prized it--until it disappeared a day after we returned home, sadly).

Helen liked the shortbread cookies that Porter gives you, and Robert liked the lounge in the Toronto City Airport, with free coffee and bottled water and comfy chairs. Our kids ate apples and bagels on the flight (Samantha is signing "apple" and Helen is just eating one) and played Hive in between flights, and we had a good trip over despite the early morning departure.

We dropped our bags at the apartment, which was still being cleaned, and went to Poutineville for lunch--a basic poutine, and their Zeus poutine with "smashed" fried potatoes. Gyro meat, feta as well as curds, tomatoes--I loved it! We also shared a lychee sangria. From there we walked over to La Diperie, for $1 soft serve ice cream cones, plus a $1 dip in your choice of thirty flavors--Robert had pistachio, I had salted caramel one day and maple the next, Samantha had milk chocolate two days in a row, and Marcus had cookie dough. What fun! Helen loved that the cones were the perfect size for her to hold--after I'd eaten all the dip off mine, that is.

We walked along St. Catherine Street and then went back to the apartment to relax, read, and play games a bit before going out for dinner--a progressive series of stops including decent poke and delectable salmon hako at Sushi Stop, empanadas across the street, and an amazing chocolate-passionfruit ice cream swirl over custard in a fish cake cone. Wow!

Then we made it a relatively early night, and the next morning ate cereal and yogurt (and cherries and chocolates, depending on who you asked) in the apartment before taking the subway to the Biodome. The four ecosystems (rainforests; maple forests--which I didn't know were a thing; St. Lawrence waterways--which I knew even less was a thing; and the sub-polar regions) were all really neat to walk through. I loved the puffins and a really active otter, as well as the sloth in the rainforest. Helen started identifying ducks and calling them by name, and she would laugh and jump with glee watching the penguins jump into the water. Robert really liked watching ducks swimming from underneath.

Debbie and Chris arrived while we were still out, and then we wandered around with them a little and had more ice cream before going back and talking at the apartment in the afternoon. It was pretty hot, and the air conditioning felt nice. When everyone was rested we went out again for dinner and walked to Chinatown, to a place that specialized in dumplings and had steamed or fried dumplings in many different varieties, 15 to an order. Robert was skeptical, but it was actually really good--we had fried beef and onion, steamed lamb and scallion, fried pork and mushroom, fried pork-szechuan pickle-mussel (not my favorite...), and steamed tomato and egg. Then we walked over to the pedestrian street in Chinatown and wandered up and down, having a scenic tour of people-watching (there was a Cosplay/gamer con nearby, so the people-watching really was better than usual) and desserts. We managed to put away a pig bao that had chocolate inside, a Miffy bao with sweet potato, a shaved ice, a Hong Kong waffle with ice cream and maple syrup (of course), a bubble tea, and some Dragon's Beard candy. It rained off and on, but except for Chris, we aren't made of sugar and don't melt, so we all managed to survive.

On Saturday we had some more bao in the apartment for breakfast (char siu, pork and cabbage, and chicken and mushroom), and then we headed out to the Jean Talon market.

Above, assorted subway rides (the kids really loved the inclinators) and below, some great Canadian potato chips and a nice mural we saw around town.

At the market we had bagels from O-Bagel (Montreal spice with maple-acorn cream cheese for the win!), hot and cold chocolate and mochas from Juliette et Chocolat, great fruit popsicles from Pops, lots of samples of fruit and sausages and cheeses, two different bags of cheese curds, some red currant lemonade, some red currants (Marcus ate an entire pint of them over two days--Helen helped, a bit, too), beautiful Rainier cherries for $3 a pound, maple-sweetened cola, spruce soda, some really sub-par poutine, and some more hako and sushi. We basically ate from breakfast straight through "lunch," and then decided to go back to the apartment to rest and digest.

In the late afternoon we went out to the Old Port, where Samantha did remote-controlled sailboats and then a ropes course and three different ziplines. She was so brave and did great on them all. Debbie wanted to go on the giant adult zipline, but never got around to it, and everyone got cricks in their necks staring up at Samantha for so long.



We walked around the Port a little then, but decided it was too crowded, touristy, and smokey, and none of us really wanted to eat there, so we took a bus up to Schwartz's, where there was still a wait, but at least some delicious smoked meat at the end of it. The waiters had character, as did the homeless guy outside (he gave Samantha a nickel with an interesting design on it, because he heard her talking about her favorite coin), and even though Robert complained that the meat was overrated and we were shorted on pickles, we still had a good time.

From there we walked to P'tit Creux du Plateau for their churro ice cream cone, in another light drizzle, and then took the subway back to our apartment around 10:00. Somehow we managed to miss the grand finale of the fireworks competition, though, unfortunately.

On Sunday morning, Samantha posed with Debbie at the hair-washing station in the apartment we were staying in (the AirBnB host does hair there), and then we went to brunch around the corner at L'Oeufrier, where the kids had crepe nutellas, I had a mac and cheese with spinach and asparagus and then a fried egg and hollandaise on top, and Robert had breakfast poutine with sausage, bacon, hollandaise, poached eggs, and maple syrup. It was great fun. We stashed our stuff in Debbie and Chris's car, and took the subway to the Insectarium and the Botanical Gardens as our last real stop.

Debbie got a rice krispy treat with crickets in it, which Marcus, Chris, and Robert all sampled as well, and the kids saw an ant farm and a butterfly as big as (Marcus says) a tennis racket. We posed at the old Olympic stadium and also with some flowers, and then it was time to head back.

Finally we grabbed some Portuguese chicken on St. Catherine Street to go, and ate it at the airport. Debbie and Chris had to take an extra day off to recouperate after their "vacation," but I'm sure it was worth it!



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Created: 8/8/17. Last Modified: 8/8/17.