It’s been forever since I’ve done one of these! This summer we were fortunate enough to take our summer vacation in Canada! It was a dream come true, because it’s a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I’ve never been outside of the country until then either, so I got to check two things off of my bucket list.
Getting our passports was fairly easy and painless (except for the price, eek!), until it came to our sons’. He was barely 2 at the time, and he was not having the “sit alone on a stool, sit still and don’t smile” shtick. Many pictures later, the postal worker/photographer finally got one that “should” work. He couldn’t guarantee they wouldn’t send it back however, because of our sons expression and the fact that he was slightly turned.
The following 6 weeks, I was a nervous wreck waiting for that passport to come in. We were cutting it close, and only had about 6 weeks until we departed on our trip. There was no time for errors! Luckily though, days before we left, they all came in without a hitch. Road trip time!!!
We started our drive in Vermont, meeting up with my lovely in-laws (seriously, I adore them). We drove up together to the border, where for some reason I was a nervous wreck. I can’t say why I was so nervous. Maybe because I was afraid they wouldn’t let us in? Perhaps it was the very official seriousness of crossing a border.
They had many questions to ask as to what our business was in Canada and why we were crossing in Vermont if we were from New York. Luckily my husband was driving, he’s a seasoned traveler and has gone out of the country many a time before. Within about a minute, we went from miles per hour to kilometers per hour and saw that lovely “Bonjour” sign. We were officially on vacation.
The traffic getting into Montreal was atrocious! It was about the kind of traffic you could expect from a booming metropolis, bumper to bumper and frequent changing of lanes with no warning. After about 2 hours trying to cross the bridge and get into the city, we arrived at the very trendy Hotel Alt in the Griffintown district.
I was excited to be in Quebec, where french is their first language, because I got to dust off the two years of french I learned (yet sadly didn’t retain) in high school. It made navigating through the tight streets of Montreal not so foreign and difficult. I do wish, however, that I had brushed up on the traffic laws before we left. Can I make a right on red? What does the flashing green light mean? To answer those questions, no you cannot make a right on red anywhere on the island of Montreal. The flashing green is an advanced green, and it is basically Americas left turn green arrow.
Immediately upon entering our room, it became apparent that they really take pride in being ecologically friendly, and I am somebody who absolutely 100% appreciates that. The toilets had a button for number one and a button for number two that controlled the amount of water used to flush. The toiletries bottles were attached to the wall of the shower and the wall by the sink and were refilled as needed, reducing the waste in a big way. The lights were controlled by your key card. Upon entering you’d place your key in the slot by the door, and then you were able to use the light switches. When you had to leave your room, you take that key card out. Thus rendering the lights useless, eliminating the chance you’d forget to shut them off and use energy that needn’t be used.
I went from marveling in awe at the eco friendliness of the city, to marveling in awe at the view we had. It was beautiful and busy, the perfect place to people watch. It reminded me of what I imagine NYC to be like, with more people on foot than in cars and there never being a moment where it’s quiet and no ones roaming the street sidewalks. I dream of living in a place where I can walk most anywhere I need to be, how freeing that must be.
We ended the night with dinner at Restaurant ZIBO! Griffintown, which conveniently was located in the same building as the hotel. Even though it was very modern and fancy, they had great options for the kiddos. Going along with the eco-friendliness of Montreal, the kids’ lait (milk 😉 I remembered that) came in short glassware, no plastics involved.
The food was delicious, but different then what I had expected. I ordered a pepperoni pizza for the kids and I, and the pepperoni in Canada is definitely different then it is in the USA. It seemed to be an uncured, natural and more real version of our customary Hormel pepperoni. It was a pleasant surprise, but different!
We started our morning at the Coco Loco breakfast spot, also in the same building as the hotel. This place was ahhhmaazzzing!!! I had such a hard time finding what I wanted to eat because it all looked good! I went with the dulce de leche crepes with a side of their famous potatoes and two poached eggs. Every single one of our meals came with fresh fruit, oh how Montreal just keeps getting better! We actually ate here the next morning too, we just couldn’t get enough of this cooky egg themed place.
I’m normally not one for zoo’s, but I found the Zoo Ecomuseum on TripAdvisor and it seemed like my kind of zoo. About 20 minutes from the city, the Zoo Ecomuseum is a home for for orphaned, injured, and born responsibly in captivity animals who would not survive on their own in the wild. The habitats are made to replicate the natural environment of the animals as closely as possible, with an ample amount of room to roam. They are a member of the Canadian Accredited Zoo and Aquarium, and are a non-profit organization.
Walking through the zoo felt very much like we were walking a trail through the woods. Most of the habitats were enclosed with a barely visible netting. The amount of nature growing inside of them made spotting the animals feel like you were out in the wild with them searching for a sign of their existence. It all felt so natural and made the experience that much more enjoyable. The kids felt so accomplished when they found what they were searching for.
We will definitely being going back, maybe next time in the winter to see the reindeer in all of their white snow blanketed glory.
Our last dinner here was spent at the Industria Pizzeria + Bar Griffintown. I know I know, pizza again? Yes sir/m’am, pizza again. Although not really, as they had many more Italian options other than pizza. After our daughter was finished charming and talking the ear off of the friendly beautiful hostess, we had a seat with a great view of the streets.
I ordered the gnocchi in what I believe was a pomodoro sauce, and whooooeeee, I didn’t choose wrong! Fluffy little potato pasta pillows, I can’t get enough of gnocchi. We ordered one of Canada’s famous “beaver tail” deserts to take up to our room. As we ate our dessert we watched the annual white house fireworks display because it happened to be the 4th of July. Even though I missed home on such a day, I was really enjoying our time there.
Our Departure 🙁
We only experienced a mere speck of the great city that is Montreal. Another trip up there, but in a different part of town, is definitely in order for the future. Even then it still probably won’t be enough time spent there!
We were sad to bid adieu to my in-laws and set sail (or pedal in our case) onto Edmundston, New Brunswick to stay the night, our halfway point to Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Au Revoir for now!