Saturday, April 15, 2017

Montreal Review

We just got back from 2 nights in Montreal. We decided to go there to kick off spring break. It was a place I personally had never visited. It's just over 3 hours away, and the kids have passports, and we figured it would be a fun get-away. Plus, it just happened to fall prior to my birthday. So- we figured we would make it a birthday/spring break trip.

Before the trip, I had carefully researched the perfect hotel. My definition of a "perfect hotel" includes the following: indoor pool for the kids, free breakfast, nice, clean room. It also wouldn't  hurt if I could find a suite - just so there is more room to spread out. But that is just an extra perk. Anyway - after searching and looking, I soon learned the following: A lot of Montreal hotels do not have indoor pools. And, if they do have a pool - then they don't have free breakfast. I was all set at staying at an Embassy Suites - that had a huge suite and a lovely free breakfast. However, there was no pool. I was back to the drawing board. After extensive research - I finally found the perfect hotel. It was called Le Square Phillips Hotel and Suites. It had a rooftop indoor pool, free breakfast, and a kitchen area in the room. Bam! We were in business.

Upon arrival, I was happy to find out we were on the 10th floor. (The pool was on the 11th floor - so it was perfect proximity). The room was huge. Also - upon check in - the front desk gave my kids 2 welcome bags which had snacks and popcorn in it. My kids were very excited about this and it made them feel special. The room was nice and big with a huge bathroom. The kitchen area had a full refrigerator, microwave, stove/oven, and sink and dishwasher. I could have cooked a gourmet meal there if I was so inclined. My only complaint about the room was that the beds were double-sized instead of queen. Other than that - I was very happy.

Anyway - when we arrived, we checked in, and then went to dinner. One thing I quickly learned was that Montreal people are very stylish. I actually felt like I was in Europe.  Another thing I learned was that everyone speaks French. If you don't know French - it's okay! Because everyone speaks English too.

After dinner, we went up to the rooftop indoor pool and the kids swam. The rooftop pool was very cool. It had an outdoor terrace deck, where you could see the city, and the lights from the buildings added a nice glow in the pool area. We even had the pool to ourselves that night. So the kids could get crazy and play and jump without bothering anyone. After that, it was bedtime.

We woke up on Friday morning, and enjoyed the free breakfast. Then we got ready and headed out to the Biodome. It was about a 15 minute drive from the hotel and it was near the Olympic stadium. The Biodome is basically an indoor ecosystem zoo. You walk through the various ecosystems and see the animals that live there. We saw otters, birds, penguins, monkeys, fish, and alligators. It was a very cool place. One thing that I did find kind of strange though was that the area where the Biodome was located - was kind of run down. I would think since this is a tourist area - it would be kept up really well. But - the area just seemed kind of tired. Besides the Biodome, there was the Olympic tower, Botanical garden, Insect Museum, and the soccer stadium.

After the Biodome, we drove back to the hotel, and then headed out on foot to Old Montreal.  I was very happy to see that Old Montreal was adorable! Our first stop was Notre Dame Cathedral. Normally there is a fee to enter the historic church. Which - I think is weird. After all - it is a church. Why would they charge to enter a church? I have been to many churches in my life in Europe and in the US - and I haven ever had to pay a fee. Anyway - this church charges a fee. But, we were in luck. Since it was Good Friday - there was no fee. And we could go in - but only "to pray." Well - good thing we wanted to say a prayer. So - we entered, and I was in awe. The church did not disappoint. It was so beautiful, I gasped upon entering. We sat down, said a prayer, and walked silently around.

After that, we explored Old Montreal. We ate lunch at a cool pizza place on the river. Then we wandered in some of the shops and walked down the pier. After that, we headed back to the hotel. The kids swam again, and then we went to dinner. We ended the night with a visit to a place called Chocolate Favoris. Basically it is a place where you get an ice cream cone and then they dip it in chocolate. You can choose between 13 chocolates for your dip. Holy cow. It was very good!

This morning, we woke up, ate breakfast and hit the road. We stopped in Lake George on the way home for lunch. All in all -it was a great 2 day get away. I was excited that the kids experienced life in a different country. They also had the "border" experience and had their passports stamped. On the way home - I told Brian that I could now check Montreal off my list. Been there, done that. Don't need to go back. I liked it - but there are many other places to visit. I am a big fan of the 2 day get away trips. Just enough family time. Just enough time for the kids to get some culture. Perfect in every way.

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