Planning A Dream Road Trip: Spotlight On Montreal

Monday, November 02, 2015

* If you're just joining me on the Planning A Dream Road Trip series- you can find the beginning here*

I've been wanting to visit Montreal forever!  Seriously, I've had like 2 planned trips fall through over the past however many years.  But it has never left my heart.  I'm in love with the old European feel to it, the food, the architecture, the festivals.....all of this is merely through seeing pictures and reading other people's blogs, guidebooks, and hours of internet research of course...but still.  This summer I WILL finally visit :)

So the first full day that we're here I think we'll start by wandering around in Old Montreal.  This is where you'll see the cobblestone streets, the gas lamps, cafes, and it will have that great European feel to it.  We'll probably spend the morning wandering the streets and eat at a cafe.

Montreal knows their coffee.  Searching for the best coffee shops in the area has led me to hear a few names over and over again.  Shops like Cafe Myriad, Cafe Olimpico, Pikolo's, and Cafe Italia  are to name a few.  Coffee seems to be of high debate here with everyone having their favorites.  I hear they also have a battle going on with New York on who makes the best bagel.  Being from New York myself, I gotta say...I haven't had a better one anywhere else yet....but my mind is always open.  So I'll have to do a taste test for a Montreal bagel.

Another little cafe that I'd really like to go to for a quick snack is Juliette et Chocolat- a restaurant dedicated to chocolate.  What was that?  Dedicated to chocolate??  Can you really say no?  Now, I've read reviews that maybe this place has started slacking since it's gotten more popular, but I'd still like to see for myself.  They have hot chocolate with a million different varieties, chocolate fondue, crepes, waffles, different ice creams, etc.  

After breakfast and a bit of wandering, I really want to visit the  Notre Dame Basilica.  This church is stunning and seems to be a must see on everyone's travel plans.  I know I definitely plan to see it in person.  It costs $5 per person (age 6 and under are free) and includes a 20 minute guided tour.

If we were going on our trip in July (right now we're thinking June, but I suppose I could be persuaded....), we would have to check out the International Fireworks competition while we were there.  It's a huge deal that goes throughout the  month of July and possibly August for a few nights each week starting at 10pm.  Each night they feature a different country and theme for their fireworks show.  It's the biggest competition of it's kind in the world, and I would love to see it.  I found this article that lists some free spots around town that you could watch them from.

Since we have our son with us, I knew we'd want to check out a zoo in at least one of our destinations on this trip and wanted to wait until we found some spectacular zoo.  Well, guys, I think I found it.   Montreal will be our zoo destination.  They are home to the Granby Zoo (Zoo Granby, which is actually about an hour outside of Montreal) which sounds freakin amazing.  If you guys are zoo lovers like my family, you will love this place.  Besides having it themed into different areas such as "Africa, South America, Oceania", and a bunch of others that make you feel like you are actually in these areas of the world, they also have caves!  With stalactites and stalagmites and bats.  A petting zoo, pony rides, HIPPOS, an amusement park (not included in your ticket), and a water park (totally included in your zoo ticket!).  Um, I lived in North Carolina where we have one of the best zoos in the US.....but this one near Montreal sounds amazing.  We are definitely going here.  The water park is not even some small little "splash" park for the kids but a full fledged crazy water park:  See for yourselves on their website.  

Ok, after spending a long day walking around the zoo, I might try to take a little "me time" for a couple of hours.  When I was planning a trip to this city before, years ago, it was going to be just my husband and I going.  I had planned to have us check out this amazing spa.  Now, kids aren't maybe I can bribe hubby with some golf time one morning if he lets me go to this spa one night!  It's called Strom Spa Nordique and if you go Monday- Thursday after 6pm it's only $29 to use their "Thermal Experience".  How good does this sound??  They have indoor and outdoor whirlpools, thermal and nordic baths, finnish saunas, eucalyptus steam baths, thermal and nordic waterfalls, inside/outside relaxation areas with fireplaces, all situated around gorgeous outside scenery...and only 10-15 minutes away from the city.  Yes, please!  They even have a bistro on site with healthy and/or comfort foods.  I may never want to leave.  I think after all the hiking in Bar Harbor and the zoo all day today, this sounds like a wonderful way to spend a couple hours in the evening.

                                         photos below taken from the Strom Spa website

If we have time on another day, I want to check out their underground city and also see the Mont Royal area.  Montreal's underground city was built to pretty much connect you with everything you might need, without actually having to step foot outside- especially during their extremely cold winters.  Makes me think these people are super smart.  Where I grew up in Rochester, NY....we needed someone to make one of these!!!   In the underground city you can find many shops, cafes, hotels,  offices, metro stations...pretty much anything you could need.

tunnel in the underground city

We'll spend one day while we're here doing a day trip to Quebec City!  I'll talk about the time we'll spend in Quebec City next Monday!

Have you been to Montreal?  What were your favorite parts?  What about Zoo Granby, is it as cool as I'm imagining it is??

*Check out some of the cities you may have missed on my dream road trip*

*During the transfer of website name from Pieces of Me to Live Simple, Travel Well, many of your comments did not transfer over.  Unfortunately, this problem cannot be fixed, however all future comments will show up fine.  Know that I have read each and every one of the comments you left and appreciate them!  Thank you!*

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