Last week my husband and I got to do something that we hadn’t been able to do in eleven years: take a spontaneous weekend trip! We decided on a Monday that we wanted to go to Montreal, and with our kids away at camp, we left that Friday for three nights of eating. We did other things too, but we had to squeeze them in between the meals, snacks, and dessert stops. (Have I mentioned that I’m doing a Diet Bet right now? Oy.)
On a recommendation from my friend Elissa, we stayed at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. We’d already gotten a very good deal on airfare and hotel from Orbitz, but when we were offered an upgrade to a Gold Level room at check in for an additional fee per night that was half as much as advertised, we jumped at it. We made that fee back in complementary breakfasts, internet, Diet Cokes and bottles of water easily. I’m pretty sure the Fairmont lost out on the deal. :-)
I’d tried to brush up on my high-school French on the plane, and downloaded a really great (and free) translator app to help, but honestly there was no need. For the entire time we were there, every single person we met who worked in a restaurant or at a tourist attraction spoke perfect English. All of the restaurants anywhere near downtown and Old Montreal list their menu items in both English and French. And while I made a few half-hearted attempts to speak French, there was just no point. It was slowing us down and annoying my husband, and (unlike in France) nobody seemed to care if we wanted to speak English. When we arrived we were starving, so we stayed in the hotel for lunch, where The Ass had his first poutine.
What is poutine? As I understand it, in its purest form it is skinny French fries covered in cheese curds and gravy. The special poutine that day at the hotel also had seafood. Being vegetarian I had to console myself with the giant salad, cheese and vegetable bar, which was really good – lots of grilled vegetables and cous cous.
During lunch we talked a good game about all of the things we were going to do – we’d spent about half an hour prior to lunch with our wonderful Gold Level concierge, Francois-Pascal – but instead went back to our room and took a four-hour nap. That’s just how we old-folks roll.
After our nap we felt a bit guilty for wasting our first afternoon in Montreal, so we set out from our hotel for Parc Mont-Royal. In the picture below, see that hill off in the distance, between the buildings? We walked to it, then up it, then down it. Yeah, it was far.
But first, I stopped off for a cupcake. Fuel, you know. For the walk.
There are two choices for how to walk up to the top of Mont-Royal: you can take the stairs, which are much shorter in distance but also much more intense, or take the road, which is a few miles up but a fairly gentle slope. We chose the second one.
The view from the top was worth it. We felt like we had really earned that view, as opposed to the people who had driven up (there’s a parking lot near the top).
We took the stairs down, and then walked a couple miles more to a street we’d been to earlier in the day. In all we walked about 10-12 miles that evening. We were exhausted, and settled gratefully into our chairs on the sidewalk outside of Le Caverne Grecque. It was heavenly…until a musician set himself, his guitar, and his pan flute up right next to us. As we tried to talk over him, my husband pointed out the absurdity of the fact that we were eating wonderful Greek food in a French-Canadian city while being serenaded in Spanish.
72 Hours In Montreal Sans Kids: Part 2 – coming soon
72 Hours In Montreal Sans Kids: Part 3 – coming soon
Want to see all of my pictures from the trip, with captions? Watch the slideshow!
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