When we were booking our summer trip, the original plan was to fly from the USA directly back to the UK. But then the Husband found some bargainous flights which went from NYC to Montreal to Reykjavik to the UK for hardly any extra money. He casually asked if I fancied doing this. I almost bit his hands off. So we flew out of the US in the rain and landed in Montreal in the sunshine just over an hour later.
We REALLY like Canada. We had a great time in Vancouver and Whistler when the Husband did IM Canada and one of my very best friends is from British Columbia. Canada feels like a wonderful mix of British and American, but with its own unique twist. Montreal is in the French-speaking part of the country and I LOVE speaking French. AND it is home to the world’s hottest premier. I was excited to get Trudeau-hunting!
Montreal started stylishly. For the price of four tickets on the airport-city train, we could all get a Tesla taxi to our airbnb. Okay then! So off we set, with our Turkish New Canadian driver. He didn’t speak much English so I tentatively tried out my rusty French and before I knew it, I was deep in conversation. My French was nowhere near as bad as I’d expeted and it improved over the three dyas we were here!!
Our airbnb was really close to the big city park Mont Royal. (This may have been on purpose). On our first morning, I snuck out early and headed into the woods along with a good number of other runners, enough to make me feel very safe in a very safe country. Mont Royal Park was WONDERFUL!! Broad gravel roads wound up the hill at a very runnable gradient, with gorgeous trails branching off frequently into the forest. I stuck to the main gravel road as I was new here. Half way up, there was a totally brutal 400-step staircase which led up to the Chalet and the wonderful view over downtown Montreal.
That evening, I ran there with the boys as part of Operation Garmin. They were troopers, bearing in mind it was a mile uphill then a mile down! I have really loved running with these boys, it’s become such a pleasure for me. I think they quite like it too.
Our first day in Montreal had glorious sunshine so we wandered down into Old Montreal. It was GORGEOUS. It looked just like France! I took too many photos of buildings!
The three boys did some kind of labyrinth thing down at the port which I didn’t fancy, so I went into the beautiful cathedral. I have to be honest, American cathedrals are always a bit of a let-down to me after having been lucky enough to have visited lots of European ones, but this Montreal cathedral had such beautiful colors and light that I was kind of blown away. There was a real sense of peace there.
The next day, we went back into town in search of a running shop – the Dude and Big Brother now think running shops are the coolest 😉 We found Coin des Coureurs in one of the enormous underground shopping malls that Montreals cherish for those brutal winter months. It was a great little shop, staffed by friendly, helpful people. And the girl I spoke to had MET Trudeau and shaken his hand, so I shook that hand too. So basically I shook Trudeau’s hand.
Afterwards we got the Metro to the Olympic Park from the 1976 Olympics. The stadium and pool are still well used but we went up the fantastic inclined tower, which gave great views across Montreal. The highlight was seeing the two badass women in harnesses outside the window, painting the tower. They were so fearless as they chatted and painted, hanging literally upside down a few times to reach hard-to-get places, I was in awe.
The nearby Biome was fun but probably better for younger kids. I did find my new favourite bird though – puffins are flipping adorable, people!
Our final day in Montreal was sadly drenched in rain. I ran early in the morning to Parc La Fontaine, and after three miles I was soaked and my running shoes were wet through. So we retired to the Museum of Fine Arts which housed an excellent collection in a beautiful light building.
And then, because we have kids and life is always about compromise, we went to the cinema to see Nut Job 2. High art/low art…there’s always something for everyone.
And then sadly we headed back to the airport to fly out of Canada on our overnight flight to Iceland. I was sad to leave Canada, I didn’t feel like we’d seen enough of it. It’s such a great country with such friendly people. I’d love to come back at some point.
But not today. Instead we took off on our bargainous Wow Air flight to the frozen north for the final leg of our trip! We had plans!