Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Road Trip: Montreal


while figuring out where to head after our week in the adirondack mountains i stumbled upon a link for new york amtrak specials. amtrak runs north to montreal and west the niagara falls across the state. keith and i kicked around the idea. after finding a deal on a great hotel in montreal and the fact that you don't need a car in the city we agreed on montreal. i quietly became excited about the idea of spending time in the mountains and then heading to the city. kind of the best of both worlds in one vacation. and kingston was so excited about the idea of camping, hiking, boats and trains. saratoga springs station is about an hour south of lake george, it offers free over night parking and plenty of room in the lot.

our arrival in montreal was a little bumpy. the train was running over an hour behind so we arrived in montreal past eight o'clock at night foregoing our late dinner plans. i also had walking directions to our hotel starting at a different exit in the station which placed us on a completely different street. we were closer to our hotel then we realized. we made it to our room and enjoyed a tasty dinner delivered from the restaurant on the first floor of the hotel. in the morning we received directions from the concierge  and headed to the market to load up the kitchen with lunch and picnic essentials. a small kitchen is perfect for traveling with kiddos and saving a money on meals and snacks. the hotel stay included a cold breakfast in the morning. we would each grab an extra piece of fruit from the breakfast bar each morning to have later that day.  

most of our trip we spent walking all over montreal during the day allowing kingston to nap in his carriage. we would relax in the pool and on the roof top deck at night after dinner. we found this to be the best way to enjoy the city with a toddler. getting back to the hotel for naps and back out again was just taking up too much of the day. at night we would bring goodies and wine or beer up to the deck and spend the rest of the night hanging out. there was also free wi-fi so kingston could have a little screen time after a swim in the pool. the hotel we stayed at is located in phillips square which was great for a little running toddler before heading in for the night and there were several good restaurant right there to end the day.

initially we were going to purchase transit passes for the week (kids ride free), but the public transportation can get very crowded and super hot. we only used it a few times and paid as we went. the weather was unseasonably warm… actually it was freakin' hot. keith and i were more than okay with walking and the bumble ride is great for packing lunch, snacks, little toys and kingston. we brought along a bike lock if we needed to leave it anywhere. walking also allowed us to see the sights, neighborhoods, check out restaurants, street performers and all the cool street art around the city.



in our usual manner we planned out as many free activity as we could find for the week. mount royal was on the top of the list. perfect for urban hiking. we walked to the base and locked up the carriage. from there we took a direct route to chalet du mont-royal where we were greeted with a pubic piano being put to good use. there you can sit and take in the view, grab a map of the park and use the facilities. keith wanted to check out the croix du mont-royal and the actual summit so we took different paths all around the top and wandered our way back down using different trails. it's such a wonderful park.
keith and i also mapped out playgrounds, a hunt for the first bagel of montreal, museums and farmers markets. we always prioritize what we want to see and do since we have become a party of three we realized we have adjusted our expectations while traveling. we keep a list of things we would like to do and keep a loose schedule on accomplishing these things. it helps keep the days more relaxed and curbs disappointment.
montreal's playgrounds are pretty awesome. very american ninja warrior meets preschoolers. even keith and i couldn't resist climbing and playing. we also visited the biosphere environmental museum. kingston wasn't quite old enough to appreciate this one, but it is small and makes great use of their outdoor exhibit space so he still had fun. tip: if you ever do visit pack your lunch there is no food on the whole island. we visited on our last full day so we were down to snacks and thought we could grab lunch at the museum, not so. we had to make due with fruit we brought and snacks from the vending machine. 




jean talon farmers market open daily in the heart of little italy is a must. i wish we would have hiked it there on the first day to do all our grocery shopping. the produce is beautiful, food was delicious and the atmosphere was a lot of fun. we walked around, ate from different venders, purchased some fruit and the best apple cider i have every tasted in my life. i have been craving it ever since we left. so tart, so crisp, so good.


keith, i and kingston really liked traveling with amtrak. families with small children board first, we had plenty of room for our bags and carriage. kingston could play freely in his seat instead of being strapped down for hours. he also loved that the train "made music" as he happily announced on a way up to montreal. i think the rhythm of the train moving was soothing. and of course, bonus for mom, the bar. bloody mary? heck yeah.

travel links: hotel | amtrak | play grounds | mount royal | jean-talon market | biosphere