If you missed my first post about Montreal, you can visit it here!
Day 3: Cafe Imagination, Biodome, Notre Dame Basilica & the Metro
Cafe Imagination – Breakfast and Deli-Style Fare
This was a convenient location as it was adjacent to our hotel, and I would highly recommend it. We were expecting just your average cafe food, but their menu was quite extensive and the food was chock full of flavor and fill. I had a delicious chai tea latte w/ an open-faced avocado sandwich and salad.
Biodome – Indoor Aviary, Fish, Amphibians, and Other Critters of the Americas
Pictured above: Northern Rockhopper Penguin, Common Sea Star, Atlantic Sturgeon (giant fish), North American Porcupine (sleeping/hiding his face), River Otter, Southern Two-Toed Sloth (hanging behind the V-shaped branch), & Yacare Caiman (reptile)
When we went to Montreal, I knew I wanted to go to at least one of the following: Montreal Tower (tallest inclined tower in the world), Olympic Stadium (1976), Botanical Gardens, or Biodome. We chose the Biodome as it was still a bit chilly (the gardens had not bloomed fully) and we both are creature-lovers. It was C$18.75 ea. The entire place is not huge, but it was simple enough to leisurely walk around and take pictures. Also, I love otters, they’re so stinking adorable, especially when they show off!
Because we took a taxi to the Biodome, we were several miles from where we wanted to go. We found a metro station close by, and I rode the subway for the first time ever! It was actually quite simple once we got on. I was nervous we would end up on the other side of Montreal, but we checked a map and made our way to the Notre Dame Basilica, and then back to the hotel!
The Notre-Dame Basilica…what to say? There aren’t really words to describe the astounding beauty when you walk through the door. For a mere C$5 each, we were able to walk about freely for as long as we wanted. There is an optional tour as well, which is included in the cost. We hopped on our tour about half-way through, and I’m glad we did. I didn’t even know there was a separate chapel in the back.
A couple of things I found interesting:
- the stained glass windows actually depict religious history from Montreal, instead of scenes from the Bible
- the main organ, dated 1891, has over 7,000 pipes and 92 stops
- the original chapel (the lighter-colored room) was burnt down via arson in 1978, and was rebuilt w/ old drawings and photographs, with an enormous bronze statue front and center
- Canadian singer Celine Dion was married in the main hall in 1994 (a little bit of pop-culture for you)
If you do nothing else in all of Montreal, visit the Basilica. I promise you, whether you’re religious or not, it’s beauty is nearly unmatched.
Dinner @ a Nearby Hotel & Poutine
Ryan and I were so exhausted from walking around nearly all morning and afternoon, that we decided to stop at a nearby hotel’s restaurant w/ classic cuisine. Ryan finally got to try poutine, which is a classic Canadian dish. It’s basically french fries, with gravy and cheese curds on top. Being a vegetarian, I only ate the fries that were untouched (few), but Ryan loved it! We got gelato for dessert.
Nocochi Cafe – Known for their Weekend Brunches, Pastries and Art-Gallery Environment
I have to say, I was looking forward to this place all week long. Weekend brunch, who doesn’t think that sounds amazing? I knew the prices were going to be a little steeper than I am comfortable with, but since it was our last day, we decided to splurge. I wish I could say that the portions made up for it, but they were actually pretty small. The service was very slow too for the amount of people that were in this narrow restaurant. Regardless, the food was still tasty, and I finally caved and had a dessert-like item for breakfast: chocolate, hazelnut, and banana crepes, w/ a mimosa.
This was about a block away from Nocochi, and is free of charge (apparently the policy has changed and now it’s only free of charge to those less than 30 years old…strange). They had a mix of contemporary and classic art, with some personal favorites of mine being their Picasso collection.
I wasn’t really sure if I was allowed to take any pictures, but I managed to snag one colorful one:
Underground City – 20 miles of underground shops, businesses, apartments, hotels, banks, universities, etc.
I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted from the underground city, but I knew we had to go see it. It has a ton of entrances, both from the street and from the metro stations, with one of the most popular shopping areas’ access points near our hotel: Place-des-Arts. We spent the majority of the day touring the various shops and restaurants/cafes, and I did buy a few things at the store called Reitmans It has come out of my “spendable money,” but it was a decent chunk: $80. I got a minty-green sweater, a pair of dark gray jeggings, and a super cute pastel flower necklace. I wore it the day we got back:
Bellagio Ristorante – Italian Fare
We finished off our last meal in Montreal w/ a fancy Italian dinner at Bellagio Ristorante. We even got dressed up for the occasion 🙂 The food was pricey, but good. I feel kind of neutral about the recommendation, you could go, but you could probably find several other Italian options at a better price. I got one of my favorite desserts, however: tiramisu!
The only thing worth mentioning about the flight home was the Montreal airport. We didn’t get a chance to truly appreciate its size when we landed, but man is it huge. Also, if you are flying back into the U.S., you actually go through customs IN Montreal. You fill out your declaration forms, go through the customs agents, and when you land back in the U.S., you are free to go wherever–no long wait lines.
All that being said, I’m glad we got to the airport 3 hours early, as it took a little while.
That’s my trip, in a (sort-of) nutshell 🙂