Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Montreal (2017)

My main reason for going to Montreal was to see the Chagall exhibit, so I pretty much left it up to the kids to decide on the rest of the sites.  We had a bit more time on this visit than two years ago, since we flew in and took the train back.  I'm not entirely sure we'll do that again next time.  The airport is quite far from the downtown, and there was a lot of construction and traffic on the way in.  My daughter still struggles with car sickness, particularly when there are traffic hold-ups and also when there are strong scents in the car.  She basically just made it to the hotel but then she succumbed, so it was not a pleasant start to the trip for sure.

After some discussion, we decided to skip the Architecture Museum and no one really wanted to walk up Mont Royal.  We took the Green Line out to Viau, which is where the Biodome (one of the few leftovers from Expo '67) and the sports arena are.  I was not impressed by the Green Line.  The cars are far too small (maybe even narrower than CTA cars) and several of the stations were left completely unattended.  I've mostly been on the Orange Line on previous visits, and it is a much better experience.  Anyway, my daughter wasn't all that interested in the Biodome, but she wanted to check out the Botanical Gardens, particularly the Japanese Garden.

On the way in, we found out there was also an insectarium.  My wife wasn't at all interested, but the kids wanted to see it, so we went in.  I'd say it was 75% mounted moths and butterflies, but there were some glass cases with living insects inside.  It was relatively educational.

My wife somehow had twisted her ankle, which slowed down our progress through the gardens, though we finally found the Japanese Gardens, which were nice.

I was a bit disappointed to find out that the roses were not blooming, so we just left.  (I was even more disappointed to find out that Habitat 67 wasn't anywhere in the vicinity.)  At that point, my daughter now wanted to see the Biodome, but my wife wasn't up to it, so we took a crowded Green Line back to the hotel and found something to eat.  I took the time to finish up Ursula Le Guin's Changing Planes, which is a bit like a SF version of Gulliver's Travels.

Fortunately, after resting the rest of the evening, my wife was able to get around on Sunday.  We checked out and walked over to the old city.  There was apparently some festival where a bunch of people dressed up like the original inhabitants of Montreal.

This was fairly amusing, though we didn't stay all that long to watch.  We were headed to the Montreal Science Centre.  I realized that while I wasn't going to be able to get next to Habitat 67, I could probably see it from the port (and indeed from inside the Science Centre).  So it wasn't a total loss after all...

Actually, the kids quite enjoyed the Science Centre and probably would have stayed another hour or two, though I was getting kind of weary of it.  We walked through Victoria Square (appropriate, given the upcoming holiday) and then tried to find food at the Gare Central.  I remember this was a problem on the last trip as well where roughly half of the restaurants in the station are not open on Sundays, which just seems ridiculous to me.  We had about an hour to kill and finally boarded our train.

It was an uneventful but long train ride.  I was glad that the rain held off until we were actually on the train (whereas it rained most of Sunday in Toronto).  The kids did start getting restless with 90 minutes to go, but at the same time I think trying to fly back would have its own issues.  I spent most of the train ride back reading MacLennan's The Watch That Ends the Night and got 200 pages into it.  All in all, a fairly good trip.

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