|Copyright Simply Emily|
Today is our three-year wedding anniversary! Happy anniversary! We have something special planned for the weekend (and thank goodness, because I woke up violently sick this morning), but in the meantime I thought I would share what we did earlier this summer to commemorate our marriage.
Patricio and I both share a great love for Montreal, Quebec. We've both had memorable experiences separately there, and together on our honeymoon in 2010. We love the culture, the architecture, the history, and the art. We love the Metro system; Vieux Montreal; The Big O; that everyone we meet speaks French but can easily compromise to English; that we feel like we're in Europe, and at the same time like we're right at home.
Since we have been aching to revisit, we decided to make the trip this year during my week off work as a second honeymoon, from July 28th to July 31st.
Patricio was still job-hunting at the time, so we were on a bit of a tight budget. While researching things to do in Montreal, I was pleased to find that many of the most worthwhile attractions were cost-free! Montreal, je t'aime!
DAY ONE: Getting There & Settling In
We travelled via Megabus, leaving Toronto at 6am on Sunday, arriving in downtown Montreal with half the day left to recover from the six hour drive (although I genuinely enjoy long drives, they do tire me out).
We stayed in a cozy two-bedroom apartment that we found on Airbnb for $40 a night, located down the street from Marche Jean Talon (where we bought fresh produce to make dinners during the trip). That first night we explored the neighbourhood in the evening, and retired to watch bad sitcoms and the news just as a thunderstorm began.
DAY TWO: Downtown Montreal & Retracing Our Steps
We spent Monday in the heart of downtown, doing a bit of light shopping and sightseeing.
Montreal is a city rich with history, art, and Roman Catholicism - which results in a multitude of beautiful old churches, basilicas and cathedrals. I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of reverence and respect when I entered these holy places, despite not being Catholic myself.
Of all the churches we visited our first day, the Basilique Marie-Reine-Du-Monde Cathedrale stood out to me because of the depiction of the saints. While I am not familiar with the saints or their significance, I find them quite awe-inspiring and intimidating, looming down over visitors from their posts.
We navigated our way to the location of the apartment that we rented on our first honeymoon (also from Airbnb). It was the coziest little bachelor pad, with no air conditioning and a leaky toilet, but, heck, was it ever romantic.
We ate at La Panthere Verte, a small vegan & organic restaurant which a friend recommended to us. I highly recommend the Tempehtation pita!
DAY THREE: Redpath Museum & Mont Royal
Mont Royal, the triple-peaked "mountain" located in the heart of Montreal, and also the city's namesake, is a major tourist attraction, and yet neither of us had visited before. This was my favourite day of our trip! The weather was perfect, and I congratulated myself on ignoring the thunderstorm warning all week, confident that I could somehow will it away.
Before climbing Mont Royal, we visited the Redpath Museum, an impressive public museum of natural history, located on the McGill grounds at the foot of the mountain. The boys in my preschool class must have rubbed off on me, because my favourite exhibit was of the dinosaurs!
The hike up Mont Royal was a humbling experience, watching fitness enthusiasts practically racing past me on the steep multi-level stairways, while I felt out of breath walking at a leisurely pace. When we reached the top, we were rewarded with a breathtaking view of the city from the plateau.
Feeding the squirrels was a HUGE highlight of our trip for me. While we were enjoying a berry and baguette picnic, listening to a camp group of school-age children sing French rhymes, a particularly bold little squirrel scampered over (with a bit of a limp, poor thing) and shared an apple with me. He even let me lay down beside him and pet him before he scurried off again.
We visited the historical Smith House, Lac au Castors, and the Croix Du Mont Royal (which can be seen from atop the mountain from certain areas of downtown Montreal), before calling it a day.
DAY FOUR: Vieux Montreal & Finishing Touches
Feeling the results of our extensive walking and the hike up Mont Royal, we took it easy on our last day in Montreal. We went to Vieux Montreal / Old Port, and quietly enjoyed wandering the narrow cobblestone streets, admiring gardens, window shopping, and visiting the occasional church.
I was quite taken with the above Reford Gardens art installation by Atelier Pierre Thibault, which combined nature and man-made structures.
"The five architectural forms of Jardins M (Metis, Mobile, Montreal), situated in the open space of Place de la Dauversiere, evoke the city. Each is a unique shelter for a unique garden; five spaces that invite contemplation, relaxation, and discovery."
After I had a slight hunger meltdown (I'm sorry, Patricio), we had an early dinner at Arepera, an authentic Venezuelan restaurant. The Plantanos y Frijoles arepa was so mouthwateringly good that my mood was immediately improved, and I've had cravings for it ever since.
Our final stop, before catching our bus home (only to arrive in Toronto at 3am in the pouring rain, hooray!), was to the apartment of my wedding photographer and her husband, who were unfortunately on a summer road trip during our visit (horrible timing!). We made sure to get a photograph in front of their iconic blue van to let them know that we were thinking of them!
It felt significant to revisit a place we had been when our married life together had just begun. I couldn't help but reflect on how much we've grown together as a couple, and individually, in the past three years.
I wonder where we'll be in the next three years.
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