KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel. During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival. During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.
You know a city is cool when there is a huge mural of Leonard Cohen in the downtown. Of course, I am talking about Montreal.
We saw the giant mural of Leonard as we headed towards the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I tried to explain the greatness of Leonard to our eleven-year-old son, David. I cited songs like Suzanne and Hallelujah but to no avail. At least, my wife Sandy and I have similar tastes in music.
David was much more interested to check out the Egyptian mummies at the museum. The temporary exhibition features six mummies from the collections of the British Museum. The British Museum has always had the policy of not unwrapping any of the Egyptian mummies since it would cause extensive damage. Through the enhancement of CT scanner technology, it is now possible to do a 3D scan of the mummies revealing their internal organs.
Aside from the interesting technology, there were numerous artifacts on display from the time period of the mummies. There were also videos to provide a context of what life would have been like in Egypt during this time. By the end of the exhibit, a person feels like they have a far better understanding of Egyptian mummies and ancient Egypt.
One thing I love about Montreal is that it is possible to get a cup of coffee and desserts outside of the major chains. We discovered a local place, Cafe Vasco da Gama close to the museum. We enjoyed a warm coffee and delicious Portuguese dessert on the street terrace. For a moment, I felt like I was in Lisbon, Portugal rather than Canada.
It was time to check into our hotel. We love the Residence Inn by Marriott Montreal Downtown for a number of reasons. First is the location. The hotel is located right on Peel Street and is about a two-minute walk to the metro. We can park our car and then walk or take the metro everywhere. Also, the rooms have an in-suite kitchen and fridge which can help save on food costs. Finally, the staff have always been very friendly and have even encouraged my sometimes broken French.
Being Montreal, the night was still young. We hopped on the metro over to Parc Jean Drapeau. The park is home to a new space called Espace 67. The area serves as a location for many of the large festivals in Montreal. We had come to check out Feux Follets. A simple description of Feux Follets would be to call it a Chinese Lantern festival but it was so much more than that.
We arrived on-site and were greeted by Chinese drummers. There was a huge variety of illuminated structures ranging from pandas to a huge Chinese pagoda. We also enjoyed a Chinese cultural show that featured song and dance. Some of the entertainment was more high-tech including an illuminated drone show that was set to music.
The highlight of the entire night was projections set against a huge water fountain in the middle of a lake. I have never seen anything like it. Images of lions and tigers danced across the water. It would be cool to see something like that in Ottawa perhaps at Dow’s Lake or the Ottawa River.
Our night on the town was still not done as we headed back into downtown Montreal and visited Juliette & Chocolat The resto features everything crepes and chocolate. David chose a crepe that had hazelnut ice cream, Nutella, meringue and whipped cream. Needless to say, it was delicious. I was also impressed that he was able to sleep afterwards after ingesting so much sugar.
The next day, we started off with a huge buffet breakfast at the hotel. I saw a few tall young guys sporting the colours of my former alma mater, the University of Saskatchewan. They were members of the U of S basketball team and were in a match against Concordia. I am not sure the results of the match but I am sure the breakfast helped.
After such a busy schedule the day before, we planned a more relaxed day. The only thing on the schedule was to visit a store that sold reptiles, Magazoo. David has loved reptiles since he has been three and that interest has not gone away. We took the metro to east Montreal and arrived at the store. The staff were very friendly and shared David’s love for reptiles. We also learned there is a large reptile show in Montreal every February so we are already planning our return trip.
The best place to find out about the latest attractions and events in Montreal is at www.mtl.org.
As mentioned, we always stay at the Residence Inn by Marriott Montreal Downtown. For more information, visit, www.marriott.com/montreal.
Disclosure: Stephen’s hotel and attractions were covered but all views are his own.