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July 08, 2016

Montréal, Quebec

How do you surprise your 60 year old father for Christmas?

You give him less than 48 hours notice that you'll be flying from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Montréal, Quebec to see his beloved Canadiens play at the Bell Centre!
Montréal Canadiens vs San Jose Sharks - Dec 15, 2015.

This was a mid-December (Winter) adventure, which meant some pretty cold temperatures but nothing some foot-to-pavement couldn't cure.
We stayed in the very sufficient Hotel Espresso in the Centre-ville area of the city. This meant, as you can see below, that the Bell Centre was a mere 5 minute walk away. The Bell Centre is the home of the Montréal Canadiens who are the most storied franchise of the National Hockey League (NHL) having won the Stanley Cup 24 times.
A mere block away from Ste. Catherine's Street, which is the effervescent pulse of Canada's largest french speaking city, our hotel was perfectly placed for a week of enjoying the rich culture of Montréal.
View from Hotel Espresso including the Bell Centre on the right.
Some highlights were Parc-Olympique and all it has to offer. From the highest inclined tower (Montréal Tower) in the world to an incredible Planetarium and Biodôme, this is a must see while bombing around one of Canada's coolest cities.
The roughly 180 second climb up the Tower was well worth it as the unique vantage point begins to take shape. The view stretches from Boucherville, île Notre Dame & La Ronde Amusement Park to downtown and the base of Mont Royal. The Tower will cost $22.50 CDN but can be combined with other attractions for a discounted price.
Panoramic View from Montréal Tower, From L-R: Saputo Stadium (Montréal Impact), Planetarium, Biodôme.
Be sure to check out the Planetarium and Biodôme as well. Both will have you in awe for different reasons. The Planetarium has some incredible visuals on display and amazing films that spawn entire ceilings as you lie in a bean bag chair looking up. The Biodôme has beautiful animals from all over the Americas in their natural habitats. You may even catch the otters sliding down their waterslides like we did! Prices for these and other attractions can be found here.

As for getting around, we did a fair bit of walking, used the subway when we could and even hopped a bus to the base of Mont Royal one morning. There is a metro pass that was about $18 CDN for 3 days and was perfect. This pass covered all bus and subway transportation, even our shuttle to and from Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (roughly 25-35min ride depending on where you get off downtown)! Montréal is a fairly easy city to navigate and public transit seems to do an effective job moving the city's people to and from.
Mont Royal was a lengthy trek by foot but was well worth it. The Chalet at the summit was beautifully done with a giant fireplace inside to warm-up next to. The very large concourse outside the chalet has a great view of downtown and the surrounding areas of Montreal, including La Fleuve Saint-Laurent. The Park has no admission fees and is opened year round with trails, lakes, skating oval and even a restaurant - make this a stop for your time here.
Montreal Skyline as seen from Mont Royal Chalet

Mont Royal Park
Depending on the time of year weather can be drastically different. Mid-December usually means average temperatures of about -5 Centigrade with anything from sun, rain and snow. Definitely be prepared for cold and pack layers if planning on being outside for any length of time.
Overall we had a great time and Montréal remains one of my personal favourite cities across Canada. Au Revoir!

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