On Thursday we were awake by 8:30, had breakfast in the hostel and then took a trip out to check out Old Montreal. Being winter and a university town, the place was quiet and a little lack lustre. We found a good spot to throw snowballs; the snow was really good. Packed down hard, made quite the impact.
We walked up to the Basilica, took a peek inside a Christmas decoration store, then attempted to find out on the warm-up stations that were dotted around the city. We found a closed one at Place d’Youville.
We walked along the port then had a look at the ice skating rink there. I didn’t have my skates with me and we’d planned to go to ice skating at Olympic Park which had a Christmas village opening at 4pm. We had lunch somewhere, went back to the hostel for a bit, then caught the train out to the botanical gardens.
They had a display on Christmas confectionary plants that sounded interesting on the Internet. The last time I went to the gardens was in summer and it was filled with topiaries. Now, in the grip of winter, the gardens were covered in snow. The greenhouses were still open and thriving so we took our time checking them out, before walking up to the insectarium.
Along the way, we stumbled over snow-covered garden beds, throwing more snowballs at each other, and then finding a spot to build a snowman. It took a while to create the three balls that constituted our snowman, who only came up to about three foot tall (if that). We put in some eyes, a couple of twigs for arms, and draped Donna’s beanie over it, then took some photos. We left it to guard the path and welcome weary winter-blown travellers. (We found out the next day that a friend of mine who was in Montreal had seen our snowman the next day. I was glad it still stood tall.)
Frivolity done with we went inside the insectarium and checked out the alive and dead bugs and arachnids. Some amazing specimens there, some you’d never think were real and belonged inside some crazed imagination. The tarantulas, though a little creepy and large, do like so cuddly and soft. I’m not sure I’d be able to handle one though with going a little crazy.
We finished with a little time to spare before the Christmas village opened. We were promised hot chocolates and fun. We walked over and took a long time to find a way down to the area. We could see it but being Olympic Park, it was all a little convoluted. Plus half of it was locked down and looked like it was covered with an apocalyptic winter.
When we finally got down to the village, the rink was open (though didn’t have skates for hire, so Donna couldn’t go skating), and the stalls were all shut and didn’t look like they’d be opening anytime soon. We left.
For dinner we went in search of a vegan restaurant called Aux Vertes, which was down St-Laurent. We started at number 1000, the restaurant was at 4600. It was cold and took us a while to get there but we were glad we made the effort. Everything was vegan, even the smoothies. We shared an appetiser, and then each had a main. We ate a lot and left feeling very full.
While at dinner, I got an email from my publisher to say that my second book had been accepted for publication and she needed the formatted manuscript asap…like in two hours. Donna and I had planned to go to a dessert restaurant called Juliette et Chocolat and then to see a light display that was around the city (called Luminotherapie) but as we were full and I had deadline, we went back to the hostel.
It took me longer to format than I’d expected but I sent it within time, and then we went out for celebratory dessert. When Glen and I went to this restaurant before, we left before even getting a table because we were ignored as we stood waiting at the door. Donna and I were given much the same treatment but stuck with it. We soon learned that there were only a couple of people serving on the floor so they were a little rushed.
We shared two desserts (a tasting plate and waffles) and then thick hot chocolates. It was all very decadent, very filling, sugar overloaded and delicious. We walked it off by heading down the street to see the kaleidoscopes as part of Luminotherapie. We passed a nightclub that had two massive queues of young people outside it. It seemed to be the place to be on a Thursday night. We looked at the lights then went home to bed.