I turned 40 years old on Day Two of our Canadian adventure. Check out our memorable, jam-packed journey downtown…
We started with a pre-breakfast visit to the Notre Dame Basilica a couple of blocks from our hotel in Old Montreal. The original church dates back to the 1600s, and its current interior was inspired in part by the exquisite Sainte-Chapelle in Paris.
Afterwards, on our way to a cafe to grab a croissant and coffee, we spotted these eye-catching goodies:
We then took the clean and quiet metro downtown and got off at the Peel station.
More to love: the decorative arts collection housed in the museum’s Liliane and David M. Stewart Pavilion blew me away—an overwhelming visual delight. Whether you’re a design buff or a casual fan of shelter magazines, you will enjoy this place.
The featured exhibition was a site-specific installation by renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly. Billed as the artist’s “first major show to be presented in Canada,” it was sensory overload and more Vegas than Montreal. Still, I’m glad we saw it. As a fun and exuberant tour de force, it was great birthday fare!
Around mid-afternoon, as we were leaving, this installation adjacent to the museum drew our attention:
For a late lunch, Andrew thought I’d want to try a raw vegan restaurant. Eating spaghetti squash instead of pasta and a flaxseed kale wrap in lieu of fish tacos? Hell no! Give me some butter and meat. Give me some hot cooked food! So we hoofed it several blocks to a hole-in-the-wall Japanese joint called Kazu. (I told you Yelp was our savior.) I had the pork belly ramen with a super-flavorful broth while Andrew had their famous salmon and tuna bowl. Now we’re talkin’!
To burn off our meal, we trekked to the 500-acre Parc du Mont-Royal designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. The park includes part of Mount Royal and the highest spot in the city. We climbed what felt like a million stairs to reach the Kondiaronk Lookout, a semicircular plaza with breathtaking views of downtown Montreal and the St. Lawrence River. The perspective was gorgeous and refreshing!
We were tired, sweaty and hungry by the time we returned to our hotel. I had made a dinner reservation at Les 400 Coups, the nicest restaurant we ate at during our stay. It was located in Old Montreal but away from the main touristy area. They seated us at a cozy table in front.
The place was packed on a Wednesday evening. The decor was stylish yet warm. Our waiter was friendly. I had the squash soup with smoked herring, cranberry and celery; roasted guinea fowl breast with parsnip, mushrooms and smoked paprika; and the pear, coffee and caramel dessert. A delicious end to our day…and beginning of my 40th year.
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts | 1380 Sherbrooke Street West | Montreal, Quebec | H3G 1J5 | Canada | 514.285.2000 | mbam.qc.ca
Coming up next: The Plateau and Botanical Gardens!
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