3 days in Montreal: Part 1 - Montreal Botanical Garden and Old Montreal

My husband and I had been meaning to go to Montreal for ages. My father-in-law David is originally from Montreal and my parents-in-law drive there quite often. We planned on joining them on one of their trips but somehow that never happened. Either we were busy or it was too cold.

This year we had a few days free for a vacation and Montreal seemed like the perfect destination for a short trip. The airfare wasn’t too expensive and we figured it was going to be a convenient way to travel. It was July so we figured it would be nice and warm but not as hot as it was in New York. Boy were we mistaken! After we booked our air fare I checked the weather forecast. I was shocked to see that it was going to be 95-97 F/35-36 C with high humidity every single day. And quite annoyingly, the temperature in NYC was going to be somewhat cooler in the mid 80s.

Knowing how tremendously unlucky we got with weather (who thinks of Montreal and hot weather?!) We are both light sleepers and prefer a nice king size bed and dark blackout shades. I knew I couldn’t take another aggravation on top of having to spend all day long walking in extreme heat and humidity. I looked at many room offerings at airbnb and practically all of them had queen size beds and the situation with curtains was unclear. The photos provided didn’t show if the curtains were dark enough for us to sleep comfortably. Despite wanting to keep the trip on a low budget we decided to book a hotel room. We chose the Marriott Courtyard Downtown hotel as it offered nice rooms at reasonable prices. Little did we know how good our choice was overall and for location specifically.

Our hotel choice was spot on for it’s perfect location not only for the Montreal International Jazz Festival but also for it’s accessibility to Old Montreal and downtown.

Our first morning we headed to the Botanical garden. Unfortunately the Biodome was closed since I was really looking forward to seeing it. I was also upset that some areas of the Botanical garden were under renovation. Fortunately we still did go to the garden and we loved it very much. Being around all the greenery makes me very content.

There are many different areas within the garden, each with its own character and types of plants. We spent around 3 hours there but could have spent easily twice more.

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On the way to the Botanical garden we saw an Olympic pedestal and there was no way we weren’t getting on it!

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A quick selfie with the Olympic Stadium, the main venue for the 1976 Olympics.

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We started with the Greenhouse. It’s easy to miss but we found it very interesting.

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It has different section: Begoniaceae and Gesneriads, Arid Regions, Ferns, Tropical Food Plants, Orchids and Aroids. Here is Brian in the Tropical Rainforest portion of the greenhouse.

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Many unusual plants are around including this Aechmea Bromeliad that we haven’t seen before.

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On the way to the Insectarium we stumbled upon a wild fox sitting in a small area of the garden under construction

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As we started to come closer it ran off. I still like looking at this photo of the partial fox with it’s lush tail and cute little body.

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I couldn’t help but marvel at the simple but colorful wild flowers on the side of Insectarium.

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We were amazed by the jewel tones of beetles

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We went to Insectarium just in case (FOMO) and we were surprised how interesting it was.

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There were several displays with beautiful large butterflies that were more showy but this one attracted me with it’s simple design yet striking green color.

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Delicate dragonfly next to the insect with an attractive combination of pink and grey colors

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The Botanical garden has many flowers like this striking Rose Campion Silene Coronaria

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I read that the Chinese garden is one the most beautiful parts of the Botanical Garden and it truly is.

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Both natural and man made elements are visually striking.

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The structures of the Chinese garden were so unusual to our eyes that we had to take several photos of each other with this stunning background.

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Tranquil Dream Lake

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I was so happy to see this small field of chamomile flowers. They remind me of my grandparents village in Russia.

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Serene Japanese garden is wonderful as well, as beautiful to my eyes as the Chinese garden but in a more restrained way.

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Koi fish swim in the shallow water of a pond with a series of waterfalls and streams. Koi fish are always fun to watch. They know to swim up to the bridge when people approach it but feeding them is prohibited.

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Another area of the Botanical garden that I was so happy to see is the First Nations pond. You can tell by my happy grin how delighted I was to see it. Again it reminded my grandparents village in Russia where I spent many summers of my childhood.

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There are quiet areas around the pond where one can relax for a bit and take in the beauty of water lilies.

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I couldn’t take my eyes off the water lilies. It’s not surprising that Monet loved to paint them so much!

Unexpected irises by the side of the pond.

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The Alpine garden is interesting as well. There are many plants that have a sort of quiet beauty to them. Sometimes I prefer that to more colorful large blooms.

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The Alpine Garden has a nice small waterfall.

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Before finishing our tour of the Botanical garden we walked through the Innovations Garden. Here was the most colorful display of various flowers.

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We greatly enjoyed the Botanical garden and could have easily spent more time there. I look forward to returning to the garden on our next visit of Montreal. Hopefully the renovation of the Biodome will be finished by them.

We had a quick lunch in Old Montreal at Olive & Gourmando. They make excellent fresh and healthy and not boring salads which we both enjoyed among other things. We were in such a rush to get to a meeting point for a free guided walking tour of Old Montreal that I forgot to take a photo of our meal.

The tour started off very well. It was very interesting and informative. Both of us were enjoying it until during a 5 minute break when Brian wandered off to buy some water. With no water to be found, he took too long, and the group left without us. I waited for Brian. From a distance, he saw that the group had left, thought I went with them, and walked off in a different direction, trying to find me and the group. So now we lost each other and our group. This was the first time that it happened during all our travels. After about 2 hours spent trying to find each other we finally reconvened in our hotel room. The precious hours were lost and we weren’t in a great mood. So instead of a fancier dinner at Le Robin Square we chose to go to a more casual Burger Bar Crescent to taste poutine.

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Burger Bar Crescent is located on Crescent street with many bars and restaurant to enjoy a drink and a meal

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The burger and poutine were pretty good but nothing that I would return for.

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The Burger Bar Crescent has several poutines on their menu. Besides the regular one we tried poutine with a smoked meat and liked it better.

After our dinner we walked through downtown to the Jazz Festival area at the Quartier des Spectacles. We were somewhat down after our fiasco with the walking tour but after first 15 minutes of music our mood improved drastically and we enjoyed wonderful music, lights, and the great vibe of the festival.

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The beautiful lush greenery at the Montreal Botanical Garden inspired me to paint these two paintings:

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Bromeliad Garden and July Garden, acrylic on canvas

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I also painted a series of multi panel abstract paintings inspired by the Montreal Jazz Festival:

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Abstract Multi Panel Painting 180728-1 and Abstract Multi Panel Painting 180728-2, oil on cradled panels.

Please check out my paintings on my website. Thank you!