We took a trip up to Montreal the other day. It was just a day trip. That is a benefit to living here. We can zip and cross the border and be in a large city in a few hours. The idea was to expose our children to the city and to some things they just won’t see in their typical days. It took about three hours to get up there. The border crossing on the way there was cake. They are pretty laid back in Canada. A few questions, a peek at our ID (we all have passports now) and off we went to the great white north.
We went first to the Biodome. This place is pretty amazing. It hosts several ecosystems, complete with plants, animals and birds. Capybara, monkeys, beaver, penguins, lemurs–there is a lot to see. That would make the trip worthwhile in itself but we were not there long. The children lasted less than an hour inside. So we split for the city center. Signs are in French and getting on the Metro isn’t intuitive. We asked for directions and paid in US cash. We had meant to get Canadian dollars but never got around to it. They took it, as seems to always be the case. Since the US dollar is worth 1.15 Canadian right now, why not?
The Metro was probably the best part of the trip. Our kids had never ridden a subway before so they got a good slice of city public transportation–lots of people, a musician, the fun of figuring out which stop is yours. Once we got off at McGill, we wondered for a bit. Montreal off was showing off its urbanity and we walked through it a bit before stopping at a shop to buy candy and toothpaste. We covered the bases.
And then we headed back. We were in the car more than we were out of it, but we were happy with our trip. Seeing the bridge over the Saint Lawrence River, driving through tunnels, reading road signs in French, they all added to the experience. Unlike Customs on the way into Canada, where we waited about ten minutes and were greeted with a smile, we waited maybe 45 minutes to talk to Mr. Stern Face at US Customs. But he did let us pass unmolested.
The children were tuckered by the time we got home. And hungry. After a late dinner we headed right to bed. We dreamed of living in a big city, and woke up to celebrate the birthday of our own nation. It does have some major issues, and isn’t as progressive and free as Canada, but overall, this nation of ours is a great place to live for most people. If only we could get the health care thing down, we might be as hip as our northern neighbor. One can hope.