My cousin and his family live there, and they took us out on our first day to see an exhibit about Pirates at the Point a Calliere Museum of Archeology & History, which was very cool; then his sons entertained Auden with their trains and books while he and his wife fed us lovely beet soup and vegetable risotto.
Jason graciously ducked out of the conference for a day (or two) to help us explore the city, because it's so irresistible:
And then Auden and I ducked into the Palais de Congres, where the conference was being held, because the multi-colored wall of windows and the escalators inside were irresistible, too:
On the day Auden and I were on our own, we started out at the RedPath Museum at McGill University, where Auden chased dinosaurs and I gaped at a necklace made of human teeth and the cast of a Chinese 3-inch bound foot:
I mean, who's weirder, dinosaurs or humans?
We took the Metro to the Old Port where I searched out an art gallery that ended up being closed, then as Auden snoozed in the stroller I wound my way back up to our hotel by way of a Basilica and a Bookstore.
After a late lunch I foolishly decided we should take a little jaunt up to Mount Royal. Because, apparently, I hadn't had enough walking for the day. It's a park right? Kids can run around at parks, right? NO IT'S A MOUNTAIN. And for some reason there is no easy access to this Mountain from the southern side, at least not for me with a stroller and a toddler and some groceries and a pregnant belly and CLOGS for god's sake. So I finally found some stairs and thought Fine, I'll let Auden walk and I'll hoist the rest of the gear up to the path. Surely there's a path.
Well, yes there was a path, but there was also Diminishing Daylight, so while we had indeed made it into the Mountain, this is what we saw 10 minutes later:
Friends, let me tell you that I am still sore, if not in my legs then in my pride, for being so stubborn and hauling us both on this ill-fated "jaunt."
It was supposed to be an hour, and it was supposed to involve Auden running freely in the autumn leaves. It ended up being THREE HOURS and required him to stay strapped in most of the time as we were bumping down footpaths over rocks and roots in the DARK. We were miraculously aided by two women and their dogs who lifted the stroller over the alligator-infested moat and pointed us in the right direction down a bike path, but then I MISSED the turn back into the city so that we ended up on THE ENTIRELY OTHER SIDE OF THE DAMN MOUNTAIN. Okay. I'm done with caps lock now.
I don't know why I didn't just hail a taxi from there. See "pride," above. So I walked back. I limped. I stumbled back to the hotel room. I promptly drew a steaming bath for both of us, and all I can say is hallelujah for short-term baby memory and the miracle of hot water.
By the next day Auden was ready to go again, and, fortuitously this time, we hopped on the bus and rode with no clear plan until I spotted a jolly playground. The weather was fantastic the whole time we were there, and we played outside until it was time to join Jason & a friend of his from college for lunch. And then coffee and some UHH-mazing chocolate pastry things.
The bus was clearly the favorite for Auden, but the Metro was not chopped liver:
In that picture we were on our way to the Biodome, and were foiled by a poopy diaper and the fact that we had no reserves in the (so-called) diaper bag. Fortunately for us all, Jason made the utterly rational decision to go back to the hotel and do the Biodome the next day. (Why weren't you with me as I ascended THE MOUNTAIN OF DOOM, Utterly Rational One???)
I was fantasizing about a diaper vending machine for situations like that, and wouldn't you know it, we saw one the next day. At the Biodome.
But it was still a good idea to do this outing on our last day, refreshed and re-stocked. Auden loved running through the different habitats:
And we got to see monkeys, fish, crocodiles, and feeding time for the penguins. We had to tear Auden away from the giant aquarium, though I think he was more excited about jumping down the stairs in the little amphitheater than checking out the dogfish and sturgeons lazily swimming overhead.
After that, lunch in a restaurant where I actually had to use my pitiful High School French (and was flummoxed by a brain that wanted to use Japanese instead), another romp at another playground, and then onto an evening flight where Auden charmed everyone in his airplane pajamas and surprised Jason and I by actually falling asleep during the landing and staying asleep through the re-combobulating and jostling in-and-out of the car ride all the way home to his own bed.
A wildly successful trip! And you must never EVER talk to me about Mount Royal again.