Tag Archives: Montreal

This Crazy, Beautiful Life

My seven-year-old daughter was given a homework assignment to complete over the winter break. She was asked to reflect on her greatest accomplishments of 2016 and develop a list of goals for the coming year.

Well, with a trip to Spain over the holidays, her homework was pushed aside until the very last moment. As the clock ticked away the final hours of our vacation, my daughter frantically picked up her sparkly blue pencil and rushed to work. Her answers were honest and, even with the time crunch, contemplative. She was proud of several successes in 2016: how hard she had worked in school and the fact that she had begun reading chapter books; her commitment to ballet and gymnastics which kept her active and strong throughout the year; and her go-with-the-flow attitude which served her well as she traveled to new places, making friends along the way. Her hopes for 2017 were simple, yet earnest: audition for a role in the Nutcracker ballet; read 9 books a day; learn more about animals and science so she may become a veterinarian one day; and continue to spend time with her two favorite people, mom and dad. That one was my favorite, of course.

I found her assignment inspiring. My daughter was setting goals based on her interests and growth over the previous year. She approached the exercise from a place of abundance. Oftentimes, as adults we start the new year reflecting on our perceived deficiencies – I need to do more of this, loose some of that – be different than who I am today. It is too bad, because a long the way we forget to build upon the unique strengths we already possess. And wouldn’t that be a kinder way to enter a new year?

Taking a cue from my little one, I’ve decided to use 2017 as an opportunity to set a very personal goal focused on that which I value most in this world. My family.

My goal for 2017:

Simple. I will continue to prioritize my family above all else. We will go sledding when it snows, spend Sundays making messy art projects, plant our vegetable garden in spring, travel over holiday breaks, and invite more friends into our home. We won’t wait for moments to celebrate, instead we will celebrate the little moments. And I will continue to share them here. I am also using our crazy, beautiful life as the inspiration for a book about family traditions that I will complete this year.

Dear 2016: you weren’t the easiest year – we had our ups and downs. But in the end, I thank you for the time and the tremendous memories. Here are some of my favorites…

Mara
Mara enjoying public art in Montreal
Hello Kitty
Our little one eyeing up the treats in China Town
Family Time in Nature
Enjoying a nature hike through Milwaukee’s botanical gardens
Riding the Waves
Aunt Masha and Uncle Seth taking our daughter for a ride on Lake Tahoe
Wading in the Water
Our little one braving the cold Tahoe water
A case of the sillies
My mother and brother sharing a moment in San Francisco
mara-seth
Celebrating my brother’s wedding in New Orleans
Witnessing the most beautiful wedding of 2016
Witnessing the most beautiful wedding of 2016
Kevin
Speaking of weddings, celebrating 12 years of marriage with the love of my life
Arc de Triomf in Barcelona
Spending the holidays in Barcelona
Playground 1
Enjoying a small park in Spain

My family was the inspiration for starting this blog. Entertaining Family allows me to document our adventures and the nuggets of wisdom we learn along the way. Writing about the people in my life brings me joy and I am so grateful to have a place to share my reflections. Thank you for sharing this space with me.

 

Explore Montréal

My dear friends, today’s post is long over due! I apologize for the brief hiatus from Entertaining Family…it has had to do with our kitchen remodel, a full travel and work schedule, and a broken laptop…blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I am back and pleased to share a post about our recent adventures in Montréal.

If you haven’t been, I would highly recommend this sophisticated metropolis along the Saint Lawrence River. With fantastic restaurants, lively neighborhoods, beautiful architecture, and interesting street art, whether you are traveling solo, with a friend, a lover, or child, there is plenty to keep you occupied. The city is easy to navigate with convenient metro and bus lines, and almost everyone in the service industry speaks both French and English.

Our family flew from Milwaukee to Montréal by way of Detroit (my favorite of the large, international airports). It took about three hours to get to our destination – easy breezy, right? After a relatively short cab ride, we arrived at our hotel. As I stepped out of the yellow taxi and onto the old cobblestone street, I knew that we were embarking on a wonderful week abroad.

Streets of Old Port Montreal

Standing at Hotel Gault

We stayed at the beautiful Hôtel Gault located in Old Montréal, the historic district of the city. The hotel included a casual restaurant (open for breakfast and lunch), bar, lounge, and library. There was a wonderful photography exhibit on display, and plenty of places to sit and relax.

Martini at the Gault

Bar at Hotel Gault

Our hotel room was beautiful, with a huge wrap-around terrace that offered views of the downtown skyline. While on vacation, we were caught in a snow storm (spring in Canada!) and the terrace became a winter playland for our daughter. Thankfully, the next day was sunny and warm…

OLD MONTRÉAL

We could have spent our entire vacation in Old Montréal – there was so much to see and do. The narrow streets made getting around by foot the preferred method of transportation. Old stone paths wound us past the most exquisite architecture and sculptures.

Centre d'hisoire de Montreal

The Streets of Old Port

The Talking Ladies of Montreal 1

The Talking Ladies of Montreal 2

Also found in this great section of the city, is the Notre Dame Basilica, the Montréal Science Center, and Place d’Armes, a beautiful public square which is perfect for socializing, people watching, taking in the city, or arranging a horse-drawn tour.

Notre Dame Montreal

Science Center Montreal

Place d'Armes 1

horse drawn carriage

Food choices in Old Montréal are abundant, but our favorites were:

Chez Delmo: an upscale seafood restaurant with fresh ingredients and impeccable service – the perfect place to begin an elegant night on the town. In addition to serving beautifully plated meals, the wine list was extensive. The place is formal, but not stuffy.

Nolana: this rustic Italian eatery on Rue McGill is worth a trip. The tile pizza oven in the back of the restaurant cooks dishes to perfection! Pizza’s are served with a scissors (what a great way to self-serve!), and the seafood was fresh and tasty. In addition, the menu included a cocktail section that included wines, mixed drinks, bourbons, and other liquors.

Olive & Gourmando: laid back and lively, this popular brunch spot usually comes with a long line. If you’re not keen on waiting for a table, there is a takeout option. If you’re not in the mood for a full meal, grab a coffee and sample a fresh baked pastry. The vegan and vegetarian lunch options are delicious!

CHINATOWN

Chinatown is relatively small, but worth a visit. It is within walking distance to downtown and Old Montréal. In addition to housing some great food options, there are wonderful shops, a pedestrian street – perfect for sightseeing, and lots of public art.

Window Eating in China Town Montreal

China Town Mural Montreal

PLATEAU MOUNT ROYAL

The Plateau neighborhood is definitely the cosmopolitan, hipster, artsy center of the city. If you are looking for a bustling neighborhood filled with shopping, coffee shops, bars, restaurants, and exciting nightlife, then this is your spot! A quick Metro ride from downtown, this area of the city engages all of the senses. In addition to a great street scene, Mont Royal Park is an expansive green space with hiking trails, playgrounds, and wide open areas. As the highest point in Montréal, it offers beautiful vistas of the city.

Plateau Montreal

View from Mt. Royal

Our time in Montréal seemed too short. With so much to see and do, we could have spent another week exploring. My daughter has decided that this is her new favorite destination and she has already requested a return trip this summer. Relaxing, casual, friendly…this city is divine!

If you enjoyed our post about Montréal, check out some of Entertaining Family’s other travel stories. Here are some of our favorites:

Camden, Maine

Photos from San Francisco

An Italian Inspired Dinner Party

Wine Tasting in Wisconsin