Where we went, and who was coerced into going:
Parenthood puts a damper on a few things, one of which is international travel. Now, I know many will disagree with this, and there are several excellent websites dedicated to facilitating the process of crossing time zones with toddlers. I am not a fan of changing poopy diapers in the comfort and convenience of my own home, let alone in a tiny French bistro with a w/c the size of a phone booth.
This year, the Girl is finally old enough to travel beyond our border, and far be it for me to deprive the world of her tempestuous public fits triggered by the denial of ice cream / gelato / crème glacée / helado. We set our sights on Montréal, Canada for our trial run, since Matt had to go on business. We were accompanied by Matt’s cousin Stephanie, who’s our age and a favorite relative. Having three adults against handling two children is a much nicer traveling dynamic.
The very first attraction on our itinerary was the world’s tallest inclined tower, The Montréal Tower and Observatory, the world’s tallest inclined tower.
WHY did you go there, exactly?
From a distance, the tower looked innocuous, even tame. Which is an important consideration when three-fifths of you travel party fall under the category of “chicken.” The tower offers a nearly 360-degree view of the city, accessed by a short, easy ride in a funicular, which travels upwards at a 45 degree angle to an elevation of 574 feet / 175 metres.
Perspective is a funny thing. Standing at the base of the tower, watching the funicular cabin pacing up, up, up at a quick clip, we three chickens began to have our doubts. It went…gulp…high. This is what we saw:
Okay, what was so cool about it?
Once you force your mind to move beyond thoughts of “how old are those metal cables pulling this car, and at what age does metal start to deteriorate?”, you can enjoy a spectacular view of Montréal. At the top, you can spend as much time as you want on the observation floor in front of window banks facing several different directions, with maps and descriptive guides indicating points of interest.
On a clear day, visitors have views within a 50 miles / 80 kilometre radius, including the Laurentian Mountains. It’s easier up here to appreciate that Montréal is truly an island, surrounded by smaller islands. You can see the Saint Lawrence River snaking its way around Île Sainte-Hélène and Île Notre-Dame.
Each kid got a “Loonie” to put into those binoculars which provide a frustrating pinhole vista. I’ve never seen the point of those things, but our children like putting money in shiny machines. Matt gazed longingly at the casino on Île Notre-Dame, which we were not able to fit into the itinerary. Language differences are, apparently, not a barrier to a good poker game.
The descent was nearly as nerve-wracking for those of us still contemplating steel deterioration. After pausing to let The Boy ceremoniously kiss the ground, I conducted exit interviews of the members of our party to find out what they liked the best:
Matt: the architecture of the tower and the mechanics behind the funicular.
Stephanie: the view, and the opportunity to say the word “funicular” several times in one day.
The Girl: leaning against the window of the funicular to get the best, most unobstructed view possible. (She falls in the “non-chicken” column)
The Boy: reconnecting with terra firma.
A little background info about the place:
The tower is part of the Olympic Park (“Parc Olympique”) built up in advance of the 1976 summer Olympic games held in Montréal. However, the tower and its observatory were not actually completed until 10 years after the games. Since its inauguration in 1987, over 4 million people have visited.
The funicular travels at a rate of 9 feet / 3 metres per second, so the ascension only takes two minutes. Which was just long enough for me, thank you very much.
How it rated on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 = snoozefest, 10 = add to your bucket list):
On the car ride home, I took a poll, averaged the scores, and got 8.5. Even us chickens were generous, so relieved were we to have survived. It really is an amazing view, and a unique experience! I would not only recommend it, I would go again…maybe.
Hey YOU! Go BIG:
Olympic Park, 4141 avenue Pierre-De Coubertin, Montréal, Quebec, H1V 3N7
514-252-4737 or 877-997-0919