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BIGGISH – World’s Second Largest Botanic Garden, Montréal, QC

Montreal Botanic Garden

The Exhibition Gardens

Hear that? It’s spring approaching. The daffodils have broken ground, and they’re a relief to see! Not to push things along too much, but it’s a good week to revisit our trip to the Montréal Botanic Garden. It’s not the world’s largest — that title belongs to the Royal Botanic Gardens (or Kew Gardens) in Great Britain – but it’s the world’s second largest botanic garden. Perfect for our “Biggish” category!

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

We went to Montréal last summer, mainly because Matt had a business trip, and it’s only a five hour drive. This was the kids’ first international travel, and this small, bilingual city was the ideal destination; a perfect combination of fun and cultural immersion. While we were there, we risked our lives (not really) riding to the top of the world’s tallest inclined tower, and discovered the secrets of poutine in the world’s largest underground pedestrian network.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

I had my doubts that the kids would be jazzed about the Montréal Botanical Garden, with nothing remotely virtual, electronic, or 4-D to offer. We all enjoyed it though, mainly because we didn’t try to push our luck to see all 180 acres, 10 exhibition greenhouses and 30 outdoor gardens.

I must also point out that the weather was – surprisingly – perfect, and this further convinced us to spend the day outside.

Okay, what was so cool about it?

Within this immense garden are several smaller themed gardens; each more fascinating than the one before. The kids would tell you that their favorites involved water features – how surprised are you? Given the “all clear,” The Girl would have immersed herself in any one of the pools within the Aquatic Garden.

The Chinese Garden, surrounded by a bright blue koi pond, was also a hit, especially with its opulent walk-through pagoda and an exhibit of impossible-not-to-touch bonsai trees. (Me: “Don’t touch those. Please don’t touch them. See the sign that says “don’t touch” in both French AND English?! DON’T TOUCH!!”)


Chinese garden pagoda, with the Olympic Tower in the background. We went to the top of that!

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World’s Largest Underground Pedestrian Network, Montréal, QC

Where we went, and who was coerced into going:

Montreal Underground Network

So much shopping. Just not before 10:00am, when we were there. D%&#$!

While we were in Montréal, we enjoyed utterly perfect weather – warm, sunny, breezy. It framed the city in such a favorable light, it was difficult to imagine the brutal winters which settle early on this island. In 1966, a major initiative began to build an underground network to connect downtown buildings, and allow the city’s weather-beleagured residents to get in out of the cold.

Today, the world’s largest underground pedestrian network, known as RÉSO, is 22 miles of malls and shops, office buildings, 14 hotels, three universities, the World Trade Centre, The Bell Centre hockey stadium, and16 Metro stations.

We found ourselves in and out of the network several times during our trip, although it was never really our true and final destination.

WHY did you go there, exactly?

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World’s Tallest Inclined Tower, Montreal, QC

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.

Montreal Tower

No sweat.

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?

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Miscellany Monday

Some updates on our Go BIG travels, news, and links to sites we like!

We just got back from Montréal! I didn’t realize that I had the power to control the weather, but whaddya know, I do. It was perfect – sunny, warm but not humid, and breezy. The locals we met raved about how lucky we were. Over four days, we visited three sites which will be featured in future posts:

The World’s Tallest Inclined Tower, the Montréal Tower in Olympic Park. You ascend to the top in a funicular, at a 45-degree angle. Over 570 feet of “dear God, please don’t let today be the day those steel cables snap.”

The World’s Largest Underground Pedestrian Network. Nearly 85% of the city’s downtown is connected underground by“RÉSO,” over 20 miles of tunnels connecting malls, office and apartment buildings, hotels, museums, universities, metro and train stations, the convention center, and more. Over half million people per day use the network during the winter, which is quite a civilized way to stick it to Mother Nature.

The Montréal Botanical Garden, the world’s second-largest botanic garden, was a trip highlight, even for the kids. They loved acting like explorers along the pathways in the Alpine and Chinese gardens; riding the red tram around the perimeter, and blowing off steam in the playground outside the Insectarium.

Usually coming home from vacation is a BIG letdown. I, however, now get to enjoy the World’s Largest Pile of Laundry.


On Friday, we were oh-so-thrilled to be the featured guest blogger on Nerd’s Eye View, one of our favorite offbeat, sincere, amazingly written sites!!

GBOGH is now listed among an illustrious group of favorite blogs on Larry Cultrera’s Diner Hotline Weblog! Love retro diners? Check out this site!


I attended the BlogHer conference on August 6th, one of the oldest and largest annual events for professional bloggers, particularly women. I participated in a few seminars on creative writing and social media, networked with other bloggers, and visited the exhibit hall, where 100 companies vied for the attention of powerful, influential women bloggers like…the ones standing next to me.

Through a sea of some 2,500 attendees, I was fortunate to meet several great travel and lifestyle bloggers. It was reassuring to meet others who are equally enthusiastic about sharing their own unique point of view. I invite you to visit their sites and see what I mean: 

Anne from Hip Travel Mama

Glennia from The Silent “I”

Holly from The Culture Mom

Julie from Coffee with Julie…

Julie from Road Trips for Families

Lexy from KissMyCountry.com

Lisa from Frisco Mama

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