This weekend, back at Les Fragnes, I’ve been pottering around in t-shirt and light cotton trousers, and popped off for a bike ride in shorts. This is a total contrast to last weekend in Montréal where it was well into the minuses and Caiti and I were well wrapped when we went on our travels.
Saturday saw us at the Biodome. This was the velodrome for the 1976 Olympics and it’s wonderful that it’s been recycled into such a fabulous feature. Because it really is excellent. It’s essentially an indoor nature museum I suppose, and it presents you with four different ecosystems to walk through.
First up is the rainforest. At 27 degrees C this was a slightly daunting prospect when we were all bundled up for the minus 10 outside. We’d obviously taken our coats, snoods and mittens off, but still had many layers of warm clothes that had to stay on! But we soon forgot about feeling too warm when we saw the parrots, monkeys, fish, alligators and other creatures in the amazing rainforest flora. Our only disappointment was that we couldn’t spot the three-toed sloth anywhere.
After the rainforest came a Canadian maple forest, thankfully a good bit cooler. Here, as well as the beautiful trees, were raccoons, a lynx, ducks and a pair of beavers. These latter are just flat ragondins (coypu, of which we get unwelcome ones on our lakes) with flat tails. Fascinating to see though!
The St Lawrence Gulf was next. (The St Lawrence is the river that runs through Montréal.) Here we had sea creatures such as crabs, sea urchins and anemones, a huge variety of fish and seabirds. The cliff backdrop was very impressive. This photos shows the velodrome roof too.
And finally came the arctic, complete with penguins, puffins and guillemots. This was probably our favourite section since the penguins were fabulous.
We fortified ourselves with rolls and hot chocolate and then visited the observatory. This is the tallest inclined tower in the world, verified by the Guinness Book of Records.
It wasn’t finished for the Olympics (and neither was the stadium – do take a look at this for more info about the exciting, chequered history of the 1976 Olympic stadium, whose retractable roof never retracted) but is now a major attraction. You go up (and down) it in a funicular that ascends 266 metres at 6.3 miles per hour.
It was awesome. There were wonderful views from the top. As you can see, Montréal is very flat, apart from the Mont Royal hill and some distant mountains.
We finished off at the insectarium, which it has to be said was somewhat underwhelming, since the vast majority of the insects on display were dead and pinned to a board! I’d been expecting rather more living insects. There were some, and we had fun trying to spot them, although the lighting at the base of each vivarium made it quite tricky at times. Caiti got to hold a giant cockroach. He was very well-behaved but I didn’t risk the flash in case it panicked and shot up Caiti’s sleeve, so forgive the slightly blurry photo.
It was a fabulous day out.
And Sunday was cool too. I spent the morning exploring Montréal by metro and then met Caiti for dinner at her flat and then an ice hockey match. This was between the Montréal Carabins and the Ottawa GGs, the ladies’ teams. We put blue facepaint stripes on our cheeks and generously sprayed blue haircolour on our heads and were enthusiastic supporters.
The match was brilliant, incredibly fast and exciting. Both teams played well although a good few players ended up in the sin bin, more GGs than Carabins though. The GGs won 4-3 which was a shame, since the Carabins were definitely the better team.
What a great weekend.