Special needs

A Family Getaway!

By Amy

Ooh la la--just got back from a 5 day family vacation--a few days in Montreal and one in Ottawa.

“Tal, what was your favourite part of our trip?” I asked.

“Going out for spaghetti,” she answered.

Hmmm....I’m not surprised. Since we travelled with my brother, sister-in-law and 2 nephews from Colorado, we aimed for activities that all would enjoy. But some weren't too thrilling for Tal. Here are some of our greatest hits:


The Insectarium: Up close and personal with myriad magnifico bugs: fat hairy spiders, bugs that look like branches, beetles that play dead, shimmering rainbow butterflies.....

The Botanical Gardens: Like Dora the Explorer come to life! Roamed through exquisite themed gardens. Loved the Japanese garden complete with a tea house, zen garden and an aquamarine pond with water lilies. No green tea though. :-(

Dinner in the Quartier Latin: The streets were draped in a canopy of pink lights (for the launch of the Pride Festival.) Supped on spaghetti and salad at an outdoor cafe as we watched the passing action: a man walking a leashed cat, a lady cuddling a giant parrot and gorgeous guys decked out in blonde wigs and sparkly dresses. Best of all? Chocolate cake with sparklers in honour of Jack and Leah’s birthday!


The Big Bang Theory at Parliament Hill:

Ok--not really. But lots of big bangs going on. Watched an awe-inspiring performance of military bands from around the world. Cool furry hats, horns, bagpipes, red and gold uniforms. Best of all: Live cannon and rifle blasts to bring the overtures to life. Tal laughed. I gasped.

The Museum of Civilization: (opposite Parliament Hill in Gatineau, Quebec)

Walked through a stunning display portraying centuries of Canadian History. Admired giant totem poles. Fascinating fun--but a bit of a yawn for Tal. As we checked out exhibits, she patiently found places to sit down and chill.

ByWard Market

Wow. Wow. Wow! Gobbled fish and chips and spicy crab cakes at a sidewalk cafe overlooking the market action. Saw an Australian dude playing the didgereedoo. Big hit for Leah. She can play the didgereedoo too!

But the market highlight was Stunt Double Circus-an amazing troupe of sidewalk acrobats. Talia spotted them and insisted we plunk down on the sidewalk to watch their show. Great call, Tal!  We held our breath, clapped wildly, cheered, chanted, and sweated in fear during the heart-stopping moves. We’re talking backflips on pogosticks, spinning within a giant hoop, and flips from an elevated bar. (If you live in Toronto, catch them at the Scotia Bank Toronto Busker Festival Aug. 25 to 28 in the St. Lawrence Market neighbourhood. Proceeds from the Festival go to Epilepsy Toronto.)


The Hotel Swimming Pool: Need I say more.

A Shopping Mall: Yup. Just like at home. Tal browsed at her favourite store, Claire's, to buy a souvenir--a cool musical note necklace.

All in all.... a fun trip. But I know Tal would have preferred a theme-park, wild ride, water-park kind of getaway. Maybe next time, Tal!

Did you have a family vacation this summer? Road Trip? Staycation? Camping? Far away adventure? What worked for you?

This article was originally published on Aug 22, 2011

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