September 2017 archive

Montreal – The Sites

By Natalie

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Montreal has so much to offer for an extended stay. It’s a great walking city which is right up our alley. Everywhere that was too far to walk we opted for Uber which was much easier than renting a car. I’d recommend doing this to any city you visit. We’ve learned through experience that paying for parking can often be a hidden travel expense. In addition to not having to worry about parking the locals know their drivers as well as their streets better, plus they’ve acquired the knowledge of cut throughs. Brandon was much more at ease that he didn’t have to drive and I was much more at ease being picked up on our doorstop and being dropped off right where we intended to be.

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The Olympic Stadium

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Montreal hosted the summer olympics in 1976. Commonly remembered as the year Nadia Comaneci of Romania scored a perfect 10 in her gymnastics routine. We toured the museum, stadium, went up to the observatory for an amazing view and finally we saw the swimming and diving pools which is now open to the public. You guys I was geeking out. I’m a huge fan of the olympics. Brandon turned to me while our guide trailed off in french and he whispered, “I know this isn’t really my thing, but I’m pretty excited for you.”

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Biodome

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The biodome is full of different ecosystems where you can see dozens of animals. We saw a capybara roughly the size of our 80lb black lab! He took a mud bath, then went for a swim much to all the children’s excitement. We also came across raccoons, bats, a crocodile, so many birds, monkeys, fish and penguins.

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Insectarium

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How incredible is the detail on all of those beetles? There’s so much to see here. Any bug lover would love this stop. It’s not me by any means but I still found all the critters fascinating. The dead ones. I just moseyed past the live wolf spider. No thanks.

Butterflies

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Botanical Gardens

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Unfortunately after the olympic stadium, biodome and insectarium we had little reserve to continue walking around. Each of these sites were right near eachother and connected by a great walking path. The Botanical Gardens were way bigger than we realized. We would have spent so much more time there if we had the energy.

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Is there any place more romantic than a rose garden?

 

Rose Garden

Bonsai

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Underground City

There’s a series of tunnels and malls under the city that is most commonly accessed at Eaton Center. We didn’t particularly go to shop so much as we did to just check it out. Most stores were similar to the ones you’d find in the states. After a half hour of browsing we were so overwhelmed and worried we’d end up lost that we decided to hop out onto the street to check out a nearby bookstore instead.

Oh and I promise Brandon was actually on this trip too. He was just taking all these amazing photos ♥

Brandon Photag

 


Montreal + Thoughts on Travel

By Natalie

Montreal-115Every time we step out of our comfort zone we’re forced to reassess the direction in which we live our lives. Brandon and I set aside the time to ask each other the tough questions. Are we where we want to be? If we’re not how do we get there? Are we gracious friends? Are we generous enough with not only our income but our time? Are we surrendering our struggles enough? What are our current priorities?

Monday morning we flew out to Montréal Quebec right around the time of the eclipse. It wasn’t quite as dramatic in the stratosphere. Watching the excitement of our fellow passengers was much more enjoyable. After a full day of rushing to our connecting flights we finally sat on our last plane to Montreal. Relief washed over  Brandon’s face as we prepared to land. I took a moment to be grateful. Our pacific coast highway road trip remains one of my favorite memories in our marriage. We had something we certainly don’t get enough of. Something fleeting that cannot ever be retrieved once it’s gone. Time. Time to talk and love on each other. We were about to embark on a new adventure. One that I knew we would come out of feeling refreshed and closer than ever.

Lately I’ve been working on speaking up. I’ve never felt like my opinions or dreams mattered much. I never want to inconvenience someone and even more so I do not handle confrontation well. If I receive the wrong order at a restaurant I say nothing. I clam up and shush the ones I’m with who clearly heard me order something different. That’s who I am. I’ve always made do with the hand I’m dealt. Never questioning and sadly never fighting for what I truly want. I’ve received some help since and have been asked “But what if it’s a bad deal? What if you are in fact not inconveniencing someone but helping them to give you the best experience?”

I’d never thought of it that way. I’m learning that I do in fact have a right to express my desires. I’ve come to understand that they may not be practical or they may take time but nonetheless I am free to think them and share them. The only hard part has been finding out what those desires actually are. After years of stuffing them down I’ve had a difficult time finding out who I truly am. Who is Natalie Poe? What are the answers to those simple who, what and when questions?

Who do I love? Brandon with my entire heart. My close friends, my family, Bingley. What makes me happy? Worship, reading, writing, candles, music, knitting, hosting, being generous. When do I feel most like myself? When I’m with Brandon or in deep conversation with a close friend. In prayer. When I’m home in Charlotte much to my family’s dismay. But mostly when I’m traveling. There’s something about being immersed in a different culture especially one where a different language is spoken that causes you to strip away everything you know, opening your mind to ideas and possibilities you never would have imagined otherwise. I mean come on, every Uber we got into the driver said to me, “Bonjour Madame.” Every lady needs to experience that once in her life.

I haven’t been certain of many things in my life but I have been certain about these things. God always has and always will love me. He has never forsaken me. Not for a second. Brandon is absolutely who I want by my side for the rest of my life. Friendships are important and they take alot of simple courtesy. The travel bug bit me in 2006 on a trip to Europe with my sister and it’s been holding on since. All I ever wanted to be when I grew up was a wife and a mother.

I am an altruist. An introvert. A dog lover. A writer. A reader. A maker. A lover of the small things in life. I’m someone who is just now finding out who they truly are which has been the sweetest and toughest journey in my life yet.

I certainly would have been happy to stop by a farmer’s market to grab some groceries and stay in Montréal for the next month. Our airbnb was gorgeous. Brandon and I had the most difficult time pulling ourselves away from the city after only five days of exploring. A piece of me lies there. Dreaming to be a traveler. Dreaming of a nomadic lifestyle in which we make our nest wherever we land. A girl can dream can’t she?

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We were located about a 10 to 12 minute walk from the Old Port.

B was obsessed with the architecture, which truly takes you back in time.

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