This is an extract from my newest book called
9 Canadian Cities: Victoria to Montreal via Whitehorse and Yellowknife
If you’re staying in the centre, then it’s best to take the metro out to the Olympic Park and Botanical Garden. The nearest stop to the park is Viau and Pie-IX is the nearest to the gardens. At the park, the Biodome houses five different natural environments under its gigantic dome: Antarctica, Rainforest, woodlands, aquatic life in the Gulf of St Lawrence, and the Atlantic coastline. There’s not just vegetation and birds but larger animals too, such as capybaras, monkeys, and sloths, although anyone who spots a sloth should get a gold medal. They blend in perfectly with the vegetation and aren’t noted for moving quickly.
Next door to The Biodome is the Planetarium with its exciting exhibits on the cosmos. It’s impossible to miss the Montreal Tower hovering over the Olympic Stadium, where the 1976 Olympics took place. At a 165-metres high and at a 45-degree angle, this tower is the world’s tallest inclined structure, although the bilevel cable car going to the top wasn’t carrying passengers when I was there. The Aquatic Centre is also part of the stadium complex and has six swimming pools plus diving towers. Place Nadia Comaneci commemorates the Romanian gymnast who scored the first perfect ten in Olympic gymnastics history on the uneven bars and went on to amass seven such scores during the Games. In the Place, the names of all the athletes competing at the Games are listed along with the Gold Medal winners in each discipline.
The Saputo Stadium, home of the Major Soccer League club CF Montreal, is also close by. Follow the signs across Rue Sherbrooke Est to see the third-largest Botanical Garden in the world. To the left of the ticket office is the greenhouse housing the cacti and succulents. This is in the same area as the gift shop. Entrance to the 75-hectare outdoor garden is to the right of the ticket office. A map is an absolute necessity, so the highlights are easier to find, including the large Chinese garden complete with temple and large plastic animals in the ponds. The arboretum is extensive and you could make a day of it in the gardens as there are plenty of places for a picnic.