Thursday, May 6, 2010

2010 Montreal Wrap Up: Part Un

We are back from Canada (or Ca-Na-Naaa as Beatrice calls it). We had a fantastic time. My re-cap post is a bit late. Work has been crazy as I'm trying to get everything in order for my maternity leave. And my work has now blocked all Blogs! Oh the horror... so posting may be a bit more sporadic from now on.

So on to the re-cap. (Sorry if you guys find these boring or too detailed. I selfishly write vacation recaps so as to capture all the memories my little pea brain tends to forget.)

We had a leisurely drive north last Friday, stopping in Brattleboro and Burlington, VT. Both towns are really cute. You should check them out on warm day. We crossed over the border without much fanfare. We did have a 25 mile stretch of panic once we got into Canada because all of the gas stations were closed and we were on empty. Luckily we coasted on fumes and made it to an open station just in time. Things were looking up until we heard a man-style burp from the backseat. I turned around just in time to see a deluge of vomit sprew forth. Oh, the vomit, so much of it. We found ourselves on the side of the highway, Beatrice stripped down naked, cars whizzing by...what a scene. Thank god it happened in the last 1/2 hour of the trip and not the first 1/2 hour. We finally got to our house around 9. We were fully unpacked by 10. My friends have poked fun at this habit of mine (it's Cory's habit too). No matter where I'm staying or how long, I have to unpack my suitcase within minutes of setting it down.

We woke up early (as is customary with a 2 1/2 year old) and headed out to find breakfast. We didn't have to go far because there was a main shopping/dining area at the end of our street. We had a yummy breakfast of ridiculously buttery pastries and muffins. Then we set out to explore the city. The weather couldn't have been nicer, high 60s and full sun (it would stay this way for the next 3 days.) We hit up an extensive Farmer's Market (like the inside of our Faneuil Hall market but filled with fresh produce, meats, and cheeses) and grabbed some picnic essentials, then headed to the park. Montreal has a ton of lush green space. For dinner, we took the subway over to Montreal's Chinatown. It was interesting to navigate the menu-- one side Chinese, one side French. Did I mention that Montreal is hard core with their French? Most of you probably knew that but for some reason I didn't realize it would be SO French. I have no skills when it comes to that language. I could get by a bit by translating to Spanish (Romance languages are all related) then English. Luckily most people speak both French and English but French is most certainly the default. While in Chinatown we got a Chinese Bun... I couldn't resist (I've mentioned my obsession before.) And I tried a Bubble Tea. Have you ever had one of those? It's odd... kind of a smoothie with gelatinous balls the texture of cysts. Not something I'd go for again.

A little bit about our apartment. It was the perfect home base, nestled in a really kid-friendly neighborhood. There was a playground around the corner, a puppet theater at the end of our street, and it was a block from a subway (Metro) station. The apartment itself was built in the early 1900s so it had great character and charm. Totally the kind of house I'd want as a permanent residence. We couldn't have asked for better accommodations.

Montreal is known for its bagels. I don't really know why. We walked over to Fairmount Bagel. Their speciality is sesame bagels. They are so delicious--sweeter than the bagels here and they are baked in a brick oven, not boiled. After breakfast, we traveled to the Vieux (Old) section of town. This was the more touristy part of Montreal, with hotels and historic buildings/churches. While strolling around, Beatrice started her pattern of napping in her stroller around 12 so we took advantage and grabbed some coffees while siting outside. It was lovely. We then ventured over to the Mount Royal Park area. We had lunch at Cafe Santropol , a really funky restaurant with a beautiful back patio. After lunch we walked down the street to the Tam-Tam at Mount Royal Park. On Sundays, when the weather is warm enough, a bunch of hippies gather to have what they call a Tam-Tam. There was a big drum circle, tight rope walking, staged swordplay battles, hippies selling wares, etc. It was quite a scene. They also had a great kid's playground. After the park we walked some more over to some vintage shops. Cory found a really cute vintage Big Bird Lunch Box for Beatrice. We ended the day with dinner at home and early to bed. I think we walked about 10 miles that day.
More walking and exploring. We shopped along Rue Saint Denis and went to LaFontaine Park. We had crepes for lunch at Une Crepe. We had drinks at Zaz Bar, then takeout dinner from Rotisserie Romado's (famous for its Portuguese rotisserie chickens and french fries.) There is actually a decent size Portuguese population in Montreal (we have some distant cousins there.) There was a line out the door when we showed up at 5. I've had a lot of Portuguese food in my life but never this chicken and fries combo. It must be a Canadian Portuguese thing. The menu there was in French and Portuguese so I was at an advantage. It was funny to hear the people talking in Portuguese with a French accent. The meal was fries I've ever had.

I think that's enough for today. I'll post the rest of the week tomorrow. We'll start with Tuesday and SNOW! More photos here.

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