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“You are a child of the universe, no less than the moon and the stars. You have a right to be here.”
- Desiderata, Max Ehrmann
…over these glittery french nails via notebook doodles. Don’t you think they’d be perfect for a cocktail party or new year’s eve? I’m plotting the next event that I can wear them to. xo
So what do you do when you’re driving 11 hours to get home to Baltimore from Toronto?
You stop at Niagra Falls of course!
You stare at the sheer power and beauty…
hop on a boat to take a closer look…
throw on a blue plastic parka and get drenched by sprays of water shooting off the rocks underneath the falls.
You pose for a few pictures, hop back in the car exhilarated, and proceed to spend the rest of the drive looking up info about the falls on Wikipedia. Until your phone runs out of battery.
But it’s ok, because you get to stop for lunch at the home of the original buffalo wing in Buffalo, NY. And then you decide that every vacation should end with blue cheese and buffalo sauce. Am I right?
Thanks again for letting me share this trip with you. It was such a great adventure and I’ve loved reliving the memories through my posts! I promise to return to the regularly scheduled programming now. xo
If Montreal is for hipsters, Toronto is for rollerbladers.
No really. The concentration of rollerbladers in Canada is either alarming or awesome, depending on how you look at it. I’m gonna go with the latter for the sole reason that I simply love this city.
Toronto is not only super clean and gorgeous, but it’s huge! This is the view from the top of the CN tower, where Scott and I ate lunch in the cheesy but fancy rotating restaurant. In between bites of the most decadent truffle mac and cheese known to man, I exclaimed on the city’s size no less than five times. I think Scott was thrilled.
But really, it’s big right? I mean, who would’ve thought?
As you may be able to tell, Scott and I arrived in Toronto without knowing very much about the city except that our friend Scott (different from husband Scott), thought it was cool. Yes, we stopped there solely because he told us to (and yes, we also jump off bridges when friends tell us to). Luckily, he was 100 percent right.
Our first night in town we grabbed drinks and appetizers at Lusso, a great restaurant overlooking Lake Ontario. The weather was perfect, the sangria was delicious, and the view of the boats and planes passing by was pretty rad.
We wanted to linger over drinks for a while but after witnessing a homeless woman steal a sandwich off of a patron’s plate (impressive if you ask me), we decided to pack it up and head to Rogers Stadium.
That’s right–we went to not one, but two baseball games on this little road trip. Am I scoring brownie points or what? Truth be told I was just as excited to check out the stadium as Scott; not only because the stadium has a retractable roof (woah) but because the Blue Jays were playing the Orioles. I threw on the only orange/black combo in my suitcase and off we went.
It was 80s night at the stadium…
and they had sippy cup beers. Need I say more?
The game was a lot of fun, though I’m not sure the Blue Jays fans were thrilled with Scott and I’s enthusiasm for the O’s. We developed a pretty solid set of hecklers, and things got so heated that they sent in a staffer to keep an eye on things.
His name is Nathan, and he’s got it under control.
Scott was definitely intimidated by him. Can’t you tell?
The next morning we took a long walk to Kensington Market in search of coffee. We saw some great sights along the way…
…but when we got to the cafe, it didn’t serve coffee.
The market streets are lined with adorable independently-owned shops, and it was a perfect day for a stroll.
We spent the day walking around, checking out the city’s shops and running into little gems like this one:
I mean, who doesn’t love a pop-up park with cozy couches, big lanterns and food trucks serving ice cream and bbq? We bathed in the sunshine and then caught a show at Toronto’s second city. It was hilarious, but no cameras were allowed.
So… 80s nights, baseball games, pop-up parks and a giant lake. What’s not to like in Toronto?
Ohhh, right. The rollerbladers.
It’s incredibly dreary outside today, and though I love summer rain I think a second cup of coffee is in order. Anyone want to join me? xo
Thank you again for letting me relive my trip to New England and Canada. I’m having so much fun sharing my photos with you but promise to wrap things up this week. If you want to read about the beginning of the trip, see the recaps of Boston; Portland, ME; Littleton, NH; and Quebec City.
Out of all the stops on our summer road trip, I was most excited for Montreal. I had read wonderful things about the city’s restaurants, shops, and overall vibe and couldn’t wait to get to the flat we rented off of a listing on airbnb, which I highly recommend. Our little studio was in the heart of Plateau Mont Royal, just around the corner from loads of adorable vintage shops. It was decorated simply, but had its own kitchen and office area, which was a wonderful respite from the cramped hotel rooms that marked the beginning of our trip.
We loved the flat but didn’t stay there very long… there was a festival to catch! And not just any festival. This one had a parade, marching bands…
After all, there was chocolate to be eaten.
And fireworks to be seen.
These weren’t just any fireworks–they were part of L’International Des Feux Loto-Quebec, an annual fireworks and pyromusical competition held along Montreal’s Saint Lawrence River. Every Saturday from June to August, one of the 10 competing countries puts on a fireworks show which is matched to music. Each show is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 by a group of international judges, who name a winner at the end of the summer. The competition is known as the Olympics of the pyrotechnical world, and for good reason. It blew every childhood fireworks show out of the water, and I’ve seen some good ones!
We watched the show from the riverside, but tons of Canadians took it in from the city’s Jacques Cartier bridge, which I thought was beautiful in its own right.
We spent the night in our flat, where we were greeted by a visitor of the feline variety who ventured in through an open window. We woke up the next morning cat-free and ventured out for some of the infamous Montreal bagels.
Holy bagelhole. I’d heard a lot about Montreal bagels – particularly those from the St. Viateur and Fairmont bagel shops – but I have to admit that those doughy bagel piles are pretty impressive.
But while both shops had massive piles of bagels and long lines of people, I wasn’t really impressed with either of them. I’m not sure if it had to do with the lack of flavored cream cheese (I’m a veggie girl at heart), the absence of toasting (crucial in my opinion), or the fact that we live next to an awesome bagel shop at home, but they just didn’t do it for me. I did get a kick out of their name for everything bagels though – they’re called “all dressed.” So, there’s that.
After carbo-loading we grabbed a couple of public bikes and did a quick tour around the city. It was a beautiful Sunday and the streets and parks were filled with shoppers, dancers, musicians and sunbathers. We witnessed two dueling drum groups, loads of picnics, and a large group of people practicing what appeared to be a mix of tai chi and breakdance. Don’t worry, I was confused too. This mural made me feel better though.
Montreal has a very young, hipster-like feel to it, but I must admit that it didn’t live up to my admittedly lofty expectations. It was a little edgier (read: dirtier) than I expected, and even with the beautiful, brimming parks and the swarms of bikers, I couldn’t get past its rough edges. Maybe I was expecting too much, or maybe Montreal’s just too cool for me.
Lovely readers, I hope you have a beautiful, hot August weekend filled with dripping popsicles and dips in the pool. I’m in the Hamptons celebrating a dear friend’s wedding but will be back here with more posts on Monday. In the meantime, stay cool. xo
Okay, I’ve gotta be honest with you guys: when we left New Hampshire for Quebec City, Scott and I had already biked, hiked, sailed, and kayaked on vacation. I was more than ready for a little R&R, and the French did not disappoint.
We stayed at the Maison du Fort, a cozy inn located in the upper part of town, inside the fortress walls. The Maison is run by a wild lady named Marielle, who served us buttery pastries for breakfast and gave us the inside scoop on good events around town.
One of the Marielle’s recommendations was a free Cirque du Soleil show held weekly under the city’s highway overpass. It sounded a little sketchy but we decided to go for it, and I’m so glad we did.
Who doesn’t love fire-wielding she-birds strutting through the crowd?
And silk-wrapping acrobats hanging from the highway? The performances spoke for themselves (and thank God, because they were all in French).
The next day we slept in late, grabbed some coffee and walked around the city. The whole place just oozes French charm, and I couldn’t help but feel transported back to Europe.
Then ate croissants, and took pictures of houses…
Then ate eclairs, and took pictures of…doors?
Eventually we bought a bottle of wine and continued walking around the city, which was a little risky considering my penchant for jaywalking and the number of horse-drawn carriages around. I tried to remember to watch my feet, but with a view like this it was hard to focus.
After finishing our wine we went on a hunt for Chez Victor, which has a reputation as the best burger spot in all of Quebec. The reputation is wrong–it wasn’t just the best burger in Quebec, it was the best burger anywhere. Scott and I scarfed ours down, stopping in between bites to practice saying “burger” in a French accent. It sounds sort of like “BEAR-gare” and was incredibly funny to us. (Did I mention the wine?)
So a lot of food and a lot of photographs–that pretty much sums up the story of Scott and I in Quebec City, a gorgeous, historical, French Canadian town. Food and photographs. And I wouldn’t change it for a second. xo
Now that we’re two cities in to this adventure, I figure I should explain how the whole thing came about. It all started with New Hampshire.
My parents and their family friends decided to rent this old farmhouse in the White Mountains: (excuse the photo from the rental site please!)
Now, normally the prospect of staying in an “old farmhouse” with no air conditioning doesn’t send me running, but I love my family, I love their family friends, and I’ve always wanted to explore New England. Add to that Scott’s slight obsession with the White Mountains, and a trip was born.
Naturally, the first thing we did was climb Mount Jefferson. In Vibram five fingers. Not something I’d recommend. (Can you spot the pack of hikers on the upper left part of the photo below? They’re the ones that look like ants. Just to give you some perspective.)
When reading the trail guide to decide on a hike, Scott and I wisely opted against the nine-hour Mount Washington hike (given that we hadn’t brought boots or any other hiking gear) and decided to do the five-hour Mount Jefferson hike instead. We’re used to a fast climbing pace, and so despite the mountain’s “difficult to very difficult” rating, we figured we’d get done in three hours tops. We were wrong.
The hike included climbing rock walls like this puppy, which was fun on the way up, but terrifying on the way down.
We persevered, and the view from the top was gorgeous.
All in all the hike took us a little less than five hours, or exactly what the trail map said. Sorry, trail map, for not trusting you.
After the hike I was briefly worried that I had injured my ankle during an unfortunate (and yet not uncharacteristic) slip about halfway down the mountain. But I woke up the next morning feeling fine and we set off on the most hilarious kayaking/white water rafting trip of my life. Mostly because my 68-year-old father and his childhood best friend went rafting. And that is one sentence that I never thought I would hear myself say.
They looked damn good doing it. Am I right or am I right?
My parents rafted, while Katie, Scott and I paddled along in the kayaks. It looks pretty calm here, but there were definitely some rapids along the way. I’d like to think I handled them with courage, but I’m pretty sure I squealed like a baby pig. It’s cool.
As if the rapids weren’t tough enough, I got attacked by a series of water cannons that the guides bestowed on the absolute worst people who you could ever give any type of water weapon to: my sister and my Dad. Here’s my sister reloading. I’m pretty sure I was rushing to paddle away while screaming “DON’T SHOOT! MY CAMERA’S OUT! I CALL CAMERA!!”
But it was all worth it because there was a rope swing. Need I say more?
Surrounded by scenery like this you can’t help but stop to smell the roses. We only stayed in New Hampshire for a few days but the surroundings were breathtaking and the people were about as down-to-earth as they come. That guide in the first photo? He works in Antarctica half the year trucking oil across the continent to McMurdo base. Pretty cool, right? Scott was of course smitten by him and commented on how awesome his Antarctica Nalgene bottle was. The guide smiled, handed it to him and said “it’s yours.”
How can you not love a beautiful town filled with people like that?