Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Girl's Weekend to Montreal

This weekend, I visited Montreal with two of my girlfriends from college, Crystal and Liz. Liz flew up from Texas, and I drove up to Crystal's home in Northern New Hampshire so we could pile in her car and head across the border! 

After a long, beautiful drive through the mountains and rolling farmland of New Hampshire and Vermont, dotted with cows, weathered barns, and trees with leaves beginning to change, we crossed into Canada. There were corn fields almost as far as we could see until we reached the bridge to take us over the St Lawrence River to Montreal.
Our first glimpse of the city!
Our first order of business? Lunch!
With so many people speaking French, we were in the mood for crepes! We ducked into the cozy little Muru Crepe in Old Montreal. My mushroom, spinach, and goat cheese crepe was heavenly with greens and crispy fries on the side. And wine with lunch? Don't mind if I do! It's vacation, right?
After lunch, we stopped at Bar a Beurre, a cute little bakery next door, for coffee and dessert. Now with full stomachs and caffeine in our veins, we were ready to explore Old Montreal!
The bustling area is a bit touristy, but the architecture is too beautiful to miss. I loved the ancient stone buildings, cathedrals, markets, parks, cute little shops, sculpture-lined walkways, and friendly people.
We saw four separate weddings going on in the city that afternoon, and one of those was at the towering Notre-Dame Basilica (where Celine Dion also got married). Sadly, this kept us from seeing the inside of the church, but it was fun to watch, bells pealing as the wedding party exited down the steps to a horse-drawn carriage!
Following an afternoon of exploring, we enjoyed a leisurely dinner at L'Express. In the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood, it's reminiscent of a French brasserie. Once we were seated at a tiny little table, a large jar of cornichons, fresh bread, and a handwritten menu were promptly deposited. Our waiter was warm and friendly, happy to speak English with us when needed. The cornichons were crisp and delicious, the bread was crusty and warm, and my duck confit salad reminded me of my time in Toulouse. Washed down with a couple glasses of Cotes du Rhone wine, it was a wonderful dinner.
Thanks to a day of walking, we figured that we had earned dessert as well. Like I said, it's vacation! We walked from L'Express to a nearby location of Juliette and Chocolat (a local chain). I ordered a cup of tea and couldn't resist the salted caramel crepe. Is there anything better than salted caramel? No. No there isn't.
The next day we headed to a new part of town to visit McGill University, which my friends were interested in seeing. We strolled around the grounds of the prestigious campus, talking as we went. It's hard to believe that it's been 6 years since we were in college together ourselves!
When we spotted a little coffee shop, Cafe Humble Lion, across the street from campus, we stopped for some coffee.
The sun was trying to come out, so we plopped down on a bench out front to enjoy the cool fall weather and to sip on lattes brewed with Intelligentsia coffee and topped with cute little latte foam hearts. It was time to head south, so we headed back to the car and started the long drive home!
On our way, we took a little detour in Burlington, Vermont for a late lunch at the Farm House Tap and Grill. It's a farm-to-table restaurant serving up some delicious local fare. I dug into a burger topped with Vermont cheddar (naturally), thick-cut bacon, pickled red onions, and arugula while sipping on Citizen Cider (also from Vermont). Burlington is an adorable little town alongside Lake Champlain, and after our quick visit, I can't wait to make a weekend trip up there some other time!
While I really enjoyed Montreal, the best part of this trip was undoubtedly the two ladies that I tagged along with. We don't get to see each other nearly enough, so it was a lot of fun to catch up after so many years!  Here's to hoping we'll do this again sometime soon!

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