Before I dive into the details of our trip, a small announcement. In honor of fall / halloween, a bunch of bloggers have come together for a Pumpkin Parade next week, which will end with a link party on Friday. Anything pumpkin related is okay – a decorated pumpkin for Halloween, a craft, a pumpkin recipe or anything that requires a pumpkin! So we all hope to see your pumpkins next week, and we’ll be picking our favorites to share them with you.
Now, onto the trip. Montreal is a five hour drive from Boston, so we decided to rent a car for the weekend and drive up there. We made the right call – we were able to stop a couple of times on our way there and the drive was beautiful.
The first stop was at a Target an hour north of Boston, where I wanted to buy a throw blanket from the Threshold collection that I had seen online. This particular throw was only available in a bunch of stores and one of them was in New Hampshire, a one minute detour from the highway. I’d been looking for a throw for a long time now (ever since I shared this living room moodboard). As you can see, it’s not the throw I had in mind, but it does remind me of the inspiration pillows a lot, which is why I went for it. That, and the fact that there aren’t any non-scratchy blankets in the apartment in Boston, so I’ll give it some use now, too.
The second stop was also conveniently on the way, and it was at Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Vermont. It’s one of the six factories they have around the world, and it also happens to be the first one they ever had. The tour was short (about half an hour long) and even though it was a Friday afternoon, they weren’t making any ice cream, they were just cleaning. Boo. Tickets are $4 per adult but you get a free ticket if you check in through Foursquare or Yelp so I recommend doing that, because it was cute but nothing spectacular. We did get to sample a new flavor they’re working on though, Pumpkin Harvest.
After the tour, we continued the drive to Montreal. I can’t stress enough how lovely was the scenery. The trees were all about to turn red and everything looked beautiful. I’d love to go back to Vermont one day and spent some real time there.
Since we needed to park the car somewhere, I had purposely chosen a hotel with free parking, which meant not staying in Montreal itself, but in Laval, which is the next town over. The hotel itself (the Hilton Montreal/Laval) was cheaper than a hotel in Montreal, added to that the free parking, it more than outweighed the cost of a full day of parking when we went to visit Montreal on Saturday (10$).
By the time we checked into the hotel it was time for dinner, so we snacked on a couple of appetizers at the downstairs bar and walked over to a shopping center that was right next to our hotel. It turned out to be the biggest mall in the Quebec area (who knew?) and there were a ton of home decor / kitchen related stores. Of course I loved them all, but we had arrived pretty late and they were already closing up, so I vowed to return on Sunday before we left.
On Saturday we woke up bright and early and headed for breakfast downstairs. They had a pretty great buffet including delicious croissants and pain au chocolats. After making sure we had all the directions and places we wanted to check out written down, we drove to Old Town Montreal. We parked near the Quartier Latin at a very sketchy looking parking area (if you can even call it that…) but it was only 10$ for the whole day and the car was still there when we went back, so we definitely can’t complain.
We started our walk in Old Town Montreal – which I really liked, though I thought it was odd that the Old Port wasn’t a more touristy area, it was pretty empty, and usually those types of places are buzzing with tourists and stuff to do – and made our way west, then north towards Mont Royal Park and McGill university. I had heard it was pretty a pretty steep walk towards the top of Mont Royal but I didn’t realize it would be that much. I should’ve paid more attention to the name, duh.
We kept walking until we got to Triple Crown Dinette, a place that serves southern style food in a picnic basket. Yup, you
heard read that right. If you ask, they set you up with a picnic basket full of the food you ordered, the drinks in mason jars, real cutlery and plates, and a red gingham tablecloth. The basket doesn’t cost you any extra, you simply pay for the food. There’s a park right in front of it and the weather was very nice – plus there was some live music going on at the park when we had lunch – so we happily took our picnic basket and stuffed ourselves with fried chicken, sweet potatoes and lemonade. Their cocktails seemed to be very popular, though we didn’t have any. I really liked the food, but most of all, I loved the concept of the picnic basket. The place doesn’t have a lot of place to eat there, but with the park right in front of it (there’s lots of picnic tables there) this is such a great idea. I have to wonder what happens when it’s winter, but I could totally see this working in California, for example. Someone take note and open up a place like this so I can go there one day, please.
After lunch, we kept walking around the neighborhood looking for a couple of bakeries I had written down per Yelp’s recommendation. We stumbled into the Jean Talon farmer’s market, which was packed with people shopping, mingling, and eating. We stopped by Fous Desserts (where we shared a scoop of ice cream) and Kouign Amann Bakery, though we didn’t buy anything there since they were all out of kouign amanns. During our walk down Rue St Denis we also popped into a few home decor / kitchen stores that I also loved (check the bottom on the post for a list).
After picking up the car, we stopped by Olive et Gourmando. It was the other option we considered for lunch but since it was jam-packed and super busy when we stopped by when we stopped by we decided to try out the fried chicken and have a late lunch instead. However, a chocolate brioche had grabbed my attention and I couldn’t stop thinking about it so I wanted to see if they still had one before we drove back to the hotel… unfortunately they didn’t. I did buy a killer chocolate cookie instead (their name, not mine, though it definitely was killer) that we had as a snack during our drive on Sunday.
We overslept a bit on Sunday morning, so after a breakfast full of croissants and pain au chocolats again we packed everything up and headed towards the mall again to check out the stores we had seen. We ended up buying a cast iron skillet (yes! finally!) and a couple of utensil holders for our kitchen. Before we came to Boston ours fell and broke, so we were looking for a substitute. My only requirement: it had to be square-ish, because I wanted two or three (we have a lot of utensils!) and I wanted them to sit nicely together on the counter and not waste space since counter space is at a premium in our kitchen. Turns out all utensil holders are round. I’ve been looking like crazy online and in stores for two months now and always came out empty handed, so when I saw them, I pounced.
Then it was time to make the drive back home. Andoni had an afternoon handball practice on Sunday so we wanted to be back in time for that, plus wanted to stop along the way again, this time in Montpelier. We arrived just in time for a late lunch at the Hungry Mountain Coop. It’s a coop supermarket that also sells prepared food and has a small cafe area – I had a caprese sandwich that was amazing. Absolutely delicious. I loved the small town feel of Montpelier, too (though apparently it’s a city?) and wish we could go back one day to spend more time there, though we’re already running out of weekends.
And that’s our short trip to Montreal, in a nutshell. Lots of walking around, lots of eating, some shopping, and I got to practice my French a bit. Those are my kind of trips.