Aug 8, 2010

Adventures in Quebec

I apologize for this super long recap; I wanted to write everything down about this vacation so that I don't forget it! Feel free to scroll to the pictures, if that's what you're here for!  
This summer my family (aka my parents and I, minus my older sister) took a trip to Quebec,  Canada. It was the first time I've ever been, and I can honestly say I've fallen in love with the country! There's such a European vibe to everything, but there's a definite North American flavor, too.
We spent the first day of the trip, the third of August, traveling by train; first from Philadelphia to New York's Penn Station, and then from New York to Montreal! It took nearly all day, especially because we got help up extra long at the boarder crossing. There was an older Russian gentleman, and neither the American or the Canadian customs agents seemed to know what to do with him! It all worked out, though, and everyone made it through just fine. After we got to Montreal we hitched a cab to our flat, where we were staying for three nights. We were so confused when we arrived; the whole outside was under construction. Eventually we realized we were in the right place, and we finally figured out how to work the keys (they were in the cutest little lock box), but when we got inside we realized it had never been cleaned up after the last people to stay there. It was a bit insane, asking to get it cleaned and it already being eight at night and us having not even eaten dinner, but it finally got tidied up (while we waited in another flat watching Tool Time--I hadn't seen that show since I was teeny tiny!). We got some fairly tasty Thai food from down the street  while we waited (I had a vegetable curry), so it all ended up working out okay!
The next day we got up bright and early to do super tourist-y things. We took the metro around the city, walked all over. and visited the Chapelle Notre-Dame du Sacre-Coeur, which was a remake of the actual Notre Dame. It was so pretty; there was more blue and gold art then I'd ever seen in one place! We also visited some cute shops (including one with Maple gelato which looked so so yummy!) and went to the art museum, where we learned all about Easter Island and Montreal. Of course, then it stared to rain, so we rounded off the day with some produce shopping at the  outdoor market, where we saw insane amounts of beautiful produce. There were cranberry beans, colored cauliflower and carrots, and all sorts of other lovely things. We ended up getting most of dinner there, and stopped by the grocery store (which was darling! It had the sweetest little green baskets that you could put atop rollers to make a cart!) for the rest of the essentials. We returned home, cooked dinner, and settled in for some Shark Week and well deserved rest!

The next day we explored McGill University, where we saw people setting up the "Festival Mode  (fashion) and Design". I really wish we had gotten to see the finished product, but we had to keep going. My family wandered around campus and also visited the museum, which was super interesting (there were a bunch of rocks and some fun dinosaur bones)! Then we took the metro and wandered around a shopping district, where we visited Fruits and Passions, a lotion/soap/etc. store that we don't have in the US but which my mom is obsessed with, (and thus we bought loads and loads of sale stuff). It was silly and fun and we walked out smelling fantastic. If you're ever in Europe or Canada, definitely drop by; their products are so lovely!  We also made a quick stop into Urban Outfitters for me, where I actually found two lovely dresses one sale. Yay for back to school shopping and having had a job to pay for it (I some how managed to get a paid summer internship)! We ate at the most darling little cafe, and we rounded out the day with a trip to the Olympic pool and the biosphere. Both  were impossibly cool, and the biosphere was totally educational. Definitely a good combination!  
We spent out last day in Montreal visiting the Olympic Park and the Biodome (which, oddly, is totally different from the biosphere). Sadly, the dome itself was closed because of worker issues, but we did get to go up the Montreal Tower Observatory, which was this awesome structure with a fantastic view of the city. Then we visited the botanical gardens. The weather was perfect, and everything was so lovely! It was actually apparently the anniversary of Hiroshima, and in the Japanese portion of the gardens there was a memory bell that only ever gets rung once every sixth of August in memory of the event. Insanely enough we were there on the sixth and got to listen to the bell! It was sad and beautiful. The rest of the gardens were so much fun; they seemed to go on forever! We rounded off the day with a trip to the Architecture Museum, where we visited an old house that's been restored and went to two exhibits: one on music and architecture, and the other on (outer)space and architecture. It was weird and I don't think I understood anything, but they did have tasty coffee! We also visited a fun sculpture outside of the museum; I liked that part the best (and you can see some of it in the photo directly below)!
 (beige and black dress - urban outfitters / rachel sandals - naot / 
corduroy jacket - gap / scarf - unknown / black bag - elle) 

We spent Saturday largely in the car going from Montreal to Mont Tremblant, a semi resort-y ski area which is super beautiful during the summer. On the way we stopped at a darling little cheese store and bought some cheese and an interesting "sugar pie" we wanted to try. We also stopped at a stand with fruits and veggies, which we got loads of for the night's dinner! Once we finally got to our destination (it took us 2.5 hours when it's only supposed to take 1.5!) we visited a lovely art gallery that was in an old barn. There was some very nice work, and there was an art display outside in the forest (where all the pine trees were planted in beautiful rows!). After that we went to the grocery store to get more essentials (think milk, meat, and peanut butter), and finally went into our little rented cabin type thing . We went on a little hike around where we were staying and saw a waterfall, a pond, and picked lots of yummy wild blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries. My sister and Grandmother had actually sent a bottle of wine and a cheese tray; it was my parent's 28th wedding anniversary that day. It was so sweet, and after we got back from our hike we enjoyed the cheese and prepared dinner. Also, my dad took a piece of birch bark (which is lovely and white) and used it as an anniversary card for my mother; it was really the sweetest thing!
And, finally...
Today we headed into the little "village" near where we are staying and took a hike up the mountain. It was about five miles, and almost all of it was uphill! Eeek! It was super fun, though; there were so many pretty little things to look at. Mushrooms, waterfalls, ponds, streams, flowers, berries (we ate a bunch of those...), moss, the views... My feet did get awfully sore by the end, though! We ate lunch just shy of the top, and, as we were tired and it looked ready to storm, we caught a Gondola down the mountain after enjoying a hot chocolate (it was chilly at the top!). After we got back down we wandered the town a bit and poked our heads into some shops before going back to the cabin. We went out to eat for my parent's anniversary at this adorable little inn, where I had onion soup and flank steak, and my mom and dad had lamb, salmon, duck, and snails (ew!). We finished the night off with dessert (a terribly yummy upside down apple pie and chocolate cream puff  type things), and went back home to view some of my photos from the trip and relax! Whew. What a week so far!  

Listening to:
Not A Love Song - Uh Huh Her