Tuesday, June 8, 2010

O Canada!

Here's another thing I meant to get to over the weekend... the honeymoon recap! As you may know, Jon and I went to sunny and exotic French-speaking Canada for the week immediately following the wedding. We actually left early Monday morning, which I highly recommend. Who has time to pack for a honeymoon when they're getting ready for a wedding?

Anyway, this will be a loooong and picture-heavy post, but it should be an interesting one! Here we go... hope you enjoy!

When we booked our tickets, we decided to fly in and out of Burlington, VT, and rent a car so we could see the countryside. As a bonus, one of my best friends is in medical school in Burlington, so there was a chance we could run into her on either end of the trip. We landed in Burlington around noon on Monday, and sure enough, Krista (who was in Atlanta for the wedding, btw) had just gotten out of a test and was free to meet us for lunch. Hooray! We ate at the Skinny Pancake (crepes -- not just a clever name) near Lake Champlain. We took our first official honeymoon photo with the new Polaroid camera we received in the park by the restaurant:

After lunch we took Krista home, and she kindly shoe-polished our car so that everyone we passed on the road would know we were honeymooning:

And then we hit the road to Canada! And a long road it was. After a long wait to pass through customs, we wound through the Quebecois countryside (which looked a lot like Iowa, Jon remarked) for about four hours before we reached our destination, the historic and swanky Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. When we got up to our room -- which had been upgraded from a city-view to a river-view room -- we found a little dish of maple fudge and a lovely welcome note thanking us for spending part of our honeymoon with them:

Since it was already past 9 o'clock, we stayed in and ordered room service -- a pizza with pineapple and "bacon," to see if it would come back as bacon or ham (aka Canadian bacon). It was real bacon, which was sort of unfortunate, but we were so pooped we didn't really care.

Quebec City, Day 1

In the morning, we set off to wander the charming streets of the Old City via a walking tour in our Frommer's guide book.

outside the Chateau

At the corner of Rue de Petit-Champlain, aka tourist central.
Aren't camera timers great?

The Chateau looming over the rest of the old city -- we
stayed somewhere high up in the tall middle part.

Wall, Jon

Le Marché du Vieux-Port

our view

After walking around for many hours and finding a tasty lunch via our guidebook, we came back to our room to rest a bit. After a nap (for Jon) and catching up on email (for me), we relaxed in the hotel's whirlpool for a bit before heading to dinner down the street at Aux Anciens Canadiens, where the clientele seemed to be exclusively English-speaking tourists. Regardless, we enjoyed the food. It's not a must-eat if you're planning a trip to QC, but it offered some tasty regional cuisine.

Quebec City, Day 2

We awoke to another lovely day in QC and spent the morning getting our things together so we could switch hotels -- two nights of historic and swanky was all we could afford! I took one last picture out the window before we left:

We left the hotel and headed north-ish to a waterfall near town and the Île d'Orléans, which would have offered lots of apple- and strawberry-picking opportunities later in the season. Since we were between sugar-shack and fruit-picking time, we just took a leisurely drive around the island. Here's the view from the top of the falls looking over to the Île:

And here we are, playing with the camera timer at the playground near the top of the waterfall:

Waterfall, duh.

This is where we had lunch on the Île. I had a DELICIOUS
tarte flamb
ée, aka Flammkuchen, one of my favorite German dishes

wooo camera timer!

one of many, many farms

Dog in a motorcycle trailer. Why not?

Atop the observation tower at the northeastern tip of the Île

another playground, another timer picture.

Driving around wore us out again, so once we left the island we made our way to QC hotel no. 2, Auberge le Vincent, outside of the touristy Old City. We stayed in room 6 of 10, with bunny art on the wall, as seen below.

The man working the reception desk, Gilles, was a total hoot. He took us to our room and showed us how everything worked (seriously) and parked our car for us. Later, he gave us a most excellent dinner recommendation: Café du Clocher Penché. Just look at how happy Jon is with his local beer, anticipating delicious local food!

We started with a KILLER appetizer (or entrée, as they say in French) of shaved asparagus over a long, thin slice of cheddar cheese with a light bechamel sauce and some cured ham in there somewhere. OH MY LORDY.

And for the main course, a cocotte (casserole) for two of rabbit legs cooked with vegetables over polenta in a charming dutch oven situation. This was far and away the best meal of the honeymoon. Behold!

Quebec City, Day 3

The plan for our last full day in Quebec City was to take it easy and explore at our leisure. I'd read about an indoor marketplace in our guidebook and decided that we would wander that way, get picnic fixins, then head toward the big citadel park overlooking the river and the Old City and find a nice spot. And that we did! We scored a fresh baguette and local cheese, salami and prosciutto at the market for a grand total of $9.40 and enjoyed it on a sunny hillside.

From there, we took another pass through the touristy streets of the lower town we'd strolled the first day. We stopped in at the tourist information center to locate a post office and the local brewery la Barberie, whose beer Jon had tasted the night before, and took a picture or two with this weird snowdude. (I've just learned that he is Bonhomme, official mascot of Quebec City's annual Winter Carnival.)

After a tasting carousel of slightly strange beers at la Barberie, we returned to our hotel and rested up before the evening's big event, opening day at the Quebec Capitales municipal stadium. I thought some of the game might be called in English since baseball is America's Pastime and all, but that was not the case. Baseball in French starts out amusing, but it also gets boring pretty quick, at least when you're in a dinky Can-Am league stadium. I did buy myself a mini foam-hand as a souvenir, though. Number 1! We left in about the 5th inning and retired to chambre 6 back at the auberge.

Montreal, Day 1

We arrived in Montreal around 3 in the afternoon after more than a couple wrong turns along the way. Oops! We checked into another historic and swanky Fairmont property, Le Reine Elizabeth (The Queen Elizabeth). This hotel is perhaps best known as the site of John Lennon and Yoko Ono's 1969 Bed-In for peace, held the same week in May as we were there. As fate would have it, their room was about eight doors down from ours on the 17th floor:

John & Yoko

Jon & Kathleen

We dumped our stuff in the room and meandered purposefully down to the port in Old Montreal to see if we could catch one of the cruises on the St. Lawrence. Alas, we has just missed the last one! So instead, we ambled through a nice little park at the port since the weather was lovely:

And after that, had our first (but not our last) beaver tail of the trip! A beaver tail is a magically delicious flat piece of fried dough topped with cinnamon and sugar (or a vast array of other available candies/condiments). Thumbs up!

From there we wound our way through the streets to an intersection I had noted from the car when we passed some AWESOME graffiti:

Anyone who knows me will realize how perfect this is, and how essential it was that I get this photo! Jon is such a patient and loving companion that he indulged me in this and even took the pictures. :) About a block down from the fromage art, I found another tag that suggested to me that the graffiti artists of Montreal and I would probably get on like peas and carrots:

Extra points for me for wearing the dress with cats on it! (Much to Jon's chagrin.)

That night we scored student tickets to a totally awesome concert as part of Montreal's chamber music festival. It was a five-saxophone tribute to John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, and it was RIDICULOUS. We entertained the idea of not going, but were both so glad decided to postpone dinner and pony up $15 apiece to hear this.

After the concert we headed for the Metro, outside of which we saw our first and only Mounties of the trip. Huzzah!

The Metro took us to the hip neighborhood of Mont-Royal, where we had incredibly delicious late-night poutine at Resto la Banquise, a 24-hour spot with dozens of variations on the dish.

Montreal, Day 2 (the last!)

In the morning on our last day, we hung around the hotel for a bit so I could procure for my sweet cat Little Man the Loyal Luxe Cat Chalet. Shipping from Canada cost a ton when I had looked at buying it before, so I managed to arrange to buy one directly, sans shipping fees, from Monica at mtldesigners.com. That accomplished, Jon and I headed for the Metro again to go back to the hip neighborhood from the night before and sample the famed Montreal bagels. We started out at Fairmount Bagel then window-shopped through the neighborhood all the way to St-Viateur Bagel. Jon and I determined that Fairmount was the superior bagel, but that neither of them were as good as New York bagels. Sorry, Canada!

Later that afternoon, we managed to make it to the port in time for an hourlong cruise on the St. Lawrence, which was a nice way to see the city.

Since we were in the neighborhood, I insisted upon getting another beaver tail, reasoning that we were leaving Canada the next day and it would be a while before I had access to another. NOM. When we returned to the hotel we had the concierge make us a reservation at Le Local, a restaurant recommended to me by the chick who sold me the cat chalet earlier that morning. We had a lovely last dinner together, and then headed home to pack!

Au Revoir, Canada!

Sunday morning we headed out around 8:30 with plans to make it back to the States before breakfast or filling up the gas tank. As navigator for the trip, I mapped out a route that would take us through the scenic islands of Lake Champlain, which proved far more interesting than the flat farmland we had driven through earlier in the week. Blessedly, we passed through customs much faster this time around. The agent laughed when Jon told her that the only thing we bought in Canada was a cat house. We made it all the way to Burlington before filling up the tank, and our last stop before turning in the car was Price Chopper (best grocery store name ever) to get some doughnuts for breakfast and some razors to scrape the shoe polish off of our rental car before we turned it back in. Thrifty dropped us at the airport around 11:30, and we were back at our apartment in Atlanta by 7:30 that evening!

So ends our honeymoon saga. In retrospect I might have done things a little differently, but I think we planned a good trip for us. We had a lot of fun poking around new cities together and corporately killing the French language. Each night of the trip I pulled out the hotel's complimentary stationery and wrote out a summary of what we had done that day, along with whatever funny things we had noticed or had happened to us, which I think will be cool to have later on when we can't remember what the hell we did on our honeymoon. Being the packrat that I am, I also hung onto a few paper mementos that I'm planning to put into a wee honeymoon scrapbook. Hopefully that's one I'll complete before the trip is too far hence!


  1. Sounds (and looks) like you had an awesome time!

    You guys are sweet :)

  2. Your pictures are so awesome - they really captured how much fun you had exploring Canada!~ Loved your recap =0)

  3. Oh, you know I've been waiting for this post! Thanks for some really great ideas for our upcoming trip to Canada. I will definitely try the beaver tail, and I think we'll cruise along the St. Lawrence, too. Also glad to hear you enjoyed the drive from Montreal to Burlington -- that's the route we're planning, as well. Looks like a perfectly lovely honeymoon!

  4. Hi Kathleen, I've arrived at your blog by clicking on a comment you left on a post of Luceo Images. Then, I find you spent your honeymoon where I grew up ... Montréal. :) I always find it interesting to see it through others' eyes. Since I no longer live there and haven't been back in a few years, it was nice to read your post about Montréal and Québec City. Thanks for sharing. :)