Travel Diary 3: East Canada & US (Part 2)
Hello all! Firstly, apologies for the complete lack of posts from me in the last few weeks, as I've had my head down and bum up (mostly) during my final few weeks of semester. However, as I am now free from the *burden* of university (it isn't really, it just takes up a lot of time), I thought I'd take some time to update my travel diary. As I write to you I am enjoying a snowy few days in Banff, but the details of this part of my trip will have to be saved for the Travel Diary Part 4! Until then, here's the last installment of my explorations of east Canada and the US...
BOSTON (Nov 11th-13th)
Freedom Trail/Bunker Hill Monument
On our second day in Boston we walked the Freedom Trail through Boston. We began at the impressive Bunker Hill Monument, which included a small climb up the 294 stairs to the lookout at the top (well worth it!). The Freedom Trail is quite literally a red-brick trail that weaves its way from the Bunker Hill Monument to the Boston Commons public garden area. Along the way it takes you past a series of historically important buildings and sites, all of which are explained by well-placed placards. If you don't know any of the history of Boston, or even if you do, the Freedom Trail is a great way to gain an appreciation for the city's story.
A great shopping area near to the waterfront in Boston. We wandered through quite a few shops including stopping in a really cute bookshop come cafe in the Back Bay area. It was also in Back Bay (or close to it) that I went into my first ever Trader Joe's store, which was an impressively affordable sort of health food store. I bought some delicious almond butter, as I am undeniably a nut-butter addict.
Harvard University & MIT
Boston is home to the top two universities in the world - MIT and Harvard. As university students and tourists these two places were obvious must-sees during our weekend in Boston. We wandered through both campuses and through a few of the buildings that were accessible to the public and were suitably impressed with the grandeur and history of the place. Just south of Harvard is the Harvard Square area, which is filled with cafes, bookstores and merchandise shops. We spent a good amount of time in the Harvard Bookstore and then stopped for lunch is a fantastic bustling bakery called Tatte.
The North End area of Boston is the Italian hub of restaurants and pizza. We walked through this area on our Freedom Trail adventures, which included a fascinating pitstop at the first church established in Boston after the defeat of the English where people had to buy their own pews, making it essentially faith only for the rich. We then stopped for lunch at a quaint Italian restaurant where I enjoyed some melt-in-your-mouth slow cooked pork and veggies.
Boston Commons/Public Gardens
This was possibly my favourite part of all of Boston. My friends and I spent a good hour sitting on a bench in the Boston Public Gardens simply watching people enjoy their Sunday afternoon. We even witnessed a intimate wedding by the lake in the gardens and watched as the sunset over Boston for another day. The Commons is adjacent the Public Gardens, and is the oldest common area in Boston.
These markets were not what I expected. Rather than the traditional whole foods market that I am used to, Quincy Markets was more ready-to-eat food stores with a lot of classic North American food like pizza, gelato and chowder. The market building is very old, historic and incredibly beautiful though! And just around the corner is the Boston Public Markets, where you can get some healthier foods such as roasted nuts, green juices and the like.
NYC/NEW JERSEY (Oct 28-30 2016)
I could have easily spent all day in Central Park, which is undoubtedly my favourite part of the city. We were blessed with a beautiful, balmy Fall day, which meant we were able to wander through the park for about an hour. The weekend I visited the ice skating rink was open, and even though I didn't have quite enough to time go skating, we did get to witness some impress skating by children half my size!
Good Health Natural Cafe (Upper East Side)
I found this place after a quick Google search and made sure we made it to the Upper East Side to visit here for lunch. I definitely wasn't disappointed. Good Health Natural Cafe had an impressive menu (pictured) and was very reasonably priced. I enjoyed a chicken salad, whilst my travel companions had waffles from the brunch menu and a sandwich.
If there is one store that is literally everything I love in one place, it would have to be Whole Foods. It is essentially a supermarket that stocks mostly organic, natural and whole foods, as well as chemical-free cleaning and cosmetic products. As with Central Park, I could have spent hours wandering the aisles, but instead I chose a few practical items for my weekend in NJ and went on my way. I would highly recommend a visit to any health food store lovers in the vicinity of a Whole Foods in America.
MONTREAL (Nov/Dec 2016)
I visited this bar for my farewell on my last night in Montreal and I loved it (except for the unfortunate blackout that ended our night a little early). Apartment 200 reminded my lot of the unique urban vibes of Fitzroy/Brunswick bars back in Melbourne, complete with quirky decor, cool cocktails and sweet music. The whole concept of an apartment was taken so far that there was even a bed in one section of the bar, which I personally thought was a pretty great addition! Would highly recommend this place to anyone looking for a night out in Montreal and fellow bar-lovers.
Juliette & Chocolat
Juliette and Chocolat is 100% responsible for my normally sugar-free diet going out the window during my last few weeks in Montreal, especially since their St-Laurent location was just a few short blocks from my house. Their menu is the size of a short-novel and includes a range of treats from hot and cold drinks, to chocolate fondue and a huge range of gluten-free brownies! My friends and I made weekly visits to this place, which allowed us to sample a good portion of the menu. It is hard to choose a favourite, but I think the Fleur de Sel medley brownie has to be my suggestion if you ever make it there.
Montreal's famous poutine is a "healthy" combination of chips, gravy and cheese curd. I can't say I was the biggest fan of poutine, but on my birthday we did make the trek to La Banquise, which is widely acknowledged to serve the best poutine in Montreal. Their menu stuns with an array of possible variations on the classic poutine. Pictured above, Peta had the guacamole and sour cream 'Mexican-inspired' poutine, while I had poutine topped with bacon, Swiss cheese and onion. Sure, it's far from healthy, but a balanced diet can include the occasional absolute blow-out!
Old Port, or Old Montreal, is a charming area of Montreal situated right on the St Lawrence river. Here you can wander down very French alleyways, visit boulangeries and enjoy the quaint charm of the oldest area of Montreal. A must-see is the Notre Dame Cathedral in Old Montreal.
I chose this restaurant for my 21st birthday dinner, although we were so full from our Banquise poutine that we chose just to share a few tasty side dishes. It is certainly a great place if you are looking for a relatively up-market dinner with Argentinian-inspired flavours and great wines.
Eggspectation is a classic North American brunch institution. I went to the Montreal Eggspectation twice during my stay, both times enjoying one of their fabulous variants of poached eggs. Pictured is eggs benedict with smoked salmon and capers. For those glutards among you they don't have gluten-free bread, but you can simply ask for no bread and add a side of fruit as I chose to.
David's Tea is the Canadian version of Australia's T2, but boasts possibly an even more extensive array of exciting speciality teas. They also have great mugs that not only have a loose tea filter, but also change colour when you add hot water (and show you when your tea has cooled to a good temperature). I've since introduced Peta to the wonders of David's Teas and we are now the proud owners of an almost ridiculous tea selection. For tea drinkers, this is a must-visit anywhere in Canada.
With love, wishing you all a safe and happy festive season,