Summer is coming!

With the warm weather coming back, I have but one thing on my mind: TRAVEL! Every time I hop in the car or on the bus, I feel like shouting, “To infinity and beyond!”

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However, as we don’t have any trips planned for this summer, I’m starting to think that exploring our province would be a good alternative. To help me in my quest for the perfect outing, I have selected four books. I hope they might inspire you to check out your piece of map a little this summer too!

  1. Prenez le champ! by Julie Aubé: This is a new one coming out this week. I was so intrigued by this book that I decided to go check out the book release and bought it there on Monday night. I really didn’t feel too cool with my bright orange raincoat while everyone else was cruising along with drinks in their hands, but the book is amazing! It is filled with itineraries regrouping different farms and local producers. I’m really excited to go explore Québec’s countryside, coasting from food stop farm to farm. The book in itself is also really well made with hand-drawn maps, amazing pictures and descriptions that really make you want to leave right away to go taste Mr Poncelet’s asparagus or go wine tasting on Orleans Island.
  2. Le Montréal Gourmand de Philippe Mollé, Ulysse: Philippe Mollé used to have a cooking show that I would religiously watch with my mom. Our excitement when meeting him last winter at the Salon des Métiers d’Art, where he was selling a really nice maple syrup, was just ridiculous. He was charming, and so we bought maple syrup, and I took out this book again. Filled with restaurant and café recommendations all in Montreal, this is a great companion for those week-ends when you don’t feel like going out too far. Some suggestions are even vegan!
  3. Escapades au Québec, La Presse: This is a really beautiful book filled with amazing pictures of the nicest places to visit in the province. There’s something for everyone: lovers, kids, hermits (traveling separately), beach enthusiasts, foodies and more. I wish I had enough time to visit each one of these wonderful spots!
  4. Randonnée pédestre au Québec, Ulysse: Because I will probably double in size this summer (I blame the incredible food all the other books are promoting), I want to select some hikes too. Québec has a great variety of landscapes ranging from fields to beaches, and it would be a shame not to take advantage of the great outdoors during the summer! This book is really well put together with tips, maps and difficulty levels for each hike.

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I feel like it will be impossible to choose from the amazing selection these books bring forward! I’m really excited to skim through them and to discover new favourites. Let me know if you have any recommendations, or if you have fun travel plans for the summer!

San Francisco Series: Welcome Back Home!

We are back in Montreal after a week in San Francisco!

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Our favourite sport in SF, the beaches!

We really had a lot of fun exploring this city, but we were also very surprised by a few things. I hope these few pointers will help you out if you are traveling to San Francisco soon. Here they are!

First, San Francisco is a really expensive city. As Canadian, we were expecting to spend more money than back home. However, we were not prepared to pay as much for simple things. Food was particularly expensive: I don’t think we ever found any sandwich for less than 10$. Ouch!

Concerning food, beware that not much will be vegan in the main attractions. Of course, San Francisco is a seaside city, and, therefore, seafood is everywhere. Vegetarian options are usually available, but you’ll have to ask for no cheese or no eggs if you want to stay vegan. Also, make sure you visit Greens because it is quite amazing!

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Greens’ chocolate banana cake with coconut sorbet. Yum!

Second, San Francisco is weirdly shy about grocery stores. We had trouble finding fresh vegetables and fruits, which is why we were so happy to bump into the Fort Mason Farmers’ market. After that, we wandered in the city a lot and couldn’t find any food stores, until we used a GPS to go to Whole Foods. I definitively recommend googling for food stores because you might not find any by chance.

Third, layers are key! Any travel guide will tell you that San Francisco’s weather can change quickly. Well it’s true. Bring a warmer sweater or coat in your backpack because the city can turn out to be colder than expected.

Fourth, some parts of the city are better explored with a taxi than by foot. We were quite surprised to see as many homeless people hanging around the city’s main attractions. However, most of the time we did feel safe. One time we were quite happy to get to our destination was when we were looking for the Asian Art Museum. We thought it would be okay to go from downtown to the museum. Well, we walked quickly and were weirded out by the ominous feeling of some of the street corners. Nothing happened, but we decided to take a taxi to Japantown after our visit. So listen to your guidebook and be careful where you go on foot.

Speaking of feet, bring comfortable walking shoes because things are far from one another. Also, hills are really no joke in San Francisco, and you will be happy to have some friction with the ground.

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Enjoying the Pacific with my Winter boots.

Overall, we were quite happy to visit San Francisco. We really enjoyed the bay, the beaches and the nice weather. The sun was amazing and the break from the rain and snow was a true blessing.

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Home sweet home… ah, snow!

Let me know what are your travel plans for 2016, if you have any recommendations or other travel tips! 🙂

San Francisco series: Day 2

For our second day in San Francisco, we took all our daring spirits and climbed a lot of very steep streets. Of course this was torture a lot of fun early in the morning. The exercise was very welcome because we have been eating a lot!

Of course this climbing had a purpose: Lombard Street! I have to say, this chunk of road is very cute! The houses are so well tended and the quantity of flowers made us forget we are still in December. Not to mention that the walk to the top of it gives great viewpoints of the bay.

After Lombard street, we walked to the Coit Tower. Once again, very steep streets, but interesting sights. The view from the tower was spectacular.

We cannot get over how beautiful the bay is! After the tower, we climbed down and walked to China town. We passed in front of many antiques shops and enjoyed the sun. Once in China town, we were greeted by the usual show of trinkets, paintings and souvenirs. We found our way to Waverly Place, the square and the Blossom Tea Company.

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We were expecting a little bit more from China town however and were not quite satisfied with our stroll there. So we took on Bush Street and walked to Japan town. After all this walking, we were starving and stopped at the House Kippu (quite a funny name for a restaurant if you are a French speaker) for Bento boxes. Yum!

The potato croquettes with the plum sauce were so good: crispy on the outside, warm and smooth on the inside. The plum sauce was a perfect match. The rice was also made fresh and cooked to perfection. The avocado rolls and inari were also very tasty.

It was quite a change in scenery to be in Japan town as the street signs, store fronts and everything around you is in Japanese. Japan Center is a great place to shop for Japanese goods and taste some Japanese food. We had a really great time there!

And since we didn’t walk enough today, we decided to walk back to our hotel and to pass by the marina to enjoy the view of the bay again. Once again, the temperature was perfect and the sun so good!

We had a great day of walking today! If you have any recommendations, please let us know! 🙂