10 August 2011

Arrival in Montreal (Day 2)

The second day of our latest and greatest roadtrip adventure saw the party of 10 split into two parts. My parents took the scenic route up Highway 2 through the islands of Lake Champlain, and everyone else took the more direct freeway into Canada. Through unplanned but excellent timing, we all met up at the rest area just north of the border, where we were confronted by this conundrum.

 It does seem rather counterintuitive, does it not? Confusingly played, Canada.

We found our way into Montréal after taking the wrong highway/road/bridge a time or two, checked into the charmingly named L'Auberge Hôtel de Montréal Manoir Ville-Marie, our little inn located inside an old post office. Definitely not a typical hotel, it leans toward a B&B with its mismatched furnishings and quaint vibe. Voilà, le bureau de poste.

 In French, "auberge" means "inn." In my head, auberge and aubergine are interchangeable. Here is a picture of our eggplant.

We all got back in the car to go downtown. We passed this delightful place (Mr. Fix-it) with the most endearing sign I think I've ever seen: "Nous restaurons tout - sauf les cœurs brisés!" or "We restore everything - except broken hearts!" 

Too bad the only needing fixing IS my heart...

My sister-in-law did the driving. My brother did the navigating. I'm pretty sure neither of them particularly appreciated how entertaining I found this, but... storytime. 
My SIL and I are the only people in the family with what might generously be referred to as a working knowledge of the French language. I have been to France twice, and although my comprehension isn't the greatest, I can generally get around on my own, read a fair bit, and order food. Naturally, French is the primary language of Québec. As my brother was trying to navigate the streets of Montréal, he read the maps to his wife phonetically, and she corrected him under her breath by muttering the proper pronunciation of whichever streetname/attraction/exit he'd just named. This ongoing exchange (which lasted the entire stay in Canada) did not help us get anywhere faster, but it sure was funny from the backseat.

11 June 2011

Allez poutine!

I have never been to French Canada before. Also, I get as excited about trying local food as my brother does about local beer. In Québec, naturally I was all about poutine.

Really... what could be better? Poutine and beer!

For the uninitiated: poutine is French fries served with heaps of cheese curds and brown gravy (and occasionally additional toppings, such as smoked meat for my brother in Montréal). It's served everywhere from restaurants to street carts, and I think it's delightful.

Lil brother ready to chow down on poutine with smoked meat

This one was special because we tried it at Maison du Bifthèque Main Deli in Montréal. The city is famous for its Hebraic delis, or charcuteries. Some of us quite literally ate piles of smoked meat for dinner, others sandwiches, and Isaac had it with poutine.   

So I was really excited. Don't judge.

It may be 5000kcal per serving (or any other number someone has made up to scare people), but I climbed to the top of a waterfall for this. A big waterfall. 

Poutine at the top of Chute-Montmorency
Certainly not the only thing we ate in Québec, but I think it deserves a post of its own.

If you find yourself curious about other culinary bastardizations in French Canada, I recommend EpicMealTime. Hilarious, based in Montréal and pretty much awesome in every way.

08 June 2011

Vermont (Day 1)

The first day of my glorious, whirlwind North American adventure deposited my brother and me in Burlington, Vermont. We flew in on a plane full of marathoners ready to run the Vermont City Marathon, and we were nonplussed because, after all, we were awake at ungodly hours sitting on the floor of JFK Intl., hoping that the loudspeaker would just stop squawking. Not to mention the fact that running anything more than five miles sounds like torture to me.

We were collected by my college friend and co-wreaker-of-havoc from my Hawaii/NZ trip, Mel. Sam and I were both in the sleep-deprived travel haze, so Mel took us downtown and fed us lunch at a little deli. It's a bad state to be in, because I turn into a little robot and pretty much do what I'm told, as long as it doesn't require thinking or strenuous activity on my part. Then we walked the flooded shores of Lake Champlain (no sign of Champ) and Mel took us on a driving tour of Shelburne Farms until it was time to...


We found an Irish pub stuffed to the gills with people decked out in jerseys and scarves (and not just clothing supporting FCB and MUFC either, but Welsh and Portuguese and all other sorts). We drank some beer, harassed the local Man U fans, and I screamed until my voice was hoarse. Barcelona 3-Manchester United 1.

Just the way I like it. :)

Eventually the family showed up and we had dinner together at the Vermont Pub & Brewery, which is the place that my brother and the internets tell me black IPA was invented. Delicious beer, delicious food.

After dinner we took the ferry across Lake Champlain to New York. It was cold and a little misty and we were not attacked by pirates (still no sign of Champ). We stayed in Plattsburgh, New York. We may or may not have bounced on the beds.

*I don't have pictures of this day because Sam hoarded the camera and we're both dumb when we're tired k.

28 May 2011

Airport lounges are great for people watching

I am sitting in JFK International right now. It's 4:30am Oregon time.

I have decided that I am sufficiently well-traveled by now to say that I hate flying east. I think it's stupid when you board a red-eye and less than five hours later, your obnoxious seatmate is melting your retinas because apparently he just has to peer into the murky grey depths of Hudson

I get to be cranky. I had four hours of interrupted, creaky sleep in the middle seat and they didn't feed me.

My brother and I were deposited at the airport last night by the fabulous B of DB Photography, but only after an evening spent at my favorite Portland biercafé, Belmont Station. As a friend once commented, "It's a little overwhelming at first, then you accept it and sink into giddy joy." Indeed. The beer there is awesome.

Our family vacation this year is to collect my sister from her school near Toronto and toodle around the east coast together for a few days. We are convening in Vermont today and crossing the border tomorrow. It will be my first time in Québec. I can't wait to try my French out on people again... it's been nearly two years. I'm hoping that I get enough time every day to blog this trip on the fly, but then, I realize I'm notoriously horrible at doing that. I blame my perfectionist nature.

25 April 2011

Lest we forget. ANZAC Day, Monday 25 April.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.
-- from Laurence Binyon’s “For the Fallen”

ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as ANZACs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.

Why is this day special to Australians?

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.

(Borrowed from Australian War Memorial)

This video is one of my favorite songs. It tells the story of the Gallipoli campaign from a survivor's point of view... heartbreaking and poignant. Aussie John Williamson does this version.


These photos are from my own trip to Australia last summer. The Great War may be far from living memory, but it left its mark.

WWI nurse and wounded soldier monument in Brisbane

Walking stick palms in Queensland's Tamborine Rainforest. So called because of their size and the handy root bulb. Amputees would uproot these palms, strip off the leaves and use them as walking sticks after returning home from the war.

So this 25th April, I'm raising a beer to the fallen sons of our greatest allies, so 'when the young people ask "what are they marching for?",' these men will not be forgotten heroes of a forgotten war.We remember not only those who fought at Gallipoli, but all ANZACs.

02 February 2011

Have the doorman let you in

It's difficult to maintain a blog and go to nursing school at the same time, but due to the relative mellowness of this term, I'm planning to infuse this place with some fresh content. This means, of course, that I intend to wrap up the diary of my 2008 Europe trip, write up my 2009 Europe adventures, and then blog about my Australian summer. Ambitious, yes, but only because going through the pictures takes time.

Speaking of Australia, between the floods of southern Queensland in January and the ridiculously massive Cyclone Yasi that just tore through northern Queensland today, the state is in a world of hurt right now. If there's anything I know about Aussies, it is that they are resilient, but my thoughts are with them. Aus has a special place in my heart.

Fun fact: Oregon and Queensland became states the same year, 1859.