two thousand and eleven

12.31.2011


This year was a very welcomed change in pace from the last two - less moving, and fewer airplanes, trains, and buses. Montreal's such a pretty place to live, with an endless opportunity of things to do. I'll admit that I used to have some ignorant prejudice towards Quebec but am so glad that I kept an open mind or I would have missed out on all of the beautiful things this province has offered us over the last year. Your recommendations have made our outings and trips a million times better.  Thanks again for being here; your emails, messages, and comments always make our day. 

A recap of of 2011:

The new year began in Times Square where we spent a layover to see what NYE in NYC was like. January in Montreal was significantly warmer than the Winnipeg winters we're used to, but we still  tried to stay indoors for most of it because we're wimps. For my birthday, we went to Au Pied De Cochon and had an incredibly delicious meal.

In February, we took a road trip to Quebec City for the Carnaval festivities, where we experienced tire d'Ă©rable, grabbed some poutine for lunch, and had amazing hearty dinners to warm us at night. 

We spent a lot of time in museums in March, tried some new restaurants, and spent too much time on the metro running errands.

In April, we visited some vintage stores on Amherst and St. Catherine to try and put the last touches on our home.

The Arctic Monkeys visited Montreal in May and I was thrilled to finally see them live. Sometimes, Alex and I still celebrate the anniversary of the day we started dating - we went to Liverpool House this year and I tried the lobster spaghetti that a lot of people here rave about.

The warm weather in June had us outdoors more often - in Mont Royal Park, and kayaking on the Lachine. We didn't see the moon eclipse in Montreal, but I took a photo of it anyway. After living in Montreal for nearly a year, we finally visited Schwartz's and spent an afternoon having tea at Maitre de Chocolatier; it was delightful.

On Canada day, we watched fireworks and ate french fries (from frite alors!) in Old Port. We also visited record stores, tested out our new tandem bike, and learned how to fix it, and we finally saw Paul McCartney live. July was fun.

There aren't too many photos from August - the month full of bike rides. I'm happy we captured one evening on video:





We indulged in Halloween apples, in October, and saw a free Arcade Fire show, and Alex made a really sweet video for our 2 year wedding anniversary.

Alex's birthday was in November and I baked my very first cake for him! Other highlights included a trip to the biodome and the big bang exhibit.

We left for Paris in December and spent some time wandering around the city in the rain. Next we headed to Morocco and spent Christmas Eve in the Sahara Desert, under the stars. It was such an unbelievable experience and it will likely take us a little while to get all the photos and stories up here, but we'll get around to it all eventually. 

A year ago, we promised ourselves that we'd have a quiet New Year's Eve at home this year - we're making a nice dinner, watching Home Alone, and playing some songs on the ukulele. Happy 2012!!

merry xmas

12.23.2011

We hope you have a very Merry Christmas ( and a Happy New Year! )

Alex & Mina

roomorama

12.20.2011

We've tried short-term apartment rentals in the past and loved the experience. It's nice to have the option to cook your own meals, if you'd like a break from eating out and, more importantly, they're usually less expensive. So, when Roomorama contacted us to let us know about their company and whether we were interested in writing about our experience using their service, it was a natural fit. We receive a lot of emails asking us to push products and usually decline, but the people at Roomorama are friendly, professional, and offer an enticing alternative to traditional accommodations, so we're happy to promote them. While Roomorama did sponsor our stay, this is an honest review and all opinions are our own.

It was easy to search for, and book a place using Roomorama. The accommodations were exactly as pictured on the site and there weren't any negative surprises - only pleasant ones in the way of a selection of flavoured teas and proximity to a grocery store. The owner of the apartment unit (in the 1st arrondissement) that we chose  responded to any inquiries we had promptly - up to, and during, our stay in Paris.


The only minor inconvenience was having to bring a cash deposit with us.  Fortunately, our host was very helpful and allowed us to give him the deposit in Canadian dollars so that we didn't have to waste money exchanging it to, and from, Euros.

We would absolutely use Roomorama again. If you're planning a trip, we would recommend searching your destination on the site just to see what's available.

rain

12.18.2011

There's a scene in 500 Days of Summer that is just perfect; it's about expectations vs. reality. I try to live by a "hope for the best and expect the worst" kind of attitude but usually just end up omitting the last bit and that sometimes leads to disappointment. So, when I saw that the weather forecast read heavy rain for our time in Paris, I hoped it would be wrong and that there would just be a light drizzle... but I brought a coat with a hood (that was my "expect the worst"). The weather was horrendous. I had pinned out every point for every place I wanted to go on a google map and figured out how much time it would take for each. When we arrived at our accommodations, I was so cold and damp that I sat by the heater for nearly an hour nursing a cup of too hot tea. So, we didn't stick to my schedule; we abandoned it.... and had an amazing time despite the weather. When I was younger, I might have sulked and missed out, but we made the most of the city. And as they so often do, The Beatles said sang it best in their song about rain "it's just a state of mind". -Mina

paris demain!

12.13.2011


We're off to Paris for a few days before our Morocco trip.
~

Photo of a little souvenir key chain we picked up from a street vendor during our first trip to Paris together

travel gift guide - under $50

12.11.2011





1// Art Inspired by Travel - It's always nice to have things to remind you of your favourite places. This watercolor print from Jessica's Little Shop of Illustrations is cute and reminds me of the times I spent in London. 

2// Clothing Steamer - I strongly dislike ironing, and you probably do too  :)

3// Portable Speaker Dock for your iPhone or iPod - One thing we missed during our travels was listening to music. Although we had out entire iTunes library on our macbook,  the speakers weren't great. On flights we would usually watch movies and TV shows. This would be great to have for those hotel room dance parties.

4// Life - If you were a fan of BBC's Planet Earth, you'll love Life. This series would inspire wanderlust in anyone and is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen on TV. The original UK series is narrated by David Attenborough, but if you miss Oprah's voice, you can get the version that aired on the Discovery Channel, narrated by her!

5// An Entire Season of Any Show - I think I watched more TV, movies, and documentaries while we were traveling than I have in my entire life. Those plane/bus/train rides go by so quickly if you have hours of entertainment loaded onto your iPod.

6// Boxed Set of Wallpaper City Guides - These aren't the most practical travel guides, but they're not trying to be the next lonely planet. What they lack in depth, they make up for in glossy photos of boutique hotels, trendy restaurants, and unique stores... plus, they're cute

*see the under $20 travel gift guide here

big bang

12.06.2011

The Big Bang exhibit opened at the Montreal Museum of Fine arts a few weeks ago so we went to check it out. The exhibit consists of 16 installations by several visual artists. Arguably, the strangest installation was a room full of stacked plastic lawn chairs, somewhat pretentious but still kind of cool - maybe just because it's so absurd. 

My favourite was a room full of bean bag chairs that you could sit in to admire the floor-to-ceiling murals. (I didn't snap any photos, but there are some good ones here).





I also loved Jeannot Painchaud's installation entitled Souffle et reminescence. Videos, that looked like holograms from a sci-fi movie, of dancers, gymnasts, and trapeze artists were projected on large panels in a dark room with eerie music playing in the background. The exhibit is on now through to January 22nd and if you're in Montreal you should definitely have a look for yourself.


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