Friday, January 25, 2013

Winter Weekend in Montreal

Snowy Montreal
Montreal in winter is a must see.  We experienced walking the snow-covered city streets, eating unique French cuisine, and partying to electronic music in a snow storm with Montreal locals. 

Here are three reasons why you should experience Montreal in winter...

1.  IGLOOFEST - You've never heard electronic music before?  No problem.  This is a genre of sound that is best experienced in this rave-like venue.  Before the trip, I tried to introduce myself to electronica through You Tube and Pandora, and honestly- I was not impressed.  My tune changed last Saturday night when dancing in a friendly crowd of French Canadians and I became a huge fan!  This experience are for those travelers looking for some unique excitement, dance, drink, and a colorful crowd.  The event was hosting a "Best Ski Onsie" contest so we saw a lot of wonderful throw-back costumes.  There were also games like mini-curling and tug-of-war.
* This experience is not for those who are flustered by crowds, boisterous people, and the aroma of burning marijuana as we saw all three in abundance.

2.  City Walking - We walked around the old port, explored St. Joseph's Oratory, tried local beer/food, and tromped through snowy parks.  The white snow against sparkling lights and European-like architecture painted a magical picture of Montreal.
If you are looking for a good pint in the Old Port, try "Les 3 Brasseurs" which has microbrew and a nice atmosphere.

Duck in a Can at Au Pied de Cochon
3.  Foie Gras - I had my first taste of foie gras and it was delicious.  We enjoyed a wonderful dinner for four at Au Pied de Cochon.  We ordered poutine with foie gras, boudin (blood sausage), "duck in a can", and stuffed pigs feet.

Old Town Montreal

We had a wonderful whirlwind weekend in wintery Quebec.  I highly recommend a visit to the beautiful city of Montreal in winter.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Montreal...Adventure into Food, Music, and Cold!

Montreal photo from when I went in 2010

To celebrate the three day weekend, Matt and I are getting out of town...well...out of the country!

For the past few weeks we have been planning a three day weekend adventure with his parents to Montreal, Quebec!  Below are the priorities for the trip.

 Are we missing anying?

1.  Dinner at Au Pied de Cochon:  This is probably the number one reason we chose to go to Montreal.  Since watching Anothony Bourdain's: No Reservations about Quebec, Matt has drooled over the prospect of eating here.  While whole pig head, duck in a can, and foie gras hamburger aren't this vegetarian's first choice when it comes to dining, I'm going to take a break from my meatless diet to enjoy the adventure into this culinary sweet spot.  Check out the menu here:

2.  Igloofest: I have to admit, when I saw that "Igloofest" would be in Montreal during our visit, I imagined a festival of artfully displayed ice sculptures and igloos.  After purchasing tickets, we discovered that we will be adventuring into an extravaganza of international DJs coming to spin electronica for the masses in the cold streets of Montreal.  Electronic music is not my genre of choice, but the people watching should be fantastic.

3.  Everything Else:  We are hoping to see the underground mall, St. Catherine Street and the Old Port, dine on poutine, drink good wine, and enjoy each others company.


 Can't wait for this adventure!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Mt. Agamenticus in Snow

Summit of Mt. A
Mountain Walks in Southern Maine
Less then one hour from Portland and 30 minutes from Portsmouth is a small hill with a big name.  Mt. Agamenticus, or Mt. A as it is called by locals, is a 10,000 acre piece of conservation land in York, Maine.  It peaks at a mere 692 feet, but offers excellent views of ocean, nearby hills, lakes, and even Mt. Washington on a clear day. 

Matt and I choose to go here for a winter walk/hike of the Ring Trail.  This 1.5 mile loop wraps around most of the mountain.  Below is information to recreate our hike.

Getting there:  
ring trail sign
Ring Trail wraps around the base of Mt. A
- You can easily find Mt. A by taking the Old Mountain Road off Route 1 in York, then turning right onto Mt. Agamenticus Road.  There are two main areas to park - the parking lot near the Ring trailhead on the right before you drive up the summit, or at the summit.  On this day, Matt and I decided to park at the bottom trailhead.

Challenge Level:
- The Ring trail is an easy hike with slightly moderate sections if taking a trail to the summit (like Fischer or Blueberry Trail).  This is a great hike for nature-lovers looking for a leisurely walk, families with small children, or someone wanting to be introduced to hiking.  Almost anyone can enjoy part of this mountain.

Our Path:  
- We started out going West on the Ring trail.  At Fischer Trail, we got off and went up to the summit.  At the summit, we enjoyed clear views of the coastline as well as mountain views of the Ossipee mountains and White Mountain foothills.  We were bummed we didn't bring a sled, because children and adults were enjoying the gradual and wide sledding hill.  We headed down Vulture's View trail and reconnects with the Ring.  Continuing through the winter forest, we eventually got back to our car.  We were out for about 1.5 hours and had a fabulous time.

vultures view trail
Heading down the mountain on Vulture's View
- Traction:  Although this is a "small" hike, you want to make sure you bring appropriate gear.  Snow and ice on the trail made traction a recommended item.  Since it had been over a week since the last snow, snow shoes would work, but wouldn't be preferable.  The best choice for these conditions was to use a less cumbersome form of traction.  Matt used a pair of Yak Trax and I used Microspikes.  This was perfect to grab the ice and prevent us from slipping.
- Water and snack
- Layered cold weather gear including jacket, warm layer, warm hat, and gloves
- Snow boots and warm socks

For Families:
- This is a great area to hike, view nature, sled, and picnic.  We saw families enjoying time together in the snow.  The ring trail encourages young hikers by offering a page to a Moose themed story every 200 feet or so.  You and your child can enjoy the 1.5 miles and be entertained by the story.

kids sledding on the summit of mt. a
Children sled on the summit