Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Cafes and Marketplaces

Vacation looks so different when you take a toddler along. We used to spend time picking out cool-looking restaurants or coffee shops and then we'd sit down in them for hours just talking and taking our time. We'd go to a theme park or a show or a jazz club; we'd spend hours exploring the neatest parts of the city or the wilderness or the ocean.

We were spontaneous, once upon a time. We flew by the seat of our pants (but actually by airplane). We were a little bit stupid, but we made it work - and besides, it was fun.

Now we have to be organized and conscientious and scheduled. We have new, immovable time constraints courtesy of naps and bedtimes, and can't really sit around talking for hours without somebody getting a tad antsy. And there are certain places that babies just can't hang out. Like roller coasters and jazz clubs.

Babies are missing out big time. 

All that said...

Taking your kid on vacation with you is still pretty sweet. Because kids make you look at stuff with more appreciation than you might otherwise. And they make you pace yourself. They make you go to bed earlier and wake up before anyone else so that you can go sight-seeing without a million other people pressing into you from every side. And they make it a challenge. 

Who doesn't like a challenge?

You? Get out.

In any case, our Montreal trip was definitely different than a lot of other trips we've been on together. But it was good. 

Let's pretend we're at my house and you're my friend and I got all my pictures printed off and I think you actually care about what we did on our vacation, okay? Yay! So much fun. For me. For me only. Yay!

Where do I begin?

Food, probably. That's where you should always begin. You begin your day with food, why not your blog posts? Besides, since we're on the subject of how bringing a toddler along on vacation has changed everything, this is an especially good place to start. Where we used to hit up nice restaurants and sit for hours in coffee shops, now we look for places with to-go cups and styrofoam take-out containers.

Do you want to know how many coffee shops we did in the six days we were away? Ten, I think.

Our favorites were Le Cafe Depanneur in The Mile End, which looks a little rough but has live music all day every day (this made me want to move to Montreal on the spot), and Saint-Henri in Little Italy, which had the best-all-around cup of coffee. Kitsune in Mont-Royal came in third because the pastries there were ridiculous. RIDICULOUS.

(We like to rate our coffee shops experiences. It makes us feel like Food Network reality show judges.)

Another taste bud highlight of the trip was the Jean-Talon marketplace, where we bought a lot of fresh meat and veggies, as well as sausage on a stick and The Greatest Gelato Anyone Has Ever Eaten. If you go to Montreal, stay in Little Italy and spend time at the Jean-Talon, is what I'm saying.

Bonus: making your own food and eating it on your terrace is easier and cheaper than attempting the restaurant situation with a baby. The place we stayed at (through AirBnB, because we love AirBnB so much) had the most amazing terrace situation. Our host gave us full range of her little garden too, as long as we promised to water her plants. Score.

We were told by a few people that we had to try both the bagels at St. Viateur and the smoked meat sandwiches at Schwartz's. We, very obediently, did.

Dear people who recommended these places: THANKS, GUYS. Like, so much thanks.

Warning: there's kind of a gross-looking, out of focus picture of a giant meat sandwich below. I promise it tasted a heck of a lot better than it looks here. Also, check out the crazy-eyed shot of me and Barclay stuffing bagels in our faces. It's not great either, but I feel like it captures the raw emotion we felt upon discovering St. V's. Have mercy on me and my little point-and-shoot.


Last, but not least: Chocobel. Expensive chocolate that tastes WORTH IT. Run by a sweet man who kept starting his sentences in English but veering off into French and not realizing it until we gently reminded him that we were not as smart as him and knew only one language. The bilingualism of the people in Montreal is stupefying.

Not pictured, but enjoyed just as much: a little shop on Jean-Talon street that had the best sausage in Montreal (they told us this themselves, but we ate there twice and we believe them), and a really dingy-looking place further down the road that had a mean poutine. We ate that on our terrace after Sully went to bed one night. It was so ideal. Yum. I can't remember the names of either place, which is a shame because I'd recommend both of them. If you need me to think harder, let me know and I will.

We did things non-food-related too, but this is a lot of pictures for one sitting. Stretch your legs, maybe.