Back to our Montreal trip on the blog today -
Our first meal out in the city was at Schwartz’s Deli, a Montreal institution and the oldest deli in Canada. World Famous Original Smoked Meat, it boasts!
We skipped the sit-down restaurant side with its huge line and went straight to the deli counter to order sandwiches to go. It was a gorgeous day and lunch in a nearby park sounded perfect. Everyone opted for the original smoked meat sandwich, although turkey, salami, and chicken are options too!
I opted for the special of the day: smoked meat poutine! I can never (NEVER) turn down poutine. Fries covered in gravy and cheese curds with meat on top? Yes please.
We got our food and hurried off to the park to have a little picnic and enjoy the nice weather. We gobbled up the food in minutes. The verdict? Delicious!
With full bellies, we piled back into the car and headed off to explore the Jardin Botanique (Botanical Garden).
Signs in French – I love it!
Youppi, the Montreal Canadiens (hockey) mascot, was outside lamenting the team’s loss to the Rangers. Poor guy!
Happy and hungry! Look at all the meat on that sandwich!
My poutine… om nom!
The crew was pleased with their lunch!
Gorgeous park statues, complete with two goobers sitting on the lions. ;)
On Friday, I turned 25 on the 25th of July.
It’s the start of my Golden Year, and I’m now officially in my “mid-twenties.” Whoa!
To celebrate, I took a day off from work, enjoyed a hair appointment (changed it up – hello brunette!), and had dinner at Off the Grid with some good friends and family. The temperature was in the 80s and I wore SHORTS, which seemed like a little birthday blessing in and of itself in San Francisco!
The fun didn’t stop there though! We went to Yosemite and Napa over the weekend. Yosemite absolutely knocked my socks off. I can’t wait to share my photos with you. What a place!
There was also a pending surprise that Anish has been alluding to for WEEKS and I was thrilled to find out what it was! (He’s the best at surprises, as evidenced by our Valentine’s Day trip to L.A. and my birthday trip to Chicago in 2012 – among many other times!).
The secret finally came out on Friday evening… I opened his gift and pulled out a guidebook, plane tickets, and a hotel reservation.
Y’all, we’re going to MAUI!!!!
I still can’t get over it. We’re going in three weeks for a whole week! The countdown has started and I am so excited I can hardly stand it! Hawaii, here we come!
All in all, it was a damn fine birthday, and I was spoiled rotten by family and friends. Thank you to everyone who made it special. Love you all!
25 looks like my best year yet.
9 days FLEW by and our time with Ma and Pa was over in San Francisco. But our visit with them wasn’t over yet — we were all headed to Montreal for Anish’s sister Diya’s college graduation!
It was my first time in Canada if you can believe that, and I was ecstatic. Not to mention, we were headed to the French speaking province Quebec. I was pleased to find it resembled Europe and it was exactly the trip I’d been craving for a while. (Although I still can’t stop thinking about getting back to England soon…)
Our trip began with a reunion — it’d been months since we’d last seen Diya and Sebastien! Diya had the sweetest gift bags for us filled with a history of Montreal, our detailed trip itinerary, a Canadian bottle opener that looks like an antler, and a mini bottle of Canadian maple syrup! We piled into the car from the airport and got the basic overview of Montreal as we drove in to their neighborhood.
That’s when the real fun began. The food! I swear we ate SO MUCH cheese and bread and more cheese while we were in Montreal. It’s famous for its markets (which I unfortunately didn’t make it to), and Diya and Seb had scoured them for the best cheeses, breads, and croissants. Our first evening there, we enjoyed an age-old meal of tea, cheese, meats, and bread around the table. Laughing and talking. Catching up.
You know something? I love where I live. I love the life that Anish and I have made so far and the adventures that we’ve experienced. I love the uncertain future and knowing that we will probably go and travel and live in other places.
But there are still moments when I’m surrounded by family, sipping tea together and reminiscing about a funny moment last Christmas, when I wonder, is it all worth it if you’re so far from family? It’s a constant unanswered question.
For now, I’ll leave it unanswered, savor the time we have together, and secretly plot to move some of them wherever we end up.
Diya’s gorgeous tea set.
The spread of meat, cheese, and bread. The Gouda (the red one) was my favorite. Couldn’t stop eating that one.
Happiest when traveling!
The Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal. We attended a French mass there on Sunday. It was gorgeous!
What was my favorite thing about having Anish’s parents in San Francisco? In-person love and support? Yes, but that’s not exactly it. Fun and adventures and conversations? Yes, but that’s not it either.
You know what I’m going to say, of course, because the title says it all. My absolutely favorite thing about having Mama and Papa here — the home-cooked meals!
They spent ALL DAY cooking when we were back at work after our Nor-Cal adventures that weekend. I came home to the windows thrown wide open and the delicious scent of homemade Indian food seeping out under our front door. They’d cooked enough food to freeze for a few weeks of meals for us! It’s such a treat to open the freezer and pull out a container of our favorite curry for dinner. Easy, simple, and made by Mama!
It wasn’t all for freezing though — we made sure to have a proper South Indian dinner at home and invited our dear friend Leigh over to enjoy it with us! Anish and I were so happy and ate two helpings of everything. We finished it off with tea straight from Munnar, made with my new Bella kettle!
Sigh… a homemade meal is just so good. And when you can share it with family and friends? Even better.
Wine and heaping plates with some of my favorite people!
Can’t say enough good things about this woman! She’s been a wonderful friend since we’ve moved to San Francisco. (And I was so happy that she loved the food!)
Top to bottom, left to right: banana chips, Kerala Chicken Curry, a dried masala potato dish., Beef Fry, Raita (yogurt dish), and green beans with chili flakes.
Nothing better than tea from Munnar in an elephant pot!
“But in every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.” – John Muir
No number of trips to Muir Woods will ever change the way those humongous, ancient trees make me feel. Awed. Reverent.
Once you make it past all the tourists with their backpacks, strollers, loud talking, and contraband food and drinks, that’s when the magic happens. The old forest is all around you. Hardly a sound, except for the chatter of tourists down the boardwalk behind you.
Once I make it to Cathedral Grove and stand underneath the trunks of the gentle, oldest giants, in the footsteps of the first United Nations and hundreds of visitors before me, that’s when the peaceful feeling starts.
We made it to Muir Woods after our Tomales Bay adventure before the sun set. Most of the tourists had gone for the day, although the park was still open for an hour or two more. We snagged a parking spot right near the entrance and headed in; entrance was free after a certain time. It was an accidental discovery — that Muir Woods is best seen in the early or late hours of the day. When it’s quieter, softer, and twilight is falling in the valley.
We took our time. Said hello to all the old trees. Took photos. Walked a short trail off the main path. Climbed into the hollowed areas of the trees. Laughed at Pa taking videos of everything.
It felt like ours… that forest. Just for a few moments. My soul felt a little lighter, more connected, and freer after our visit to Muir Woods.
It’s worth the visit, and I hope you get more than you thought you would when you go.
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.” – John Muir