Friday, January 29, 2021

Winter Getaway to the Berkshires

In a pandemic year when travel has been restricted and our wanderlust has been fierce, we have found that small changes of scenery are good for refreshing everyone’s spirits! That was pretty easy to do over the summer with our annual trip to Narragansett, but now six months later (and still in a pandemic!) we found ourselves in need of another getaway. We haven’t done much winter traveling before, aside from our annual Christmas trips to New York City, and we aren’t a big skiing family. We didn’t want to worry about quarantine and testing requirements across state lines, so we decided on the Berkshires as our destination.

The little kids and I drove out on Friday afternoon, right after they had finished school for the day. Zach and Erin followed later that evening after her dance rehearsal. We did a quick easy on/easy off detour in Chicopee for an early dinner at the Chick-Fil-A drive-thru, which ended up being a highlight of the trip for the kids (clearly we don't do a lot of drive-thru!)  Side note - there is also a drive-thru Friendly’s at the same exit, which was very tempting!

It was a little hairy arriving after dark because we weren’t expecting the road closure detour on Interlaken Road and the whole area is pretty dark in the evenings, but the house was well-lit and welcoming when we pulled up. Traveling for a week, we really settled in and made ourselves at home. I posted separately about my winter adventures packing list (spoiler alert - it's very different than my European capsule packing list!) and how we search for vacation rental houses.

Our Highlights...
We had a long weekend at the start of our trip so we tried to do some of our bigger adventures on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday when we had the entire days free. We tackled smaller hikes and afternoon activities during the week. We headed home the following Sunday morning, so we were there for nine nights total - benefits of remote school/work!
  • Saturday: Grocery delivery, No. 6 Depot takeout breakfast, Olivia’s Overlook hike
  • Sunday: Tubing at Butternut in the morning, Bullard Woods hike in the afternoon
  • Monday: Monument Mountain hike, visit with Nana and Papa, Baba Louie’s takeout dinner
  • Tuesday: School/work/play in the morning, sledding with Papa in the afternoon at the Stockbridge Bowl Beach hill.  I took the day off and escaped for a solo hike at Bartholomew’s Cobble while everyone was working in the morning - best decision I've made all year!  Four hours of alone time!
  • Wednesday: School/work/Inauguration Day excitement in the morning, visit with Gammy and Riri, No. 6 Depot takeout lunch, Pleasant Valley hike in the afternoon
  • Thursday: School/work in the morning, skiing in the afternoon
  • Friday: School/work in the morning, Tyringham Cobble hike in the afternoon, Betty’s Pizza Shack takeout dinner
  • Saturday: Bartholomew’s Cobble hike in the morning, Erin and I did the Housatonic Flats loop in the afternoon, Mexican takeout for dinner from Xicohtencatl
  • Sunday: Housatonic Flats loop in the morning, No. 6 Depot takeout breakfast for the ride home
Most of our activities were hikes. Just this year, with Henry in kindergarten, we’ve been able to start doing “real” hikes as a family. We still max out around 3 miles in distance, and always come armed with a backpack full of snacks and an expectation for some whining, but we generally find that everyone is happy and proud of themselves at the end, even if there is resistance to setting out or complaining along the way.

We are members of both Mass Audubon and The Trustees so we brought our member handbooks for both, which provided a nice hands-on way to read about their different properties and choose our adventures - all of the same information is available online, too. We also hit a few local properties run by the Berkshire National Resources Council (BNRC). The maps at the trailheads were of varying quality, so we always tried to take a screenshot on our phones before we left home to make sure we had a clear picture with us. 

Olivia’s Overlook (BNRC)
  • Stockbridge
  • 2.2 miles
  • 550 feet elevation gain
  • 1.5 hours
  • We did the Charcoal Trail.  It was much harder than we expected because of the hills and the snow!

Bullard Woods
  • Stockbridge
  • 1.9 miles
  • 240 feet elevation gain
  • 1.5 hours
  • 1 geocache!
  • Easy afternoon hike right in the neighborhood

Monument Mountain (Trustees)
  • Great Barrington
  • 3.5 miles
  • 775 feet elevation gain
  • 2 hrs 40 mins
  • We took the Indian Monument Trail (blue) up for a more gradual ascent, snuck onto the Squaw Peak Trail (red) for views from the peak, and went down on the Hickey Trail (yellow).  It was very icy in many sections, so we did a lot of sitting down and sliding!

Pleasant Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (Mass Audobon)
  • Lenox
  • 1.25 miles
  • 157 feet elevation gain
  • 1 hour
  • 1 geocache!
  • We took the All Persons Trail to Pike's Pond Trail to Yokun Trail and back on Bluebird Trail.

Tyringham Cobble (Trustees)
  • Tyringham
  • 2.27 miles
  • 483 feet elevation gain
  • 1.5 hours
  • We did the Loop Trail, with a section of the Appalachian Trail!

Bartholomew’s Cobble (Trustees)
  • Sheffield
  • 3.1 miles
  • 600 feet elevation gain
  • 2 hrs 15 mins
  • We took Ledges Trail to the Tractor Path, up to the top of Hurlburt's Hill.  We made our way down on Tulip Tree Trail, Boulder Trail, and Bailey Trail, back to Ledges Trail at the beginning.  Amazing views at the top of the hill and lots of fun trees to climb and streams to cross in the woods!

Housatonic Flats (BNRC)
  • Great Barrington
  • 1 mile
  • No elevation gain
  • 30 minutes
  • 4 geocaches!
  • Easy all-persons loop 

Snow Sports
We went to Ski Butternut twice, once for tubing and once for skiing. I was a little nervous about crowds, but we felt very safe both times.
  • Tubing is available on weekends/holidays only, so we made a reservation for the first slot on Sunday morning (10am-12pm). It was more crowded we expected when we pulled in, but you’re naturally social distanced based on the size of the snow tubes and masks are strictly enforced so we never felt uncomfortable. You check in for your reservation at a little booth outside.
  • We went skiing on a Thursday afternoon and it was very empty. We signed the big kids up for a First Timer Package with a 2-hour lesson and rentals, and the three of them were the only ones in the group, along with two instructors. They are strict on the age 6 minimum because the instructors aren’t allowed to help the kids up this year, so Zach and I just bought afternoon passes/rentals for ourselves and Henry, and tagged along next to the kids’ lesson to pick up tips! The mountain is small and we stuck to the beginner area with two magic carpets, but it was perfect for our level of interest and experience.

We did an Instacart delivery from Big Y on Saturday morning, and made two quick runs into Guido’s Market for some specialty items mid-week. We mostly cooked our meals at home, but did takeout a few times and found all of the restaurants to be well-equipped with Covid precautions.
  • No. 6 Depot (West Stockbridge): the best coffee! We ordered breakfast/coffee twice and lunch once, and everything was always delicious. Online ordering/curbside pickup. 
  • Baba Louie’s (Great Barrington): everyone said this was the best pizza in the area.  We thought it was pretty good - the kids' main criticism was that they don't have a plain cheese pizza, unless you count a Margharita pizza (and ours don't.). But the salads were enormous and they had lots of interesting pizza options. Online ordering/curbside pickup. 
  • Betty’s Pizza Shack (Lenox): the kids gave this 5 stars and we really liked it too. The small pizzas were almost as big as the large. Phone ordering/cash only.   
  • Xicohtencatl Mexican (Great Barrington): yummy, big portions - we split 3 entrees and 2 appetizers (and supplemented with mac and cheese at home). Phone ordering/inside pickup. 
I love a good local shopping trip on vacation and really miss the luxury of perusing stores. I did pop into Shaker Mill Books and the Country Store in Stockbridge, and What a Gift in Lenox. They all mandated use of hand sanitizer at the door and had a limit on the number of customers in the store, and except for the Country Store, I was the only person in each shop the entire time. 

We crammed a lot into our week+ away, and accomplished almost 25 hours toward our #1000hoursoutside challenge even while balancing remote work/school most mornings.  We balanced all that out with lots of hot chocolate, card games, and Netflix in the king sized bed every evening, to make sure that we all felt like we were on vacation!  The change of scenery was good for everyone's spirits, and the kids gave the trip 5 stars in our debrief when we got home.  The Berkshires was definitely a great choice for a winter getaway, and we look forward to returning again to explore it in a warmer season!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Winter Getaway Packing

The nice thing about packing in a pandemic is that you know you aren't going to see anyone or go anywhere that requires dressing up! The forecast called for cold temperatures so we made sure we had lots of warm layers and comfortable clothes since we knew we'd be doing a lot of outdoor adventuring. We had laundry in the house and it was helpful for washing clothes mid-week for clothes, but was even handier for throwing wet snow gear into the dryer almost every night.

I typically give the kids a packing list about a week before we leave on a trip. I write it on a post-it note and stick it to the wall in the hallway outside of their bedrooms. They usually take a first stab at packing, and then I edit a day or two before we leave. They each pack their own suitcase, and we used a reusable grocery bag for each person's winter gear, which was super helpful for keeping it sorted both while we were packing and while we were away.

And of course, the sourdough starter, two fresh loaves of bread, and my birthday flowers made the trip - precious cargo in the front seat!

Here's what we brought:

  • 2 PJs
  • 5 underwear, 3 wool socks, 2 regular socks
  • 3 long underwear sets
  • 5 pants
  • 5 shirts
  • 3 sweatshirts
  • Sneakers
  • Same, with 2 fleece leggings in place of 1 long underwear and 1 pants
  • Same as kids, with 2 pairs of jeans and a few Zoom-appropriate tops
Winter Gear:
  • Hiking boots (Mom and Dad), Uggs (Mom)
  • Snow boots (all)
  • Snow pants - we wore these almost every day for hikes and snow play
  • Gloves/mittens - 2 or 3 pairs each
  • Hats - 2 each
  • Balaclavas - great for warmth and built-in masks
  • Masks
  • Hand/toe warmers
  • Boot dryer - best purchase of the winter!
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlights - fun (and helpful!) on late afternoon hikes
  • Hiking backpack - we have a lightweight drawstring backpack that we use
  • Water bottles
  • Sleds
  • We had planned to bring snowshoes, but there wasn't enough snow on the ground so we left them home
In hindsight, our packing list was pretty accurate.
  • We never wore our sneakers because we basically lived in boots.
  • We wore our snow pants almost every day to keep us warm, even on all of our hikes. I am confident that I wore my snow pants more in this one week than cumulatively over the past 5 years! 
  • We Amazon Prime'd two extra pairs of kid mittens to the house because we found we were using multiple pairs a day and couldn't keep up with drying them! 
  • We could have cut down the pants/shirts/sweatshirts by one, but were glad to have the variety.
  • We lost one mitten and one balaclava somewhere in the house over the course of the week. Ce la vie...

Friday, January 1, 2021

How We Search for Vacation Rentals

Traveling with a family of six, it almost always makes more sense to rent a house than to stay in hotels. We love being able to cook meals at home and have space to spread out. Especially in the pandemic where we're not comfortable going into hotels or restaurants, vacation rental homes are a great option. Even before the pandemic, we had used these sites for many years for our summer Narragansett rentals, as well as for our trip to Quebec City last year.

We’ve had good luck with both AirBnB and VRBO in the past, and generally use whichever site has the house that is the best fit for our trip. There tends to be a lot of overlap between the two sites, but it’s not 100% so it’s worth checking both.

Here's how we approach looking for a vacation rental: 
  • First, I look at location. I prefer to search in the “map view”, and zoom out to a pretty wide circle around the general area we’re headed to. It’s a good way to see the variation in price across different towns/neighborhoods, and get a sense of what’s available.  For our winter getaway during the pandemic, an in-town location wasn't important to us, but we wanted a large yard for the kids to play in when they finished school each afternoon.
  • Next, I set our number of guests and minimum number of bedrooms. We can get away with three bedrooms for a weekend trip, but prefer a minimum of four bedrooms for longer trips, especially when we’ll be working/learning remotely.
  • Some house listings include floor plans, which is helpful for getting a sense of layout.  The house we rented in the Berkshires had two bedrooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, which is not our ideal configuration with four kids, but it was helpful knowing that ahead of time so we could start managing expectations with the kids about who would sleep where!  
  • I always filter down to houses that have good reviews (4.5 or 5 stars) from prior renters. Reading the comments/reviews is super helpful. The house we rented in the Berkshires had a few reviews from other families who had visited during the quarantine and it was reassuring to read their comments about the strong WiFi and Covid safety protocols. 
  • Laundry.  Always make sure there is laundry!  We somehow overlooked this key detail when we rented on the Cape last summer and will never make that mistake again!  
  • Always check the cancellation policy - I’ve been surprised at how different the cancellation policies are for different houses. Some of them have no cancellation flexibility, and others offer cancellation up to the week of your trip.

Happy traveling!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Christmas Trip to New York City - Year Three

For our third annual Christmas trip to NYC, we brought the boys with us and made it a full family trip! We drove down to Rowayton the day after Christmas and did family Christmas in CT and stayed the night. The next morning (Friday), we took the train into the city around 10:45am, and got to our hotel around noon. We stayed at the Affinia Shelburne, the same hotel for a third year in a row - why mess with success? - and it was great as always. We reserved a suite and they provided a travel crib for Henry, so we had Erin and Ryan on the sofa bed in the living room, Nettie on a pillow nest on the floor next to them, and Henry in his travel bed in the kitchenette. They all had plenty of space and we had the bedroom/bathroom for ourselves.  We love the convenience of the Murray Hill location for getting in and out of Grand Central, and the rooms are so spacious, especially by NYC standards.  

Our Highlights:

Day 1: 
  • We dropped our bags at the hotel around noon. Check in was at 3pm so our room wasn’t ready, but they stored our stuff for us. Immediately hit Bagel Express (the girls’ favorite!) for lunch.
  • We walked from there to Central Park. This was a pretty long way, but we took our time and there was lots to look at along the way.  I once again regretted not bringing a stroller, but Henry did his best and supplemented with lots of shoulder rides from Daddy.
  • The kids climbed all over the giant rocks in the park, looked for Stuart Little (or “Short Little”, as Henry kept shouting for!), and watched the skaters on the rink. We found the Central Park Carousel and took a ride, which was fun for everyone. 
  • We got a couple of giant pretzels from a street cart when Henry informed us that he was “speeding hungry”. 
  • We rode the subway back to the hotel and checked into our room, where we all spent some time lounging at the hotel and resting our legs. 
  • After a little rest time, we walked to Rockefeller Center to see the tree. 
  • On the way, we caught the light show at Saks.  We loved the Frozen theme, but did not love the crowds - never have we seen it so crazy packed!
  • We had planned to hop in a cab to dinner, but the traffic and crowds were so thick that we escaped into the subway instead.  The trains were really bad our whole trip - really long waits for almost every subway, which was super frustrating and slow.  That was a bummer because we had finally gotten comfortable with navigating the system, but we exercised our best patience and stuck it out.  We took the subway to the Meatpacking District for dinner at The Sugar Factory!  What an experience!  The service was terrible and we waited over an hour for our food (we were all “speeding hungry” by that point!) but everything was a hit when it finally arrived - the rainbow sliders were adorable and came with five or six burgers so the kids split one order.  The real treat was the crazy shakes and sundaes, any one of which could have fed our entire family!  We splurged and let everyone pick their own, and their jaws dropped when they saw them!  The restaurant comped them all because of the slow service, so we all left happy even after the wait.   
  • We grabbed a cab ride home to the hotel. Everyone had logged almost 30k steps and fell into bed, even after all the sugar!

Day 2:
  • We checked out of the hotel and left our bags in storage with them, when we set out for the day around 8:30am.
  • Another stop at Bagel Express for breakfast.
  • We took the subway to Soho for our 10:00 tickets at the Museum of Ice Cream.  This was fun!  We spent about 90 minutes there, and the experience was very interactive and filled with lots of ice cream tastes and fun things to see and do.  Nothing could top our awesome experience at the Color Factory the year before, but the Museum of Ice Cream was a very close second and we would recommend it. 
  • After the museum, we wandered around Little Italy and poked into some cute Italian groceries while we waited for the restaurants to open at noon. We didn’t expect to be hungry after so many ice cream samples, but we were all ready for some real food and had a lovely sit down lunch at Margherita’s.  We got there right when they opened at noon and by 12:05, all of the ten tables or so were filled with a line of other customers at the door.  We split some delicious pizzas and everyone was fueled up and reenergized.  
  • We poked around in a couple of cute shops in Soho, picking up some yarn for Gammy and some fun things in the tea shop for home.  
  • Our next destination was the Staten Island Ferry.  We’d like to do the full Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island experience when the kids are a little older and the weather is a little warmer, but the ferry ride was the perfect way to get some great views of Lady Liberty and a cool boat ride - for free!  The ferries run every half hour, so we had missed one by five minutes but got first in line for the next one.  The ride itself also takes about 30 minutes, so we positioned ourselves at the front of the exit line afterwards and did a crazy Amazing Race-style sprint to the return boat, which we made by the skin of our teeth.   
  • It was just about time to head back to Rowayton so we went back to Grand Central to grab a train around 5pm.  Zach ran back to the hotel to pick up our bags while the kids and I checked out the Grand Central Market and picked up some yummy train snacks.

We spent one more night in CT before driving home on Sunday.  It was a jam-packed 36-ish hours, with a good mix of walking, eating, and fun activities.  The vibe was a little different with the boys in tow, but it was a great family getaway and the boys enjoyed their first little taste of NYC!

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Eating Our Way Through Montreal

We had a delicious three days in Montreal!  We ate our way through the city and walked about 9 miles a day in exchange.  Montreal felt almost even more French than Quebec City, but much bigger and more modern.  Erin captured it well when she said Montreal felt like New York City, while Quebec City was more like Florence.  Whereas Quebec gave us the old, historic feel, our time in Montreal felt more like a weekend we might spend at home in Boston - but in French!

Here are our highlights!

The drive from Quebec City to Montreal took about 3.5 hours - it was a pretty easy drive, but we had more traffic along the way than we had expected.  We arrived around 4:30pm, valet parked at the hotel, and took a little time to settle in while the kids played with the new toys they received when we checked in.

We headed off to our first destination, the Notre Dame Basilica.

We had 6pm tickets to the Aura light show in the basilica.  We had read a few recommendations for the show and made a last minute decision to buy tickets (while sitting in traffic on the drive!) and it was definitely worth it. It was so cool!!  The whole experience lasts about 45 minutes.  You can walk around the basilica for the first 20 minutes or so - everything is lit up and they've done some crazy high tech things where the paintings have this amazing animation and things are highlighted in different ways.  The second half is a music and light show, which was really neat.  It is very loud and Henry got a little freaked out, but the woman at the door was so kind and let us watch from the chapel, where the glass windows dulled the volume but still let us see everything well.  The girls thought it was so neat and Erin said it was her favorite part of the trip.

After the show, we walked to Jardin Nelson for dinner.  We had read about the restaurant in a New York Times travel review, but didn't realize it was in such a cute little bustling square (Place Jacques-Cartier) in Old Montreal.  It was the cutest little place and we got a kick out of sitting outside on the patio under the heat lamps.  They had good options for the kids, but Erin and Ryan both ordered off the adult menu and that was good too.  Zach went for a local recommendation - duck confit crepes - while Erin had a Caesar salad and Ryan got a different kind of crepes with eggs and sausage.

We struck out on finding gelato after dinner - for some reason everything was closed by 8pm - but we had a good walk back to the hotel and everyone was ready to fall into bed with promises of gelato the next day.

Our main attraction for the day was the Science Center!  We walked down to the Old Port and stopped first at Olive et Gourmando for breakfast on the recommendation of friends.  We way over-ordered but nothing went to waste!  All of the pastries were to die for and we kept a few in our bag for snacking on throughout the day.  Erin and I got the chia pudding, which was beautiful and filled with seasonal fruit (although she was not a fan of the addition of pumpkin puree).

The Science Center was awesome!  Our favorite attractions were the human body exhibit, which the kids declared "less creepy" than Body Worlds and loved all of the interactive games and stations to play with, the sports and wellness exhibit, and the creativity center.  This was like one big maker station and we spent almost an hour in there.  There were about seven different challenge stations, each equipped with a ton of different materials and supplies to create with.  We tinkered with the challenge of how to build something that can make it from one end of a clothesline to the other.  We were all working on it, using all sorts of materials and weights and balancing tricks - until we looked over at one point and Henry had rigged up a simple contraption all on his own that accomplished the goal on his first try.  Touche, little inventor man.

After a couple of hours in the science center, we walked along the waterfront and Henry spent some of his souvenir money to ride this cute little train.

We popped into Mlle Catherine for gelato for lunch and explored the adorable little shop next door.

We were all feeling a little vacationed out at this point, so headed back to the hotel for some down time.  Zach and the little kids went ahead while Erin and I found a grocery store and shopped for some snacks for the room.

After some chilling out time, we headed off to meet up with friends from home who now live in Montreal.  We played around in the park for a bit and no one minded the light rain, which helped us justify bringing the rain gear along!  We went out to dinner at Universel where we all got our first taste of poutine.

One of the things the kids really wanted to do on the trip was eat breakfast in the hotel.  (Why?!) We did this on Sunday morning and it was a pleasant surprise!  We saw more kids than we had seen in the entire city up in the hotel breakfast room, which had quite a nice selection for a free continental breakfast.

We walked back to the Notre Dame Basilica for Mass (in French!).  We love attending Mass at the beautiful, historic churches even if they aren't in English - we had done the same thing in Florence at the Duomo.  Even if we can't follow along during the whole Mass, it's such a special way to see the churches and really enjoy getting a great look at all of their unique features while sitting there for Mass.  You can notice things and enjoy them in a way that you don't during a regular walk-through visit.

After Mass, we headed back to the hotel to change into comfy clothes and plan our day.  We also packed lunches with the provisions we had bought at the grocery store, which was a great decision.  We jumped on the metro - which was one of the trickier experiences to navigate given that the ticket machines were mostly in French - and headed to the Olympic Stadium!  We rode out to Station Pie IX and it was about a 10 minute walk from there, with well marked signs along the way.

The Olympic Stadium is on the outskirts of town so the metro was the way to travel.  It is located in a huge complex, in the same area as the Biodome (which was sadly closed for renovations) and the Botanical Gardens.  We could have spent twice as much time out there and still not seen everything there is to explore.

For this visit, we stuck with the Olympic Stadium and that alone gave us hours of entertainment.  The first stop was the pool complex.  There was an amazing ninja warrior type obstacle course going on in the pool and Nettie has declared that she'll be having her next birthday party here.

After the pool, we went into the Olympic museum.  There were plenty of exhibits that were interesting for both kids and grown-ups and we took our time wandering around.  We opted not to take the guided tour and still feel like we learned a lot and saw what we wanted to on our own.

We wandered up to the soccer stadium next, but you couldn't really get close to see inside it very well.  But there was a big grassy area nearby so we took a break to eat lunch and rest our legs.  And practice our Olympic jump shots, in Nettie's case.

While we opted out of the guided tour, the kids enthusiastically opted in to the funicular ride to the top of the Montreal Tower.  I was nervous that it was going to be open air or really scary up there, but it was totally safe and really cool.  It is the tallest inclined tower in the world and the views from the top were awesome.  The ride took 2 or 3 minutes and we spent about 20 minutes exploring when we got up to the observatory.

They had a fun photo booth and a nice gift shop at the top as well.

We wrapped up our visit at the stadium and thought we might walk over to see a bit of the Botanical Gardens, but we started walking in that direction and basically hit a wall.  Everyone's legs were tired, Ryan took a major wipeout on Henry's scooter, we were hungry and thirsty, and Nettie broke her newly purchased souvenir.  We aborted the gardens plan and rerouted ourselves to Station Viau, which was not as close by as we had anticipated.  Those subway seats never felt so good when we finally got on the train!

Our destination was Schwartz's deli, with hopefully some gelato along the way.  We had thought we might incorporate our visit to Mont Royal in this same trip, but quickly realized that it needed to be its own adventure for a different day.  We were done walking, let alone hiking a mountain!  We did take the Metro to the Mont Royal stop and walked from there to Schwartz's, which was farther than we expected but in a cute, bustling area.  Unfortunately cute and bustling did not come with a plethora of gelato shops and we were like camels in the desert looking for a mirage!

We finally got to the deli and Zach checked another local specialty off his list with the smoked meat sandwich.  The kids and I also found a delicious homemade ice cream shop right across the street called Ripples, and ice cream has never tasted so good.

Because we were already at about 9 miles walked for the day and what's a few more, we decided it would be almost as close to walk the rest of the way back to the hotel rather than finding the Metro again.  The unexpected bonus of this plan was stumbling upon the Dollarama, which was another of the kids' preferred destinations after hearing about it at dinner the night before.  No better way to maximize your souvenir money than shopping at the dollar store!

Our legs were about to fall off when we got to the hotel, so it was the perfect night to crawl into beds and couches for some TV time and dinner in the room.  Thank goodness for that grocery run!

We woke up Monday morning feeling refreshed and hungry to check the last thing off of our must-do list - Montreal bagels!  There is an intense rivalry between Fairmount and St. Viateur bagels and sesame is the famous local flavor.  Zach and I had eaten at St. Viateur on our previous visit to Montreal so we decided to try Fairmount this trip.  Yum!  The sesame bagels were fresh from the oven and still warm and we bought a dozen to take in the car for our drive home.  They didn't last long - I think everyone had two before we had crossed the border!  We would have bought more but it was cash only - and therefore the perfect way to use up the last of our Canadian money on our way out of town.

With bagels in hand, we hit the road for home, via Vermont and Ben and Jerry's!  It was a fun, delicious visit to Montreal!