Getting it Together on the Road: Savannah

The Southern US often gives me anxiety. Do you know it’s absolutely impossible in 2014 to find a coconut water in southern Virginia? That’s not the kind of place I want to call home. Savannah, however, is different.

I’ve been going to Savannah on a semi-regular basis since I was a little girl. One branch of my family had the wits to get out of the north so I have traveled to the Paris of the South for weddings, races, vacations and of course – time spent visiting my family. Savannah has all the charm of the south while still being a part of the 21st century.

Below are some of my highlights of Savannah.  If you ever need more suggestions, feel free to e-mail me, tweet me, send me a note via carrier pigeon.

Shop
Savannah actually has a great shopping scene. When I get married, I’m going to decorate my entire house with stuff from Paris Market. Paris Market is filled with finds from flea markets and estate sales from – you guessed it – Paris, as well as the rest of the world with different cities and countries being represented at any given time. Currently the store is filled with finds from Egypt and India.

paris market savannah | almost getting it together

Upstairs at Paris Market

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Downstairs at Paris Market.

paris market savannah | almost getting it together

Dying for this to be what my house looks like.

Besides Paris Market, Broughton Street also has Anthropologie, Kate Spade and Marc by Marc Jacobs outposts, just to name a few. If you want to find something a little more local with a smaller price tag, stop by Red Clover, whose offerings channel Francesca’s Collections, albeit with an even smaller price tag.

Eat
Savannah has options for just about every appetite. Go for complete gluttony at Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House, where you wait in line for a lunch of meatloaf or fried chicken, plus over twenty different side dishes and desserts, all eaten family style. I’ve done it once, many years ago, which was enough.

If you want to have a cute and quirky brunch with your girlfriends, I suggest Soho South Cafe. They have all the American-bistro classics from salads to sandwiches to quiche, with mismatched tables to boot. If you have to wait for a table, their bar area is super cute, too.

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The bar at Soho South Cafe.

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House Mixed Salad at Soho South Cafe, complete with added chicken and avocado (of course).

I’m also obsessed with Your Pie, the Chipotle of the pizza world. Read more about my obsession with Your Pie.

If you’re still hungry, I also suggest getting the falafel at Zunzis or grabbing a coffee at Gallery Espresso, conveniently a block from Red Clover.

Play
Obviously, being a beach babe, my seriously favorite thing to do in Savannah is go to Tybee Island. The drive is beautiful, the beach is clean, and there are a ton of cool shops and restaurants on Tybee.

tybee island savannah ga | almost getting it together

Beach is better.

There’s always a race going on in Savannah –  or go for a loop around Isle of Hope for some stunning views, old plantation houses and an abundance of Spanish moss. Frosythe Park is also a mile around, so you can do loops around there and it affords some great people-watching. On Saturdays there is a Farmers’ Market there as well.

Drink
The Bohemian Hotel has a cool roof-top bar. The crowd is kind of older, but if you’re a girl, that means someone will probably buy you a drink.

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With my cousin Jaime at the Bohemian Hotel in Savannah. Champs on champs.

I’m also a fan of Abe’s on Lincoln, mainly because there are Lincoln Logs. It’s super dive-y but also super fun.

abe's on lincoln savannah ga | almost getting it together

Clearly not the most flattering photo of me ever, but I should have been an architect.

Chat with me:
What’s one of your favorite cities to visit? When you’re traveling, which do you love most – shop, eat, play or drink?

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What I Ate Wednesday: Nicaraguan Eats [2]

I’m a terrible blogger. I never remember to photograph my food. I think it’s a muscle memory you have to train. Or it’s because I’m lackadaisical in most things I do. I wish I could be a more serious person. Did you know the Spanish word for “almost” is “Casi”? I think this blog name was meant to be.

I’m writing this at 6:30 a.m. since I woke up for a run and it’s pouring the rain. I wanted to share a few more of the things I ate while in Nicaragua. I still am having a little white rice PTSD – I saw a container in the fridge at work yesterday and almost had a panic attack, but other than that, I’m already ready to be back there, waking up early to surf, not waking up early to push back a run because I’m being a baby and don’t feel like running in the rain.

This isn’t a whole day of eats – just random things I photographed that you’ll probably see again if I ever bother to do a recap. (I will, I promise – getting serious over here).

Smoothie Bowl from Buddha’s Garden

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Smoothie Bowl at Buddha’s Garden.

I was Skyping with my #WCW, Davida, last night and told her about the smoothie bowl I ate at the new raw foods cafe in San Juan Del Sur, Buddha’s Garden. Her reply? “Of course you would find the only raw foods bar in Nicaragua.” This smoothie bowl was made with a papaya base, then topped with mango, banana, watermelon, chia seeds and raw granola. I love how not-sweet the raw granola was. Do I now need a dehydrator? The answer is no.

Fish Taco from Bad Ass Eats

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Fish taco from Bad Ass Eats.

You can’t go to a beach town without a fish taco, even if fish tacos aren’t really native to Nicaragua (still Mexican, but readily available at every beach stand and just about every place in town). This was super messy. It’s crazy windy in San Juan Del Sur (offshore winds from Lake Nicaragua, hence why the surfing is so good) and whatever creama sauce was on it was everywhere. Then I also felt the need to dump a random hot sauce on the counter into it. The tortilla was a  homemade corn tortilla and was so good. BUT – the fish tacos my dad and I made from “It’s All Good” still are the best fish tacos I’ve ever had. Is that blasphemy?

Lobster from Cloud Farm

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Lobster… with the dreaded white rice.

As I said before, my meals were included in my lodging. The next to last night included lobster. I don’t even know where you find lobsters in Nicaragua, aren’t they a cold water creature crustacean? It was delicious and was in some red veggie sauce. The green thing is some sort of squash (though I wish it were kabocha squash) and the thing that isn’t rice is mashed potatoes. I’m just not into mashed potatoes/white potatoes in general… They’re both just bland to me. I was kind of hungry after I ate this since it was a few slices of squash and one lobster tail so I ended up making a salad with a random cucumber and tomato I found with balsamic vinegar and this delicious smoked cheese.

Steak and Chicken Kebobs from El Colibri

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Beef and chicken kebabs at El Colibri.

I had spoke with a few people who had visited San Juan Del Sur, including Abby from All Dolled Up, who told me about the sangria at local Mediterranean restaurant, El Colibri. We went on their second to last night – their lease was up and the owners of the building wanted to start their own restaurant there. Since Nicaragua’s only food to speak of is rice, beans and plantains, I felt zero guilt about eating a cuisine I could get at home. Everything looked amazing – they had Spanish meatballs, steak with vodka bacon sauce, gnocchi (how I miss you, gnocchi) – but I went with chicken and steak kabobs (I love all things grilled, especially grilled veggies) and they were nice enough to swap polenta (weird polenta craving) for the potatoes.

Although I love eating while traveling, I’m also a creature of habit and truly love making my own meals because I love cooking, so coming home is always a little bit of a relief for me – I no longer have to forage for food out in the world and instead can throw random stuff in a bowl and eat it. I’ve also been eating mustard on everything since I didn’t have mustard for a week and I’m currently OBSESSED.

I’m linking up with Jenn from Peas and Crayons for What I Ate Wednesday.

 

Chat with me: What food/condiment are you currently obsessed with? Do you like eating out/eating at home more? What’s the best thing you’ve ever ate traveling?

Getting it Together Thursdays: Collect Moments, Not Things

What do you remember more – that amazing Spring Break trip you took with your girlfriends in college or the sweater you bought last week? If you’re anything like me, you don’t realize you own two-thirds of the things in your wardrobe, so it’s probably the trip.

I love to travel. I was bitten by the travel bug at an early age. I am very lucky and blessed that my family puts importance on spending time together doing things rather than buying things – while most people asked for a new MacBook for high school graduation, I schlepped my two-year old laptop to college and instead, asked for a trip to Europe. The laptop I eventually did have to purchase a week into school now lays forgotten and unused in my basement, but I still fondly remember visiting Versailles with my grandmother just about every day.

My friends often ask how I have money to travel so much – the simple answer is that I am really cautious about where my money goes: I pack my lunch everyday for work rather than buying it, I make my coffee instead of stopping at Starbucks for a latte every morning, I live at home (I know, this isn’t something to necessarily be proud of at 25, but I save so much money) and delete those sales e-mails. Think before you buy – do you really love it? If not, don’t buy it. That money could go to something more meaningful.

Maybe you don’t have the travel bug – you can still collect moments with your friends and family. Each birthday and holiday, I try to buy my friends and family something that requires us to spend time together. I bought my grandmother a spa package this Christmas, took Friend Emily (who seriously I have to have guest post about her Green Trekker) out to brunch and a mani/pedi for her birthday and bought tickets to a concert for Angela for all her hard work over the summer.

In college, I drove a beat-up Ford Taurus (because I was a terrible driver, it was purchased for me in perfect condition) and all I wanted was a new car. After a summer trip to Italy, my dad told me “I was going to buy you a new car this summer, but I decided the memories you would make in Italy would be worth more”. Think about that next time before you spend money – will you remember what you buy or will you remember that trip or event you are saving money for?

Chat with me:
Do you collect moments or things? (It’s okay to collect both :))

Getting it Together on the Road – Preparing for Travel to a Third World Country

While you’re reading this, I’m probably getting my butt kicked by some waves in Nicaragua. The WiFi situation is not good (i.e., third world country Internet) so sorry for my laziness/lack of photos. Also now you know why I’m not commenting on your blog. I’ll be back soon, I promise!

Can I even say Third World country? Is that politically correct? I think it’s developing nation but whatever, I majored in fashion, not poly sci. This post isn’t about how to act in a Third World country – act like a normal, respectable human being and be compassionate, duh – but rather, how to prepare so you can have an awesome, stress free trip and maximize your time doing cool things, not dying of food poisoning or getting Tom Hanks-ed at the terminal when you don’t have a visa.

I recently joked to my father while packing for Nicaragua that I couldn’t remember at what point in my life that I traveled somewhere so unprepared that it caused me such post traumatic stress disorder that I grossly over-pack every time I leave the house, let alone the country.

In college, I studied abroad in Hong Kong for 6 months, which is clearly not a third world country – it’s much cleaner and more advanced technologically than the US in many places. I literally had no idea what to expect especially since I didn’t even know where it was on the map (nerd alert: coming from a girl who competed at the State Geography Bee numerous times). So what did I do? I thought about every country in Southeast Asia I would potentially visit while there and prepared accordingly.

  • Check what vaccines you need.
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Me five years ago in the Mekong River Delta, not dying of malaria because I was prepared.

If bugs are bad where you are going (so, basically everywhere in Central/South America, Africa, or Asia), and you can get anti-malarial pills, do it. Something in them definitely helps keep bugs away. Also use a bug repellent with 40% DEET. I don’t care about the chemicals, I care about scratching myself to death in my sleep and how I look with shorts on.

Make sure you get booster shots. One polio shot in the US as a child is good, but in places where it hasn’t been eradicated, it’s probably a good idea to get it. Same with hepatitis A – you can get it from contaminated food/water, and last I checked, kidney transplants aren’t fun.

If you’re going to South America or Africa, you’ll need a yellow fever shot. You can also get a typhoid shot for Central/South America and Africa. Five years ago I was able to take pills for typhoid, but allegedly according to my doctor now it’s shot-only.

  • Find out if you need a visa.

This should be self-explanatory – see if you need a visa in any of the countries you are traveling in. If you’re a US citizen, it’s more likely you’ll need one than your foreign pals. Take visa photos (you can get them taken at any pharmacy) for any country where you get a visa upon-arrival.

Always make sure you have at least 1-2 completely blank pages in your passport as well as at least 6 months’ validation left. If you’re traveling and about to run out, you can stop by the American Embassy (you usually have to make an appointment) and get more pages added.

  • Pack snacks.

I know, I live in fear of being hungry. I pack snacks for the drive to work basically at this point in my life. You never know what the food options are going to be where you’re going – I kind of remember one Sunday in Italy where everything was closed, including the grocery store, and I was literally about to eat my arm I was so hungry. I only kind of remember because we finally found an open bar and a bottle of wine on an empty stomach with our new 80 year old friend Rocco really did me in.

I’m also a complete psychopath and pack oatmeal, nut butter packets, Kind bars, chia seeds and protein powder with me whenever I go anywhere. Then I know I at least have some nutrients in the form of fiber, protein and healthy fats. My family actually packed a suitcase full of American food for me every time they came to Hong Kong (then took back a suitcase full of crap I was over).

  • Get currency before you leave.

Third world countries are great at ripping you off with fees and awful exchange rates. Some countries I’ve visited, like Cambodia, take American money – but it has to be in PRISTINE condition because counterfeiting is rampant. If you give your bank enough notice, they can order any currency for you for free – you just pay the exchange rate.

Also – tell your bank you’re leaving or they’ll cut off your card.

  • Don’t flaunt your wealth.

Leave the good jewelry at home. I don’t care if you feel naked without your [insert jewelry here]. So do I, but I’d rather feel naked for a week or two rather than never see it again. There’s pickpockets everywhere, even in Pittsburgh, I’m sure, but you don’t want someone to cut off your wrist for your diamond tennis bracelet. Also it just makes you feel guilty. This tip is also especially good for Europe, especially Southern Europe. A gypsy once stole my grandmother’s wallet when we were in Barcelona (still hasn’t turned me off from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding).

Chat with me:
Have you ever traveled to a Third World country? How did you prepare? Would you ever want to visit one?

Getting It Together on the Road: Montreal [Do]

Like I said in my eating in Montreal post, Quebec is all of the great things about Western Europe and France and none of the crappy parts (minus sub-zero temps and wind chills, brrr). All those things people go to Europe to see – churches, castles, cool old buildings – you can see in Quebec (especially Quebec City, which is third on my next-trip to Canada list after Toronto and Vancouver).

To forget you’re in Canada for a moment (but honestly, why would you you want to – maple syrup, everyone’s nice, SIDNEY CROSBY – the country is a utopia, basically) and see where Celine Dion was married, head over to the Basilique Notre Dame de Montreal. I’ve been to a lot of churches and basilicas in the world (Notre Dame, the Vatican, basically every other church in Italy, one or two that I was kicked out of in The Philippines for not having on enough clothes, and even the ruins of St. Paul’s in Macau to name a few), and this one was one of the best.

They had an organist playing Christmas songs and we made an offering and lit some candles for a couple special people in our lives and ventured back out into the cold.

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Lots of colors for a Basilica and a cool star ceiling. I dig it.

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Besties do Basilica.

From the Basilica, you can walk down to the Old Port and Old Montreal. We spent an afternoon there, ice skating and wandering in and out of shops. There is some place to ice skate on every single corner in Montreal, which is a real surprise for a moment until you remember hockey.

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Junior World Championship. You would [sadly] never see this in the States.

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Snow makes everything feel festive.

 

One morning we decided to hit up a yoga class to get our vinyasa on. Using the Lululemon Om Finder app (I seriously recommend having it if you travel + love yoga) we found Enso YogaDisclaimer – Enso is expensive for a drop-in ($25 USD + tax). The space is really cool and really nice – it reminds me of YogaWorks in NYC. Their studio is heated but the class was pretty restorative to me rather than a crazy hard workout, like my studio in Pittsburgh, (Amazing Yoga, if you’re ever in town) but it was just what we needed after walking around and being cold (and towards the end of my 35-day run streak).

If you don’t have a mat, don’t worry. Enso provided a mat, towel, block and afterwards you could use their showers. Enso is right on the corner of Rue Peel and Rue St. Catherine, so you can do a little post-yoga shopping at all of the stores that you probably have in the States if you live in a bigger city.

For a bird’s eye view of the city, you have two options (that I know of): you can go to the top of the observation tower at the Olympic Park or you can drive to the top of Mt Royal to Summit Park. When we ventured out to Olympic Park the tower was closed (despite them allegedly being open until 6 p.m. according to their website), so the next day we drove to the top of Mt Royal.

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Mt Royal selfie.

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Montreal through an Instagram filter.

mt royal montreal | almost getting it together

Does this parka make me look fat?

 

Olympic Park is somewhere that we also didn’t get to check out to thoroughly but I will make a point to get there next time I’m in Montreal. I’m totally into eerie, abandoned things (I want to visit Chernobyl, is that weird?). There was a lot of folly around the Olympic Park in Montreal – the stadium is empty after the Montreal Expos were relocated to DC. You can actually see a lot of creepy abandoned Olympic venues on Huffington Post.

There was in true French-Canadian fashion, a strange Christmas market at Olympic Park. Not deterred by plans gone awry, Carly and I purchased marshmallows and had fun acting like 6 year olds. Also on my life bucket list is Quebec Winter Carnival. We learned about it in French class in high school and I was so intrigued by something so insane.

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Marshmallows are insanely delicious in case you forgot.

 

The art scene in Montreal is pretty big. There are a ton of museums, exhibits and galleries. We went to the Museum of Contemporary Art to see an exhibit on aborigines and hip-hop, Beat Nation. It was pretty awesome, to say the least. There’s a student discount, too, if you’re twenty-four and have no shame about using your ID that hasn’t been valid for two and a half years (not pointing fingers here…).

Nearby, they have an installation called Montreal en Lumiere. There are thousands of reflectors with colored lights in the boulevard that you can walk through that feels like wheat fields.

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Carly in the “light” fields because she looks like a model and is built like a model and I’m not.

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Light festival selfie.

 

If you want to check out a food market, we went to Marche Atwater. It’s a great place to wander around and buy meat and cheese and bread for a picnic.

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Marche Atwater

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Looking at food works up an appetite.

 

Davida from The Healthy Maven gave us a ton of awesome recommendations for bars and we made it to two – Apartment 200 and Big in Japan. Apartment 200 feels like your parent’s lake house/cabin of your dreams. They have a ton of games – Canadian Foosball, air hockey, Pac-Man, skee ball – all surrounded by big wood tables and huge leather couches. The scene is a little fratty so it feels like your favorite college bar, just elevated and cooler than some dump that you think is awesome is terrifying to be in when you’re sober.

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Canadian foosball – hockey.

 

Big in Japan was really hard to find… probably because it is a speakeasy. Everything I read said to look for a red door. Fun story, that door is now painted grey. We walked up and down the street for five minutes until we just tried a door then immediately noticed it had Japanese characters. You can buy a bottle of Japanese whiskey and if you don’t finish it, you write your name on it and they screw it in to this thing in the ceiling for the next time you come back. I would have taken a photo but I was trying to not look like a tourist.

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I did sneak this pic of our drinks, though.

 

On New Year’s Eve, we went to the port (bundled up in a million layers) to see the fireworks. It’s the first time I’ve done something like that for New Year’s (re: remembering what midnight was like). Afterwards, we went to Pub Sir Joseph to get our champagne drinking on. The DJ was playing all the best hip-hop of the early 2000s, minus R. Kelly Ignition, but we called it a night around 3:30 when Celine Dion “My Heart Will Go On” started playing. How Quebec.

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My alcohol tolerance is clearly down. Skirt: Francesca’s. Shoes: Ivanka Trump. Top: Isabel Marant pour H&M

montreal | almost getting it together

Night: over.

 

Before we left, we also had the opportunity to meet Davida in person! I basically have a girl crush on her that just increases my blogger crush on her. She is super awesome and I can’t thank her enough for all her recommendations and for meeting us!

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Blends! New Year’s Day, ignore my dark circles.

 

I have some other exciting trips in the works for the first half of 2014 but don’t want to jinx any of them yet!

Chat with me:
Where are you traveling next? Where do you want to travel next?

Getting it Together on the Road: Montreal [Eats]

I wanted to do one big overview post about Montreal but with my short attention span, I start skimming through long posts on blogs so I’m breaking this up into things to eat and things to do/see. 

Confession: I want to be a travel writer. After girlfriend-in-tow of some hot rich guy traveling the world, my only responsibility to look pretty and wear flowy clothes, my dream job is a travel writer. I want to be the less-weathered, younger, female Anthony Bourdain. And I guess I can. So to start that off I present my new series – “Getting It Together On the Road”. I’ll probably back-track on some of the places I’ve been at some point (ideally).

My best friend Carly and I met in Italy nearly six summers ago. We love recounting the story to each other about how it was just “meant to be”. We have literally been through everything there is to go through with a person and at the end of the day, other than my dad and grandparents, Carly is the only person who puts up with my insanity and still loves me. She also loves travel as much as I do and is exceptionally fun to travel with. Enough sentimental stuff.

We decided after a strain of not-the-best New Years that we should just go away because no matter what, you’re somewhere cool and we’ll probably get a great story out of it. Originally we were thinking Jamaica but $600 plane tickets are not worth it for Jamaica – we had been talking about Montreal for months so we finally pulled the plug to do it. Here’s what we did in Montreal that was cool and some suggestions for if you ever find yourself in ‘Diet Europe’ (All of the taste, none of the crappy-ness about Europe.) Also, mad thanks to the lovely Davida from The Healthy Maven who not only gave me lots of great Montreal recommendations, but also met up with us before we left!

Eat
Truth be told, we didn’t have the chance to go to all the top Montreal eateries – many were closed for the holiday. We did eat very well, however, and had the chance to explore some lesser talked about restaurants.

The night we got into Montreal we were hungry but wanted to explore the city a little. This was before we spent a day out in the Montreal cold and ultimately basically gave up on taking the subway/walking and started driving everywhere. The owner of the bed and breakfast we stayed at told us that many places were ‘apportez votre vin’ (bring your own wine for all of my non-French-speaking friends) which we can definitely get down with.

We wandered into Les Infideles which looked cute and French and was pretty crowded, basically fulfilling our three checkboxes for a dinner place. We split a prix fix (thus keeping costs down and trying lots of things and keeping portions all in check with one fell swoop – honestly, I prefer splitting meals because then I don’t overdo it) and had a goat cheese salad, deer medallions and a chocolate mousse – all were amazing (but my dad’s venison is beyond compare). They also had horse on the menu which we thought was a joke – I’m an adventurous eater but horse is where I draw the line.

 

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Goat cheese salad from Les Infideles, Montreal.

 

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Carly and I split this plate then I started eating before remembering to take a pic – whoops.

 

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Chocolate mousse and coffee from Les Infideles.

 

You can’t miss a bagel from St. Viateur’s Bagels. I read all about the bagel history in Montreal prior to going and basically all I could think about before going to St. Viateur’s was going to St. Viateur’s.

Montreal bagels differ from NYC (and all other bagels) because they are baked in a wood-fired grill so they are wood-smoked and baked at the same time. They are smaller than your average bagel and sweeter (they are boiled in honey-water instead of just water) so you can vaguely feel a little less guilty about indulging in one. Traditionally they are covered in poppy seeds or sesame seeds.

 

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Ask for your bagel to be “hot hot” for it to come fresh from the oven.

 

St. Viateur’s cafe locations have really amazing sandwiches and salads (I had a delox salad, first thinking it was detox but wondering how salmon and capers were involved in a detox… then I thought it was deluxe until I got home and got the lox part. And I’m vaguely a writer – hah!). Be sure to get the chocolate cream cheese if you’re into sweet smears for your bagels – Carly and I both agreed it was the most amazing cream cheese ever and was basically like chocolate frosting.

 

st viateur's bagels montreal | almost getting it together

Jury’s still out on whether this was chocolate frosting or chocolate cream cheese.

 

On New Year’s Eve we were planning on going to Olive et Gourmando for lunch but after we trekked down there, we discovered it was closed for the holiday. We ended up wandering into Marche De La Villette and splitting a charcuterie plate. The place was pretty loud and crowded and the service was kind of terrible but the rabbit tartine and duck pate were delicious so I’m willing to overlook it this time.

 

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Can’t leave Montreal without a maple latte – almond milk, of course.

 

We also stopped by Cacao 70 one night for a late night “dinner”. Cacao 70 specializes in all things chocolate (think fondu, milkshakes, chocolate tastings, hot chocolate and dessert pizzas). I felt it upright to leave Montreal without crepes, so I had savory crepes and possibly the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had (it’s neck-to-neck with hot chocolate from The Greenbrier).

 

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Green vegetables are as hard to come by in Montreal as they are in France.

 

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Hot chocolate from Cacao 70 – so rich I only managed a 1/3 of this mug!

 

Chat with me:
Have you ever had horse? Would you ever try it?

Spill It Sunday [2]

The theme of this week’s “Spill It Sunday” is one of my favorite things – traveling. I’ve been so many places it’s hard for me to narrow it down – each place is so special and has its own memories and awesome things about it. I picked three of my most memorable trips – runners up that almost made the cut were Argentina and possibly Paris, because despite everything, I still love it. Thanks Arman for hosting such a fun link-up with the best topic this week!

The Big Man's World

1. Hong Kong
Hong Kong will always be such a special place to me. I literally went there on a whim. I had no idea where it was on a map until I was booking my plane ticket. I don’t know if I even realized it was kind of China at the time. This sounds really ignorant coming from the girl who got a 5 on the AP Human Geography exam without taking the class and was a total geography/history/social studies nerd but I was a freshman in college so what do you expect – clearly I was concerned about drinking vodka and not what the globe looked like.

If you go: Eat a ton of dim sum and eggettes (street-waffles), pay a hospital bill at 7-Eleven (long story), go see the Tin Tan Buddha on Lantau Island (Take the cable car, duh – and be sure to eat lunch at the monastery. I still dream about their vegetarian meals), check out the Jade Street Night Market and mingle with the other expats in Lang Kwai Fong.  Also make the trek out to Shek O – it’s one of the best beaches on the island.

I could go on for days about Hong Kong. I would probably live there if it weren’t for the oppressive heat and humidity. If you’re ever going be sure to let me know and I’ll make you potentially the best itinerary in the entire world.

almost getting it together | hong kong lantau island

Me on Lantau Island

2. Cambodia
Cambodia was life-changing for me. I remember watching the sun rise at Angkor Wat (best known from Lara Croft: Tomb Raider) and being so inspired and in awe that I literally could not sleep that night. That had never happened to me before a day in my life and hasn’t happened since.

almost getting it together | sunrise at angkor wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat. I never pretended to be attractive at 19 or 20.

Cambodia is so inspiring and yet, so sad. Millions and millions died under the oppression of Pol Pot in the 1970s. If you don’t know, everyone educated and living in the capital, Phnom Penh, was marched out by the Khmer Rouge to work camps in the country, unless they were murdered first. A lot of the citizens are begging in the street or maimed from land mines that are still extensively in the countryside. There are monuments to “The Killing Fields” all over the country and nothing stops you in your tracks and puts things in perspective than a case of skulls out in the open.

If you go: Get up early and see the sunrise at Angkor Wat, go horseback riding through the countryside to see little known Wats, rice fields, and the beauty of the country, eat at Happy Herb Pizza and Cambodian BBQ and spend too much money at the Artisan’s Market that is run by victims of land mines. You can get amazing hand-knit silk scarves for $1o and you know the money is going to a good cause.

I have only been to Siem Reap but in another life or time I hope to spend some extensive time in Cambodia volunteering. (Once I break myself from the dependence of needing to be no more than 20 miles from a Whole Foods at any time).

3. Hawaii
My dad and I went to Hawaii earlier this year. I had never thought about going to Hawaii until my dad wanted to go “see a volcano” (literally his words). He more or less had to put me kicking and screaming into the car to go to the airport to come back to Pittsburgh (after I demolished an entire papaya with my hands, of course).

Hawaii is great because it’s technically in the US but you don’t feel like you’re in the US. It’s expensive and difficult to get there so you see more Japanese and Australians than Americans. (I love America – I love Americans – I hate American stereotypical tourists. We’re the worst.)

almost getting it together | hawaii

Lava selfie.

If you go: We went to Oahu and the Big Island (Hawaii) but plan on going back to Maui and Kauai hopefully in 2014. In Oahu, do the hike up Diamond Head’s Crater, eat too many Acai bowls, head up to the North Shore and grab shrimp at every single shrimp truck on the way (I know I’m allergic – I just took my chances because they were too delicious not to). On the Big Island, you’re cheating yourself if you don’t go see lava (look up to see where it’s flowing – when we went it was across private property so we had to pay $100+ to hike 2+ hours over hardened lava to go see it). If you don’t go surfing while you’re in Hawaii you’re a fraud.
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Where’s your favorite place that you have ever visited?