Jun 25, 2011

San Francisco






Boccalone

Our tour guide Daniel - SOSF



Pizzzeria Delfina








Alcatraz

Blue Bottle Coffee

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream


Tartine Bakery

Alcatraz

San Francisco - wow talk about some steep hills. Walking up to Nob Hill everyday to get to my hotel eased the guilt of eating so much in Montréal. I only had 2 days here, not nearly enough time considering the amount of things to see and do. San Francisco is like no other city I have ever seen. It has a style of its own. The things I noticed most were the warmth and sunshine (although unusually warm for SF), the constant humming of the streetcar rails and the diversity of the suburbs making up the city.

The best thing I did while there was the SOSF (Streets of San Francisco) bike tour. Our rider Daniel was like an encyclopaedia for the city and filled us in on so many interesting facts and quirks of the city that we would have otherwise walked by or not received from other tour groups. Scared at first about cycling considering an exercise bike was the closest I had come to cycling in the past 5 years, once I got the hang of it I had such an awesome time. Daniel took us along the flatter streets visiting many areas with stops for lunch, chocolate and ice cream, which I might add were unbelievable and I have made sure to link below. For anyone going to San Francisco I totally recommend doing an SOSF tour. It really is a great way to see the city and experience it for what it really is. Daniel's easy going personality also made the tour enjoyable and really relaxed.

After cycling for 5 hours (in jeans!?) I was pretty hot so wore a dress to Alcatraz that night. Bad idea! It was so cold. Word of warning, dress warm if going over to the island. Alcatraz although touristy was fascinating to see. I feel guilty in seeing beauty in something that holds so much sadness or feelings of pain to many people but there is a vacancy and stillness about this place that is somewhat mesmerising. It's so close to the dense and busy city yet so far away and like another world. The view from the island is pretty spectacular.

My time here was very brief but I did try to cram in as much as possible. The tour definitely helped. I also made it to a few places I was eager to visit - Tartine bakery, Pizzeria Delfina and Ferry Building. I also tried Blue Bottle Coffee which I've heard a lot about and also dashed along Haight and Fillmore Street in my last few hours to do some (more) shopping.

Highlights
SOSF Bike Tours - best way to see the city and a very relaxed and fun day
Pizzeria Delfina - I tried the margherita pizza which was very good
Tcho - really good chocolate produced in the factory down at Pier 17
Ferry Building Marketplace - a great market with stores selling food, coffee, cheese, bread, chocolate among other things. Hotspot for people working around the area
Boccalone - artisan salumi and really good sandwiches
Blue Bottle Coffee - really good freshly roasted coffee. Love the logo and packaging as well
Humphry Slocombe Ice cream - so good!! Really unusual flavours. I tried the Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee, Secret Breakfast (Bourbon & Cornflake) and Brown Sugar. All very good.
Tartine Bakery - the morning bun was really good

So that's it! Feeling a little sad as I'm writing that it has come to an end but so happy I made it over there and visited all these wonderful places. I also feel a sense of accomplishment to make it around on my own for part of it. You learn a lot about your strengths and weaknesses when doing something like that and I think it's a great thing to do for your confidence. I hope I didn't bore everyone too much with my photos! I know they are always more interesting when they are your own. But hopefully they inspire or give some ideas of things to do to those wanting to visit these places x.

{ thanks to daniel, bryan & danielle for the recommendations }

Jun 24, 2011

Montréal


Le Petit Hôtel


Fairmount Bagel

Schwartz's Deli





Liverpool House

Style Labo

Café Névé (left only)



Olive + Gourmando




Marché Atwater

St Viateur Bagel


Patati Patata





Méchant Boeuf Bar/Brasserie

Where to start with Montreal... this city stole my heart. There are so many things I love about it and it's high up on my list of cities I could easily live in. It has so much character with all the old buildings, not just in Old Montreal but in other parts of the city. The food is incredible and the way it is served is inspiring. There are multiple food markets selling fresh produce and rows upon rows of flowers. Good quality chocolate shops are scattered around the city. There are so many nice fashion and interior boutiques. And there are some really pretty streets to live with terrace houses shaded by big trees. It's also nice to walk around and listen to everyone speaking French, even if I don't know what is being said. I attempted to sample as much food as I could here. I also came home with a heavier suitcase and a much lighter purse. I do hope to visit again.

Highlights
Le Petit Hôtel - a stylish little hotel we stayed at in Old Montreal
Fairmount Bagel & St Viateur Bagel - bagels baked fresh every day
Schwartz's Deli - this little sandwich place had a queue out the door when I arrived. They make a pretty amazing smoked meat sandwich.
Liverpool House - we loved this restaurant! The menu is written up on blackboards and the meals were amazing (bad pics sorry!). Rustic and unpretentious and the restaurant itself is really stylish with vintage elements all around. The service was great as well.
Style Labo - this shop is filled with vintage treasures ranging from enamel lightshades to letterpress blocks and furniture pieces among many other things.
Café Névé - the best coffee I had in Montreal. And the biscuits and muffins are amazing.
Olive + Gourmando - loved this cafe in Old Montreal, and so does everybody else it seemed! We tried making a third stop on a weekend and the place was totally full. They have a delicious menu as well as a large selection of pastries. I had a late breakfast of toast with sliced cheddar cheese that was presented on a piece of engraved slate. Loved it.
Marché Atwater & Jean-Talon - there are 4 main markets in Montreal and I made it to these two. Both house really fresh produce and plants.
• Patati Patata - tiny little diner that makes an awesome poutine.
Mechant Boeuf - we stumbled across this one in Old Montreal and it's a very funky bar/brasserie. I ordered beer can chicken and it came out as a whole chicken standing up on my plate! Also served with a bagel, coleslaw and fries. So much food but wow, best chicken I've ever eaten.
La Montée De Lait - didn't get pictures here but it's a cute little restaurant with an amazing degustation menu.
Boutique Unicorn & Général 54 - made a purchase or two from both of these stores. Really nice clothing and accessories.
Monastiraki - shop/art space selling a huge collection of art prints, antiques and collectables.
Les Touilleurs - very cool cooking and bakeware store. They also hold cooking classes.
Les Chocolats Geneviève Grandbois - amazing chocolate!

And I'm sure my list goes on, but these places are what I can remember most.

{ thanks to sly, marie-eve & christelle for the recommendations }

That will have to do for tonight as my jet lagged eyelids are getting very heavy. Tomorrow I will post the last stop of my trip - San Francisco.