Where I’ve Been: 2012

2012 had more re-locations than actual leisure traveling due to the fact that I started the first semester of Big Dawg Graduate School. I am here for the next 2 years with the expected graduation of 2014.

I went from rural to a smaller city, one that seems to have fit me just fine. Here’s a little peek into the rural life.


Where I’ve been in 2012:

March 2012 (Montreal, Quebec, 2nd visit)

Snowy Wonderland
View from the top of the hill of the City…

Entrance to University Bed&Breakfast
My ex’s name was on the Welcome list, creepy…
Bed & Breakfast is highly recommended: University B&B is the name
Stairwell in B&B
Stairs to the largest Basilica in Canada…
Known as St. Joseph’s Oratory
View from the top

People climb the stairs on their knees in prayer, in belief that ailments will be healed.

The place that sold the cheapest Poutine around…

What is poutine? It’s only heaven on Earth. A fast food delicacy of french fries topped with gravy and cheese curds.

Montreal’s greatest treat: Poutine
Poutine Bliss…couldn’t get enough

June 2012 (New York City, summer) Read my Summer shenanigans post!

July 2012 (Evanston & Chicago, Illinois) Full post about my adventures, read here.

August-November 2012

(transition to Small City, USA)

I cut my processed hair off in August and am now 100% natural again!

From this…
To this!

No plans to travel for December 2012 since I want to invest some money in certain important matters, more on that later!

Any travel plans for the holidays for you? Do you like travel during the holidays?

Where I’ve Been: 2012

It Gets Real in Mont Real

Enter, if you dare...

The picture above is just one of the very charming places we visited during our too-short weekend in Montreal, Canada or Mont Real as I now affectionately call it.

This post is a little overdue, not because Montreal is not worth writing about, but because I’ve been so overwhelmed with my mid-semester responsibilities. But, here we are, another place to add to the list and that I will definitely return to!

Mont Real, is a nice {re}treat if you enjoy culture, food, nightlife, sightseeing and French culture. According to WikiTravel, Montreal is unique in that its maintained its Francophone culture; it’s the second-largest city (behind Paris) that has French as it’s official language. That means that most people function in French both at work and at home, and living one hour away from this great city it took me a little while to feel like I was really in another country since I didn’t have to travel long on a plane to be surrounded by all the sexy-sounding words coming out of people’s mouths.

Don’t be dismayed if French is not your forte, most people any way involved in the tourism business (hotels, restaurants, shops) have bilingual staff, and for that we were grateful. Also, according to Wikipedia 56% of the population is able to speak both English and French. It was still nice to practice the little French I was responsible for in HS (which is none, because I cheated and took Spanish as my foreign language). I did carry a trusty little phrase book that taught me a new favorite request, L’addition, s’il vous plaît, (the bill please) and by the time we left I was saying this to anyone and anybody who would listen.

We ventured up North during an unexpected heat wave that hit the first week in October, and what a beautiful way to be greeted! Mont Real is a multi-lingual, hip, bright city full of natives, immigrants, and transplants. It was nice seeing a population that reminded me very much of the blends in New York City. The Metro system was easy to navigate, although not 24 hours like the Big Apple (NYC).

What We ATE

  • French Cuisine at Les Deux Gamins 
  • Dessert: Ice cream on Prince Arthur East

  • Thai Food at Thai Grill Mile-End, Montreal 
Crab cakes, Mmm...
  • Homemade Crepes
I get very touchy around food...

  • Foie Gras (French Delicacy)- If you missed that episode, catch up here. Or just watch the video

What We SAW

  • Olympic Stadium
  • Protest against Olympic Stadium
  • Colonial and Stately looking buildings
  • Leaning Tower

  • Chinatown
Every major City has some Gatekeepers...
  • Old Montreal

  • Convenient & Easy Bike Rentals (known as the BIXI system)
Look Mommy, I can read a map!

  • Directing our French-speaking cabbie back to our B&B
  • Finding and AMAZING Bread and Breakfast (A La Carte B&B). The only downside is that it was about a $20 cab ride away from Downtown. But the place was beautifully renovated and warm! (They have 2 suites and an apartment on the second floor, we got the opportunity to stay at both) Pictures courtesy of the website.
Juilliard Suite
Kitchen of apt
  • Metro System

What YOU should know (as an American tourist):
If you’re coming from the States, exchange rates FLUCTUATE daily. Know your stuff, download an APP on your Iphone or check the internet (or the front desk) before you leave the hotel and be assertive! During our 3-day stay, there was never more than a difference of .03 and .04 cents between the Canadian and American dollar but that didn’t stop vendors from trying to get over!

You don’t necessarily have to exchange ALL your American cash, most restaurants we went to accepted both currencies, but do be careful of their ‘in-house’ exchange rate. Don’t get got!

When you rent bikes with the BIXI, they do charge a $200 (deposit) on your card/per bike. If you bypassed or skimmed the ‘rental agreement’ at the machine, you might be shocked to check your statement hours later. They do refund the money within 7 days of the rental.

Have you ever been to Montreal? If not, is it on your Bucket List?

Until the next adventure,

It Gets Real in Mont Real

Foie Gras in Montreal

The second greatest thing about actually seeing a new place, is tasting something authentic and original to that place. Maybe you’ll find that you never knew the potential of Thai food until you go to Thailand, or that you were deceived by the Mexican food of the North until you’ve had something decadent South of the Border… no doubt gastronomy is a big part of experiencing a new culture.

I am no Andrew Zimmerman, but I do consider myself adventurous. I’ll try most things once (except something that would cause a stir on Fear Factor). I did not go to Montreal with the intentions of eating duck liver. Actually the one thing I’ve been hearing everyone rave about (poutine) didn’t even make it in my mouth this trip (we area all adults here, right?) I am a big fan of real people reviewed websites. On an uncharacteristically warm summer day in autumn, YELP led us to Les Deux Gamins restaurant on Prince Arthur Street. The review about this elusive and exotic sounding foie gras read as such…

foie gras has become my star-crossed lover. it’s the most decadent, and possibly most delicious thing i’ve ever put in my mouth but i’ve yet to decide if i will eat it again because of how controversial it is. but this was amazing. smooth and creamy, categorically different from pates and other livers. a bit of salty flavor, but mostly just broad, deep, and intense. the best part was a rind of yellow duck fat surrounding the block, that i could mix in to my liking. i think it may have come with a tiny salad too but no one cares about that.

A little history about the dish:

“Foie Gras is literally goose or duck liver. The name actually means “fatty liver” in French. Throughout the 20th century, Foie Gras was most predominantly produced in France, with the exception of a few other European countries. A luxury item once only enjoyed in the most affluent of homes, foie gras became largely unavailable in the 1980s when the American government banned the import of raw poultry foods. This spurred American farmers to take matters into their own hands, and several foie gras farms started appearing in the New York- Hudson Valley area. ” (from GourmetFoodStore)

SOLD! I want to try some of that. Here’s how the dish was served:


Here’s VIDEO of me digging in (sorry guys, I tried to embed but apparently I’m inept) Disclaimer: I was biased before tasting it because my date had already expressed his reaction.

My foodie review: The texture of the liver was what pretty much did it for me, not so much the taste.  It really was just drenched in extra virgin olive oil, and that’s why my whole mouth was lined with oil and I needed to cover it up with the bread. I am not a big fan of weird textures in my mouth and the best way I can describe this dish is like flan (a Hispanic dessert). It wasn’t chewy, it was actually very tender, not much chewing necessary. Table etiquette dictates that you swallow a bite that you put in your mouth, no matter how bad it is, but this was just way too much for me.

Here’s how we left the plate.


Do I regret this? No way! Will I try it again? No way!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever eaten at home or abroad?

Foie Gras in Montreal