Roadtrip reunions & stop-ins.

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A significant part of our journey this summer was connecting with people we hadn’t seen in a while, scattered throughout this vast continent of ours.  We realize we are very lucky to know some pretty stellar friends who happened to be conveniently situated along our route.  Many have been mentioned on the blog to this point, but there are a few more yet to be introduced.

Along this trip, there was a union between people and place.  Our memories of each place will always be connected to the people we shared our experiences with.

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Fredericton: Inland capital of the Bruns.   

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Adam, a friend of Brendon’s from high school, kindly took us in and showed us a great time around Fredericton, both on our arriving and return journeys.

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The city has some enjoyable aspects to it: A vibrant farmer’s market on Saturdays, some local artists who have set up shop in the old Barracks, and an accessible downtown that has quite a charming, historic feel.

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A favourite shop is Urban Almanac, a home/design store which also houses Tasha Tea.

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New Brunswick’s Legislature building looked especially majestic at dusk.

Halifax: Gem of the East.

We made a quick trip to Halifax to connect with our friend Tanya, a Halifax native whom we met in New Zealand.

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Tanya is currently at the front end of her residency as an orthopaedic surgeon in Halifax, and were so thankful for the time she made to spend with us amidst this crazy stressful time.

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This was my second trip to Halifax, and I have to say, it is probably my favourite Canadian East Coast city.  Halifax has a great vibe to it, and I have a heightened appreciation for the city’s history, with it being the first place that my grandparents Alice & John Goodall landed in Canada when they made the long and gruelling journey from England by boat in 1947.

When in Halifax, be sure to check out:

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Lion and Bright, a newish cafe/wine bar,

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Two if by Sea for some Anchored Coffee and freshly made in-house croissant,

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and the vibrant farmer’s market, which has a great permanent indoor set up.

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Citadel Hill and Pier 21 are neat places to check out to gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the city’s history.

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Though a bit touristy, the waterfront is easily accessible and can be a nice place to stroll along.

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Halifax, you beauty. We look forward to becoming more acquainted in the future.

Windsor, Ontario.

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Windsor, Ontario held a lovely reunion with our friend Nicole, whom we know from our college days at Taylor.  It was special to finally meet her husband Chad and two-year old Ethan for the first time.

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Since our visit, Nicole and Chad welcomed the fourth member of their family: Baby Lincoln.  Congrats, friends!!

Grand Rapids: Madcap Coffee.

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Our best coffee experience of the summer was acquired on a spontaneous detour to Grand Rapids, Michigan for the sole purpose of visiting Madcap Coffee.  It added a couple of hours to our long journey that day, but was entirely worth it.  What impressed us?

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The physical space, for one, was relaxing and inviting.  Spacious and open, with vaulted ceilings, it was a place you could find your own space in- to have conversation, to get some work done, or just sit and enjoy a delicious caffeine hit before jumping back on the road.  The service was an excellent balance of friendly and professional.

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We were enticed by Madcap’s offerings of unique signature beverages, similar to what you might see in barista competitions. We were very satisfied with the end products.

If you ever find yourself remotely in the vicinity of Madcap Coffee, we highly recommend you take the time to stop in.

Winnipeg: Cooler than you’d think.  

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We have to say that we were pleasantly surprised with the coolness of Winnipeg.

IMG_1450Dora (a friend from college & dance) and her husband Pablo showed us an amazing time around their city which boasts both a strong history and a blossoming arts & culture scene.  As architects, both Dora and Pablo have been involved in some cool projects to enhance culture and community in Winnipeg, and it was neat to hear about their aspirations and visions for how they would like to be involved in shaping their city.

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We strolled through the Forks district that evening, a centrally-located collection of restaurants and shops, as well as the home of the farmers market.  The design of this area makes for a delightful central gathering place for people, and highlights the convergence of the Assiniboin and Red Rivers.

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The city had some other neat assets we were able to glimpse that evening: A vibrant French District, Osbourne St. (likened to Edmonton’s Whyte Ave), an innovative-looking Human Rights Museum in the works, and some inspiring bridges.

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Little Sister Coffee Maker was the one cafe we were able to check out during our short stop in Winnipeg.

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Vanessa, the owner, is the sister-in-law of the owner of PRLR coffee.  We appreciated the fitting, subtle feminine touches, and loved the mint colour and the continuity of the branding.  It was a really lovely cafe and we are so glad we stopped in.

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There is an artsiness and innovation in this city that we liked.  Winnipeg… who knew?

Cross-continental conclusions.

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This brings us to the conclusion of our cross-continental roadtrip.  It was an incredible adventure with many unforgettable stops and faces along the way.  After talking this trip for a couple of years, it was amazing to finally realize this dream.  A deeper appreciation for this vast country and continent of ours was gained, and we feel grateful to call this beautiful country of Canada ‘home.’  The journey was all the more meaningful because it was shared with so many friends along the way.  The trip wouldn’t have been possible without the many loved ones who took us in, showing such generous hospitality.  Thank you to all who were a part of this journey.

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Quebec City: Plus s’il vous plaît [more please].

Now that it’s winter, let’s jump back to 5 months ago when it was still summer and we were in Quebec.

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We spent four days exploring the historic streets of Quebec City at the end of July.  It was probably a sufficient amount of time to visit most of the key spots on our list, although we would have loved to stay longer and savour its unique flair, historic roots, and bountiful culinary offerings.

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We put together a bit of a ‘Breno & Mel style guide to Quebec City’ (a list of everything we would love to experience over again because they were so enchanting).  Here it is:

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Visit J.A. Moisan, the oldest grocery store in North America.  The prices are cheaper than you’d think, and the selection is unbelievable.  Pick yourself out some nice Quebec cheese, some smoked meat, and a few other edible delights and have yourself a picnic on the Plains of Abraham.

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On the topic of cheese, we sampled a few Quebec cheeses during our stay, and our favourite was a 2 year goat cheddar- surprising because neither of us are usually a huge fan of goat.  We were recommended the cheese by a friendly man waiting in line at a fromagerie.  He told us he was going to a party that evening, but wasn’t allowed to come without that cheese.  We were convinced to try it, and were definitely pleased we did.

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Picnic on the Plains of Abraham, the site of the great Battle of Quebec in 1759 between the French and the British, led by General Montcalm and General Wolfe.  Pack a tasty feast of local delicacies and marvel at the rich Canadian history that took place on the ground beneath you.

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For a brief recap on the battle, click here.

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Watch the sun set upon the copper roof tops of Quebec City.  A nice spot is the West side of the Plains of Abraham, by the barracks.

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Wander the quieter back streets of Old Quebec City and admire all the distinct colours and quaint details.  I could have spent hours doing this, imagining how life would have unfolded on these streets a hundred years ago.

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Take the terry across to Levis, and snap some scenic views of the City while on the boat.  Climb the stairs and walk to Chocolat Favouris to indulge in some flour de del chocolate-covered maple ice cream (or any chocolate/ice cream flavour combo that you are feeling).

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Take some time to explore Rue St. Joseph.  Not the commercialized end to the East.  The West part of Rue St. Joseph is MUCH cooler. 

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You will find L’Affair est Ketchup, William J. Walter (a sausage & beer joint), and a good cafe called Nektar that served an excellent brewed coffee, among other gems.

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Rue St-Vallier Ouest, close to where we were staying, was also a happening street.  It didn’t appear on any guides or blogs that we came across before our trip, and we probably wouldn’t have discovered it if we weren’t staying in an Airbnb place close by.  There were some cool looking restaurants & cafes, along with this neat vintage shop called Si Les Objects Pouvaient Parler.

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Rue Saint-Jean, the very first street we explored in Quebec City has some spots you should hit up too, including some cute bakeries and bookshops, as well as the aforementioned J.A. Moisan. Jupon Presse is a cute vintage boutique along this road.

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Strolling the Petite Champlain area will make you feel like you are in Europe, especially if the musicians are out, serenading the passerby with melodies on the violin or accordion. Many local artisans have set up shop in this area, and we had some neat conversations with a few of them.

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Say yes to the maple taffy on a stick.

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Concluding thoughts.

Because of its smaller size, Quebec City was easier to get to know than its larger Quebecois counterpart, Montreal.  I was surprised by just how much it felt like Europe (or what we would imagine Europe to be like, as we have yet to visit that continent.)  We feel proud and very fortunate to have Quebec City on our home soil, and think that every Canadian should really get out here at some point in their lives to heighten their understanding and appreciation of French Canadian culture, as well as to visit firsthand the many sites that are significant to our history as Canadians.  We would love to go back for a round 2 of this fine Canadian gem.

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Merci beaucoup, Quebec, for a truly enchanting time, and to Little Al, for accompanying us on our Quebec adventures!

Montreal: More than just smoked meat [though you should definitely still eat the smoked meat].

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Little Al (ma soeur) flew out to meet us in Montreal.  We collected her at Atwater Market and the adventures unfolded from there. 

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For anyone planning to visit Montreal in the near future, we’ve put together a list of our recommendations. 

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When in Montreal:

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Rent bixis.  It’s a super easy, affordable, and efficient way to get around the city. $7 gets you as many 30 minutes rides in 24 hours as you can fit in. 

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Wander the charming cobblestone streets of Old Montreal.  Admire the historic architecture, and stop in to enjoy a croissant, a crepe, or some other tantalizing French delicacy along the way.

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Fireworks. Check out the impressive fireworks on Saturday nights during the summer.  Best viewed under the big green bridge. 

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Hit up the markets.  Jean Talon Market is the more extensive one, and would be recommended for the “true Quebec” experience, but if you’ve got time, a stroll through Atwater Market is lovely too, and a great place to pick up some local cheese and produce for a picnic.

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Climb Mont-Royal for enchanting views of the city.  It’s an easy & lovely 2.2km trek up along a paved path.

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Visit both St. Viteur and Fairmount and make your vote for the best bagel in the city.  The consensus among the group were that Fairmont was the winner.

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For an extensive selection of bean to bar chocolate, look no further than Tablette.  Ask nicely, and you may just have the chance to sample pretty much any bar in the room.  There is a cafe in house as well, for those of you who like a bit of coffee with your chocolate.

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If you’re looking for some inspiring boutique shops, we DON’T recommend you follow Design Sponge’s recommendations for Montreal- they are quite out-of-date and many of the recommended spots are nonexistent.  (We found this out the hard way.)  Instead, what we would recommend is strolling the charming streets of Plateau & Mile End to uncover your own gems (there are lots to be found.)  A few of our fav finds were: Buk & Nola (our favourite), District 54, Raplapla, and Unicorn.

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Eat Schwart’z smoked meat.  Don’t think twice.  Just do it.  The long line out the door will be worth the wait once you sink your teeth into a bit of their tender smoked beef.  If you’re in a hurry, the line up to the take-away shop next door is usually just a fraction of the line to sit and enjoy your Schwart’z in the restaurant.  

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*Side note: The pickle, which normally comes WITH the Schwartz’s smoked meat sandwich when ordered in the restaurant causes EXTRA when ordering take out.  We still recommend getting the pickle.

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For an after-dinner treat (or let’s be serious, whenever you feel like a bit of sweet indulgence) look no further than Juliette et Chocolat.  I was super impressed with their selection of chocolate in all forms, many of which are gluten free.  We highly recommend the fleur de sel brownie (which comes with a pitcher of salted caramel sauce on the side to drizzle at your leisure), as well as the fleur de sel chocolate pot.

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Eat at Au Pied de Cochon.  Or not.  In case you haven’t heard of it, Au Pied is a very renowned restaurant.  A chef friend of ours flew in for a weekend to eat everything on the entire menu.  Many people had raved to us about it, so we considered it a must-stop.  To be honest, we were actually quite disappointed with our experience at Au Pied.  Not with the food, but with the service.  We were quite neglected by our server, and the restaurant was very loud.  Though the food was very tasty, the overall experience was dampened by the low quality service.  I suppose it goes to highlight the importance of good customer service in a dining experience.  (In case you’re wondering, Brendon ordered the “duck in a can,” expecting it to be the richest thing he had ever eaten.  It was.  The dish surpassed his expectations in richness, actually, making the overall dining experience quite unforgettable.)

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Speak French as much as possible.  Seize the opportunity to practice your French with the locals!  Ne pas être timide (don’t be shy)!  Even if you encounter a few locals who are rude and criticize your French skills, don’t let that stop you.  There needs to be a bit more camaraderie between the French and the English in this country.  Let’s just all be friends, ok?

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Seek out some good coffee.  We found the coffee scene in Montreal to not be overly impressive, but there is some decent coffee to be found.  You just might have to do a bit of seeking it out.  We’ve saved you some of the trouble and have a few cafes to recommend:

Pikkilo (there is also a cool stationary shop right next door that you should check out).

Flacon Espresso (in Plateau).

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Pay a visit to Point G for an impressive selection of maracrons.  We highly recommend the lime-basilique.

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Take advantage of Air B&B.  Montreal has an amazing selection of cool apartments for rent on Air B&B for very reasonable rates.  We had a fantastic experience staying at Manuel and David’s beautiful 4 level apartment.  Our favourite feature feature was the rooftop terrace.

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Thank you, Montreal, for an invigorating and tasty time in your lovely city!  We definitely got our exercise uncovering your many hidden gems, and we are happy that you are in our country.

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Toronto: Speechlessly good.

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The big city of Toronto reunited Brendon with his beloved Jays (go the Jays!), but most importantly with our dear Kiwi friends, Kyle & Bea. 

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Kyle and Bea road tripped through the States last summer, landing in Toronto in October.  We always knew a Canadian reunion was immanent, and were looking forward to this time for months. 

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While in NZ, we journeyed very closely with these two, sharing a meal together nearly weekly.  We’ve missed these times.  We hold these times and these people very dear to our hearts, and so sharing this time together in Toronto was very special.

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We were blown away by Kyle & Bea’s hospitality, and felt so thankful for the times and memories we could share together on Canadian soil.

Toronto was one of our favourite cities for the following reasons:

The Jays.

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At the age of 7 in 1992, young Breno went to watch the Jays play at the Skydome.  (Can you believe the child above is NOT mini Brendon??)

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He recalls having an epic moment of walking out into the staduim and seeing the grand expanse of the Skydome in front of him, and being overcome with a sense of awe. 

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Watching a Jays game was a must, so we went to 2.  Brendon watched the Jays game with the joy of his 7-year old self, shouting “Chicken hot dog” out at Colby Rasmus, who scored a home run while we were there. 

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It was cute seeing how happy he was when the Jays beat the Red Sox 6-1.  Brendon was so proud of his Jays.

The boutiques. 

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Oh my goodness.  The boutiques.  I kind of have a thing for cute design shops.  You know, the ones that carry a mix of cool stationary and prints, locally-made jewellery, home decor items, and potentially even some unique but practical household items?  I find them very inspiring.  Anyways, Toronto is FULL of amazing shops like this.  In all of our travels this summer, I didn’t come across a city that even compares to the volume of inspiring boutiques and design shops we encountered.  Bea was kind enough to do some scouting ahead of time and map out their whereabouts on an adorable set of cue cards, which detailed some extremely well-thought out routes for day trips around Toronto.

The beaches. 

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Toronto has beaches, people.  And being a bit beach-deprived this year, I was all over them.  We took the ferry over to Toronto Island (which is worth the excursion just for the views of the city), found ourselves a nice beach and enjoyed a glorious afternoon in the sun.  They’ve got a great, little organic cafe over there on the island too.

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Sugar Beach is another place beach lovers should be aware of.  This adorable slice of paradise is located directly beside the Redpath Sugar Factory.  The wofts of caramelized sugar that float by are heavenly, and the pink umbrellas are super cute, aren’t they?  And so what that it’s man-made?  It’s super cute and super accessible.  If you work downtown, you can totally beach here on your lunch break.  I mean, I would! 

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We walked to the beach nearby Kyle & Bea’s place, and took in the peaceful glow of the evening light on the Lake.  Amazing to have a gorgeous body of water so accessible from multiple places.

The coffee. 

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Toronto’s got a solid coffee scene.  Favourite spots included:

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Te Aro- a Kiwi-founded coffee company.

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Crafted Coffee (Te Aro), where a brief Transcend reunion occurred.

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Sam James- discrete espresso bar set up with a few locations around the city.

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White Rabbit (they serve a generous affagato)

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The parks. 

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The way that Toronto does parks was something that really struck and appealed to us.  And the parks are SO accessible.  Green space is very well & purposefully used.  It was neat to see the local parks well-utilized by people of all ages, and for various purposes. 

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Bicycle polo.  Wood fired pizzas.  Mud pits.  Community fire pits.  Skateboard park.  One evening while strolling through Dufferin Park, we happened upon a hipster “storytelling” gathering around a fire pit. 

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Toronto’s slogan “A City Within a Park” is such a neat concept.  Though perhaps their green space is not as plentiful as other Canadian cities, it is extremely well utilized.  Located within the heart of Toronto, one can pop in to grab a coffee at a reputable cafe, then walk a couple blocks and enjoy their coffee.  We think Toronto is on to something with their parks.

The street art. 

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I have yet to visit a city that displays and celebrates street art as much as Toronto does.  There is inspiring street art everywhere, and often in places unexpected. 

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Kyle & Bea’s friend Jeff was commissioned to paint this bear, among many other pieces featured downtown. 

The car-lessness. 

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Toronto is a city where one can definitely live without a car.  We didn’t use our car once during the week we were in Toronto, and loved it.  Our feet, and the occasional use of the subway or streetcar got us any place we wanted to go.  It was a wonderful way to be able to get to know and feel the heartbeat of this vibrant city.  

Other Toronto gems:

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Soma Chocolate- A local chocolate-maker who produces produces bean to bar chocolate.  Go there.  And pick up a Stratus Bar.  Do it.  It could change your life.

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Kensington Market- an eclectic, multicultural gathering place of artisans, vintage shops, cafes, & cultural food vendors.  There’s a definite vibe and energy to Kensington Market, and it’s a good one.  

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Electric Mud BBQ.  Not quite the same as Kansas City BBQ, but with a southern feeling and all the meat and mess of any of the best BBQ joints of the deep south.

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Blackbird Bakery- a relatively new bakery located in Kensington Market, which specializes in delicious, artisan breads.  Brendon recommends the Toronto Sourdough.

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Fat Pasha- we enjoyed a mind-blowing Jewish feast of colour and flavour on their enchanting backyard patio.  

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Bluegrass Brunch- what could be more enchanting & cozy on a Sunday morning than enjoying a family-style brunch while listening to bluegrass tunes?

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Smock- an inspiring cafe/children’s art space.  

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Kid Icarus- an inspiring stationary/design shop located in Kensington Market.  I visited numerous times.  I couldn’t get enough.

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The Distillery district- I totally could have spent more time wandering the red brick streets and perusing all the cool shops tucked away in the Distillery district.

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Toronto, why do you have to be so cool?  Keep this up and we could easily be persuaded to move there… it’s currently Brendon’s retirement dream to live in a condo in downtown Toronto and attend every single Jays game.

We absolutely loved our time in Toronto, especially because of who we got to share it with.  Thanks, Kyle & Bea for showing us an AMAZING time in your super cool adoptive city.

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Chicago: Classsic, tasty, friendly.

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We spent two days in Chicago, one of which was Mel’s birthday.  Our experience in this iconic city can be summed up in three words: Classic, tasty, and friendly.

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Classic.

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Chicago is quite classic in its architecture. 

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Stately towers draw the eye with repetitious rectangles.

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Charming houses share space with nature and businesses below.  The blending of the old with the new is a compelling example of a city aging with style.

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When in Chicago, paying a visit to Anish Kapoor’s “Bean” in Millennium Park is as touristy as it gets, but worthwhile.  

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While you’re there, wander over to Frank Gehry’s band stand shell.  The design of it is really quite impressive, and there’s a good chance you’ll be fortunate enough to take in some live music in the park.

Tasty.

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There are a few things that are ‘must eats’ when in Chicago. For Breno, those were Chicago deep dish pizza and a Chicago dog. 

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We asked around for the best place to get a Chicago deep dish pizza.  At the top of the locals’ picks were Giadano’s, Lou Malnati’s, and Uno’s, and Piquod’s.  We decided on Giordano’s because it was closest to our current location, and took our pizza pie to the beach.  This move seemed to astonish the locals and made for a great moment in our accomplished picnicking history.

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We had just laid out the blanket on North St. Beach when a young man walked by and eyed up the deep dish pizza on Brendon’s plate.  “Oh my god!  That’s amazing,” he says to Breno.  His friend simply gives thumbs and nods up in upmost approval.  Perhaps it never occurred to them to combine these two elements?

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Some locals brought to our attention that there was probably an item left off our list: The Italian Beef Dipped sandwich at Portello’s.  They just raved about it.  So I suppose we had to try one of those too.  We crossed the two remaining food items off our list with a single visit to Portello’s. 

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We got two Italian beef dipped sandwiches (I went bunless) with a Chicago Dog on the side.  The sandwich was flavourful and soggy (like a good beef dip should be). 

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As for the hot dog, Brendon says he’s never quite eaten a hotdog like that one, so I suppose that’s a good sign?  He says the freshness of a juicy pickle and ripe tomatoes on top was a great touch.

Friendly.

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By now, we have visited a few different cities, and must say that some of the best customer service experiences we have ever had were in Chicago. 

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A shout out goes out to Intelligencia Coffee, both the Logan Square location, as well as the new Wicker Park location that just opened the day we visited.  We were greeted so warmly and given such a wonderful experience by the staff at each of their cafes.  Awesome coffee too. 

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Other special mentions go out to Fleur- a very cool floral/textiles design shop, Gaslight Coffee, and the Bang Bang Pie Shop for their super friendly service and praiseworthy offerings. It really doesn’t take much to make an encounter with another human a positive and lasting one, yet most of the time people don’t do it. Chicago on the whole had it together.

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Our Airbnb host, Merissa, was absolutely lovely and set us up well with a stylish & comfortable place to stay, as well as recommendations of her favorite Chicago spots.  Her pet bunny, Hurricaine, was the cutest.  We had such a great experience staying in her thoughtfully decorated apartment. 

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We were out our first evening in Chicago strolling the well-known Wicker Park area.  Aspiring to tick one item off our Chicago food list, we asked a random duo walking beside us where one could get a good Chicago dog around here.  They didn’t know, but invited us to come to a gig with them that was happening just down the road at an arcade.  We went with it, and were glad for this chance to get a feel of the local indie music scene, get to know a few of the very friendly locals and get some tips for the rest of our time in Chicago.

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Chicago, thanks for being so delicious and welcoming to us Canadians. 

 

Siem Reap: Temples of Angkor.

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We were told the temples of Angkor are not to be missed- ever- on a trip to Siem Reap.

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So we hired a tuktuk driver named Poly, recommended to us by our friends. At 4:45am, Poly arrived to collect us from our hotel, and whisked us off in the darkness to catch the sunrise over Angkor Wat.

Detailed carvings, Angkor Wat

*Note to all photographers: When staying in an air conditioned room during the hot season, the change in temperature and humidity from indoors to outdoors is significant enough to cause severe condensation to collect on the lens as soon as you remove your camera from its case. Should you want to use your camera to photograph a once-in-a-lifetime event, such as a sunrise over an ancient temple, it is best to “warm up” your camera by bringing it to room temperature at least an hour before you will be needing it. The best way to let your camera reach room temperature is to put your camera in a large ziploc bag, along with a paper towel or some sort of cloth to absorb the moisture.

Angkor Sunrise

Angkor Wat Sunrise

Now I did not have all of this information beforehand, and learned the hard way that my DSLR would take over an hour to reach room temperature. Hence, the photos I snapped of the initial phase of the sunrise are a bit foggy… to my absolute dismay at the time.

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The condensation had disappeared from my lens and all was right with the world again, just in time to photograph these monks leaving from a time of meditation on the side of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the largest temple within Angkor. Built in the 12th Century, this ancient city is both the largest and best preserved temple on site.

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In recent years, Angkor Wat has become a symbol of Cambodia, and is the prime attraction for tourists.

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We were blown away by both the immensity and the intricacy of this temple.

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The sheer size as well as the fine detailing on these massive structures is insane.

Intracacy

Diaspara

We couldn’t fathom how many man hours it would have taken to create such builidngs, especially back in the day when technology likely entailed a hammer and chizzel, and perhaps the use of a pulley.

Angkor Wat resorations

While a significant amount of work has been done to repair, preserve and maintain Angkor Wat (a point of controversy), this is not the case with all temples in the Angkor area.

Ta Phrom

Ta Phrom

One temple that has been left much in the same condition it was found is Ta Phrom. Built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries (and originally called Rajavihara,) Ta Phrom was abandoned and neglected for centuries, following the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 17th century.

Ta Prohm

Having gained popularity as the setting of the movie, Tombraider, Ta Phrom now stands as a striking image of archetecture vs. nature.

Ta Prohm

The trees growing out of Ta Prohm have apparently prompted more descriptive writing than any other temple within Angkor.

Architecture vs. Nature, Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

After just these few images, probably no more words are needed in order to grasp why Ta Prohm is just so astonishing.

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom

The last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire is Angkor Thom. It was established in the late twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII.

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom includes within its 9 km² area a number of temples. We took a solid 2-3 hours to explore them.

Bayon

Our favorite of Angkor Thom’s temples was probably Bayon, whose most distinctive feature is the tranquil, massive stone faces carved into the 23m towers.

Bayon

Bayon

The faces gave a humanness to the architecture that made it easier to connect with.

Bayon

Whose faces are they? Some say they may represent the king himself, guardians of the empire’s cardinal points, or some combination of these.

Exploring Ancient cities

Exploring Ancient cities.

After 11 hours of “templing,” we decided to call it a day. One can only take in so much ancientness in 40 degree heat. It would have been neat to see more of Angkor’s temples, but at the same time, we felt that the ones visited definitely gave us an unforgettable experience of Khmer architecture and the rich history that lies within the outskirts of Siem Reap. Never had we touched places so ancient before… it was hard to know what to make of it all, except to say that it has confirmed for us yet again how little we know about the world. Such limited perspectives we have on all that has unfolded before our time, and even on the happenings of the present. One can only seek to understand.