Quick Trip to Montreal, part 2

If you missed the first Montreal post, check it out here! The first full day in Montreal was Monday, and we woke up bright and early to grab breakfast at the hotel and then set out for a full day of exploration. The hotel restaurant was very cute, and we snagged a table right by the window:

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Breakfast included coffee, juice, bread, fruit or yogurt, and a choice of eggs, omelette, crepes, or french toast. I got the vegetable omelette and Noah ordered crepes:

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After breakfast, we set out for a walking tour of Old Montreal. Noah was the guide, using the guide book borrowed from his parents. We visited the Montreal Bank (the oldest one in the city!):

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The red building on the left side of the picture below was Montreal’s first sky-scraper, called the Ediface New York Life:

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While its eight stories were a wonder at the time of its being built, it’s now been outdone by the Ediface Aldred on the right (resembling the Empire State Building – both of which were completed in 1931).

The tour also included Montreal’s Notre Dame:

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And City Hall:

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Unpictured tour stops include the Old Courthouse, some street markets (which were pretty deserted on the drizzly morning of our adventure), and a few more churches. Noah and I were excited to see a cycle track bike lane on one of the roads:

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We finished the tour by the Old Port on the waterfront. We could see Habitat 67 across the water, a distinctive housing project built for the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal:

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It’s pretty far away in the photo above, so here are a couple other pics (not from me) that give you a better idea of its look:

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We also had a good view of some grain storage along the water:

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After a busy morning of exploration, Noah and I were excited to recharge with lunch. We headed to the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood for food and some additional exploration. Plateau Mont-Royal is an area full of shops, restaurants, and hints to the immigrant influences in Montreal. One such hint is an abundance of Jewish-style delis, restaurants, and smoked meats. Noah and I went to Beauty’s for lunch, a luncheonette opened in 1942 by Jewish immigrants in what was – at the time – the heart of Montreal’s Jewish garment district. 70 years later, Hymie (the restaurant founder in 1942) is still there, showing customers to their table himself! Noah and I had a wonderful lunch there before heading out for more exploration:

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In the afternoon, we explored Montreal’s Underground City – a system of tunnels that connects buildings across the city. In reality, it’s partially underground and partially above, but it’s a fun/useful way to help city residents escape the cold throughout the winter! Some parts of the tunnel system are fairly sparse:

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But in other areas the tunnels open up into shopping malls! We found this cool water fountain display in the middle of a mall area while we were exploring:

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Our day ended with a trip to a Montreal movie theater to watch the new Hunger Games movie (seriously, SO GOOD! Probably the best movie in the series) and a quick dinner of pizza and salmon:

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Montreal was the perfect vacation to celebrate the end of my semester and to spend some quality time with Noah before I headed to Israel for 2+ weeks. Speaking of…I am actually writing this from a Jerusalem cafe! It feels great to be back in Israel and this beloved city of gold. 🙂 More posts about Israel coming soon!

 

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Quick Trip to Montreal, part 1

Noah and I have wanted to take a trip to Montreal for months. Noah had some childhood memories from visiting there in the past, and I had never been, so we thought it would be a great spot for a quick, fun getaway! Plus, now that we’re in our new home, we are not that far from Montreal. The trip didn’t take much planning because we could just hop in the car and drive there (don’t forget the passports!). On the way to Montreal, we were also able to stop in Montpelier and see Noah’s parents which was lovely – it’s so great to live near family!

We arrived to Montreal in the mid-afternoon and immediately headed to the Biodome. The Biodome is in the Olympic Park and is basically a zoo that is structured around different habitats. The first habitat is a tropical rainforest:

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The tropical rainforest featured a lot of fish, birds, alligators, frogs, and this pretty funky looking capybara:

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FROGS:

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The next habitat was the Laurentian Maple Forest – it was pretty brisk in the forest! There were otters, beavers, and this very active lynx:

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Plus, more birds:

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The other two habitats were the Gulf of St. Lawrence (lots of fish!) and the Labrador Coast (penguins!). I must have been so enthralled by those exhibits that I didn’t take any photos…sorry!

After the Biodome we walked around the Olympic Park a bit.

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The highlight of the park exploration was going to the top of the Montreal Tower (pictured above). Noah and me waiting for the funicular to start moving:

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…and we’re off!:

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Awesome views of the city:

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Photo op:

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After leaving Olympic Park, we checked into our hotel and then did some research to figure out where to go to dinner. We stayed at the Auberge Bonaparte – a lovely inn that Noah found. The room was spacious, clean, and comfortable, and the stay included a delicious breakfast each day at the hotel’s restaurant. Based on Yelp reviews and a guide book that Noah and I borrowed from his parents, we decided to go to Holder for dinner. Holy cow, this was a DELICIOUS meal! It was a little on the expensive side…but – hey – vacation, right??

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I ordered salmon and Noah had steak – we both loved our meals!

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And we couldn’t say no to dessert:

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Overall, a pretty decadent meal, but so very worth a splurge.

Our first night in Montreal was also the last night of Chanukah, and we discovered this public menorah in a square near our hotel:

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Happy 8th night!

Stay tuned for another post about the second half of the trip soon!

 

San Diego: Food, Fun, and Fauna

Continuing the recap of my San Diego trip with family in August, I would say there were three primary highlights of the trip.

1. Food (obviously)

Food was delicious and also provided lots of good table time sitting around and talking about the days. My favorites were True Food Kitchen (a natural food cafe with great juices):

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Breakfast at Cody’s La Jolla:

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…Cody’s also had a dog menu!!

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And all meals eaten on the back patio of the house facing the beach:

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When we were at Cody’s La Jolla, a woman sitting near our table commented to us that she was impressed that no one had their phones out during the meal…good job quality family time!

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2. Fun!

Fun defined as activities out and about but primarily biking

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Papa Bear in action:

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We took a couple breaks during our rides to check out the water and views (clearly my parents have a thing for wearing college apparel):

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Goofin’:

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3. Fauna

So fauna might not be the most appropriate word, but it was an alliteration. We went to the zoo – an establishment I have had a great affection for since childhood.

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This was the best day. We were at the zoo for a loooong time – 6 hours maybe? But it is huge! And amazing! And has pandas!

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Good times on the gondola:

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Last but not least, it’s always a treat to enjoy the eccentricities of family. 

Samuel with homemade sun protection:

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Classic Dad explanation mode:

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And…unfortunately I don’t have enough photos to document it, but the number one most exciting thing to happen was…meeting a new family member! I hadn’t yet met my gorgeous and lovely baby (although not quite a baby anymore!) cousin. We only had a brief visit, but it was great to spend a little time together! (the light in the picture isn’t great, but you get the idea) 🙂

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When do I blog?!…and family trip to San Diego

Wow – I have seriously missed blogging! The blog has definitely become a creative outlet for me over the past few years. Unfortunately, I’m back in school full time (and a half) and my life feels crazy. I wake up, I read. Day happens, I read. It’s time for bed, I keep reading and then am way too tired the next morning. Something’s gotta give…but right now I am waiting for this recipe to finish cooking in the oven as I prepare for some guests that Noah and I are having over for Shabbat dinner tonight. I’m sitting here trying to do work but thinking, “oh my gosh, it’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post and that makes me sad!”

So…here goes! Throwback to AUGUST when I saw my wonderful FAMILY in sunny SAN DIEGO.

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I love my little bro so so so so much. In fact, besides grad school and a new city and Noah’s job, he is one of the reasons I was excited to move to Massachusetts because he also goes to school here! Unfortunately for me and very fun-ly (not a word, I know) for him, he is London this term so we won’t be reunited on this side of the pond until next semester.

As for San Diego…we spent a lovely 10 days next to the beach enjoying food, sunshine, bike rides, long afternoons of reading, and the occasional trip in the car. We stayed in a condo with a full kitchen, so one of the first matters of business was stocking up on food. Check out this crazy cart escalator at the grocery store:

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There was much disagreement about how much food to get (I’m sorry, parents! You can do whatever you want next time. <3), but everything worked out great in the end.

The condo itself was gorgeous – lots of space with a great view directly onto the beach volleyball courts (oh, how California!) and the beach:

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One of the highlights of the trip was going to the Puzzalarium:

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The Puzzalarium is an “escape the room” place (they’re springing up all over the place now!). Basically, you and a group of people (hopefully your family and close friends) get locked in a room. Using only clues that you uncover within the room, you need to “escape” within an hour. If you don’t solve all the clues by the end of the hour, you lose. But don’t worry, they still let you out.

The Puzzalarium was so much fun! So fun, in fact, that Noah and I are planning to go to another “escape the room” place in Boston with some friends next week. Unfortunately, we missed the hour cut off at the Puzzalarium by about 35 seconds. I blame myself. But I’m over it now. In brighter news, we had some good times taking photos in the waiting area:

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I will hopefully have another post about San Diego coming soon, but in the interim I’ll close by saying a highlight of the trip for me was hanging out with my forever baby bro. It was so fun to go on a trip with him where we were able to spend so much time talking and goofing together. 🙂

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Visitors are the BEST

My much-alluded to 5 weeks in California this summer were hot, wonderful, and in the business of happiness. Unfortunately, however, they were not spent with my best bud…BUT he came to visit!

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(picture taken at Noah’s Bagels in LA)

Noah visited for a weekend, and we spent Shabbat at camp and then took Sunday to go out on the [heavily-trafficked-and-sprawling] town [of Los Angeles].

Happy day.

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The day started with a momentous occasion…the renting of my first rental car!

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First stop was The Grove, an outdoor shopping center/food market in LA with a fun downtown-y feel.

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We enjoyed some time walking around the stores and stalls, looking at the various treasures:

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Eventually, it was time to get down to business with the food, so we went to the Farmers Market area:

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The Farmers Market is basically a large collection of restaurants, food shops, and specialty stores. After looking around for a little while, I got a vegetable crepe with cheese from the Crepe Company:

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After The Grove, we drove to Santa Monica for some beach-walking and more window shopping.

California sunshine:

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The beach was crowded! And there appeared to be some sort of anti-war installation:

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Overall, a great visit and day out and about. 🙂

Closing a Chapter

It’s now been almost two months since returning from my year in Jerusalem, but it doesn’t feel as though I’ve really ended that chapter yet. This may be due, in part, to the fact that I was only in Boston for one week before heading to California for 5 weeks and then coming back to Boston only recently. Since I haven’t really felt settled anywhere else and I haven’t had much time to make a new “home,” I feel like I need a little closure (I’m thinking of Friends now, for anyone who gets the reference).

As a step along the way, here are some memories and pictures that I didn’t get a chance to blog about during the year…

On one of our Friday adventures, Noah and I visited the Bible Lands Museum (across from the Israel Museum) where we learned a lot about archaeology and the connections between archaeological finds and the historic time period of the Bible…

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on our way home, we walked through the Wohl Rose Garden – flowers weren’t really sprouting yet, but we still got some great views looking out on the city!

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I passed this little piece of ‘graffiti’ everyday on my walk from home to Pardes – always a good reminder in the morning. 🙂

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Secret from my past: I used to be a total RENT-head, and I’ve seen the show 17 times. ❤ As fate would have it, dreams were realized when an amateur production of RENT happened in the holy city last spring, making it my 18th showing and Noah’s first!

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My excitement before the show was immense, and I made Noah this nifty chart to help him learn the characters beforehand:

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In our final weeks in Jerusalem, Noah and I wanted to go back to the Old City to do some last-minute touring and also to take advantage of being only a 30 minute walk from so many amazing/holy/important/fascinating places. On our last trip to the Old City, we visited the Hurva Synagogue, a historic synagogue in the Jewish Quarter that is still used for worship and study today:

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For our last Israeli meal, we went to a lunch restaurant in the shuk that we’d wanted to try for a while. The restaurant is called Azura, and it’s a meat restaurant serving various types of traditional Middle-Eastern meat dishes and a killer hummus:

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And there you go…final moments from a year to remember. 

אם אשכחך ירושלים תשכח ימיני – if I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget.
Psalms 137:5

City of David tour and Hezekiah’s Tunnels

Noah and I are back in the United States now! Wow, what a year in Israel. I’m going to try to put out a post or two about the first days back in Boston soon, but for now, here’s a final recap of the last days in Israel.

A couple weeks before we left, Noah and I finally took a much-anticipated tour of the City of David. We had been wanting to do a tour there since last fall, but schedules were always busy and we wanted to reserve a spot on an English tour in advance. Eventually, the end of our time in Israel was approaching so we knew we needed to go! We went on a Friday afternoon tour through the city and the water tunnels. In total, the tour was about 3 hours long. We got there early to look around the area before the tour started:

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The tour started with an overview of the area (which has a great overlook into East Jerusalem) and explanations about some of the ruins found in the area.

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The highlight of a tour to the City of David, however, is a trip through the water tunnels. King Hezekiah built these tunnels as a way to defend the city from the approaching Assyrian army in the 8th century BCE. Today, the tunnels still have some water (about knee deep, sometimes a little higher).

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Unfortunately, our trip through the tunnels wasn’t the greatest. We were behind a group that was singing very loudly and, it turned, included several blind people. It was great that the group was enabling some blind people to walk through the tunnel, but it made the trip through the tunnels very slow and I started to get sort of frightened after being in the small space for so long! I was definitely glad to see the sunshine when we got to the end!

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Besides the City of David tunnels, there were some other final activities and restaurant visits that we wanted to make sure to get in before leaving the holy city. A few highlights include…

birthday dinner at my favorite Jerusalem cafe, Kadosh:

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a final trip to the Old City to see the Tower of David Night Spectacular:

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a waffle from Waffle Bar:

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Saying goodbye to our beloved Jerusalem apartment:

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And a 4:00am trip to Ben Gurion airport for our departure flight:

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Goodbye, Israel. I will miss you so dearly.