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:

IMG_8569IMG_8570

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

IMG_8571

FROGS:

IMG_8572

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

IMG_8576 IMG_8577 IMG_8578

Plus, more birds:

IMG_8579

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.

IMG_8580 IMG_8582

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:

IMG_8583

…and we’re off!:

IMG_8585

Awesome views of the city:

IMG_8586 IMG_8588

Photo op:

IMG_8589 IMG_8590

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??

IMG_8595 IMG_8596 IMG_8598

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

IMG_8599 IMG_8600

And we couldn’t say no to dessert:

IMG_8602 IMG_8603

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:

IMG_8605

Happy 8th night!

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

 

Advertisements

Holiday Spirit – Happy Chanukah!

Now that we’re in the midst of this year’s “holiday season,” the Chanukah lights have been sparkling at our house:

IMG_8560 IMG_8563 IMG_8567

Also, Noah gave me this great new sweatshirt as a Chanukah gift!:

IMG_8564

Even though the winter holidays are starting, my fall hiatus from blogging left a few fall holidays unaccounted for. The definite highlight of the fall holidays for me was Sukkot. Noah and I helped to build a sukkah at a friend’s house. We and few others spent the afternoon assembling/decorating the sukkah, and then we all enjoyed a wonderful meal outside together when the holiday started. I got some great photos of the sukkah-building process progressing throughout the afternoon. It started with the frame:

IMG_8446 IMG_8447

Then we put up the walls and some lights:

IMG_8448 IMG_8449 IMG_8452 IMG_8454

And finally we added the skach (the vegetation that covers the roof of the sukkah – skach must cover the majority of the roof but leave enough space left so you can see the sunshine and stars) and decorations!:

IMG_8455 IMG_8457 IMG_8459 IMG_8460 IMG_8456

Great holiday fun. 🙂

The last holiday to share a photo from is Halloween….Noah came back from a work trip just in time for Halloween, so we celebrated our reunion with some pumpkin carving:

IMG_8489 IMG_8490

SpoOoOoOoOoOoOoky!!!

On that note, hag orim sameach (happy Festival or Lights), and hopefully I’ll check in again soon with some posts about our impromptu 3-day trip to Montreal (we’re leaving in the morning!!!).

Chanukah in the Holy Land

Sufganiya: a filled doughnut, traditionally filled with jelly and enjoyed during Chanukah

Sufganiyot: plural form

Sufganiyot in Israel: a culinary event taking place during the month of Kislev when bakeries and eateries across the country make every variety of filled doughnut conceivable to man, all to be slowly savored, greedily gorged on, and reviewed time and again by journalists and civilians alike, hoping to finally, FINALLY determine once and for all who makes the best sufganiyot in this holy land.

From Roladin:

From Roladin

From English Cake:

IMG_5825

IMG_5834

From Cafe Ne’eman:

From Cafe Ne'eman

IMG_5815

Yes, ’tis the season. But this year, no Christmas undertones or – as it were – overtones in my neck of the woods.

IMG_5817

And I have been a total sucker for participating in the mainstream holiday celebration.

IMG_5828

Noah and I bought this beautiful new menorah for our Chanukah in Israel…

IMG_5849

…and we’ve also been to some great Chanukah parties. In addition to sufganiyot, Chanukah is the holiday to eat all-things-fried (in honor of the miraculous event that the holiday commemorates when one cruse of oil lasted eight days). Party highlights included latkes (fried potato pancakes), delicious food, and a white elephant gift exchange.

IMG_5820 IMG_5819IMG_5818IMG_5823

One of the parties was also a fried-food fest for the ages. Equipped with a boiling pot of oil, we proceeded to fry every candy, baked good, and vegetable we could get our hands on:

IMG_5831 IMG_5832 IMG_5833IMG_5835

At least some small piece of my yearning for the Minnesota State Fair has been satisfied:

IMG_5839 IMG_5840

My favorite thing about spending the holiday in Israel has been being able to be feel – and take part in – the holiday excitement as part of an overall cultural and social climate. For example, gelt (lit: money, a chocolate version is often given as small gifts during Chanukah) shows up on your coffee and other treats…

IMG_5854 IMG_5855 IMG_5844

…hotels display chanukiyot for guests to light and see…

IMG_5852IMG_5850

…and people gather together in lobbies to share the joy of lighting the candles together:

IMG_5948 IMG_5949 IMG_5950

Tonight’s the eighth and final night of Chanukah, and I am definitely sad to see it go. I’m sure I’ll remember this Chanukah in Israel for a lifetime. 🙂

IMG_5953 IMG_5954