Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Montréal, October 22 - 26, 2014

Laurie and I had been looking at trips to Montreal for a long time.  But it is expensive to fly there, so we never made it.  This spring I was checking flights and saw they were at around $400/ea. That was as low as I had ever seen them, so we decided to go.  It was a good decision.

Two things struck us about Montreal: the food and the people.

The food was outstanding.  We had four evening meals at four excellent restaurant.  Two were Quebecois fare, one was Portuguese, one was Catalan, and all were pretty close to our hotel in Old Montreal.  Joe Beef was the only one that was more than a few blocks away and it was only about a mile and a half.

The people in Montreal also fed perfectly into the Canadian stereotype:  friendly, polite, helpful, and a good sense of humor.  Ever drivers were very polite.  We never saw anyone go through a yellow light.

Our hotel manager, Paul (photo below), at the Hotel Epik, was great.  He had excellent recommendations for us & made us reservations at a couple restaurants, had a great tip on Mont Royal (approach from Rue Mont Royal, not Rue Peel!) and directed us to a cool little Chinese dumpling place.  We had a lot of fun chatting with him over a bottle of wine (we had the wine, he was working).

It was fascinating to hear people seamlessly transition between English and French, even within the same conversation.  Wish I could do that.

Below are the details of our trip.  You can see all of our photos here.
Laurie, Paul, & Matthew

Wednesday 10/22/14
  • 7:20AM      departure from MKE
  • 10:37 departure from ORD
  • 1:42PM      arrival in Montréal
  • Hotel Epik Montréal, 171 St Paul Ouest, Old Montréal
  • Walk along the La Chine canal to Little Burgundy
  • Dinner at Joe Beef 6:30PM
    • Paté with cherry sauce & tripe with chorizo in tomato sauce as appetizers
    • Horse fillet wrapped in bacon w/ fried egg and sausage & roast Guinea fowl as mains
Joe Beef in Little Burgundy.  Make your reservation well in advance!

Thursday 10/23/14
  • Redpath Natural History museum at McGill University
  • Cemetery Notre Dame des Neiges
Entrance to the Cemetery

  • Beer at a brew pub on St. Denis L’amere a Boire
  • Wine and cheese pizza at Resto Apropos
  • Dinner at Porto Mar
    • Moulles a la Portugal & grilled squid appetizers
    • Clams and pork & grilled sardines and mains
Grilled sardines at Porto Mar

Friday 10/24/14
  • Walk up Mont Royal – good advice!  Approach from Rue Mont Royal, not Rue Peel
Stairs on the way up to Mont Royal

  • Marche Jean-Tallon & Little Italy
  • Wine at Bily Kun bar – about 20 stuffed ostrich heads on the wall
  • La Banquise for a small poutine with hotdogs.  Small diner, very busy.  Poutinbe is ok, tasted a lot like what we get at the Red Dot
  • Dinner at L’Original in Old Montréal
    • ½ dozen oysters
    • Brussels sprouts with pasta, bacon, and fried egg & Minestrone soup with oysters
    • Crusted cod with Puy lentils, kale, clams, and bacon & Mustard glazed rabbit, polenta, and cabbage
Brussels sprouts, bacon, pasta, and a fried egg at L'Original

Saturday 10/25/14
  • Notre Dame basillica
  • Museum of Fine Arts
Napoleon's hat at the Museum of Fine Arts

  • Beer at Le 3 Brasseurs
  • Dumplings in Chinatown at Ming Xiang Hua
  • Archeology museum with multi-media show
  • Beer at a different 3 Brasseurs
  • Dinner at Les Pyrenees Catalan restaurant
    • Chorizo & anchovy salad
    • Chorizo with potatoes & beef cheeks with potatoes
Beef cheeks and mashed potatoes at Les Pyrenees

Sunday 10/26/14

  • Leave Montréal 2:05PM
  • Arrive ORD 3:39
  • 5:20 flight to Milwaukee
  • Arrive Milwaukee 6:08PM

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Baltics: Riga & Vilnius, May 9-17, 2014


You can see all of our Baltic Adventure photos here

NB:  This is about right - we used it as our guide, but it didn't work out exactly like this, but it's close.

Friday 5/9/2014
  • Leave Milwaukee 11:40AM bus to Chicago

Saturday 5/10/2014
  • Arrive RIX 12:20

Sunday 5/11/2014
  • House of the Blackheads - 185
  • Metzendorf’s House – 188
  • Museum of the Occupation - 188
  • Museum of the History of Riga & Navigation - 193
  • Museum of the Barricades
  • Three Brothers
  • Riga castle - 193

Monday 5/12
  • Motor Museum - 200
  • Art Nouveau walk – 202
  • Art Nouveau Museum

Tuesday 5/13
  • Morning bus to Vilnius

Wednesday 5/14
  • Cathedral square - 281
  • Gediminas Hill – 280
  • National Museum of Lithuania – 282
  • Museum of Genocide victims - 293

Thursday 5/15
  • Afternoon bus to Riga

Friday 5/16
  • The Castle of Light
  • Central Market – 194
  • Holocaust Memorial - 195

Saturday 5/17
  • Leave RIX 9:15
  • Arrive Milwaukee 3:40

Miscellaneous things to see in Riga
  • Central market – 195
  • Dome Cathedral – 191
  • Cat House – 190
  • Swedish gate – 190
  • Freedom Monument – 194
  • Holocaust Memorial – 195

Miscellaneous things to see in Vilnius
  • Cemeteries
  • University courtyards

Monday, April 21, 2014

Chicago - April 2014

We had a short weekend in Chicago and we were absolutely on fire the whole time.  Every connection worked perfectly - trains, buses, subways, cabs, elevators, you name it.  People let us in free to things, we were not scolded at the very fussy Rosehill Cemetery, weather was perfect.

I'm not sure when we will be back, but probably this fall.

A map with a 1:1 scale defeats its own purpose...

On Exactitude inScience
Jorge Luis Borges, Collected Fictions, translated byAndrewHurley.

…In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a
single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety
of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the
Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and
which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so
fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map
was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the
Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are
Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is
no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

—Suarez Miranda,Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV,Cap. XLV, Lerida, 1658

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Latvian Connection

How did I not remember this?

Yesterday we went to our favorite French restaurant in Milwaukee, Chez Jacques, to meet our friend Pat W for moulles, frites, charcuterie, and wine  as we occasionally do.
(Here is me with Xavier, Jacque's friend at his restaurant in Paris)
From Paris - 2009

We mentioned to Pat that we are going to Latvia this year.  He reminded us that Ingrid, Muskie Mike's wife (Muskie is Pat's brother and the only person in the world who looks more Irish than Pat) is from Latvia!  I knew that!

We will have them over in a few weeks to discuss all things Latvian.
From Harley-Davidson's 105th Anniversary Party

(Pat, Shirley, and Laurie)

I like to think that we picked the Hanseatic Cities because of all this subliminal information.

Yeah for us!

Sunday, January 05, 2014

NYT Travel Section

Despite my last post, I am almost always disappointed in the New York Times Sunday Travel section.  They assume that everyone reading both has unlimited funds and wants to spend a lot of money on their vacations.

Our internet friends, Lou & Joan Rose (The Ramblin' Roses) always say that the less you spend, the closer you get to the reason you went.  Alain De Boton makes a similar point in his very round about way in his 2004 book, The Art Of Travel.

Look at today's "36 Hours In" article on Chicago.  We go to Chicago at least twice a year for long weekends, and this is not what we'd recommend for people who want to visit (ok, we always hit the Signature Room for martinis and I'm told the view from the women's room is the best).

But, I'll keep reading.  What can you do!