CityLust: Montreal

When proper traveling, read not for work, I have a planned/not planned theory on sight seeing. Plan the top 5-7 things you want to see or do (more if you’re staying somewhere longer) and then eat great food, get a drink and people watch. Wander around or now, but live in the city where you are. Even if it’s only for a few hours.

Montreal is a great opportunity to do all those things and brush up on your French. My experience in Montreal is it has a little bit of an identity crisis. It’s French, it’s Canadian, it’s old, it’s new. Maybe that’s more cities than I realized, but Montreal - it’s a little bit for everyone.

I appreciate when a city has excellent public transit. You can get easily maneuver through the city (and the airport) by bus or metro. But also, thank goodness for Google maps with their public transit interaction, because I can’t read bus or train timetables whatsoever. The buses where punctual despite my visit being during Montreal’s construction holiday.

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Food
Olive + Gourmando, get the salty ricotta or Mom’s runner up Miami sandwich https://oliveetgourmando.com/
Caribou Gourmand, duck legs appetizer is THE BEST. https://www.caribougourmand.com/
Guillaume bakery https://guillau.me
Drogheria Fine - Della Nonna gnocchi https://lasalsadellanonna.com/
Fairmount Bagel, be sure to peek inside and see the wood fire oven https://fairmountbagel.com
Juliette & Chocolat, the La Chiquita was a sneaker-upper hit https://julietteetchocolat.com
Dieu du Ciel! Brewery https://dieuduciel.com
Liverpool House, eat everything http://www.joebeef.ca/

Things to do and see:
Mount Royal, highly recommend taking the trail up and the stairs down. Unless you want to do some severe cardio https://www.lemontroyal.qc.ca/
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, I was able to catch the gorgeous Thierry Mugler Couturissime exhibit https://www.mbam.qc.ca/
Marche Bonsecours, historic market now filled with Quebec boutiques https://www.marchebonsecours.qc.ca/en/
Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel, this chapel became a pilgrimage site for the sailors to pray for a smooth sailing, read- oh look at the boat votives! https://margueritebourgeoys.org/
Notre Dame, while maybe an obvious must see try adding the Aura light show in the evening https://www.aurabasiliquemontreal.com/en/

Take Home

I love nabbing a few local treats to take home and share or remember the trip by. The cookbook Montreal Cooks seemed to follow me around the city; I first saw it as Olive + Gourmando (I later learned because the chef is featured in it) and then again in the art museum gift shop. I ended up purchasing it online to save me from lugging a heavy suitcase and it was a fantastic post-trip package.

My second souvenir was from duty-free in the Montreal airport- breakfast gin. There was a display of local gins at duty free and I was so tempted to get them all. I asked the store attendant about it and he was no help. After a quick Google and not wanting to lug more than one bottle anywhere, I selected Madison Park Breakfast Gin. This gin is distilled with bergamot to give it the aroma of orange blossom and infused with Earl Grey tea.

CityLust: Nashville

My first time in Nashville was for work which means eating well and enjoying the sights of a hotel conference room. This busy city is now the number one (or two, depending where you read it) place for a guys/gals get away weekend destination. And you can tell, while relaxing outside at Yee-Haw brewery, post work event, my colleagues and I counted the number of pedal bars and party buses that went by. Bonus points if there were matching outfits. Despite not getting out into the city I received loads of recommendations from friends who are Nashville locals and lovers.

Fun light display at a party

Fun light display at a party

Nashville food must haves is pimento cheese and a cocktail. Now hear me out, there is pimento cheese everywhere, but I must say the best I had was a beignet stuffed with pimento cheese at The Farm House downtown. Cocktails maybe by normal on menu but something about the vibrant and unique drinks. The two below are from Little Fib and Folk.

Food I ate:

The Farm House https://thefarmhousetn.com/
Folk https://www.goodasfolk.com/
Husk https://husknashville.com/
Butcher and Bee https://www.butcherandbee.com/nashville
Saltine https://nashville.saltinerestaurant.com/
Little Fib https://www.littlefibrestaurant.com/
Yee-Haw Brewing https://yeehawbrewing.com/

Food that were recommended but I didn't eat:

Biscuit Love - Apparently it's the best, but also a scene, so go early https://biscuitlove.com/
Crema https://crema-coffee.com/
Martin’s BBQ https://www.martinsbbqjoint.com/menu/
Bakersfield https://www.bakersfieldtacos.com/

*Hot Chicken*
400 Degrees http://400degreeshotchicken.com/
Hattie B's https://hattieb.com/

Things I was told to do, but didn’t have time to:

Ryman Auditorium tours https://www.ryman.com/tours/
Songbird tours https://songbirdtours.com/
Nashville Trolley https://www.trolleytours.com/nashville
Listening Room Cafe - https://www.facebook.com/ListeningRoomCafe/

CityLust: Sonoma

I spent a all too brief weekend in Sonoma after a work trip in Las Vegas. I flew in to SFO on Saturday morning and flew out Monday morning. A colleague is from Northern California and gave me great tips on where to go, what to drink and eat. Guidance was much appreciated, since I would be coming off a busy conference. I wasn’t able to make it too all the recommendations, but I’m excited to return to check a few more off the list. After this Sonoma solo weekend I am actively campaigning for friends to join me again soon!

Wineries 

Food

  • Marin French Cheese Co – depending on where you come in from this is a beautiful stop, Marin country is green and lush. This little cheese shop has tasty bries (a mild breakfast brie is a must)

  • Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn Spa – this hotel spa has hot spring fed pools. You can get a great deal on a spa service (massage or facial) and then you get access to the pools. It was the best, non-wine bit of my trip.