Yay Frankenmuth!

Inside Bronner's (world's largest xmas store) in Frankenmuth MI

I like Frankenmuth, Michigan.

It’s the ‘little bavaria’ of Michigan (like Helen, Georgia) – but in all its kitschy-ness, it really appeals to me! Most all of the buildings have an alpine-style architecture, even including the chain hotels.

Frankenmuth is famous for two other things: Bronner’s, the world’s largest Christmas store, and fried chicken – from competing Zehnder’s and Bavarian Inn.

Bronner’s is a *fabulous* place to pick up ornaments for friends for their Christmas trees….and they have a HUGE selection of Department 56 — in fact, they had a non-sectarian Krispy Kreme building that Av got. Yay!

As for the fried chicken, we’ve had Zehnder’s before, so this time we tried Bavarian Inn. Bavarian Inn’s chicken dinner was good, but not quite as good as Zehnder’s.
Bavarian Inn, Frankenmuth MI

Fried Chicken Supper at Bavarian Inn, Frankenmuth MI

Chips Under the Bridge in Sarnia (ON)

Seagull at Canatara Park in Sarnia, Ontario

Av and I love to go to Canatara Park in Sarnia, Ontario and sit beside the water, eat our chips (french fries) from “Albert’s Rolling Lunch”, and give the birds a snack. Av gets his chips plain, I love them with vinegar and salt…yum! It’s really comfortable with the cool breeze off the water, and I love feeding the birds.

Hilton Inn and Suites, Markham/Toronto (ON)

Hilton Inn and Suites, Markham / Toronto, Ontario

Hilton Inn and Suites, Markham / Toronto, Ontario

Room: Every room at this hotel is a suite: there’s a living area with loveseat, chair, eating area, and workdesk with office chair plus a very nice bathroom, a nice bedroom area – and the bed was *so* comfortable, and a separate dressing area. Internet access was free.

Lobby: Very nice lobby with atrium.

Service: Great service – from room service snack to housekeeping.

Food: There isn’t an abundance of choice when it comes to room service, but one option is from the Chinese restaurant there on site. Our meal from there was very good.

Spa: Av had a massage, and said it was good – as was the general spa area.

Extra: The hotel – outside and inside – was lovely. The beds were incredibly comfortable.

Our experience is this: We would 100% stay here again. The better hotels in Toronto proper are quite expensive, and we got much, much more value by staying just a bit outside of town.

Poutine, How Do I Love Thee?

Yummy Poutine, Montreal Pool Hall, Montreal Quebec
Let me count the ways.

Until Av and I decided to include Montreal on our trip, I had *no idea* what on earth poutine was, let alone that it existed.

Poutine is a street food. There are three main ingredients:

french fries
cheese curds

Nutritious, eh?

Well, it is delicious! You take hot french fries, put fresh cheese curds on top (not melted), and hot gravy over that. I know it doesn’t necessarily sound good, but…..it is.

We had heard one could procure the most delicious poutine (poutine is pronounced ‘poo-teen’) at, of all places, the Montreal Pool Hall. This place is also supposed to have some amazing hot dogs too…but we were on a singular search for amazing poutine. We found it. Delicious!!

The pictures in this post are of the poutine from the Montreal Pool Hall.

Marriott Chateau Champlain, Montreal (PQ)

Marriott Chateau Champlain Hotel Montreal

Room: This was our first time in Montreal – and this hotel, the Marriott Chateau Champlain, made our stay even better. The room was very nice – not fabulous, but nice. I think it’s probably been a few years since the rooms underwent renovation, but everything was in good shape. One of the best parts about the room was the window – we had a lovely view of Montreal. The room never really got cool, but we spent most of our time in the city, anyway….it was never hot, just never got cool enough. Wireless internet is included – no extra cost.

Lobby: Very nice lobby.

Service: All of the service was excellent, except for one time when the valet failed to retrieve our car after we called beforehand – so we were downstairs for thirty minutes and had to request it again. Everyone was very friendly.

Food: I don’t really recommend the room service. We had a late-night snack and it was ‘just okay’.

Extra: The nicest elevators I have ever seen are here! The inside of each elevator is lovely – and there is a digital display of an analog clock showing the current time inside, and a voice (in French) that speaks whenever the elevator stops. Also: there is access from right beneath the hotel to a Metro stop – VERY convenient.

Our experience is this: We would stay here again, provided that we got a good rate, as we did this time (they were having a special, with second night of a two-night stay at 1/2 rate).

This Car Climbed Mt. Washington. Until I Had An Anxiety Attack.

4000 Feet up Mt. Washington, New Hampshire

We were on our way from Freeport, Maine to Montreal, when I saw that if we just drove twenty or thirty miles out of the way, we could climb the highest peak in New England. There’s even a road to the top! So why not!?

Well, we started out to climb Mt. Washington. We paid the entrance fee, read the warnings and vehicle restrictions, put Av’s car in 1st gear – for the whole trip up and back – and with smiles on our faces, started out.

Until we got to about 2/3 of the way up. The van started running a little hot (the instruction sheet said that was normal and to just put the heater on). The road went from paved to dirt/gravel. And I started thinking, “okay, we are thousands of miles from home. There is no Enterprise Rent-A-Car close to here. And what the heck are we doing to our car?”. Being out in the boonies without a way to the rest of my beautiful vacation got me a little freaked out.

So we turned around.

It was still fun! And the views – 2/3rds up, anyway – were beautiful!

More about Mt. Washington…and it really is an interesting place….can be found here.


When In Maine, Eat Lobster Rolls

We had the absolute best lobster roll at Bob’s Clam Hut in Kittery, Maine – isn’t that a great-looking lobster roll? Ohmygoodness, it was so good! We also snacked on a couple of crab cakes, and Av had the haddock and clams (the clams were from further north, in Canada, because the coast here is experiencing ‘red tide‘). Everything was delish….so delish that Av got a t-shirt, a true sign that he appreciates their cooking efforts.

Hampton Inn, Freeport (ME)

Hampton Inn, Freeport Maine

Room: This Hampton Inn seemed to be nicer than most. It didn’t have the usual Hampton look – the outside was a yellow clapboard that fit in very well with the other buildings in Freeport. The room itself was perhaps a little larger than average size, but the tall ceilings made it appear even larger. Overall it was nice and comfortable.

Lobby: Perhaps a little nicer than average.

Service: Check-in was friendly.

Food: They serve a breakfast, with the cost included in the room cost. Av had a biscuit and said it was fine.

Extra: Freemont is a nice town that is probably best known as being the home of L.L. Bean. We went to the store, and it really is open 24 hours/day, 365 days/year! There are tons of other outlet shops here.

Our experience is this: We would stay here again.

Boston : Legal Seafood, Smith & Wollensky, and Finale Desserterie

We ate **so well** in Boston!

While we had a bad hotel experience, the location of the hotel was really good – there were so many good restaurants within easy walking distance!

For lunch one day, we went to Legal Seafood. Legal is usually one of the first places most people think of when it comes to seafood in Boston. We started out with sharing a bowl of their famous clam chowder. It was excellent. I had a lobster roll, which was lobster (in just a bit too much mayonnaise) on Texas toast. Av had the tuna and shrimp plate, woodgrilled. One of the best parts of our meal were the drinks – Av had a (very fresh) Sam Adams on tap, and I had a Red Tide Bloody Mary. It was wonderful!

One night for supper, we went to Smith and Wollensky. There are Smith & Wollenskys in other cities, but neither of us had ever been to one. It was after 10pm, and thankfully they were open until 11pm, so we were in luck. I had the most delicious Caesar salad ever, and Av had the best lobster bisque he has ever had. For our entrees, I chose a Filet Oscar, which was a 10 oz. filet over asparagus topped with bernaise sauce and crabmeat (it was Amazing). Av had a larger filet. Everything about the meal was wonderful – the service, the food, the atmosphere.

For dessert, we went to Finale Desserterie. I’ve seen this place mentioned several times, including FoodTV. We picked up things to eat that night and again later, including a slice of carrot cake (average), a triple-chocolate chip cookie (very good), and a couple of cupcakes (the icing was unbelievably good). YUM!!