Bonjour Montreal

For weeks, I’ve had some pictures I wanted to show you . . . I guess today’s the day. 😉

In early November, things were fairly quiet around here, so Sir Beads and I decided to take a mini vacation. But where to go?

After some internet searching we chose Montreal – specifically, the old part of the city. Our time was limited so we knew we couldn’t cover the entire city. I can’t believe I’ve lived in New England all my life and had never visited Canada. It’s less than 7 hours away by car!

Old Montreal, with its architecture, cobblestone streets, and French-speaking natives, is often described as a little piece of Europe in North America. As soon as we arrived, we were absolutely charmed.

We were there for 3 nights only . . . but it was restful and romantic and lots of fun. The people are wonderful; the food is amazing; and there are so many interesting things to see and do.

Of course, no photos can really do it justice but I’ve included a few below.
Click them to enlarge for a better view.

Cobblestones, Unique Shops, and Excellent Dining

Rue Saint-Paul


Artful Architecture



I’ve never seen St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome but surely this breathtaking Montreal cathedral, Notre Dame, is in the same league.

Notre Dame


After long days of sightseeing on foot, it certainly was a treat to return to our room with a Jacuzzi . . . for two!



The hotel served a lovely breakfast each morning in an area with tables and two banquettes!

Booth for 2

We were lucky enough to snag one of the banquettes for a couple of breakfasts . . .


And once for a pre-dinner snack!

Evening Snack


As I mentioned, the food was incredible! We practiced our high school French with the waiters (and shopkeepers) who were delighted we were trying – but graciously saved us with their excellent English as soon as we got in over our heads (which didn’t take long!)

After dinner each night, we were awfully glad we had a “fluffy cloud” of a feather-bed to flop into back at the hotel.



So that’s my story about our Late Fall in Montreal!

We’ve been back home for quite a while now, but it has definitely occurred to us that it might be nice there in the Spring . . . 😉



I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Click the envelope to leave a comment or to read what the other kids are saying! 😀

Forever Young

On a summer evening, not long ago . . .

Crystal and Sir Beads are out doing some errands. They decide to stop at their favorite discount store . . .

Crystal: Oh my gosh! Look at THIS!!! And only $3.99! I can’t believe it.

Sir beads: What?

Crystal: (breathlessly) Look! It’s a paper punch with sand castles and pails and shovels and a little starfish!

Sir Beads: Oh, very nice.

Crystal: It has a beach theme and you know I spent practically every waking moment on the beach as a kid – well, during the summer season, at least.

Sir Beads: (Nods and then smiles.)

Crystal: Honestly, it’s SO cute!!! I just can’t leave it here for $3.99!

Sir Beads: Oh, definitely not. (He winks.)

Crystal: I know. I know! I’m still a big kid. 😉



A previous summer post here 🙂

Part 3 – Fun in the City – the Conclusion

~Boston Getaway~

There’s so much to see in the city of Boston in terms of history and the arts.

But for this trip, we had a narrower focus. We were in “40th anniversary celebration” mode, so our goal was to relax and enjoy our accommodations, have a couple of great meals, and shop at some of our favorite places.

We spent one whole day walking/browsing through “downtown” – one of Boston’s oldest shopping areas. It’s a bright and bustling place with stores of every kind.

~A Store for Crystal~

I had to visit the Windsor Button Shop.

It’s been in business since 1936. I’m not THAT old 😉 but when I was a kid, my girlfriends and I would take the train (subway) into Boston and stop at Windsor Button to purchase yards of grosgrain ribbon for our hair. It was very “in” at the time to pull your hair back in sort of a low pony tail, and then tie it with a soft bow to match your outfit. Our finances were meager then – mainly babysitting money – but we felt rich as Midas when we stepped up to the counter and announced: “I’ll take a yard of the royal blue please!”.

The shop is most famous for it’s vast collection of buttons.

A picture can’t really capture the magnitude of the display. There are buttons of every description and material – some plain, some a little fancy, and some so intricate and exquisite – they’d take your breath away. In recent years, they’ve added a beautiful selection of fine yarns and other sewing supplies. I bought some pretty yarn, and a crochet hook in a small size that I didn’t have.

~Sir Beads’ Favorite Stop~

For Sir Beads, no trip to Boston is complete without a browse of The Brattle Book Shop

Known as one of America’s oldest and largest purveyors of used books, there are 3 floors inside the building.

And an outside bargain lot.

But, it’s the third floor of rare and antiquarian books that really make Sir Beads’ heart pound.

He could easily spend an entire afternoon there but most of the time – it’s just a couple of hours.

So, by the end of the day our feet were telling us it was time to return to the hotel. We literally flopped on the sofa with a pre-dinner snack and then took the elevator to the 26th floor to watch the sun set over Boston! 😀

~Bird’s-eye View~

The Custom House observation deck is an outside walkway (located above the clock!) which wraps all the way around the building.

The sun was just beginning to wane and the view was magnificient. It’s amazing to see the city from so many angles.

I loved the sailboats…..

And the water view…

Here’s another angle on the harbor…

And some of Boston’s lovely architecture at sunset. Notice how Sir Beads captured the reflection of the Custom House on the building in the center of the photo.

By now, the sun was almost gone but the fresh air was delightfully balmy up there! Suddenly, we realized we were getting quite hungry…

Dinner would once again be in The Italian North End. This time at Lucca. Believe it or not, we enjoyed this meal even more than the one we had the night before.

And regardless of the calories, we did return to the pastry shop one more time. (We decided we could be on saltines and water when the mini vacation was over!) 😉

Before hopping into bed – one final look out the window. Boston doesn’t sleep.

~Short But Sweet~

In the morning, we headed home. We felt incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to make such a special memory together. Thanks for sharing it with us! 🙂


Crystal & Sir Beads

Part 2 – Fun in the City

What would you call a neighborhood that has dozens, and I mean dozens of Italian restaurants?

Well, I’d say it’s “a little bit of heaven”, but in Boston it’s called the North End – famous for it’s fabulous Italian food, pastry, and markets.

At the end of the previous post, Sir Beads and I were discussing dinner possibilities. We really didn’t have to think too hard though. The North End is just a short walk from the Custom House, where we were staying. Proximity and the fact that we love Italian food made our decision very easy. On that first night, we went to Al Dente.

He had the Shrimp and Scallops a la VodkaLarge shrimp and sea scallops sauteed in olive oil and served with homemade fusilli pasta in a classic vodka sauce.


I chose the Chicken Venensia. – Melt in your mouth tender boneless chicken stuffed with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, spinach, roasted red peppers and garlic, rolled and pan-seared, served over roasted red pepper risotto in a gorgonzola cream sauce.

Dessert was offered but we declined. Not only were we too full but we had another plan!


The next stop was the legendary Mike’s Pastry. It’s no exaggeration to say that the lines waiting for service are often 4 or 5 across and so deep that they snake from outside on the sidewalk, through the front door, and up to the large showcase counters.

Harried (but cheerful) bakery clerks tirelessly pack box after box of decadent treats for customers whose eyes shine with anticipation. Our mission was to purchase a late night snack to take back to our suite. Oh the choices!


It was a beautiful evening . . . clear with a light breeze. As we strolled out of the North End clutching our box of goodies, we saw our building just ahead. It’s such a breath-taking sight against the night sky. See that green arrow on the left? It points to our room! Click the photo for a closer view.


On the elevator, we met a gentleman who immediately spied our string-wrapped box and asked: (only half-kidding) “What time are you serving the pastry?” (Too funny!)

Doesn’t this look delish? The eclair was for Sir Beads, I had the cookies (macaroons!), and that third item is a light and flaky apple turnover, which we saved for the next morning’s breakfast. 😉


Coming next week: Part 3 – Boston by Day (the conclusion!)



Fun in the City

Sir Beads and I are just back from a mini-vacation!

I’ve been wanting to share it with you, but first I had to try and organize the photos and descriptions into a reasonably concise tale. 😉

Here goes . . .

It all began with a “getaway” gift card . . .

Actually, it was a present for our 40th wedding anniversary, which was last summer!

I know. I know!

We really did plan to spend it sooner but you know how weeks can sometimes turn into months in the blink of an eye.

Anyway, we finally decided it was high time we had some fun and off we went!

Since it was to be an “anniversary celebration”, we decided to return to the scene of the crime – Boston, Massachusetts – the city where we met and fell in love.

There was no question of where to stay. Several years ago we discovered The Custom House and were totally enchanted by it. I made reservations and all that was left was some light packing.

This gorgeous building (the tall one) is currently a hotel/timeshare property, but it’s roots lie deep in the history of Boston.

The Custom House was established in the 17th century and stood near the Boston waterfront in several successive locations through the years. In 1837, President Andrew Jackson authorized the construction of the current building. The bottom section was completed in 1849. After the tall tower was added in 1915, it became Boston’s very first skyscraper! It’s beautiful inside and out. Great attention to detail and reverence for its history are evident at every turn.

We arrived mid-afternoon and were assigned to a lovely “villa” on one of the higher floors. The bedroom was charming.

And a peek out the window was nice, too.

There was storage space galore.

No need to have breakfast out! The kitchen was well equipped. There were plates, glasses and flatware, too!

And a comfortable place to enjoy a meal.

What’s behind these doors? 😉

All the necessities . . .

A quick glimpse of the powder room!

And the cozy living room – just the place to curl up after strolling through the city.

We took off our shoes, had a cold drink, and brainstormed regarding our restaurant choices for dinner!

The fun was just beginning. 🙂

To be continued