Friday, September 14, 2012

Broke in Montreal

I recently said something out loud to a friend that upset me...

"I wish I didn't book this trip."

Hard financial times had made it extremely tough to travel, especially after signing a new lease to a nice apartment.  The trip had already been booked when I had money and income coming through, and not much to worry about.  All of that had changed, with the exception of the hotel room in Montreal.  It was only a 3 day trip, originally an end of summer getaway from the city.  I booked through Hotwire, so while I got a bargain on a 4.5 star hotel, it was non-refundable.  My aunt recommended that I write an entry about being broke in a foreign city.

It's a strange feeling, but having no money was kind of relieving.  There was absolutely no pressure to force myself to see the obligated sights.  I didn't have to splurge on a fancy dinner, or max out my credit card at the hottest club.  I was going to chill and do my own thing in Montreal without breaking the bank.

Here are a few ways that I did it:

- Purchased a 3 day metro pass (Cost for 2 adults, $32)

Montreal has a small subway system, consisting of four lines.  Thankfully the large bus system is included in their unlimited pass.  The only downside to this was that at times we had to wait quite a bit for the bus to come.  But thankfully we were visiting in August.  I LOVE that the subway entrances are similar to those in Paris!

- Took advantage of cheap eats

I'd recommend Schwartz's, Montreal's popular smoked meat sandwich shop.  The line was out the door, but thankfully a table for two was a short wait.  The sandwiches were great - with delicious meat overflowing between the two pieces of bread.  (2 Sandwiches, 2 Fries, 1 Coleslaw, 1 Pickle and 2 Cokes - $31.50)

Vietnamese food on Saint-Laurent Boulevard.  Tons of authentic restaurants and shopping marts line this busy block.  This tasty dish cost me $8.  Spring rolls on top of Vermicelli and salad.

Bagels!  Montreal's favorite breakfast.  I enjoyed the everything bagel with lox and cream cheese from Fairmount Bagel.  There is no seating in the shop, so purchase the bagel, tub of cream cheese and packaged lox separately and enjoy on the benches outside.  This could get messy, but is so worth it!  (8 bagels, 1 package of lox and 2 individual cream cheese packets - $11)

Mingle with the locals.

My latest travel trend is to look up the local gay volleyball league to see if they will have any open plays while I am in the city.  The social coordinator returned my email very quickly, and let me know where the net would be set up.  Best part was that it was completely free!

The games were played in quiet Parc Lafontaine.  For the most part the crowd was very friendly and offered advice on where to visit.

Not only is this a good workout while in another city, but it's a great way to interact with local crowd.

Park on the street.

If you are visiting on the weekend you will most likely be able to snag free street parking.  This puts about $35-$40 back into your pocket, as the going rate for 24 hours in a lot downtown was between $18 and $20 a night.

Climb Mont Royal for a nice reward.

It's hard to miss the giant mountain in the middle of the city.  Mont Royal is a very nice park that was filled with people walking, riding bikes and rollerblading.  We decided to hike up, first walking up hill and then climbing stairs.  The reward was a sweeping view of the city.

I'll leave you with one thing not to do.  Don't get suckered into a hockey carnival game!  Between the mesh of the net being pulled up and the terrible bouncy surface I only managed to get one damn puck in between the holes! But hey, it might be the only hockey action I get all season.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Good Eats in Paradise

We all have those select places in the world that just stay in mind while daydreaming.  I was lucky enough to add another one of those places to my list this year.  That place is the western Hawaiian island of Kauai.   There are multiple reasons why Kauai stands out as a destination for me, but this entry is going to be about the delicious food offered there.  When you come here, come HUNGRY!  The food is great and the portions are HUGE!  

Here are some of my favorites from the 4 day journey across this marvelous island.  

Good ole American cheeseburgers at Bubba Burger.  Accompanied by "Frings", a combo of fries and onion rings.  Yes, it says Frings on the menu - and has apparently saved marriages!

Local Coconut Beer found in the Kapa'a supermarket.

 Breakfast at Kountry Kitchen in Kapa'a - Macadamia pancakes with a side of scrambled eggs and an incredibly delicious papaya.  This picture doesn't do any justice to how delightful that papaya was.

 The traditional Loco Moco breakfast.  Kalua pork, an egg and rice smothered in Gravy.  MMM good!

Ok, so we went just a bit overboard - French Toast, Cornbread and the best Hash Browns I have ever had!  If you are in Kauai make sure you head over to Kountry Kitchen with an empty belly.

Another Best - The best fish taco's I've ever had.  Baja fried fish tacos from Tropical Taco near Hanalei Bay.   

 An up close look after the first bite.

 Also in Hanalei is Tahiti Nui.  The bar that was shot in George Clooney's: The Descendants.  Appetizer was paper thin Tuna Carpaccio.  Eyes rolling to the back of the head GOOD.  

Followed by an Ahi steak entree.  Such a good dinner!

A few of these didn't hurt either!  

The next morning, another huge breakfast in Kapa'a at Ono Family Restaurant

Halo-Halo next door at a little shack - surprisingly amazing!

Island Taco on the West Side of the island in Waimea.  Giant and tasty Ranchero "Wet" Shrimp Burrito.  I was hungry from a morning of exploring and still couldn't polish off this bad boy.  

Also very good Mahi-Mahi tacos.  Again, huge!  

If you're ever in Kauai and hungry stop by at once of these places.  The island isn't that big, so no matter where you are, you won't be far away!