We easily drove up to Quebec City and checked into the Hilton Quebec City. The check-in staff was busy and when it was our turn one of the staff members went on break or left. Finally, we checked in and went up to the executive floor. Our room had a lovely view of the city! Greg went and spoke to the concierge in the executive lounge for lunch ideas. The wonderful concierge gave us a few names and after a little research, we picked one that sounded good.
For dinner we had reservations at one of our favorite restaurants. Le Lapin Saute is the perfect spot for a comforting atmosphere, friendly staff, and delicious food. We started with the smoked salmon and the foie gras torchon. We cleaned the plates entirely! For our entree we ordered the Confit duck leg, braised rabbit leg, duck sausages and bacon cassoulet. For dessert we couldn't pass up the salted honey pie.
The next morning we decided to head to the top of Montmorency Falls. Unfortunately, mother nature wouldn't cooperate with the our hopes for views. The fog wasn't great for photos but it did add some mystique to our walk.
After our sightseeing we were pretty hungry and after we dropped the car at the hotel we ventured to 3 Brasseurs. We settled in with a couple of drinks and started our lunch with the Toulouse sausage. The Toulouse sausage comes out on a hot plate and is delicious! For entrees we decided on the fish and chips which were also very good.
Unfortunately, our drive back home started during rush hour and so the easy ride turned into a long ride! In the end no matter how short or long of a stay we have in Quebec City it's always an enjoyable one!
Before we would check out we ordered room service for breakfast. Greg opted for the Healthy Breakfast and I chose the Japanese Inspired Breakfast. The order was taken smoothly but after a short time the staff member called us back. Apparently there was a glitch in the way they process orders and she was resubmitting it so there would be a short delay. This wasn't a problem for us since we weren't in any rush.
Today was probably our busiest and slowest day of the vacation. On one hand we were insanely trying to figure out where we should go instead of Mont Tremblant over our breakfast. We really would like to visit Mont Tremblant but the weather was miserable (rain) and the next day was going to be freezing cold and we felt we would end up just sitting indoors rather than be able to go hiking.
After some research we made the decision to head to Burlington VT. Burlington was somewhere we have wanted to visit and it wasn't too far away so we decided to go for it! We called for our car and help with the luggage before checking out downstairs. Before exiting the hotel I stopped and mailed a postcard to my friends daughter who is battling cancer. To read about how amazing she is and how you can also send her some mail visit here.
The 4 hour drive took us on the highway for a while. We took a chance and pulled off the highway to shop at Toys R Us. We totally lucked out being able to buy some Unicorn Fingerlings and Star Wars BB8's to send to Ruby and her friends.
After that stop we were on small country roads until we got to the border crossing. Once we got to the border we noticed that the agent was looking through our passports again and then he had to close the window for a question. We were then asked about our travels to Indonesia (that occurred 4 years ago). . After telling him we went for vacation and hiking he gave us back our passports and we entered the country. This was definitely knew for us.
We made our way into Burlington and found the Hilton Burlington. We pulled into the hotel and had an easy checked in. Our room got upgraded to a lake view but this gave us 2 queen size beds. We don't like 2 beds in hotel rooms but it was only for 2 nights so we went with it. The hotel and room are a bit dated but clean and seem to be maintained.
After the long drive we were in need of a snack and some adult beverages. The Mounted Cat (inside the lobby) was very relaxed and the staff terrific. We ordered drinks along with fresh made chips which came with fry sauce.
After freshening up we walked up the street to Hen of the Wood for dinner. We called earlier and were able to snag a last minute reservation. The staff seated us at a nice table for two (although the tables were a little too close for my preference). To start our meal we ordered the Hen of the Woods Mushroom Toast and the Calamari. Both dishes were good but the toast amazing flavors but a little messy to split and eat. Both of our entrees were satisfying in taste and texture. The only downside to the evening was that we felt the restaurant used a little too much salt.
Once we were back at the hotel we decided to just hit the hay. Hopefully we'd be refreshed and ready for our hike in the morning!
After bundling up we went for breakfast at Starbucks. I was happy to see that I was able to get a Matcha Lemonade here in Quebec City unlike when I was in France. We sat down and enjoyed our drinks and pumpkin bread (dairy free).
Our first adventure was climbing the snow covered hills of Parc du Bastion de la Reine for views of the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac. We weren't the only ones enjoying the area as there was a family who was enjoying the snow by sledding. Our next stop was to the Citadelle de Quebec. The fort is still an active military base so you are limited in where you can go. We toured the museum and heard (thank to a friendly and enthusiastic guide) a wonderful story of bravery.
On our way to Le Marche du Vieux Port we stopped for pictures along the Ramparts of Quebec City and at Parliament. Once at the market we shopped for Pate de fruit, maple digestifs, donuts, and so much more! A foodie haven!
Climbing the hills back to the Fairmont we worked up an appetite. We decided to enjoy lunch at Bistro Le Sam. We were seated right away without a reservation. Our table was in a lovely room that provided us a view of the Terrasse Dufferin. To start our meal we ordered wine along with the duck wings and salmon tartar. I only had a small bite of the duck wings but they were delicious and not overly sweet. The salmon tartar was cold, fresh, and nicely balanced. My entree was the fish and chips. The dish was hot and extra crispy just the way I hoped it would be. Greg ordered the "Big Sam" and big it was! My picture doesn't show the enormity of this sandwich! Greg did enjoy it but was full the rest of the day.
After lunch we spent some time resting and getting organized as we would be living Quebec City in the morning. Once it was dark we ventured out into the city again. Where did this wind come from! I guess the forecasters weren't joking about the cold front! We wandered around the hotel and then made our way back to the Petite Champlain District. I absolutely love this city there is so much to see and do and it's so photogenic!
After gathering our belongings we decided to skip a big breakfast and get on the road to Quebec City. Our drive was a mix of cloudy skies, flurries, and very thick fog! Not exactly the stress free start we were hopping for but mother nature has a mind of her own. Halfway there we stopped at a Tim Hortons (my favorite coffee chain after Starbucks) for some coffee and donuts. I chanced fate, took a Lactaid pill and enjoyed every bite of a maple frosted donut!!
Before heading into the city center we stopped at Montmorency Falls for some pictures. There were a couple other cars in the lot (several more pulled up after us - who also happened to be from Massachusetts). We figured out that the open entrance was all the way to the right of the visitor center. We also considered driving up to the top for more photos but were too excited to get into the city.
We pulled up to the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac and the valet greeted us and helped with our luggage. We walked into the lobby and entered the check in line. We were helped by a very friendly gentleman who also happened to be from the area we just drove from. After a nice chat and an easy check in our room was ready with one small exception. The foam pillows I requested weren't in the room yet but he was sending someone to deliver them right away.
Room 6128 was on the 6th floor and offered a king bed, a bigger bathroom than at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu but it also had a noisy air system. A few minutes after we arrived a staff member knocked on the door with our foam pillows. Perfect! We grabbed our hats and gloves and went out to explore the area and to visit the Christmas Market. We started with the pool area then on to the lobby, stores, bars, and restaurants. The hotel is stunning and maintained to the highest degree.
The Christmas market was incredibly busy! Two different areas of stands and people were packed in at both. We looked around an the artisan crafts for a bit and purchased a couple of items. We were hoping to enjoy a pork shank at the restaurant inside the market but unfortunately right when we were hoping to enter they were closing for a bit.
Instead we opted for something sweet! I have seen pictures and videos and finally here I was able to try maple syrup on snow! How could I have not tried this sooner! Decadent, sweet, and oh so yummy!
For lunch we decided to just go nearby to Le D'Orsay Pub. We were seated right away at a high top table. We ordered a couple of drinks and settled into the warmth. Greg ordered the sausages with duck fat roasted potatoes while I enjoyed the fish and chips. The food and service were both very good.
After lunch we walked around Quebec City a bit more before heading back to the Fairmont. I especially had to make a shopping stop at Delices Erable & Cie. After a rest in our room we decided to enjoy a drink at 1608 wine and cheese bar. We were seated a a high top table and our server brought us snack mix along with some popcorn. We ordered the Corpse Reviver and the Little Wing. Both drinks were wonderful!
Our dinner plans for the evening were at Le Lapin Saute. We walked from the hotel down to Petite Champlain Quarter. This was the area I had been dying to see! Between the brick buildings and the decorations it feel magical here!
We entered Le Lapin Saute and told them of our reservation. We were seated right away and had drinks ordered. To start we opted for the Maple Whiskey Smoked Salmon, the Maple-wood Smoked Duck Breast, and the Foie Gras with Maple Blueberry Compote. Our plates were clean when the staff came back for them! All three of these dishes are outstanding but my personal favorite was the Foie Gras. Add the fresh baked bread brought to us and I'm in heaven! For our entree we decided to go with the Cassoulet. I have had several cassoulet's including my own and this is the absolute best. This dish has something for everyone and plenty for 4 people (Our eyes were definitely bigger than our stomachs)! The dish includesVegetables, pork belly, duck leg, rabbit leg, duck sausages and a side salad! At this point we were incredibly satisfied and insanely full. Would you like any dessert? I guess we can't leave without trying the Berry Sugar Pie! I can't wait to go home and try to make a sugar pie. This pie had a wonderful crust, a creamy texture, and the berries cut the sweetness. Perfect! Every single item that came out of the kitchen was well balanced, plentiful, and cooked to perfection.
Le Lapin Saute is a casual restaurant with comforting food and it is also in my top favorite meals we have ever enjoyed! When I think of my favorite restaurants I think of pricey and beautifully plated meals. Le Lapin Saute with their amazing flavors is of the same caliber!
We woke up and decided to order breakfast in an effort to avoid dairy for me. Again the staff were very friendly and easily accommodated my allergy. After breakfast we bundled up and gathered stuff into our day-pack. Greg went downstairs in hopes of finding out more information about the hiking trails and the doorman from the day before hooked us up with a map of the trails and area!
We set out and enjoyed views of the water and the followed the trail led by the solar system (an informative installation of the planets). Unfortunately about 1/3 of the way up our trail we were met with workers who were fixing the trail and had it closed down. We turned around and made our way back to the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu where we explored a little more.
We decided to take a drive at this point. We wanted to explore La Malbaie and ended up driving for a couple of hours up the coast. We visited several adorable coastal towns that must be wonderful in the summer season!
Before heading back to the hotel we stopped in La Malbaie. We visited the local grocery store. Sounds boring but this is something I do in all new cities we visit. I like being able to find unique foods to the region, sometimes wine that I haven't seen before, and always a good snack for in the car.
Once we got back to the hotel we wanted to freshen up and didn't want to have to rush so we ordered room service. Greg ordered the club sandwich and I ordered the tuna poke. Greg's sandwich was delicious (I may have stolen a bite). My tuna was good with the exception that I couldn't eat the rice. The rice was inedible to do under cooking.
At night we explored the hotel some more. My biggest regret was not venturing into their heated outdoor pool at night! Before unwinding at Bar La Brise we visited the Casino. I love being able to walk underneath the hotel to the casino - no need for a jacket! Score! The Roulette table was empty so we decided to just spend some time at the slots. We both had $20 CAD to spend. I know big spenders right! Greg lost all of his money within 5 minutes! I on the other hand walked away with 80 CAD. Bring on the Le Sour Quebecois! We finished our night at Bar La Brise and then it was time to get organized for our drive to Quebec City!
We just returned from a week getaway that combined relaxation, the outdoors, restaurants, art, and so much more!!
We packed the night before we left. I'm not sure if this is a good strategy or a bad one. I used to start packing 2 weeks before a trip and now I just seem to just go with the flow. I was pretty happy with how the packing went until I realized I only brought the 2nd half of my toothpaste duo! Oops! We brought Fred to my parents and got him settled (so hard to say goodbye).
We hopped back in the Fiat and headed north to our 1st destination of La Malbaie Canada. The 7.5 hour drive was interested. We started out with average temperatures and cloudy skies. When we got to Lincoln NH we entered a beautiful snow covered area. A little further north and there wasn't any snow at all. This continued with one area snowy and the next just drab all the way. We entered into Canada after a quick stop at the border and continued past Quebec City up to the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu.
We pulled up to the valet and were helped with our bags. We did advance check in for our 2 night stay and the doorman had our keys ready for us. This seemed like a great idea 24 hours ago however, now it was slightly frustrating. We didn't have our preferences checked, couldn't upgrade, and ended up in an area we wouldn't have selected (We were definitely missing our Hilton Diamond Status here). We ended up with a room on the 1st floor surrounded by a large group who were at the hotel for a work party. The hallway basically sounded like the party was on our floor and not in a function room.
Room 166 was of good size, clean, and offered a king size bed. In addition to the noise level the room didn't have a view, the minibar wasn't fully stocked, and the bathroom was way to small.
The hotel staff from the doormen to room service were all friendly, patient, and professional. At night we went to Bar La Brise and enjoyed the last of the sunset over drinks and food. We ordered a beer and a Le Sour Quebecois (a delicious whiskey based drink). For food we enjoyed the Salmon with celeriac remoulade along with Chips with assorted mayonnaise. The salmon was bold in it's smoked flavor and complimented by the creamy vegetables and shrimp. The chips were salty, crunchy and accompanied by three delicious and unique dips. These dishes were exactly what we were looking for.
After a long day driving we decided to head to bed and be refreshed for some hiking (on site trails) the next morning.
This winter we're planning a week long road trip in Canada to hopefully play in the snow and get excited for Christmas! Let me start at the beginning.... I love fall. Fall is one of my favorite seasons. Winter is usually my least favorite time, so much so that we usually only travel to the Caribbean. We started out by planning a cruise to Cuba but with so much time being devoted to my sister's wedding we couldn't get our stuff in order so we cancelled the cruise. Greg and I started looking at alternatives for our vacation. We were hoping for some thing affordable, easy, and different than our norm. We looked at the Caribbean, Key West, Orlando, New Orleans, Austin, and a few other places. Nothing felt quite right. My mother suggested going to Canada. For some odd reason going up north and being cold but Christmassy felt good! Today we see we made the right choice but are crushed that some of the places we love and would have visited have been devastated by hurricanes. We've helped out and if you would like to as well here is where we donated:
Back to our plans for our trip to Canada. We're heading to all new cities for the both of us so this is very exciting!
We're planning stops in Charlevoix where we're hoping to do some snow shoeing or hiking (depending on weather). I'm looking at some wonderful restaurants right now that are making me reminisce about our trip to Paris. In Quebec City we'll hit the German style Christmas Market, tour old Quebec and maybe head to Montmorency Falls. Our third stop will be in Mont Tremblant where we'll try out a Nordic spa and hopefully some more outdoor activities. Our final stops were going to be in Toronto and Niagara Falls but our plans changed. We are sad we'll miss those two cities but we're excited to head back to New York City. We found out that there will be a multiple exhibits from Yayoi Kusama. We have been hoping to see her work for some time and were planning on visiting Toronto next year. When we combine getting to see her exhibits plus New York City at Christmas time we couldn't say no! Don't worry Toronto and Niagara falls we'll definitely get to you next time!!
I'm so excited for this trip that I need to stop trying to plan everything out or make reservations too early! Can't wait!
This review is from May 2016.
This was our 2nd stay at the Hilton Saint John. We checked into room 907 and were given vouchers for breakfast and 2 for 1 drinks as Hilton Diamond members. Unfortunately, weren't offered an upgrade. Upon entering we noticed our pre arrival amenities weren't in the room (extra towels and foam pillows).
The property is very clean, in a great location, offers nice views. Our room was large, clean, and well appointed. Sadly the water in our shower was finicky. Room service was very good, fast, and with staff who are beyond nice, aware of allergies, and deliver high quality service and ingredients. We especially loved the unique and bold flavored fried calamari.
To read more about our stay and the places we visited in Saint John visit here.
1 Fiat, 2 adults, 1 teenager, a shorkie named Fred, and 3 nights in Saint John NB. Here's what we've been researching:
1. Driving through Portland and stopping for a soda at Vena's Fizz House! So delicious and very cool owners!
2. Scenic pass through Acadia National Park as recommended by my sister! If time permits!
3. Driving and hiking The Fundy Trail!
4. Walking on the ocean floor at Hopewell Rocks!
5. Searching for foodie finds at Saint John City Market
6. Staying out the Hilton Saint John
7. Checking out some of the pet friendly restaurants that Jessica at Discover Saint John researched for us:
This trip is also new because it's Porscha's and Fred's first trip out of the country.
Some of our must have items for traveling (in addition to our recommended list):
Fred's traveling necessities are:
I can't wait to share our stories and photos with you so stay tuned!