Biking for Lunch along P’tit train du Nord and a visit to Mont Tremblant

We woke up early the day before we left Montreal and decided to adventure out of the city to Mont Tremblant and do some biking along the P’tit train du Nord Trail.  Katie had discovered these locations before we departed for Montreal, but we did not have definite plans to go there; we are glad we did.  After three days of exploring Montreal by foot, bike, and rail, we felt the urge to expand our adventure.  Under overcast skies and a light rain we drove off from the hotel.  On the way to the mountains we found a nice breakfast stop (more on that in another post) and then an interesting stop on on the way back (more on that later too).

Once we were out of the Montreal traffic, the drive into the mountains of Quebec was picturesque and quite pleasant.  As wonderful as Montreal is, it was nice to have a break from the noise of the crowds and most of all the construction that seems to have engulfed almost every corner of the city.

After about a 90 minute drive, the GPS put us in the pretty village center of Mont Tremblant, but it sure didn’t resemble the Vail-like ski resort full of boutique shops that we were expecting.  Turns out we had missed the turn for the ski resort, so we turned around and saw the mountain and resort across the lake and headed in that direction.

Mont Tremblant lived up to expectations with beautiful scenery and a quaint yet bustling ski village with a multitude of summer activities for visitors.  A highlight for us was the free ski lift ride from the village to the base of the mountain.  We ended up doing things in reverse by taking the lift down from the village to the base and then walking uphill to visit shops along the way.  I suppose the extra exercise was a nice bonus, but I sure was feeling the week of biking and running.

After our visit to the resort and shops (no purchases, but well worth the look), we headed back down for some biking near the village center.  The P’tit train du Nord runs a couple of hundred kilometer in Quebec and offers great riding adventures long and short (which was our choice for the day).  We unloaded the bikes at a parking spot just outside the village and set off.  Along the way we encountered  many bikers, runners (a couple running at a such a pace that they passed us as we were riding our leisurely pace), and walkers.  We offered our easily detectable American “Bon Jour” to all we encountered.  As the week progressed I got over my accent fear and offered a few Bon Jours, but the Quebecois saw right through me and knew that was the extent of my conversational French.  They were always quite friendly though.  A cool adventure we hope to do some day is bake and camp along the trail as several groups of bikers we saw were doing.

After a short ride through the village and along the lake, we parked our bikes at a converted rail stop (it had a neat art gallery inside), and made our way for some lunch at Au Coin Resto Pub, part of the Hotel Mont Tremblant.  Our lunch included a delicious broccoli soup, delicious beet salad (with goat cheese that had wonderful flavor and little after-taste), and some freshly-made hummus.  It was a perfect lunch sitting on the patio and a great server who tolerated some terrible Francais on my part.  Katie managed to get us seated and order our meal using her new improved French.  The server knew I was hopeless linguistically and did converse with me in English during the meal.  At the end I decided to end our meal by asking, “Le factuer si vous plait.”  We’ve been debating this, Katie is sure that our server was just surprised that I was speaking au Francais, but I’m sure I butchered the words and offered a profane the wrong phrase.  In any case our server answered with a distinct, “What!?” after my request for the check.  We laughed it off and ended a great meal amicably.  Following the lunch we leisurely rode our bikes back the car and made our way back to Montreal for the final evening of our magical Quebec excursion.

On se voit sur la route!

-Mike

Roadtrippin’ For Breakfast – Great stop at The Local Hub Market and Cafe

Katie and I set out for Montreal this past Sunday, and so far it has been an awesome trip.  Before crossing the border, we had a nice surprise for an unplanned breakfast at The Local Hub Market and Cafe in Greenwood, ME.  This part of was somewhat unchartered territory for us.  It seems most times that we have headed to Canada we had to go south and then north through New Hampshire and Vermont.  I guess circumstances such as dropping off one or more of our children to be watched or picking up family or friends caused our route to be altered.  This time, direct from Portland we had barely any highway time and spent a good portion of the ride through Maine on Route 26.

At the get-go, we decided that some quick snacks and coffee from a local Cumby’s would not suffice nor the dreaded DD (or is is just Dunkin now?), so we were determined to find a quick local stop along the way.  The only other rule was that the stop had to be on our route.  So off we went from Portland to Cumberland, to Gray, to Poland, to Oxford, to Paris, and it seemed much to our dismay that breakfast might not be happening.  Out of now where came The Hub. Katie pointed it out and I slammed on the brakes and we pulled in (sorry to the driver behind us for the near death experience).

The Hub definitely gave a different vibe for its first impression.  It definitely is our winner of the category for best breakfast from a restaurant with signs on the front saying “KAYAK RENTALS” or even better, “GET YOUR WORMS AND CRAWLERS HERE.”  When you enter though, The Hub has the feel of a cozy cafe and local artist hangout.

By just smelling the fresh baked goods and seeing the finished products on the counter, we knew that this was gonna be good and probably would deserve a repeat visit our next time through.

The Hub has a great selection on their menu, so it was hard decision for both of us, but I ended up with The New Sandwich Deluxe (would like to try the old one too if it’s still around) and Katie went for The Breakfast Burrito.

After a short wait, which we didn’t mind since we were able to enjoy our coffee drinks and the art on the walls, our orders were ready.  Rather than eat in the car we decided to sit out on a picnic bench just outside The Hub.  It was a pleasant day and it was nice that it was right on the water.  Both orders looked great.

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I’m not usually a fan of goat cheese, but it really worked on this sandwich when combined with the pesto.  The bread had great flavor and was perfectly toasted.  A win all around.  Katie loved the burrito and the couple of bites I had had nice flavor and a perfect touch of heat.  The portions were large enough that we could only eat half and wrapped up the rest for the rest of the trek north (I finished my sandwich a couple of hours later and I think it tasted even better then).

The Hub seems to have a solid local following.  There was a steady stream of regulars and visitors coming in and the staff provided great service to everyone.  They also had a great selection of local meat and other products that I would have tried if I was staying local.  Next time we roll through Greenwood, The Hub will be a definite stop.

See you on the road!

-Mike

Who Says Hotel Breakfast is Awful? Nice breakfast Buffet at the Montreal Doubletree.

A nice perk for our stay at the Downtown Montreal Doubletree Hotel is that breakfast is included each morning for Hilton Honors members.  Usually, we avoid these buffets like the plague, but we decided to give it a shot before setting out on some morning bike adventures around town.  The buffet turned out to be excellent with high quality pastries, fresh fruit, great hot breakfast selections, and possibly the best fresh squeezed grapefruit juice I’ve ever had.  It was a pleasant surprise!

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Here’s what day 2’s breakfast looked like:

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Just as good as yesterday.  Went for even more of the charcuterie route this morning.

The goodness continued on day 3:

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I went a little lighter today, since we were eating later in the morning and we had some good lunch stops in mind.  I have to admit the egg Benedict with salmon did not work for me.  I’ve enjoyed charcuterie in the morning, but fish just does not work.

We had vouchers for two more breakfasts at Doubletree, but decided to explore more local fare for our last two mornings north of the border.  As I said though, this breakfast buffet far exceeded our expectations.

On se voit sur la route!

-Mike

Morning Run Lost In Montreal

Bon Jour!

Katie and I have ventured to Montreal for a few nights.  We had a nice drive up from Portland (a post on that to follow ASAP).  After checking in to our downtown hotel (great location right near Old Montreal), we wandered around a bit and found some nice treats for a dinner in our room then turned to get some rest from our travels.

This morning I woke up around 5:30am and decided to set out on a short run around our area.  I decided to skip C25K training for today and headed out to run and take in some scenery and see if I could stretch out a little distance:

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I’m happy to report that I’m showing signs of progress with this round of C25K.  Started Week 5 yesterday and based on this run, my distance and pace are improving.  Still a long ways from where I want to be and the scale has yet to descend (@%#$!!!!), but it feels great nevertheless.

After seeing the evening crowds around town last night, it was peaceful to run about the city with little vehicle and pedestrian traffic.  I had no specific destination in mind, but once I caught sight of the big ferris wheel on the river La Grande Roue de Montreal, I decided to head in that direction. Plus, it was a huge relief to be running downhill after a killer hill into Old Montreal from our hotel.

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My two favorite times of day to run have to be dawn and dusk.  Love the lighting and quietness.

 

 

 

 

The run took me through parts of Old Montreal (watch out for those cobble stone streets!) and down to the riverfront.  I did a short run on the river walk because I was approaching the point of no return endurance-wise and then meandered my way back to the hotel.  There were some great sights along the way including great architecture and beautiful fountains (Montreal sure loves its fountains!).

Thank goodness for the Maps App.  I did get myself turned around a couple of times and ran a few circles, but finally made my way back to the hotel.  A cool finish was running the perimeter of Place des Arts, which has a couple of cool fountains of its own.

On se voit sur la route!

-Mike