Sunday, July 31, 2011

Burlington beer

view of the Lake Champlain shoreline from the burlington bikeway

I've been finding that Vermont folks are incredibly friendly. Cars will actually stop for you if you look like you want to jaywalk, as opposed to in Toronto where they'll start speeding up as though they're playing Grant Theft Auto and hope to get points for hitting pedestrians. 

Also, I feel like Vermont folks really love dogs.

Our hotel is located near the cosy campus of University of Vermont, which confirms my theory that every campus is nicer than York University. On the other side of campus is the compact downtown area. On our first night, we strolled down the surprisingly lively Church Street pedestrian walk, which my sister commented looked a bit like Sparks Street but seemed a heck of a lot more fun at night. It was lined with lots of bars, bistros, boutiques, record stores, lovers and sidewalk poets selling their poems for fifty cents.

 We popped into the Church Street Tavern to try a glass of their local Church Street ale. We'd forgotten how cheap beer can be in Americaland. Sis had the Long Trail Ale, also brewed in the state. Mom drank the Church Street Root beer.
 We slept well.


That's vacationing with my family.

In the morning we biked along the coast of Lake Champlain on the Island line of the Burlington Bikeway. Vermont is a very bike-friendly region and we know a lot of people who have made the trek down here by bike. The path has a beautiful view that almost rivals the Ottawa Parkway, taking bicyclists along the pretty beaches and incredibly luxurious lakeside properties. The weather was just perfect.

mom and dad decided to get a tandem bike, because they are totally cute pre-hipsters

mom and dad, totally having no problems whatsoever with the tandem bike...

For lunch we found ourselves back on Church Street, dining at the Three Tomatoes Trattoria, one of those restaurants part of the Slow Food movement that's been becoming popular these days, to try their locally brewed Three Tomatoes Ale. I also ha a glass of Vermont's Switchback Ale. I have only been in Vermont for just over twenty four hours but I feel like I've developed a really solid appreciation for Vermont-brewed amber ales, especially in this summer heat.

This was especially confirmed through our afternoon tour of the Magic Hat Brewery,  a converted lumber factory that also hosts many band practices and parties, with some of the best interior design i've ever seen in a brewery.  The Magic Hat is one of the many small breweries that don't advertise but only spread through word of mouth. I enjoyed their sampling station, as you might imagine.

In the afternoon, we checked out the Farmers' Market in City Hall Park which was full of yummy foods (look maple syrup! Wait, we have maple syrup) and ingenious crafts that were far too tempting, like a mini-version of the Young Designer's Market in Manhattan. I particularly enjoyed the buskers as well as this one deejay spinning some awesome afternoon tunes in an empty alley beside the Red Square establishment. Downtown seemed totally alive and everyone was out enjoying themselves with their multiple dogs.

We also shopped at the disproportionate numbers of trendy boutiques and vintage stores downtown.  Burlington surprisingly has a strong hippie aesthetic, with all these stores advertising an emphasis on the organic or the local. Obviously you can imagine I loved that, although admittedly I scored the most retail deals at a discount store in the less busy University Mall where the owner was really excited to see us and told us about all the times he has had Chinese tourists come into his store.

By evening we were tired from our busy day and full from feasting and sampling brewskies all day, so we stopped off at the mall food court where I met a Congolese man running a shawarma stand who sold me yummy "African food made from Vermont ingredients".  I have my doubts as to whether the mango from the Shawarmaman mango juice came from Vermont, but my dinner made me super excited that in a few months I was going to discover a whole new continent of food.

Church Street at night