We are off to Vermont!
We traveled to Vermont to see relatives of our friends, and to experience a life outside of the city (for a weekend). The drive in itself was a feast for the eyes, with the nearing of our destination. The hills were covered with pine trees, spanning for miles on end. A thick blanket of clouds and fog was gently caressing the treetops, and offering a lovely taste of what we were to expect.
When we arrived, the missus, Sharon prepared us chicken, marinated for eight hours, with olives, plums, and spices alongside rice and steamed broccoli. We had a healthy helping of blueberry and peach pie to finish of the night. Shanon and Paul have been building out the chunk of land since the 1990’s. When it was first passed down to them, it was a house that was in need of a lot of repairs, surrounded by land that was awaiting care. What it is today is lots of open land, rolling hills, and breathtaking nature.
We got a very special tour of the grounds from the owner, Paul. The hike took four hours and it really drilled home that neither I, nor Tom work out enough. My legs, feet, and soul hurt for the rest of the weekend.
Sharon also walked us through her corner of the dominion: the garden. She's been nurturing beets, asparagus, onions, garlic. She was kind to make us whole meals just with the veggies from her garden including some of the freshest lettuce salads I ever had. She's a truly wonderful cook and a baker. For our first dinner she made a chicken that was incredibly soft, which she casually "marinated for 8 hours, with 1.5 hours of preparation". The couple has a cute tradition of ringing the bell to invite everyone to come eat, and let me be honest, the third day in, I ran when I heard that bell.
The rest of the property had a pond, some hills, tons of trees, some grapes, flowers, chipmunks. Basically, it was the perfect environment to get completely de-stressed, chilled out, totally away from everyone and everything.
Some of the local attractions included a yellow lilly farm, the Get Bent beer distillery, and the Sugartree Maple Farm that had an honor system policy where you can give yourself a tour, and purchase as much maple as you'd like, with no supervision. It's a different life in these hills.
On Saturday, my friend Jess and I hit Burlington. It's one of the largest cities by population, reaching to about 300,000 people. This was a great mix of country and city and offered all of the attractions our group loved- a farmers market, wine & cheese shops, shopping, books. We first stopped at the Monarch Cafe. Tom had a fantastic __ and I opted out for the beet salad and the crudité. The atmosphere, the service, and the food were all amazing, and I wish it existed in Philly so I could experience it more often.
We strolled through the farmer's market to find ourselves in the shopping district of the town. Tom and I stopped by the Crow Bookstore, which sells new and old books, and I happened to pick up "Life and Death of American Cities" by Jane Jacobs. Anyone like to read about city planning? It's fascinating how cities progress through time, and whether her observations stand time.
While the boys were bored out of their minds, Jess and I were looking for the next best dress with no success. I found this cute dress and hat from Urban Outfitters, but come on, I was looking for something rare & local. Nonetheless, it went great as a companion on our boat ride. We rented a boat from "Let's Go Sailing" for about $50 per person, and made sure to stop by their local co-op to get cheese, crackers, wine, fruit. We camped out at the front of the boat and enjoyed the views. What made the experience that much better is the 15 degree drop from what we were experiencing on the mainland.
For dinner, we were lucky enough to grab a spot at the Eastern Mediterranean restaurant Honey Road where we had incredible tapas. We had hummus, halibut, chickpeas, bok choi, grilled octopus, etc. It was very affordable for four people with drinks and food included, we spent under $200. For us city folks, that's a complete steal.
Towards the end, Sharon asked me to come back and dig the potatoes in the fall because I happened to know a thing or two about vegetables. It was a lovely trip, and it felt really great to be greeted by such warm and kind people. I loved getting to know our friends better, sharing meals together, discussing plans of moving to Europe in the future, and cracking jokes. In all, a perfect weekend, and a perfect end to June.
5 top things to do, eat, and see
1. Visit the town Burlington and go shopping at their Church Street stores.
2. Hike one of the best trails in Vermont. (You'll need to let Alltrails help you choose the perfect one).
3. Grab a maple candy at the Sugartree Maple Farm for $.25
4. Eat the best darn tapas style dinner at Honey Road
5. Rent a boat and have a little picnic on the Champlain Lake with "Let's Go Sailing" (or any other boat rental company)