5.7.15

Tasty Travels: Arizona Part 1

The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale

Since it was just July 4th weekend, I thought I would post about my experiences traveling in the U.S this past April. Canadians joke about America in fun, as I'm sure they do about us. The truth is, there is no wonder why Canadians flock there like birds (literally "snowbirds") during the winter months. First of all, where are you going to see palm trees and sunshine? We don't get those things until at least July in Canada. As well as the warm weather, we might not think that the U.S is a major travel destination because we're so close in proximity. Again, there are many things to see and experience that make you appreciate the vastness of the land that our neighbours to the south occupy. After much deliberation of which American destination to go to, we settled on Arizona for a one-week vacation.  

The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale Arizona

When I go somewhere I like to see history and culture. Relaxing by a pool is all well and good, but the destination needs to have something memorable to see. Arizona seemed to have all of these things: history, resorts, national parks, landmarks and scenery. Where there are all of these things, there are usually many tourists. The place definitely caters to flocks of families, retirees and luxury golfers. Arizona seems to appeal to tourists and adventure travellers alike as well as the more passive travellers. We started the trip in Scottsdale, a suburb if you will, of Phoenix, Arizona. Scottsdale is where people go to be seen at the many resort pools, nightclubs, restaurants and shops, including Trader Joes. As a Canadian, I was so excited to stop in at the famous grocery store to pick up breakfast supplies. 

Trader Joes

In Scottsdale, we stayed at The Saguaro Hotel, a hip and colourful boutique hotel downtown Old Scottsdale. The area is not a cheap one to stay. This seemed to be one of the less expensive hotels even though it was quite nice. Resorts and hotels in Scottsdale cater to the rich and famous. You may have heard of the Arizona Biltmore, a Waldorf Astoria hotel where Marilyn Monroe used to stay or The Phoenician, a luxury resort and golf course. When we arrived at the Phoenix airport to pick up the rental car, the attendant asked us which hotel we were staying at and I said the "Sa-gu-aro." "The what?" he said. "Do you mean, the Sah-wah-ro?" My first mistake in Arizona was pronouncing the name of the cactus famous to the area wrong. After we learned how to pronounce the name of our hotel correctly, we were on our way. 

The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale Arizona

The Saguaro Scottsdale had a hip vibe and I loved the bright colours and vintage touches in our room. It had many cozy spots to lounge in outside and by the two pools. I could have sat by that pool all day every day. Plus, the location is convenient right downtown Old Scottsdale steps away from bars, restaurants and shopping. Just be careful in budgeting that you still have to pay daily resort fees on top of the nightly rate. In this case, it was $25 a day. 

The Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale

Among the glitz and glamour is strangely enough, an Old-town neighbourhood in the style of the old Wild West. Stores upon stores on covered sidewalks sell Western and "Indian" souvenirs. It was completely kitschy and somehow not totally unappealing. We stopped for ice cream at The Sugar Bowl, a bright, vintage looking ice cream soda shop. Despite the cheesy exterior, the area is quite full of culture and has one of the highest concentrations of art galleries in the U.S with weekly Art Walks. On our first night there, we ate dinner at Sumo Maya, a Mexican Asian fusion restaurant. Yes, a hip and bustling Mexian-Asian restaurant located in a strip mall. Only in America. The menu had a full range of different options from guacamole to sushi to ceviche and noodles; it sure stayed true to its name. 

Old Town Scottsdale Arizona

This was a vacation after all, so I was happy sitting by the pool and soaking up the heat. I know people in Arizona complain about the heat. For us Canadians, it is a welcoming warmth, especially coming from a freezing cold winter. I understand now why many people like the appeal of resorts as vacation destinations. By the time February, March or April rolls around, you are in desperate need of some rest, relaxation and a change of scenery. I liked how Arizona had all of these things without feeling like you're stuck on a resort the whole time. 

Saguaro Hotel Scottsdale

I was also happy to sit on some cafe patios and drink iced coffee. We found a favourite cafe that we visited twice. The Herb Box serves fresh and innovative lunch and dinner food with healthy options with a patio right next to the downtown canal great for people watching. I would also recommend Snooze an AM Eatery for an easy breakfast or brunch option, which you will need a car to get to. Besides the few kilometre stretch of Old Town Scottsdale for walking, most places are located in malls or outside of the main downtown square, so we found a car is absolutely necessary for Arizona travel. 

Scottsdale Arizona cafe

Scottsdale, as you can see, is only a small tucked away part of Phoenix. Although we drove around extensively, we didn't nearly see all that Phoenix has to offer. Phoenix has a population of about 1.5 million and is located in the northern part of the Sonaran desert. The city is surrounded by mountains and desert landscape. On the second day, we planned to hike Camelback Mountain, a 2706 ft mountain in the middle of city. When we got there too late in the morning, the parking lot was completely full of other people with the same idea. 

Old Town Scottsdale

So we went to the Desert Botanical Garden for an afternoon activity. The thing about planning activities there is to limit your time in the hot sun and make sure you take into account plenty of cool down time by the pool in the afternoon. I didn't mind it so much, as it was neat to walk around and see the desert foliage up close. 

Desert cactus Arizona

The Desert Botanical Garden has several trails that educate you about cacti, agave, saguaros, birds, bugs and everything you would want to know about desert gardening. You see this type of greenery all around Phoenix in the landscaping and not just at the botanical gardens. Coming from Canada, it was bizarre to me to see cacti everywhere I went. It is obviously impossible to maintain a lawn in the the desert heat, which is why many people forgo grass for sand or concrete--unless you count the luscious green golf courses. 

Desert Botanical Garden Scottsdale

Desert Botanical Garden Scottsdale

Did you know that saguaro cacti can live to 100-200 years old and can weigh up to a ton? Cacti absorb water and also access it underground through "taproots." They then expand and contract over the course of a year as they "drink" water. Arizona also cultivates a lot of agave, plants that we now know as being used for agave nectar. Many of the different species of agave reside in the Sonoran desert. And of course, there are many succulents, one of my favourite plants. 

Saguaro cactus Arizona

After two nights in Scottsdale, it was on to the next destination: Sedona. Even though you have to drive to get around Arizona, road tripping is always fun. The major cities aren't that far from each other. In total, we didn't drive for more than 2 or 3 hours at a time to get to each place we went. Sedona is about a 2 hour drive from Phoenix. This guy loves doing all the driving (at least I think he does), so I can help navigate, take photos and make sure we have adequate fuel, meaning food and drinks. 


Sedona is full of beautiful red rock formations. The main scenic drive through Sedona is known as the "Red Rock Scenic Byway" and it is home to Red Rock State Park. As soon as you approach the city, the mountains glow red and emerge out of vast greenery. It has a totally different feel from Phoenix with even a bit of cooler weather than the hot desert climate of the southern cities.

Sedona mountains Arizona

As well as day trippers looking for something different than Phoenix, the area is also famous for having some kind of sacred energy known as "vortexes." There are vortex sites around Sedona that healers believe circle energy. The redness of the mountains is caused by iron oxide "rusting" over the sandstone and limestone that eroded over millions of years. One great scenic view in Sedona is Airport Rd. At sunset, hundreds of people go up there to see the red and orange light hit the colourful mountains. I would say avoid the downtown as much as possible. 

Sedona Arizona


That is why we stayed about 10 minutes from the downtown at the quiet Butterfly Garden Inn. Nestled in Oak Creek Canyon, we found some peace and relaxation in these quaint cabins. Don't mistake quaint for shabby, as these cabins were incredibly cozy, clean and full of amenities. There are 18 cabins ranging from one and two bedroom to full suites with kitchens. There is also a general store and restaurant attached with everything you need to for "roughing it." 

The Butterfly Garden Inn Sedona Arizona

In the morning, breakfast in a lovely basket with mason jars was delivered to our cabin door. The basket was full of juice, milk, cereal, pastries and yoghurt. I mean, it was like Disney-like birds carried it over to our cabin while I sung to them or something. I loved waking up to the sounds of nature feeling like we were in the middle of the forest. 



The cabin was perfect for unwinding with a fireplace and a good book. One of the nights, we ordered pizza from a local restaurant and brought it back to the room for dinner. Then I was classy as usual and bought a mini box of wine from the general store. It was a nice change from a hotel for once. 

The Butterfly Garden Inn Sedona Arizona

On the first morning in Sedona we drove not even 5 minutes from the cabins to the entrance of the West fork trail at Oak Creek Canyon. The easy trail follows the creek as you see canyon walls of up to 200ft. Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge that flows between Sedona and Flagstaff. You could say it is like the "smaller cousin" of the Grand Canyon. It is actually the second most popular tourist destination in Arizona besides the Grand Canyon. 

Oak Creek Canyon Sedona


We criss crossed from forested areas, to canyon walls and then back out to dipping our feet in the creek. Some people were simply sitting by the creek with picnics admiring nature. Sometimes on a vacation, you need to walk out in nature for a few hours to clear your head. That can feel even better sometimes traveling than sitting by a pool or shopping. We're not even serious hikers. Somehow we just want to walk everywhere whenever we go traveling. 

Oak Creek Canyon Sedona Arizona


Oak Creek Canyon Sedona Arizona

After a few hours of walking, we headed back to our cabin for lunch and then back to downtown to pick up a Pink Jeep Tour. As soon as you drive up to Sedona, you will see these pink jeeps everywhere. Hundreds of people get on the jeeps every day for an off-road tour. Honestly, as cheesy as it sounds, it was fun to let someone else drive around the terrain for us. There was no way I would drive an ATV myself through some of those rough roads, even though the driver let me "pretend" with a posed photo:

Pink Jeep Tours Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona

Sedona Arizona mountains

The tour guide was knowledgable of the rock formations and mountain names, as well as a skilled off-road driver. It was also a chance to take a lot of photos as we zoomed by all of the mountains. Sedona was the filming location for many old Western movies and you may recognize it from those car commercials where trucks are standing at the top of mountains. Elvis even filmed a movie "Stay Away Joe" around there where he played a cattle rancher.

Sedona Arizona red mountains


When you think travel destinations with hundreds to millions of years of history, the U.S might not be the first place to come to mind. Depending on who you talk to, the earth might not even have existed yet. There was an odd moment during the tour where the driver tried to test the waters with our group as to whether or not we believed the earth was more than 6000 years old. Our tour group was the two of us and a family from California, so he eventually figured out that yes, we believed the rock formations were formed over millions of years. 

Sedona red mountains Arizona


Whatever you believe, it is a stunning place. The photo above looks like a backdrop from a photo studio. As you will see from the rest of the photos I will post later including the Grand Canyon, there are more scenic views than you can shake a stick at. Whether you want to find them by car, hiking or jeep, they are there to explore and admire.  

Sedona downtown Arizona

Stay tuned for part 2 of my Arizona trip for the rest of Sedona and The Grand Canyon. Learn more about Arizona with the Lonely Planet Southwest USA guidebook. 

30.5.15

Pea and Asparagus Pesto Pizza

Pea and Asparagus Pesto Pizza

There are some things you should never put on pizza. Personally, I'm a pepperoni and cheese kind of gal who doesn't stray far from the classics. Chicken, a fried egg or five types of meat on my pizza? Not for me, thanks. I am even hesitant about white sauce pizza. This time I gave peas a chance and tried something different. You would think as people get older they get less picky about foods. As I approach my third decade of life, I am learning that the older you get, the more you get are in your ways and enjoy the simpler things. One of those things is gardening. Even though my garden space is limited, I still love taking care of plants and having herbs on hand. The weather got chilly last weekend, so I had to bring the plants inside to protect them from the frost. The cat ate her breakfast with a garden view: 


As a birthday present, I was not disappointed in any way to receive a pot I had been eyeing at Loblaws. First of all, for it's great colour and secondly it's a huge stock pot. Yes, my birthday present was a cooking pot and not, well, the other kind of pot you would associate with wilder, younger days. Things aren't generally a big surprise around here either. When I say "eyeing," I was practically stroking it and saying how pretty it was every time I walked by it in the store. 

President's Choice ombre stock pot

On my birthday I went to a neighbourhood garage sale. I am definitely that person who is fascinated by other people's stuff. When I'm at the grocery store I do a once over of other people's carts and I if I ever rented an Airbnb I would totally do this. So going to garage sales is fun for me even if I'm only looking at what people are selling. Does that sound creepy? 

pink cake with buttercream roses

After we came home with a garage sale haul, Mike got to cooking some brisket we picked up on the way home. And then he made me that wonderful pink cake. He actually knew how to bake way before I ever started baking for myself, so I wasn't surprised he could pull off a whole cake. I didn't even have to intervene with the piping. Then the rest of my birthday wasn't too crazy after that. I protected my plants from the forces of nature, went snooping around other people's stuff and ate some food. I sound more and more boring each day. Right now I'm alright with the age I am and staying where I am (and not thinking about big birthday milestones like next year). 


Speaking of crazy, I made a pizza with peas on it. Stay with me here, this is crazy. I have apparently re-discovered frozen peas. After not buying them for years, I bought a bag the other day and have been putting them in everything. They work with so many recipes. I saw this recipe for pizza and liked the idea of a "green" pizza even though I normally stick to "plain." The pizza has no tomato sauce and feta cheese instead of mozzarella. Somehow it works. The saltiness of the cheese mixed with the savoury pesto and hint of acidity in the vegetables--that are first tossed in lemon juice--drizzled with a bit of olive oil on top, makes a refreshing pizza. 

Pea and asparagus green pesto pizza

Pea and Asparagus Pesto Pizza
Ingredients:

1 pre-made or frozen pizza dough
1/2 cup of frozen or fresh peas
1/2 of a zucchini, sliced
4-5 asparagus spears, diced
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt, pepper, fresh mint or basil for topping
1/2 cup pesto (see recipe below) 


Directions:

1. Marinate the asparagus and zucchini in a bowl with 1 tsp of olive oil, the lemon juice, salt, pepper and a dash of chilli powder. Leave for 10 minutes.
2. Roll out the pizza dough. Add the pesto first, and then the vegetables and lastly the cheese on to the pizza. Sprinkle a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of fresh basil or mint on top of the pizza. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F.  

pizza dough


Pesto recipe
Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup fresh basil
1/2 cup fresh mint
2 cloves of crushed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add a touch of water if it is not coming together. Keep remaining pesto in the fridge for a few days or freeze. 

Pea, asparagus, feta pizza

Here is a genius tip for making pizza on a pizza stone with parchment paper. I have tried adding cornmeal and olive oil to the paddle before with no success. Every time the pizza sticks to the paddle and I can barely get it on the stone. Someone told me about using parchment paper on the pizza stone. You still get a crispy crust even when the pizza is not cooked directly on the stone. My new trick is to make the pizza on parchment paper on the paddle and then transfer the whole thing to the pizza stone. Then I cook the pizza for about 5 minutes until the crust has slightly cooked and pull out the parchment paper. It doesn't stick and I get a combination of crispiness from the parchment paper and stone contact. No more hassle.

Asparagus spring pea pizza with pesto

If this was one of those "things you need to learn before you turn 30" articles, then I would recommend learning how to make a fine pizza instead of ordering in. Also, learn how to take care of a plant or two before you attempt other creatures. Lastly, don't stop being creative and always keep your mind open to learning and trying new things. 

25.5.15

Food News: GasWatch for smarter grilling

Here is another edition of Food News, where I share things I come across in the food world. Some of these ideas are sent to me and others I find myself. These are not sponsored posts in any way. They are just neat things I feel like sharing. Today is all about BBQ season. I was devastated the other week when out of the blue, the condo board of my building said I couldn't have a BBQ on my deck. I understand the reasoning; however, we had had it more than a year already and the rules seemed suddenly changed. No matter, I will cherish the day when I have a full yard and can have the BBQ of my dreams and maybe some backyard chickens, and a pizza oven.

GasWatch BBQ tank level monitor

If you have ever turned on the BBQ, had a great piece of meat marinated and were ready to BBQ only to find your propane tank was empty, then this is for you. This product is similar to KegSmarts that monitors the level of beer left in a keg with a smartphone. GasWatch is a propane tank scale with a gas level indicator that connects to your smartphone.

GasWatch BBQ app

GasWatch uses the weight of the gas tank to predict how much gas is left, as well as how much cooking time you have left on the tank. The app then sounds an alarm when the gas levels are low. This would be perfect if you were having people over for a BBQ and needed to know how much cooking time you would have before needing to change the tank. It is one of those technology things that makes it easier to be in control of something or it somehow controls us.

GasWatch

The app is available for IOS and Android phones. The scale attachment fits most 20 pound tanks, as well as smokers and space heaters. It's a safe way to check on your propane gas. The project is currently funding on IndieGoGo and the company promises to start production in June.

20.5.15

Tasty Travels: Montebello, Quebec

Chateau Montebello lobby fireplace

The idea of having a "10 + 1" celebration was created when my husband and I were on a cruise in Australia last year for our honeymoon. On the first night of the cruise we introduced ourselves to another couple and said we were on our honeymoon. The couple said they were celebrating their "10+1:" 10 years together plus 1 year of marriage. We realized that the following year we would celebrate our own 10+1. That year we celebrated 9 years together and one month of marriage by looking up at the stars of the Whitsunday Islands on a tall ship cruise. How do you top that? As well as the wedding itself, it was hard to think of something special to do that was equally as good. Since moving to Ottawa, I have obviously explored Ottawa and a bit of Montreal and discovered there is a piece of Canadiana luxury right in between. So to mark our anniversary, we seriously splurged on a weekend getaway to the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello in Montebello. 


Located on the Ottawa River between Ottawa and Montreal, the spectacular resort was built in 1930. We were greeted by a bell hop who gave us some insight into the history of the place as he helped take our bags to our room. The three main buildings were built in the span of 4 months with about 3500 construction workers who used 10,000 red cedar logs to build everything. The hotel is built on the grounds of what used to be a 17th century Seigniorial estate. In the 1800s, the Papineau family of Quebec purchased the land. The resort as it is known now was opened to the public in the 1970s and now attracts visitors from all over the world. 

Chateau Montebello lobby

The focus of the lobby is the spectacular hexagonal rotunda shaped fireplace. All of the 200 guest rooms in the hotel fan out from the middle of the lobby into four wings. The main dining room and banquet rooms are also off of the lobby. This means the lobby is an ideal spot for an afternoon break, pre-dinner cocktails or a late night cocktail. To appreciate the craftsmanship and sheer size of the lobby, it is something you have to see in person. The reviews I read beforehand said the rooms were on the smaller size, so it is best to hang out in the lobby instead of the rooms to appreciate the experience. 

Chateau Montebello deluxe king river view room

Originally, we booked a regular room with a Queen bed. Earlier in the week I tweeted that I was staying there for our anniversary and I guess they got the hint because they upgraded us free of charge to the deluxe room with a King bed and river view. Don't say tweeting never gets you anywhere! The room was spacious with a couch and seating area, television, coffee maker and kettle. We were also greeted by the lovely tray of desserts shown in the above photo. They didn't have to do that at all--and during the busy May long weekend too--so I appreciated it very much that they went the extra mile to make our stay memorable. I can't say enough about how wonderful and attentive the staff were at reception, in the dining rooms and on the grounds. There are many people buzzing around all of the time making sure everything is taken care of and comfortable for each guest. The resort mascot Monty, an old Golden Retriever dog, even has his own log cabin dog house in the lobby to take naps in between greeting guests. 

Chateau Montebello deluxe room

Chateau Montebello deluxe king room

We arrived Friday night around 6pm and had dinner at the Seigneurie Bar in the basement. The bar is one of the resort restaurants and serves standard fare like fish and chips, burgers and sandwiches. I had a Caesar salad with chicken and Mike had duck confit gnocchi. Since we were staying in May, it was a little early for a BBQ dinner on the terrace. The staff said it usually opens in June. The terrace seating was set up outside, but sadly no BBQ yet. We will have to go back for a terrace meal later in the summer. After dinner, we took a quick walk around and sat by the river on the Muskoka chairs and then went back to the room and both fell asleep while reading books. That fresh country air will do that to you.


Even the smallest details show the rustic charm of the place down to the paintings, decorations and lamps, like this epic bear lamp in our room. If you are expecting a modern, boutique hotel with brand new finishings then this won't be the place for you. Although all of the amenities are quite modern and clean, the beauty is in the coziness and sense of history. When I say history, I don't even mean like a giant, haunted old hotel either. It by no means has the vibe of an abandoned lodge. It felt like I was an exclusive guest at someone's grand home. 


Although room service is available at all hours of the day, we chose to bring some things to make our own breakfast in the room. Mike picked up some pastries from Art Is In Bakery in Ottawa the day before. We had coffee and pastries, such as almond croissants, sticky buns, cinnamon rolls and chocolate croissants--way too much for two people. On Sunday morning, we even had some Mimosas with breakfast. I brought the bottle of champagne that was left in our room for us on our wedding night by the Elmhurst Inn; it was a bottle of Lakeview Cellars 2008 GMR sparkling. 

Pastries from Art Is In Bakery Ottawa

Saturday was a full day at the resort to explore, relax and try some activities. The hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool, spa, 18-hole golf course and 26 km of trails. Silly me was actually worried there wouldn't be enough things to do since it wasn't peak summer time. Instead of paying for each activity individually, there is a $23 per night resort fee for each room. Although that is an extra charge, it does mean you can take advantage of most of the activities for free. There were kids in every corner of the resort trying some sort of activity and a lot of things for adults to do as well as the obvious relaxing that needs to get done. This was the first weekend of the year they had canoes, kayaks and boats out on the water. 

Le Chateau Montebello

We took a stroll through the forest trails to the village to see what Montebello was like. The focus of the town most obviously seems to be the resort, however the village has a few small bistros, pubs and shops. For souvenir buying, there is a local cheese shop and chocolate store. I always like walking around seeing a place instead of staying cooped up in a hotel room. Another exciting activity close by is Parc Omega, which I like to call "Quebec's version of African Lion Safari" with drive up paths to see wild animals.   



Instead of worrying there wouldn't be enough to do, we actually found it difficult to do everything. We had a swim in the indoor pool along with half of the hotel who all had the same idea. The indoor pool is more than big enough for everyone with two hot tubs and two saunas, as well as a spa. I would love to go back in winter and try out some of the winter activities and then warm up by the fireplace with a hot cocoa. 

Le Chateau Montebello

On a side note, I thought it was funny there were so many trilliums blooming around since the trillium is Ontario's flower and not Quebec's. Does that mean it is technically not illegal to pick trilliums in Quebec? Not that I would, of course. 

trilliums

There was a wedding going on that day, so we snuck a peek at the preparations. I could hear the wedding celebrations later that night in one of the banquet rooms, but the sound didn't carry to the rooms even though some of the rooms are right off of the lobby. The Chateau Montebello would be a gorgeous spot for a large or intimate wedding. And how symbolic yet again that it was exactly a year since our wedding day. 

wedding at Chateau Montebello

After walking and swimming, we both got ready for dinner with a pre-dinner glass of champagne. I put on a fancy dress and we headed down for dinner to the main restaurant Aux Chantignoles with food by Executive Chef Jean-Francois Fortin. Perhaps my only slight criticism would be the price of the restaurants. I know the Fairmont has a reputation for luxury. Having lunch and two dinners at the resort ended up costing almost as much as one night's stay. I found the prices a little on the expensive side. Mike was taken a back at lunch when he ordered a beer and it came to $15. That being said, the food is good with many options to choose. The menu is mostly French inspired featuring local Quebec ingredients.


It was a our anniversary after all, so we definitely splurged on the room and the food. The main restaurant is a grand ballroom with windows overlooking the patio. They also have a buffet option for brunch and lunch. To give you a clue of my level of fanciness, I saw that the buffet was open at dinner and I asked the hostess if it was available. She then replied that "at dinner time, the buffet is only for children." Mike had a laugh at my expense over that one. For dinner, we started with a salmon gravlax appetizer. 

Dinner at Aux Chantignoles Chateau Montebello

Dinner at Aux Chantignoles Chateau Montebello

Mike had the trio of Quebec rabbit stuffed with herbs and mashed peas. I had the grouper fish "catch of day" with white asparagus and 7 grains. We were also given a few amuse bouches in between courses to cleanse our palates even though we did not opt for the 3, 4 or 6 course meal options. That is another example of the exceptional level of service of the place. 

Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello

On Sunday we had breakfast and then played tennis. Pro tip: playing tennis after drinking Mimosas isn't the best idea. We whacked a few tennis balls around and then called it a day. It was nice to be outside and enjoy the long weekend sunshine. I couldn't take enough photos of the Chateau Montebello. Mike asked me when I wanted to head back to Ottawa and I was like "hold on, I want to take more photos." 

Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello

Chateau Montebello Quebec hotel

Why would you ever want to leave? I mean, look at this. You can see by the crowds in these photos that it got busier on Saturday and Sunday. Between weddings, spa visits, business meetings, family vacations and couple's vacations there must be hundreds of people coming and going each day. The exciting thing is that is shows that log cabins don't have to be associated with some small place in the middle of the woods. They can be luxurious, grand and elegant. 

Chateau Montebello Quebec

We also opened our anniversary gifts for each other. For Mike's gift I framed one of the sheets we had guests fill out at our wedding with marriage advice as well as the magazine spread of our wedding in Wedding Bells magazine. He got me an engraved jewellery box and printed out some of our old email correspondences from years ago. Who says romance is dead after marriage?


Then it was back to Ottawa on Sunday. And the start of working towards marriage year 2. Here's hoping every year will be as wonderful as the first one. Thank you to the Fairmont Le Chateau Montebello for a lovely weekend getaway.

Ottawa River

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