I want to share a unique place in Montreal that always leaves me a happy customer: Two Horses on Jean Talon. A hair salon, tattoo shop and some pop-up vintage clothing all-in-one, my visits are never short of inspiring.
A little background: I only get my haircut a maximum of twice a year. It grows incredibly slowly and I like to stick to a certain length, since the fine and frizzy texture usually requires a bit of weight to keep me from looking like Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich. I’ve experimented over the years: undercut/shaved sections, short out-of-bed cut, bowl cut, baby bangs…. These days I like to keep it kinda long and low-maintenance, since it just agrees with my life currently.
My experiences at Two Horses have been relaxingly pleasant, and I think it’s mainly due to the fact that the hairdressers really listen and make sure that we’re on the same page. There’s definitely a system of a good system of trust going on; I never feel like I’m being boring by asking for a subtle cut. Add to that an incredible décor, good music and sometimes a friendly dog (belonging to one of the owners), and you can guarantee I’m overstaying my welcome.
I took these photos last time I went in. How awesome is this place? Above: enviable gallery walls, the most beautiful wallpaper (from Poland!) and a touch of taxidermy on every wall.
Below: waiting space flooded with natural light, some vintage finds, tattoo outlines and framed art for inspo. Visit their website Two Horses Salon and Tattoo: 170 Jean-Talon W, suite 306 (upstairs from the Atlas lighting store) See some of their work on their Facebook Page
Cos, I love you, but all your beautiful clothes make me look like a child wearing a painting smock in kindergarten art class. Or as if I just ran out of the hairdresser’s while still wearing that polyester cover-up thing. At 5’3″, I’m far from the tall, slender Scandinavian body type that the flowy, high-end cuts look flattering on. You know, with swan-like necks, long torsos, ballerina limbs. This may actually be a blessing, since the new flagship store is said to open Friday October 9th in Montreal, and the price range doesn’t fit my current budget (not that this usually stops me). Still, I know myself, and I know that I will be in there regularly trying to find the one item that makes me look and feel like I own an art gallery. I’ll try to admire you from a distance! Let’s see how long I last. http://www.cosstores.com/gb/
1310 Ste-Catherine West (All images taken from the COS website)
With summer quickly coming to an end, we decided to take a road trip to savour the last of it. Prince Edward County is about a 3.5 hour drive west from Montreal and is known for some of my favorite things: beaches, vineyards, and good food. Here’s a round-up of what to check out in PEC:
Sandbanks beach: Ok so Canada is a fairly beach-deprived country. But the Sandbanks beach does not disappoint; it really feels like you’re at the ocean! Lake Ontario is so massive, you can’t see anything in the distance, and the sand is so soft… not like those sharp rock “beaches” in other parts of the country.
Angeline’s Inn & The Hubb: We stayed at Angeline’s Inn, a super cute hotel in Bloomfield that reminded me of the Inn Lorelai opens in Gilmore Girls (the entire town of Picton actually reminded me of Stars’ Hollow, for any GG fans out there). Angeline’s is also renown for its restaurant, The Hubb, which has great ambiance both indoors and on the terrace. We had tuna popcorn tartare, roasted lamb, and summer gnocci with pesto, all very flavorful. Bonus: take a glass of wine to your room at the end of the night! The Drake Devonshire Inn: We originally wanted to stay here, especially after a friend described it as “the hotel from Dirty Dancing”. There were no vacancies left, so we settled for having a nice dinner at the Devonshire. This is a must, in my opinion. The view and the vibe are perfect, with a fire pit by the lake, perfect cocktails (try the Gin Gin Mule and the Brown Butter Maple Old Fashioned, thank me later), good music and a general laid-back atmosphere. This place is definitely a splurge but quite worth it. Take some time to explore the grounds a little: you will find a game room, outdoor ping pong table, photobooth, and bikes you can rent out. Do reserve weeks ahead if you want to stay here! The Grange: This vineyard is probably the most beautiful location we had seen in all of PEC. With weeping willows on the grounds, and a beautiful 180 year old barn to taste the wines, it’s nothing short of picturesque. Go around lunch, and ask them for a picnic basket (complete with sandwiches, salads, blueberry panacotta), which you can take on the grounds with you to enjoy the scenery. Norman Hardie: This winery is bumpin’! With a wood-oven pizza stove, local cheeses and tomatoes, it makes for a perfect lunch or dinner spot. The wines are quite unique and have a nice mineral flavor to them, I really recommend the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir. Antiques: PEC is great for antique lovers like myself, and I found most of the items to be decently priced as well. There are many places that sell second-hand/vintage items, but one of my faves was Dead People’s Stuff in Bloomfield.
More places to check out on Main Street, Picton and nearby: County Canteen: While PEC doesn’t have much of a nightlife, the Canteen is pretty happening since it opened up in June. Dozens of beers to try with a great atmosphere to boot. Everything on the menu sounds good if you’re hungry, too. Scooperman for ice cream! Miss Lily’s Cafe: for good coffee and wi-fi Regent Theatre: Rainy day? See what’s showing at the Regent theatre. Be warned: the last showing usually starts at 7:30pm. Giant Tiger: this department store was just how I remembered it: unironic, entertaining, and well-priced. Mustang Drive-In: On the weekends, check out an outdoor move at the drive-in! so oldschool, I love it. Lavender farm: make sure you go in July to get the full sensory experience! They harvest late August, depending on the weather. Hayloft Dancehall: A great place to get a drink, see a show if you’re there for the weekend (closed during the week).
Have you been to Prince Edward County? Any places you recommend checking out?
When it comes going out, I’m not really a club person (long line-ups, bottle service, painful high heels… enough said). I’ll go to the occasional pub once in a while, but I’m not crazy about the ambiance of sports fans and being surrounded by TV screens. Bar Kabinet is my kinda place. Last fall, the inviting glow attracted me into this little nook of a bar, and I have been drawn to it ever since. Located in the Plateau/Mile End area of Montreal, it’s easily accessible and makes for the perfect after-dinner drinks spot. Luckily the inside is just as cozy as the exterior promises.
Bar Kabinet is inspired by Imperial Russia, both in the drinks and the decor. With ambient lighting and framed pictures of Tolstoy and Rasputin, it feels like you’ve discovered a secret time portal, à la Midnight in Paris, except in Moscow. They import foreign liquors such as Cachaça and Fernet to give their drinks a unique twist. I really loved the Casarah drink: a sweet mix of pureed strawberries, lime and mint with distilled sugarcane syrup. I’d also recommend the Filoettovvy (which translates to violet-coloured, since it’s tinted with beet juice) and the Chay Kabinet II (a cocktail with a splash of black tea for flavour). Be sure to check it out if you’re in the Montreal area. Take note that it is the size of a shoebox, so best to keep it to one-on-one dates or small groups.
I went to Barcelona in 2012 and had such an amazing time, I can easily say it’s one of my favourite cities I’ve traveled to. Since then, friends have been asking me for tips on things to see or do, so I decided to make a post about it, complete with pictures from my trip that leave me very nostalgic.
First, a bit of advice: Language: try to brush up on your Spanish. Although many people are quatrolingual, some of them only speak Catalan and a little Latin American Spanish. The menus in restaurants are often only in Latin American Spanish and Catalan, and the waiter might not be able to translate it for you. Also, the locals will respect your effort and will often be more friendly. Surprisingly, our knowledge of French came in handy more than once as well since there are a lot of foreign workers.
–The Lonely Planet Barcelona guide was super helpful for us, especially for the maps (streets can be confusing). There’s even a phrase book and translation of all the popular food items. Be sure to get the latest version since the recession hit the city pretty hard and many places have had to close.
-There is a tourist info center that you can go to for any information, they were friendly and helpful. You can also go to them to book tours or day trips you might want to do.
-If you want to book a day trip, do it as early as possible because they can get full (Dali museum, Cava tours, Mount Tibidabo, lots to do..).
-Same goes for a soccer match
–Bull fighting no longer happens because the animal cruelty people got involved and banned that shit.
-If you want to go to Madrid for a day, the train gets you there in 3 hours.
-make sure there are no strikes or protests happening with the transit companies if you do want to go somewhere
-Try to plan your day around a certain neighborhood so you don’t tire yourself out. You can technically walk everywhere, but a metro pass is usually worth it if you are trying to cram in a lot of sightseeing.
–Vila de Gracia was the loveliest neighborhood we saw, and if you get the chance, try to stay there. It’s like the plateau/mile-end equivalent (for montrealers) and little parades and music shows happen in the streets daily. It also has a ton of cute bars if you want to go bar hopping or dancing. And it generally felt safe, not as touristy as the more downtown areas. The metros near it were Paseig de Gracia and Fontana. We stayed at an airbnb with a rooftop terrace, from which we could see the Sagrada Familia. It was a great location and I would stay in that area again.
-Check out Parc Guell and take pictures in all the famous spots. The Gaudi stuff too, but you already knew that.
– Walk along the ramblas. Ramblas are like Montreal’s St-Laurent street sale X 10000. There are 3 of them and they all lead down to the beach area.
– Our favorite beach was the gay beach closer to the east edge (I think it was called Barceloneta). It was less crowded and generally felt safe. Be sure to not bring any valuables, and keep change for metro fare.
– The beach has many bars all along it, which provide a nice break from the sand. Despite the fact that they look like tourist traps, the prices weren’t as high as we expected. If you go to a beach bar, be sure to order a drink called Clara, a lovely combination of beer and lemonade. You can also bring your booze to the beach, and I recommend finding a convenience store and getting a canned drink called Damm Lemon (which is like a canned Clara).
-A nice cheap thing to do is to go up Mont Juic (pronounced Mont Jew, no joke). You can take the teleferic and see the view of the whole city. There’s also some castle/military building to see for free up there. You can walk down back to the city, it’s a pretty beautiful walk through the mountain.
-If you like champagne, try Cava, the Spanish equivalent. It’s usually quite cheap to order in bars and if you really like it you can take a day trip to one of the vineyards (Cava Tours).
-If you are planning a night at home, you can get a decent bottle of red wine from the grocery stores for 4 euros.
-Get TAPAS for dinner! My favorite place was Catalana, which you have to try. The address is 236 Mallorca, but go early ’cause there can be an insane lineup later in the evening. Split a few dishes amongst each other and try a local beer.
-When you don’t know what to order, you can’t go wrong with jamon (sorry, vegetarians). The cured meats there are delicious. Also, patatas fritas, and seafood if you’re into that. If you like what the stranger sitting next to you is having, ask the waiter for “lo mismo” and point to it. (It just means “the same”).
-Go to a Gelateria, any place that sells gelato. Nutella gelato, enough said.
**Pickpockets are a big problem in this city; on our first day we witnessed a guy steal someone’s bag and ride off on his bike. So have a messenger bag you can keep in sight, one that can’t be opened too easily. Wear one of those gross money belt things if you need to carry your passport, even if just for peace of mind.
It was really hard to condense this to a short list, but I hope you have as great of a time as we did!
I can get really defensive about my city. Yes, the weather and the politics can be frustrating. The shortage of good jobs available is always a challenge. That aside, Montreal has a solid arts scene which offers so many cultural events that even the brutal cold can’t seem to impede.
I recently attended a Lou Reed Memorial Singalong, which was held in an airy loft in the Plateau. A musician played a grand piano to all the songs we know and love, while a crowd of about 70 people sang as loud or as quiet as they wanted to. Lyrics sheets were provided to help follow along, and food and drink were served. As I looked around at the room of people singing, I couldn’t help but notice a lot of them were smiling and seemed to be transported somewhere else in their minds. I think many of us associate Lou Reed’s music with a particular time in our formative years, and it often triggers past memories and emotions (at least for me, anyway). There’s something really cathartic about singing a song that is so familiar, the kind that you’ll never forget the words to, like running into an old friend. Singing in harmony with a group just brings it to another level.
Best of all, this event was a fundraiser for CKUT, our local college radio station. Great event planning for a good cause. I give it an A+.
What are some of the original events or fundraisers you’ve attended?