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I just wanted to say a quick note about my recent weekend in Burlington, Vermont. What a lovely town! With a population of only 40,000 or so, it still feels like a cosmopolitan centre, ringed with gorgeous natural beauty. As with many American towns, the cuisine benefits from the best of a variety of traditions, in this case both New England heartiness and Southern fattiness. I will not soon forget my excellent breakfast of sweet potato waffles, battered chicken covered in sausage gravy, buttery grits, and an omelet filled with kelbasa and sauerkraut. How inspired!
While I was there, I partook of a wine tasting at a local liquor store. Mmmm, free cheese and lots of free South American wine. Can’t beat that. The town is so quaintly small, that the somneliers from the liquor store were later encountered at the same restaurant where I had dinner that night. They were hesitant to comment on the restaurant’s wine list, however.
Driving from Ottawa to Vermont is an interesting experience. It’s actually shorter than the drive to Toronto, but a bit more hectic. See, you have to go through Montreal, which is some of the most unpleasant stretch of highway to be found in the North American northeast. Once you’re past that hell, there’s an hour or so of nothing…. by which I mean lovely scenery, but no gas stations or pit stops.
Crossing into the USA, the driving picks up noticeably. One thing I absolutely love about driving south of the border is that Americans know how to treat long distance drivers. Along major highways are rest stations with clean bathrooms, snack machines, free coffee and tourist literature. We could sure use that in Canada.
Actually crossing the border was sort of odd. Crossing into the USA, the American border guard was very polite and friendly and just waved me through after a couple of brisk questions. I guess the new Obama era openness is already percolating to the fringes!
Returning to Canada was another story. The Canadian guard pulled me over and searched the car. I guess he was concered I was smuggling sweet potato waffles.
Just south of the border there’s a sign for the 45 degree latitude mark, declaring it (accurately, though somewhat ridiculously) to be “exactly halfway between the equator and the north pole.” Speaking of signs, I was bemused to find a street parking spot in Burlington reserved for the mayor. Don’t know why I find that odd, I just do. Just adds to the quaintness.
Final verdict: I recommend a visit to Vermont. What a nice place!