Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Winter Solstice

Certain cities seem to have a kindred feel about them, something that connects them despite potentially vast differences in size, population, geography, and history. Maybe it is the same thing that connects individuals and creates that rare, amazing chemistry between strangers when they first meet. Or maybe it is just a scientific equation, like:

Universities + Water + Mountains and Forests + Local cultural pride + Temperamental weather - Suburban sprawl - Chain restaurants/stores =
An Awesome City Such As San Francisco or Burlington

Either way, Burlington proved to be a very comfortable place for us, wandering amongst little shops along the snowy pedestrian thoroughfare, Church Street, sipping homemade soups in cozy organic restaurants like August First, and couch surfing* with a charming photographer couple, who invited us to a fabulous winter solstice party in their beautiful gallery. In preparation for said celebration, I got to fulfill my dream of baking spicy ginger snaps, which I shaped into beautiful mermaids, unicorns, pac-men, and a camera with a flash. Everyone was duly impressed with my artistry.

A highlight of Burlington was The Bobbin Sew Bar and Craft Lounge, a DIY space for people to experiment with their own sewing projects as well as the workshop and showroom of the founder, who naturally hails from San Francisco. Another was Anjou and the Little Pear, a beautiful and moderately priced emporium of antique home furnishings so enticing I nearly decided to move there just so I could fill my hypothetical home with their wares. A lowlight was Junktique, a vintage store that had an awesome name, yet was filled with the most useless and non-functioning bits of trash I have ever seen for sale for US dollars, and was staffed by surly, bushy young men who probably used to set squirrels on fire for fun as children.**

Unfortunately, the three historic scenic train routes in Vermont, one of which runs along the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain, only are in service during the milder months of the year, so if you have an interest in trains*** you may want to plan your visit accordingly in order to experience them. The seasonal activity we partook in, on the other hand, was hunting for icicles and eating falling snow, as well as spotting the most epic holiday sweaters in the western world.

(If I ever have any success as a writer and can afford to hire an assistant, I promise they will take pictures for me so I won't have to torture us all with photos like these.)

Our next stop would be the little-known town of White River Junction, which would once again prove my theory that the smallest and least typically touristed towns prove themselves to be hidden gems time and time again.


*We stayed the first night at The Burlington Hostel, which was very clean, well appointed, and centrally located, but something about the uninspired decor was offensive to me- it was like the owners had read one chapter of a 1996 Lonely Planet Thailand guide and determined that all backpackers wanted to surround themselves with was poorly replicated versions of folk art from around the world, and had gone to a clearance bin at Walmart in order to procure sloppily painted decorative pots and tie dyed sarongs to hang on the walls, then celebrated the accomplishment with a 12 pack of Budweiser. Awful.
**You know the type I mean. Big creeps, they are.
***Which you probably do if you are reading this, or else you are just very, very bored.


  1. I hear you about hostel decor. Though I don't know what's worse, the "Vintage Lonely Planet ca. 1996" look, or the "mostly white walls with the only decoration being the mandatory signage and maybe some generic HI posters" look found in some of the larger HI hostels I've been to.

    Are you going to visit CCS while in WRJ?

    Acronymically yours,

  2. I didn't visit ccs but I did meet some of the students and see their work and it is AWESOME!

    If only every hostel was like the Hawthorne...