My Perfect Day

Dan and Toby in Seattle

My day would start on a Saturday night on a weekend my partner Toby doesn’t have to work. We’d start the night out over cocktails with friends at Sun Liquor, a small bar in our neighborhood, Capitol Hill. I would order a “Dark and Stormy” and Toby would order his favorite, a “Greyhound.” We’d both watch Erik the bartender flex his muscles working the last drop of freshly squeezed grapefruit from the manual juicer. The tiny bar is constantly filled with the palpable aroma of citrus. No pre-made mixers for this bunch! The bartenders are always nice and informative. They really know their stuff.

From there we’d retreat to my favorite bar, The Bus Stop and hunker down for a few drinks. The patrons come and go in this small neighborhood bar. It ebbs and flows constantly creating an interesting mix of people. It’s gay. It’s straight. It’s lesbian. It’s trans. It’s random. It’s hipster. It’s plain Jane. I love it. The original bar was razed to make way for condos but the owners Gary and Rodney found an almost identical space a few short blocks from it’s original location to recreate the scene of many crimes. The music here is always spot on whether it’s being blasted from an iPod or being carefully selected by the DJ. On this particular night the speakers are pumping out The Smiths, Junior Senior, Le Tigre, Pixies, and Stereolab. Fueled by the strong drinks and creative energy the bar breaks out into an impromptu dance party. Strangers and friends alike cram the small bar and shake what their momma gave them.

All that dancing inspires me to stroll down to The Baltic Room and dance the night away at my friend Gene’s monthly gay soul club Talcum. It’s a spin-off of the Emerald City Soul Club‘s popular monthly dance night. The music is a mix of Northern Soul music, the crowd is friendly and interesting, and the talcum powder fills the air.

The next morning we’d rally the brunch crew. Sunday brunch at Linda’s has been a weekly tradition since I moved to town six years ago. It’s a dive bar/greasy spoon with good food at good prices. This particular day we’d score a table on the back patio which would be full of sunshine (one of the last places Kurt Cobain was said to be seen alive). Moque, our favorite waitress would deliver a pitcher of mimosas to our table – on the house. I’d order the steak and eggs. Medium rare, scrambled, English muffin, please. The jukebox spins a delightful mix of Michael Jackson, The Mamas and the Papas, David Bowie, Pixies, and The Delta 5. We’d sit back, take in the sun, throw back the mimosas, and enjoy the scenery and each other’s company.

{Photo: Wheelo50411}

To work off my mimosas and steak and eggs I take a short bike ride down the hill through the downtown core to Pike Place Market for the perfect breakfast dessert – donuts! The Daily Dozen serves them up in a small stall at the market. Mesmerized by watching the entire donut making process unfold right before my eyes, I order a dozen assorted donuts and dig in. I reach in to the brown paper bag already becoming stained with grease and I pop a fresh hot donut into my pie hole. I continue to devour the bag as I stroll through the stalls of fresh produce, fish, and fruit mixed in with artists’ and craftsmen’s wares.

The ride would continue through Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood full of boutiques, bars and cafes over to Myrtle Edwards Park, via the Olympic Sculpture Park. The Olympic Sculpture Park was a superfund site until the Seattle Art Museum stepped in and cleaned up the area and turned it into a magnificent park. The park and natural views of Elliot Bay and snow capped Olympic Mountains captures my heart more so than the artwork. I’d ride my bike along the waterfront taking in the salt air and views of the mountains, container ships, ferries, and sailboats.

{Photo: Jeff Wilcox}

After biking up Seattle’s hilly terrain to Capitol Hill, I’d reconnect with Toby and a bunch of friends to spend the remainder of the afternoon people watching in Cal Anderson Park. It’s a few short blocks from our place, making it a regular place to relax. Once an open reservoir, it was capped a few years ago creating several new acres of park space on top of the active reservoir below. It’s a great place for lounging, kite flying, bocce, or croquet. You can watch little kids frolicking in the wading pool while people juggle swords, practice yoga, toss the frisbee or picnic.

My perfect day would wrap up over sushi at HaNa, located on the neighborhood’s eclectic strip of Broadway, smack dab between Cal Anderson Park and our home. We’d order a boat load of sushi and sashimi, savoring each bite. The ambiance is nothing to note, but the service and food is excellent. Happy and full, we’d shuffle home after a long, wonderful, fun-filled day spent with friends.

Daniel has lived in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood with his partner Toby for nearly six years. By day he works for non-profit Community Voice Mail providing communication services to homeless and low-income people across the country. By night he scampers about town getting into all sorts of capers.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Dan in Vienna

My perfect day starts at my flat – located in the middle of the Neubau district – and with Lula, my sexy beast of a dog. We start off with a walk along Neubaugasse, a shopping street lined with boutique and second hand stores, and pop into Cafe Latte for a quick coffee and cigarette (Sunday brunch is also recommended here, along with reservations).

Lula in Vienna

After fueling up it’s a quick stroll down to Heldenplatz, an unofficial dog park located in the 1st district between the Hofburg and Volksgarten. Lula and I relocated to Vienna from Venice (Cali, not Italy), and while my bitch is Westside for life, yo, she and I appreciate the beauty of what might be the most picturesque dog park in the world. After Lula gets her me-time, we meet some friends and take a scenic walk past the famous Stephansdom to Karlsplatz –– destination Kunsthalle, and the best breakfast burrito I’ve found in a town that is the wurst. (I go there when I’m jonesing for a good burger as well.)

{Photo: Pokpok313}

Two things that puzzled me when I first moved to Vienna were: 1) what does everyone do on Sunday, since all the shops are closed and 2) what the hell do Wieners talk about when they’re sitting at a cafe for 4 hours. Well, it turns out one of the answers to question number 1 is to sit at a cafe for hours. I still haven’t quite figured out what they talk about, but at least now I know where people go on Sundays. And for elegant slumming, the Kunsthalle Karlsplatz offers some exceptional lounge seating.

{Photo: Erock}

Since it’s a perfect day, the sun is shining, it’s 24º and everyone in Vienna is wearing deodorant. This last detail is crucial because it means I can ride the U-bahn without risk of passing out. (Really people, I realize that everybody likes their own brand, but some days it’s out of control.) I survive the tube, leave Lula at the cut and jump on the whip for a ride around town. Vienna is a great city for biking – it’s not too large, it’s flat, there are dedicated bike lanes on most streets, not many cars and the city has a bike rental service that allows you to pick up and drop off at several locations. And that’s just in the central districts in Vienna. The Prater offers more scenic rides, as does as the Donauinsel. And if you really want to get your nature on, there’s Wienerwald, a forest area partly located within the city limits.

{Photo: Pokpok313}

I meet up with some members of my bike gang and we hit the Hauptallee in Prater, which is like a boulevard for bikers and joggers. Afterwards, it’s over to one of the bars along the Donaukanal – Herman Strand Beach or the newly opened Tel Aviv Beach – for a few drinks and some people watching. After catching a breather, it’s back to the flat for a disco nap and then out on the town for a night of music.

{Photo: -bast-}

Vienna is a mecca for classical music. I’ve never seen so many people walking the streets with violins strapped to their backs. There are several venues to catch a concert or opera, but the three most famous ones are the Stadtoper, Konzerthaus and Musikverein. The Stadtoper offers tickets for as little as three euros (at a price though, which including waiting early for tickets and standing during the show).

{Photo: Jason Tabarias}

The performance at the Stadtoper – Donizetti’s “L’elisir d’amoreis” – is a grand ole time, and we top it off with a Sacher torte at the world famous Cafe Sacher, just behind the opera house. But Vienna isn’t just a town for really old music; we close out the night by hitting up my neighborhood club, the Camera Club on Neubaugasse, and do a lil dance to some minimal beats provided by some of Europes best purveyors of fine funk.

Now it’s four or five in the morning. I do the walk of shame back to my flat, sleep till noon and wake up feeling grateful that there’s not much I can do on Sunday, even if I wanted to. Wien, Ich liebe dich.

Dan is an architect living in Vienna and working in Linz, for the office of Kaufmann + Partners, gmbh. He moved there from Los Angeles in 2008 and, after having a stolen bicycle returned to him by the police, decided that Vienna just might be the place for him.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

John on the NY Water Taxi

The best part about living in New York City is the sheer number of amazing things to do in each of the incredibly diverse neighborhoods – from uptown to downtown, east to west – the possibilities are endless.  But an even cooler thing about New York is that you sometimes don’t need to leave your own neighborhood to have a completely perfect day.  I live in the West Village – a quiet pocket of New York with it’s own unique vibe – tree-lined streets, world class restaurants and bars, stunning architecture, and a beautiful waterfront running along it’s edge.  There are times when it doesn’t even feel like the rest of the city, with its small-town community mentality in the middle of a bustling metropolis.  My perfect day starts and ends here.

John at the Roasting Plant

There’s no better way to start a morning than a trip to the Roasting Plant coffee shop.  It puts Starbucks to shame.  There are about a dozen different beans you can choose from, each with varying difficulties of pronunciation – from Ethiopian Yirgacheffe to Sumatra Mandheling.  The coolest thing is that they roast all the beans in-house, and as you order your drink, the beans shoot through these huge tubes along the wall and ceiling into the brewer.  It’s all very futuristic, and adds a bit of excitement to buying a cup of coffee.   Plus, the workers are the friendliest out of any other coffee shop I’ve been to in NYC.

Abington Square, NY

Abingdon Square is one of my most favorite places in New York.  It’s a well-kept West Village garden/park lined with benches, which are always filled with friendly locals and interesting characters.  Something about the way the metal fence is designed makes you forget about the busy streets and frantic cars on the other side.  On Saturdays, a small Green Market sets up here with fresh produce, flowers, pastries, meats, and cheeses.  I usually take my Roasting Plant coffee, buy a pastry, and sit in the morning sun reading the news on my iPhone.

Hudson River Park NY

When most people think of New York in the summer, they think of a scorching concrete jungle – tall, claustrophobic buildings towering over hot asphalt with no relief in sight.  But Manhattan is an island – and actually has a breathtaking and wide-open waterfront along its perimeter.  I like to walk as far west as possible and end up at the Hudson River Park – long stretches of manicured lawn alongside a spacious boardwalk. It’s the perfect place to take a deep breath of fresh air and do something that can be hard for New Yorkers… relax.

New York Water Taxi

From the river, I like to take advantage of the New York Water Taxi – it’s exactly what the name says.  Not only can you hop on this boat to take you uptown, downtown, or around to the East side of Manhattan, you can also hang out on the top deck for a stunning view of the city from a perspective you don’t usually get. On my Perfect Day, I’ll take a quick trip from Christopher Street up to 27th Street, just a few blocks from my next destination

Chelsea Piers Golf

I’m definitely not a golfer – in fact, I’ve never even stepped foot on a golf course.  But, I love driving ranges, and the one at Chelsea Piers is an unforgettable experience.  It’s a four-level multi-tiered range set right up against the river- so you’re basically hitting the balls straight towards the water.   There’s something so unique and exhilarating to see a huge sailboat float past while slamming golf balls as hard as you can towards it.

New York Brunch

After the driving range, it’s time to meet some friends for Brunch at Extra Virgin on West 4th St. back in the West Village right around the corner from my apartment.  It can get crowded with tourists on the weekends, but the food is unbeatable (especially the Eggs Benedict and the Strawberry Vodka cocktail).  My favorite spot is by the bar along the window – people-watching at its finest.

New York Street Fair

There are street fairs in New York every weekend in the summer. Most of them are filled with the standard and familiar attractions – cheap sunglasses, fried food, and tacky souvenirs.  But a few of the West Village fairs stand out from the rest of the pack and shouldn’t be missed.  “Perry-phernalia” happens on Perry Street – all the residents come out to the street, setup tables, and sell their relics from an easier time:  old records, vintage jewelry, classic toys – it’s like walking through a time capsule.  Then there’s the B.B.C Festival – which takes place on Bedford, Barrow, and Commerce Streets.  Alongside high-quality arts, crafts, and food, there are live music performances throughout the entire day which make this fair seem like a good old fashioned dancing-in-the-streets block party.

Rooftop View NY

Inviting friends to my roof terrace to watch the sunset over the city is a perfect way to wind down from a long day, but it’s even better when we’re drinking one of my favorite inventions.  It’s called the “Summer Chiller” – it’s 2 shots of Elderflower liqueur, 2 shots of vodka, a splash of sparkling water, a squeeze of lemon, and topped with a scoop of lemon sorbet.  Wow.

La Focaccia, NYC

For dinner, La Focaccia is a tiny Italian restaurant on the corner of West 4th St. and Bank St.  It’s loaded with charming character and unbelievable food.  From the fresh straight-from-the-brick-oven Foccacia to the delicious Pansotti Al Tocco Di Noci (a cheese and spinach ravioli with creamy walnut sauce, a specialty of the Italian Riviera), eating here always seems like a reward.  I’ve even taken two discerning critics here several times – my 100 percent Italian Mom and Grandma – and it easily gets their stamp of approval.

Little Branch, NYC

Little Branch is the perfect spot to end the night with friends.  You’d hardly know it from the nondescript door on the corner of 7th Ave and Leroy St, but down the steep staircase is a speakeasy loaded with charm and spectacular drinks.  The bartenders have a knack for making drinks based on what you crave.  So instead of ordering off the menu, you can say something like “I want a drink with Vodka – sweet but not too fruity”.  They’ll ask you if you want to be adventurous, and depending on your answer, they’ll return with a creation that’s out of this world, most likely using exotic ingredients you’ve never heard of.  The place has cozy booths, great lighting, and live music.

It’s been a long and Perfect Day in the Big Apple, filled with tasty food and lots (and lots) of delicious drinks.  Hopefully, tomorrow I won’t have the Perfect Hangover.

John has lived in NYC since 2000 – while he’s obsessed with traveling around the world, nothing beats flying home and seeing the Manhattan skyline as your plane lands.  He recently started playing piano again after a 13-year hiatus, and he has an imaginary and perfectly behaved dog named Frankie.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Jenna at the Singapore Botanical Gardens

To start my perfect day in Singapore, I would head over to the Botanical Gardens with my fiancé for a walk. The 150-acre gardens are filled with amazing tropical flowers, and include a ginger garden and an orchid garden. There is no entry fee and a visitor can spend hours wandering the grounds, resting by the pond or grabbing a snack at the café. The best time to visit is in the early morning or early evening, avoiding the intense heat of midday.

{Photo by Steel Wool}

After my morning stroll, I’d pick up a copy of the Straits Times (wishing it was the Sunday edition of the New York Times) and walk up to Dempsey Hill (also known as Tanglin Village) for brunch.  Dempsey is the expat haven of Singapore. When I’m eating, drinking or shopping here, I really feel like I could be back at home in the US. I’d either go to Jones the Grocer or PS Café for brunch. Jones the Grocer is an Aussie gourmet market that also serves a great brunch and happens to have an amazing walk-in cheese closet. PS Café has a few outlets in Singapore, but their Dempsey outlet is set in a lovely tree-filled area and is incredibly relaxing.

{Photo by calevais}

After brunch, I’d hop on the bus and head down to meet some girlfriends on Haji Lane. While the Arab Quarter is full of carpet shops, fabric stores and Middle Eastern restaurants, Haji Lane is a tucked-away back street full of funky boutiques and vintage shops. A perfect day in Singapore isn’t complete without a trip to a hawker center.  The hawker centers, large, open-air food courts, are the center of Singaporean culture. We’d visit Lau Pa Sat, not far from Haji Lane, and likely sample some of the delicious satay, along with a noodle dish or “chicken rice.” Next, we’d stop into a nearby reflexology center for a painful but ultimately rewarding foot reflexology session.

Cuba Libre, Singapore

After returning home for a swim, shower and maybe a cocktail to start the evening off right, my fiancé and I would go with friends to our favorite restaurant, Raw Kitchen Bar. RKB is located out in one of the “suburbs” of Singapore, luckily for me it is close to our apartment. It is a wonderful mix of food in a chilled out, fun atmosphere. On Saturday nights they have a DJ spinning music and it’s always fun to hang out with the owners. The only challenge is deciding what to order. From the Ahi Mango Poke to the “Make Raw not War burger” and the Balsamic duck or pork bun noodles, the food is always amazing. If we were able to move after stuffing ourselves at RKB, we’d head down to Clarke Quay. It’s the riverside area and definitely has its touristy component, but it’s also a great place to go out dancing for the night – we’d probably hit up Cuba Libre for mojitos and then hit the dance floor at China One, which has a great house DJ and band.

An American teacher, working on her masters degree in library science long distance from Singapore, Jenna is planning a Fourth of July wedding.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Pepe in Berlin

I wake up around 9:30 in the most perfect neighborhood on the planet, the Graefekiez (Graefe = the main street in the hood, kiez = hood) in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district. I leave Kreuzberg about twice a year, grudgingly.

I take my morning coffee out to the shared terrace outside my front door, then bring in the barbecue from last night. I live on the top floor of a Grunderzeit building with its facade still largely in tact – the Graefekiez is graced with a good number of Berlin-standard, six floor houses which survived World War II. Birds are already going nuts, but it’s still too early for the honking horns of Turkish wedding caravans and the left-hand-and-right-hand-are-doing-totally-different-things, stylings of the cursed Gypsy accordion players.

{Photo: ///Sarah}

I bump into a few of my neighbors as I go downstairs to run errands: the old 68er next door who makes me water her flowers 10x a year when she goes on yoga retreats in Corsica; the Bosnian lesbian; the 250 pound Ur-Berlinerin on the first floor whose punked out husband I occasionally have to step over when she makes him sleep in the stairway.

I hit the street, and the spring scene is already in full force. The corner Kneipe in my building – as old school as they come – is already setting up for the big Hertha Berlin game later today. A few doors down, the sidewalk in front of the Matilde cafe is already bursting to capacity. Next door, I say hi to the son of the owner of the Turkish kiosk where I buy my after work beer and single cigarettes in moments of weakness – he updates me on his latest weight loss attempt.

{Photo: Offshore}

I turn onto the tree-lined Dieffenbachstrasse, the prettiest street in the neighborhood. I drop off a case of empty water bottles at Getraenke Hoffmann and talk to the half Sardinian woman who grew up in the neighborhood and is friends with the aforementioned 250 pounder – she is super friendly and has a great raspy chain smoker’s voice.

A few doors down, I get a pastry from the bio (i.e. organic) bakery. Since it’s a perfect day, both adorable sales girls are working today. I pick up a bottle of wine from the wine store next door and chat a bit with the chin-stroking owner.

{Photo: Ciaron}

Then I leave the cozy side streets and head for the serious grocery shopping on Kottbusser Damm, the beating heart of Turkish Kreuzberg. Cries of “Ein Euro! Ein Euro! Ein Euro!”, Turkish girls in veils and skintight pants, pushy old babushkas, old men in blazers, hipsters, students, strange apparitions that only come out after the weather turns, having been paid by the German government to stay home all winter and drink. I drop into the Turkish seed store – a gorgeous establishment, with tiles on the walls, signs in bronze, and mouthwatering vitrines full of nuts, candies, and Turkish delight –  to get some walnuts and toasted pumpkin seeds.

{Photo: Amyslysly}

I drop off my groceries, resist my overwhelming sense of inertia, gear up, and head back downstairs for a jog. I kick up my feet like a show pony on Admiralsbrücke in case anyone I know is hanging out among the students, hippies, and young lovers sitting on the bridge. I downshift into my normal plodding gait. I jog past the ghastly 70s hospital Urbankrankenhaus; dodge geese; try not to inhale too deeply as I past the joint-smoking high school kids, end up with a lungful of exhaust from a passing tour boat; I pass the the miniature golf course, the beer garden, the floating restaurants.

Now it’s time to meet friends and start relaxing. First stop: the tables set up outside in front of Ankerklause. We drink Hefeweizens and look out onto the intersection on Kottbusserbrücke. You couldn’t ask for a finer freak show. We get a call from friends at Club der Visionaire, a 10-minute bike ride away, and we don’t have to leave the canal once. About halfway there, we bump into a friend hanging out at the bocce courts, which are always packed on a day like today, another exquisite cross section of Kreuzberg.

Club der Visionaire, Berlin

Before heading into CdV, we stop next door at the Heinz Minki beer garden for a spicy merguez from the grill. Then, we set up shop on one of the rafts under the weeping willows and complain good naturedly about the minimal house soundtrack that hasn’t varied once in all the years I’ve been coming here. And then I go back home and end the daylight hours with a nap on the couch, all the windows open, the sounds of the city wafting through my apartment. Even the accordion players don’t sound too bad today.

Pepé is a San Francisco native who has lived in Berlin since 2001. He works at the Botanical Garden, building software for friendly EU biologists. Every winter he vows to leave Berlin, every summer he vows to stay forever.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Caitlin in Montreal

My perfect day in Montreal would begin with the sun streaming through my window at around 9 o’clock on a Thursday morning in May. My semester at McGill would be over for the summer and I would be enjoying my life of leisure. I would start my day by going for a jog around Beaver Lake on Mont Royal and ending up on Greene Avenue in Westmount for brunch with friends at the delightful Chez Nicks. This diner-style restaurant is something out of 1950s Montreal, with its booths and counter stools, but à la Westmount, so $4 milkshakes and gourmet sandwiches are to be expected!

{Photo: drquimbo}

After finishing brunch and still in my jogging clothes I would head home to change, but I’d take the scenic walking route along Sherbrooke Street, the main avenue that runs from one end of the city literally to the other, east to west. Arriving back in my neighborhood of Notre-Dame-de-Grace (or NDG as we locals call it!) just adjacent to Westmount, I reemerge from my house and head up to Monkland Avenue, the main hub of activity for my borough. Once there I meet up with a certain garçon and we would spend the afternoon poking into different shops such as the rare books store, the tea emporium and the incredible organic food store, ending the afternoon by going for tea at Premiere Moisson. Similar to the patisserie’s of Paris, this lovely little establishment, one of many found throughout the city but in no way your typical chain, serves every assortment of bread you can imagine all prepared baguette style or in rounded loaves. They also make the most exquisitely delicate pastries and their salmon rolls are not to be missed!

{Photo: binarydreams}

With our taste buds fully nourished we’d get in the car and drive up to the Summit (Mont Royal), Montreal highest altitude. Found there is a beautiful landing that looks out over the entire city down to the St Lawrence River, where you can see the Champlain and Jacques Cartier bridges that take you off the island towards the Eastern Townships and beyond that, Vermont. There is also a small wooded area up at the Summit which we would spend a good hour walking through coming out the other side to admire the grand houses of Upper Westmount.

{Photo: Jaboney}

Driving back down, it would be nearly time for dinner and we would magically be hungry once again and would drive over to the Plateau, Montreal’s most recent fully gentrified neighborhood, where we would sit down to dinner at Ginger. This cozy but ultra-cool restaurant is comparable to Nobu and places of the like in London and NYC. Their white leather rounded booths only seat parties of two or up to eight people and there are only twelve tables in all. Reservations are a must for groups but if you’re only two, then your chances are fairly good but you may have to wait a few minutes at their Buddha Bar. Once seated, sake-bombs and the sushi pizza are the first things ordered followed by the spicy tuna and California rolls, which will only leave you wanting more!

{Photo: crza}

With supper finished and it being a Thursday, it is the night to go to one of two places to enjoy Montreal’s nightlife; Tokyo or B-Side. Both are on St Lawrence Street; many who visit the city believe that Crescent in the downtown is the place to go when you want to go out – but a true Montrealer will head to ‘St Laurent’ (said in a French accent) to either Tokyo’s rooftop terraces or the dance floor at BSide, where classic tunes are spun from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. – be prepared to hear anything from the Jackson Five and Bob Marley to Kanye West and M.I.A.

Heading home at around two or three in the morning, reflecting on the fact that after having spent an entire day with friends and my garçon and going to all of my favorite places in the city, it truly has been a perfect day!

Caitlin Hardy has spent most of her life in big cities and growing up in Montreal is an experience she wouldn’t change for anything. Montreal is the perfect city as it combines urban and community life, tied with a European flare, all in an ideal way! And so long as you can withstand the extreme weather, appreciate the quirky stereotypes of the inhabitants and are willing to immerse yourself in the spirit and fun of the national ice hockey play-offs, you’ll find no better city in all of Canada!

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Monica at Bachman's Flowers in Minneapolis

I would put money on the fact that no one appreciates springtime more than a Minnesotan. I cannot tell you how itchy I have been to be outside just playing in the dirt. Which is why my perfect day consists of searching for things for my garden. For company, I drag along my mom Pat. She is always up for anything, which is why I am glad we both live in Minneapolis. First we head to a garden center in the area called Bachmans. The cool thing about this place is that they have a cafe built right in the center for people like me who like to make a day out of it. I order a ham and cheese croissant, find a sunny table right by a water fountain, and we take it all in.

Bachman's Flowers, Minneapolis

After my meal, I wander like a zombie through the rows and rows of perennnials, herbs, vegetables and tropical plants. The colors and the smells are so beautiful…no picture will do it justice. I purchase some plants and we are off to my favorite antique store, Hunt & Gather.

Hunt and Gather, Minneapolis

This place reminds me of my grandma… it’s filled with super cool stuff from the thirties to the sixties. Today I am in need of an oil tablecloth for the backyard but I get distracted by all the crazy eye candy and also end up buying an old Canada Dry crate to plant flowers in. Then mom suggests going to Dairy Queen. No description needed here other than the fact my mom has an odd addiction to twist cones. Whatever, I comply.

Minneapolis Trolley

We are tired by now. Why does mindless shopping make a person so tired? If someone can answer that for me I would be so grateful. So we decide to do a drive by past one of our favorite lakes – Lake Harriet (just one of the 10,000+ to be found here in Minnesota). There is a trolley that gives free rides around the local lakes and it’s just pulling in as we are driving by. It looks so cute… it’s one of those things I say I will do someday. Oh well, next perfect day.

Monica Lee moved back to Minneapolis in 2005 after living in New York City for 6 years. She lives with her darling husband Kevin and their four cats.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Jess, Brussels

A perfect day for me always begins with sleeping in. Or at least, not having to get up for any particular reason. Today we (me and my better half, Jan) are rolling out of bed at 9:30, late enough to feel like I’ve slept in but early enough to still do a ton of lazing about. And, let’s face it, a perfect day will ultimately be a busy one if you want to squeeze in the best of everything.

{Photo: Comida de Mama}

We head over to Le Pain Quotidien, where a double cappuccino is served up as a big bowl of morning bliss. Their breakfast special is a basket filled with assorted breads and a croissant, a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice and a soft-boiled egg if you so desire. We slather the bread with all kinds of delicious homemade spreads; milk and dark chocolate, hazelnut and comfitures… Of course, you could forgo all of this and handpick a couple of pastries. Either way, all of it is delicious and all of it is organic.

{Photo: Kalendse Kid}

The weather is beautiful today so we’re headed to the Forêt de Soignes. I’m feeling ambitious and am going for a 10 km run. Jan goes for the 5 km loop and a chance to read the weekend paper. I pump up the ipod and hit the trail. The leaves of the tall trees form a loose canopy against the sky, letting a fairylike greenish mist of light through. I run through the woods, along an old orchard road and finally complete the loop alongside a pond where I find Jan sitting on a bench in the sun. This is a perfect place to stretch out while watching little kids feed the ducks.

{Photo: Yabby}

We head back into town where I’m meeting a friend for lunch at Noordzee/Mer du Nord. The Mer du Nord began its life as a poissonerie, a fish store. They’ve since diversified and have a little outdoor tapas bar, complete with a dj on the weekends. Fish that was swimming around in the North sea just a couple of hours ago is grilled with expertise and served up alongside oysters and crisp white wines. The personnel is lively and likely to tease you if you’re a woman between the ages of 16 and 90. It’s on St. Catherine’s Square and the large granite church serves as an impressive backdrop. Afterwards, I head up the hill to meet up with Jan at the Mediatheque, a supermarket sized space filled with CDs, LPs and DVDs that you check out just as you would books in a library. The choice is staggering. Luckily there are players placed strategically so you can listen to some stuff before you check it out. Overwhelmed by the fabulousness of our finds, the patio at Cirio is calling our name.

{Photo: Steve Cadman}

It’s an old café that is still firmly rooted in the 19th century. There is not a waiter in the joint under the age of sixty. It’s right by the Beurse (the stock exchange) and not too far from the Grand Place so it’s great for people watching. They serve up a traditional Brussels half & half, that’s half champagne (or in Cirio’s case, Spumante) and white wine which they pour into flutes at your table. I imagine that is one of many traditions stemming from times when there wasn’t enough to go around and this is just one of the things they came up with to keep the party going. Ignoring the fact that I had fish for lunch, we head over to Vismet. Vismet is an old Flemish word for fish soup. They too, specialize in fish that is fresher than fresh, and fine, fine Belgian cuisine – French food with German portion sizes. That means you’ll be getting wonderfully cooked fish with an exquisite sauce, some form of potatoes (and there are many) and veggies. The crème brulee is unbeatable but I usually don’t get around to it since the main course is so scrumptious. But a perfect day means never having to say “I’m full” so what the hell. Crème brulee and espressos all around!

{Photo: One Point Zero}

Next, we’re headed to Recyclart, an old train station come arts and cultural center. In the summer they have free shows in the square out front. People tend to hang out long after the show ends, talking and enjoying the late evening light that lingers until after 11. We’ll head over to the Botanique where dj’s are spinning. The Botanique, as the name suggests, is a converted botanical garden with greenhouses from the beginning of the 20th century that has since been converted into a cultural center. Again, we won’t hear much of it since most of the evening will be spent outside on the patio overlooking the Botanic garden and the city. Nights out in Belgium often end late, heading home at five still makes you one of the earlybirds. If you wait just a little bit longer the metros and trams will start running again. On the other hand, it’s a nice night and only a half hour’s walk home. And I’m in good company. It’s been a good day…

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Lauren in London

I wake up to an array of goodies from The Bread Shop or Gail’s Bread both on/near St. John’s Wood High St.  These must be consumed with a delicious, frothy, cocoa-doused cappuccino.  My baby girl, Isla, is talking to herself in her bed and I walk in to see her beautiful smile, brighter than the morning sun.  Hubby isn’t working…so off we go, to soak up London.

Honestly, I’d be completely happy just walking all day, stumbling around cobbled-stoned side streets seeing where London takes me.  But since, today is particularly perfect, I’ll hit a few of my favorite spots.  We’ll start in our area, roaming around Primrose Hill, past pastel-colored homes.  I always think this neighborhood feels particularly European and less English.  Then, off to Regent’s Park to Queen Mary’s rose garden where all the roses are at their peak.  Gorgeous colors, and literally, breathtaking scents.  Isla loves to crinkle her nose, smell the flowers and laugh. Very sweet.

Borough Market London

It must be approaching midday by this time, so we head south of the Thames to Borough Market for lunch.  It’s an amazing space under some train tracks in the same place that markets have been held since the Roman occupation.  You can feel it too.  Roaming through the stalls and tables, we pick at various stinky cheeses, fresh rosemary bread rounds, big brownies, scrumptious pies (and by pies, I mean savoury not sweet).  We check out beers from around the world, take pictures of the colorful fresh produce, and get dumped out in front of my favorite coffee shop…ever.  Monmouth Coffee Company.  A filter coffee while standing on the old, dusty, worn wood floors does us well and we continue our walk.  We pass Vinopolis which I still haven’t taken the time to explore, but maybe today I’d have a few hours to do so.  My husband loves the whisky shop in there.  We then head under an old archway walking on cobblestones, peeking at the river from time to time, tempted to eat at kid-friendly Wagamama‘s.  We continue this lovely walk along the river, passing Shakespeare Globe Theater, continuing to Millenium pedestrian bridge where Isla can drag her feet on the ridged metal making funny sounds.  We take in the sight of the magnificent St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Catching the tube to Liverpool Station, walking towards Spitalfields market, we pop into one the greatest little shops: A Gold.  It sells all sorts of Britishy goods, we pick a new one to try and head onwards to Brick Lane for some outstanding Indian food. Ahhhh.  I’ve tried a handful of places and, really, I have no favorite, they all satisfy my craving.

{Photo by fylin}

The evening has arrived and it’s a date night.  Naturally, Mary Poppins arrives at our flat by brolly.  What?  A girl can dream.  Off we go to the Electric Cinema in Notting Hill to see whatever movie is playing, drink wine, sit in actual arm chairs with more space than we have in our ‘reception’ room and put our tired feet up on ottomans, for real.  Afterwards, we bundle up for a chilly, drizzly London evening, catch a cab, and take a walk on the river…perhaps crossing the Waterloo bridge (spectacular at night) and even stopping into fancy schmancy hotel, The Savoy for a nightcap.  Heading home, it’s somehow become a warm, still-light summer night, we stand outside at any local pub, drink a pint and then call it a night.

Thankfully, all of the food and alcohol consumed today is completely calorie-free and in fact, I’ve lost a few pounds.  Thanks perfect day.

Lauren is a freelance photo editor who lives in London with her husband and one-year-old baby.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}

Cindi in Vermont

A perfect winter day in Burlington, Vermont would start with a mid-morning alarm clock consisting of the smell of French roast wafting into the bedroom from the kitchen. Underneath the warmth of a feather comforter, there is no sound; only snow-dampened silence. It is a nice change from the summer when the entire town is bustling with tourists and  just-turned-21-year-old college students. After stretching out and crawling out of bed around 9 am, there is a hot cup of coffee being handed to me by the slender arm of my most handsome boyfriend. I walk softly to the window, still rumpled like the blankets, and open it to watch the snow sift from the clouds like powdered sugar, the branches are covered and small mounds of snow and ice start to build mini glaciers on the street-sides. The transformation from fall to winter happens fast, and it is icy, but with the cold comes the mountain.

Snowy Vermont Road

After having a smoke and a coffee by the window, it’s time to put on the familiar attire of long johns, informally referred to as LJ’s, and the rest of the gear necessary for a day of skiing on our local mountain, Mt. Mansfield, aka Stowe. Although Vermont is on the East Coast we like to call it the Ice Coast because a lot of the time the mountain gets bitter cold at night and freezes the trails. From December through February the summit temperature with wind chill can be a freezing, negative 20 degrees F. But for my perfect day, it will be 15 degrees F and sunny with no wind, that way it is possible to stay out for more than five runs. With Hieroglyphics running through my headphones, it’s fun to start on Switchback, named for its continually curvy trail meandering between the gondola trails.  We slowly work our way into the diamonds, but only after a hot soup and a beer from The Den.

{Photo by Paul}

After catching all the fresh powder runs we can throughout the day,  we are usually wiped out around 2 or 3 pm. Then it’s time to head for the apres-ski beer at The Shed Brewery. The Shed is a rustic, wooden spot with all the beer you could ask for, from strong Belgian Ales to the barrel aged American Stout, they’re effervescent and rich, one or two is enough. Once all is said and done, we leave Stowe with the sun and head home. Leaving my skis at my friends house, I ask to get dropped off at the market to pick up the necessary ingredients for chili and then walk my normal path home. Burlington is very small, about a four mile radius, so it makes it easy to not have a car.

{Photo by Paul}

When our bellies are full of spice and warmth, we lay our heads down to rest in the comforting sink of the tempurpedic, watch a movie and slowly snore ourselves to sleep. Lofting dreams up into the clouds of snow, we patiently await for the next day to come when we can start all over again.

Cynthia Kozak is a freelance editor currently traveling around Europe in a van with her boyfriend.

{My Perfect Day is a weekly Tidepooler series that reveals the most wonderful and interesting places in cities and towns around the world, as shared by the people who live there}


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