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In all of our travels to Vermont and having lived here now for more than two months, we have never been to Burlington. Burlington is Vermont's largest city, recognizing that 1) that is like saying that Maine is the largest state in New England, which is certainly true although it is still far from a large state (hullo, Texas!) and 2) Newport is also technically considered a city, and it's possible to drive from one side of the downtown to another in less than five minutes. But Burlington does indeed have things that one expects of a city, like buildings over three stories and streets arranged into blocks.

Since we had never been, we decided yesterday to visit Burlington for the first time. It's about an hour-and-a-half drive from where we live, but there are no drives in Vermont that aren't gorgeous, so it's all good. We had in mind three big plans: 1) eat some Indian food, 2) ride the Burlington bike path across the causeway, and 3) polish it all off with a meal at Citizen Cider.

Here in the Northeast Kingdom, we are very rural but we aren't entirely backwoods. We have a phenomenal Thai restaurant in Newport and an upscale German restaurant and wonderful hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant in Derby, as well as lots of places offering great local fare. (In Vermont, it typically involves Vermont cheese, maple syrup, beer, or all of the above.) But we don't have an Indian restaurant within an hour-and-a-half of where we live, and since Indian food is my absolute favorite, then this is one of the few things I grieve about leaving Maryland (although the Mexican-Indian restaurant in the mall in Westminster has apparently closed, so I wouldn't have had many options much closer in Carroll County either).

Burlington, being a real city and a college town, has an Indian restaurant, so that's where we went for lunch: Shalimar. They had a Sunday brunch buffet, which we both opted for. It wasn't the best Indian food I've ever had, but it was definitely good enough to satisfy my months now of going without (woe is me, right?), and the palak chole (spinach with chickpeas) was incredible. I could eat a big plate of it now if one were placed before me. And they offered free, self-serve hot tea. Win!

We brought our bikes because Burlington has a famous bike path that skirts Lake Champlain and follows an old railroad causeway smack across the middle of the lake with water on both sides. The bike path is rated the #1 attraction for Burlington on TripAdvisor and not without reason.

We started out from the Burlington Waterfront, in the heart of Burlington's downtown.

Looking across Lake Champlain into New York and at the Adirondack Mountains.

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The waterfront. (We have something similar in Newport but ... well, just a bit smaller ...)

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Lake Champlain is HUGE for sailing. I couldn't afford to get giddy over every sailboat we spotted, so my enthusiasm was reserved for those 1) with colorful sails, 2) that looked like the Alex, and 3) that were very large. Overlooking one of several marinas.

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It didn't take long to pull free of the downtown, and then the scenery started to look more like Vermont. I loved this section here and took lots of pictures of it: the pattern of blue water and brown mud, the bright green vegetation at the verge of the water, even the footpath leading down to the small beach. (Click for full size on any of the photos but especially the panoramas.)

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Next, we crossed an ancient, rusty bridge across the Winooski River. Bobby knew I'd be thrilled by the bridge and so didn't tell me about it so I'd be surprised.

I was predictably thrilled!

Looking up the river.

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And where the river flows into Lake Champlain.

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Onward we pedaled onto the second half of the path: the Island Line Rail Trail, built upon an old railroad causeway that extended across the lake. Where there used to be a drawbridge to allow boats to pass from one part of the lake to another, there is now a break in the path with a free ferry to take you from one half of the path to another. (Bobby and I didn't do that this time; the wait was well over a half-hour by the time we reached the end. Another time!)

The water hugs close on both sides with just piled up granite blocks that used to support the railway. It was a stunning view: New York and the Adirondacks to our left and Vermont and the Greens to our right. This picture looks across a bridge on the front half of the causeway.

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We reached the end! The entire ride (round-trip) was about 20 miles/32 km.

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The boat traffic through the small break in the causeway was very heavy: huge yachts and sailboats, many from Montreal, presumably for Labor Day weekend, and on their way back north and home. However, it made me feel good to see this little guy, roughly the size of the Alex and a sloop (one sail) just like the Alex too, taking its turn right along with the big ones.

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Looking across to the other side of the causeway. You can see the bike ferry docked alongside. People were doing jumps and flips off of the causeway and into the inlet. They were braver than me!

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By the time we pedaled back to the Burlington waterfront, our legs were getting tired. So we hung the bikes back on the car and walked a block down to Church Street, which in 1981 (the day before I was born in fact!) was opened as a pedestrian mall. It reminded me of the city centers in some of the European cities we have visited. We stopped at Ben & Jerry's, and I had a refreshing Lemonade Stand sorbet and Bobby had a chocolate milkshake. We strolled along Church Street, stopping at a shop selling art from Vermont juried artisans (I bought a print for my classroom by Dug Nap) and a store selling nothing but socks because ... well, I think we both didn't quite believe they sold nothing but socks. But they did.

I humbled myself into acting the tourist and taking pictures of Burlington. For y'all. You're welcome. ;)

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Looking down Church Street.

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To cap off the day, we stopped at Citizen Cider for dinner. Vermont is known for its booze and has breweries, cideries, and distilleries recognized around the world. (We have wineries too, but we admittedly have a better climate for apples than grapes.) Bobby has been making a career these last two months of trying all the beer that Vermont has to offer, but the one that I fell in love with was Citizen Cider.

I felt all fangirlish taking a picture there.

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We both tried from their menu of limited releases: the tart Crabby Crab for me and the Brosé for Bobby, which was blended with apples and--what else but Vermont's other famous fruit?--blueberries. We ended up taking a "growlette" of the Brosé home with us. So we didn't end up seeing Bernie Sanders, but we still had quite the taste of Burlington nonetheless.
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