10.07.2012

a few words about burlington vermont

We are in Burlington, Vermont, for a wedding.

We drove here on Friday, a nice drive mostly through blue skies and autumn colours.

On Saturday, we found a public library so I could do some school work.

Saturday night was the wedding. The ceremony was held on a patio overlooking Lake Champlain, with a dramatic sky and setting sun as a backdrop. The wedding was fun. It was good to see some of our family (Allan's side) who we like, and do the general wedding celebration stuff.

Today we hung out with our good friend Ray and took a nice walk on a waterfront trail. Now we're in a motel room watching baseball.

So that's what we've done. And now a few words about Burlington, Vermont.

There's not much here.

It's a pretty little college town, home to the University of Vermont and some smaller schools. You always hear what a nice place this is. And it's not a bad place, it's not not-nice, but... there's just not much here.

The big attraction is the Church Street Marketplace, a section of downtown Burlington closed to vehicle traffic. Twenty years or so ago there were a lot of interesting, independent stores and funky cafes. Now it's Banana Republic, The Body Shop, and one chain after the next. People rave about it... but I don't get it. It's an outdoor mall.

There's a beautiful walk and bike path along several miles of lake, part of a rails-to-trails network. It's flat, there are beautiful views, and you can see stretches of unspoiled lakefront, and several public parks. Many people walk their dogs or jog along it, and you can rent a bike from a local nonprofit.

And that's really it. There's an aquarium and science centre, and the Ethan Allen Homestead Museum, which to me are time-fillers if you have kids. Burlington is a great jumping-off point for outdoorsy things in the rest of Vermont, but if the best thing about a town is getting out of it, what does that say about the town?

Allan was born and grew up in this area, and was living here when we met in 1985. When we were long-distance, friends of mine used to ask if it was hard to decide who was going to move. We thought they were nuts. Allan and I never considered my moving to Vermont, not for one moment.

I guess most people from New York thought of Vermont as a beautiful, peaceful place, a place where one might get away from city life. But we loved city life and wanted a lot more of it.

Now it's 25 years later, and I still look at Burlington and wonder what all the fuss is about. It's a perfectly nice place to live. Our relatives, who live in the much smaller and more scenic Jeffersonville, Vermont, have a lovely life here. If you are drawn to small-town life, I could see this being a good choice - although you'd better love winter.

But if anyone tries to tell you Burlington, Vermont, is a tourist destination, send them this post.

19 comments:

Gunner said...

Funny, I'm in Southern Vt this weekend at a poly gathering.I took the train into Albany on Friday.

Oh er... Hi long time no comment from me.

James Redekop said...

What, no visit to a Lake Champlain Monster museum? :)

laura k said...

A poly gathering - sounds like fun! And hi. :)

laura k said...

What, no visit to a Lake Champlain Monster museum? :)

There was a Champs exhibit at the aquarium!

The wedding ceremony was held on the patio of the acquarium, so as we were leaving we saw a few captive fish and some signage. And yep, there's Champ, the Lake Champlain monster. "Fact or fiction? You decide!"

Jere said...

Ethan Allen: born in rural Connecticut, believed in reason over organized religion, writer, and kicked the British Empire's asses in the dark without resorting to violence. I'm proud to be his (great x 8) grandson!

laura k said...

Wow, a direct descendant, very cool! I will visit the homestead next time we're in Vermont.

I love history and usually find those historical museums very interesting. But after wine and beer and lunch with Ray... it was not appealing. Next time!

allan said...

This post seemed too harsh, but then I thought about it some more, and realized it is pretty accurate. ... Just another reminder of why a certain 23-year-old native was happy to GTFO of VT back in 1987.

laura k said...

I think the Burlington area would be a very nice place to live for a settled person more interested in healthy, slow-paced living than in a lot of variety and night life.

"There's not much there" refers to the tourism possibilities. Vermont is lovely to drive through, great for hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and other outdoor pursuits. And apparently it's great for skiing. But Burlington itself... what does everyone see in it??

That's what I was trying to say, hopefully I did. :)

James Redekop said...

Sounds like my home town of London, Ontario. ;)

Jere said...

"Wow, a direct descendant, very cool! I will visit the homestead next time we're in Vermont.

I love history and usually find those historical museums very interesting. But after wine and beer and lunch with Ray... it was not appealing. Next time!"

He seems like an interesting guy despite my obvious bias. (And yes I was doing that thing where you cherry-pick someone's traits/views that match yours to show how connected you are with them, ha.)

Speaking of direct descendants, did you read the recent news about Lou Gehrig?

Jere said...

Also, the vibe and comments of this post remind me of a comment I made on reddit reacting to a picture of a beautiful mountain stream.

laura k said...

Sounds like my home town of London, Ontario. ;)

Heh. There may be a resemblance!

Burlington, though, is more progressive than London (generalizing, of course), one of the more progressive places in the US.

laura k said...

Also, the vibe and comments of this post remind me of a comment I made on reddit reacting to a picture of a beautiful mountain stream.

For me it's the difference between living somewhere and visiting. I can see many reasons to live in Burlington, depending on your priorities. There is not much reason to visit for more than a day.

Re my man Lou, you mean about what he may or may not have died from? Or was there something else?

tornwordo said...

Burlington is useful for us because if we fly out of there we save beaucoup dollars compared to the Montreal airport. Also, the hotels will let you park for two weeks free if you stay one night. There is also an awesome shoe store in the mall on the church street marketplace. Birkenstocks for $50!!! Other than that, snooze.

laura k said...

Burlington is useful for us because if we fly out of there we save beaucoup dollars compared to the Montreal airport.

Exactly how we use Buffalo! The cheaper shopping, too, although we don't use it for that - but many folks in Southern Ontario do.

Jere said...

"Re my man Lou, you mean about what he may or may not have died from?"

Yes. But they said nobody could overturn the Mayo Clinic making the medical records public because there are no living descendants of Lou Gehrig. I thought that was odd at first, but I guess "descendants" is different from "relatives," so if you don't have kids you don't have descendants. Since I don't have kids, I guess that means if people want to dig me up or something, not even my nieces/nephews could stop it. Oh well, I'll be dead anyway.

Amy said...

I think the appeal of Burlington is that IF you are in Vermont and IF you want a place to go for a good meal, there aren't many towns that will provide many choices. In Southern VT and central VT, there are ski resorts with overpriced and not very good restaurants, but nothing that resembles a real town.

We were in Burlington about a year ago and enjoyed the farmer's market on Saturday and lunch at one of the many casual restaurants in town. And in five minutes you can be in the country.

It's not a place to go just as a place to see, but it's a place to go if you are going to VT. If that makes any sense.

laura k said...

Sure, it makes total sense. It's nice for a day.

I did enjoy the lovely library in South Burlington, though. I did library talk with the librarian there. :)

laura k said...

Jere, I thought there was a difference between "direct descendants" and "descendants". Either way, though, I think if you don't have kids, you don't have descendants. Not something I'll worry about either. :)