FREE, Though

Cheap Thrills

Every Day:

This one goes out to my fellow frugal foodies out there. If you’ve been to Saratoga Olive Oil Co., you know how magical it is. If you haven’t, you’re doing Burlington wrong. What makes it so great? Two words: FREE SAMPLES. Get creative dipping chunks of baguette into different flavors of infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Add a sprinkle of their gourmet sea salts, if you dare. No matter how you do it, a visit to this place is a fun and free afternoon outing for any day of the week. Plus, if there’s a holiday coming up, their stuff makes the perfect gift for parents! Keep that in mind when you make your way over to 86 Church St.

Every Tuesday:

Welcome to Tilted Tuesdays at Tilt Classic Arcade and Alehouse, home of FREE pinball and $1.50 16oz cans of Narragansett Lager! This South Burlington “barcade” is the definition of old-school fun, with food, drinks, and games all in one. Liven up your weeknight at 7 Fayette Rd., South Burlington.

Every Wednesday:

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Free Coffee Tasting—Every Wednesday at noon, Maglianero Café, on Maple Street, does a quick little coffee demonstration, and free tasting! Now you know the best time to casually stop by for an in-between-class caffeine fix, or when to schedule your next off-campus study-athon for.

Every Other Thursday:

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Thursday Free Bowl—Champlain kids bowl FOR FREE every other Thursday night at Spare Time in Colchester. Sign up at the Hub and meet the bus at the Maple Street shuttle stop at 9:15. Count off every other week from April 9th!

Saturday:

The Burlington Farmer’s Market is the epitome of all things local, handmade, and delicious. Stroll through stands of ethnic foods from samosas to dumplings, feast your eyes on fresh, local produce, sniff some homemade soaps, and best of all, snack on FREE samples of the best Vermont cheeses you’ve ever tried. During the summer, this free and lively event sprawls through City Hall Park and St. Paul Street. In the cooler months, it’s brought inside to the Memorial Auditorium on South Union and Main St. The Burlington Farmer’s Market takes place 8:30am-2pm every Saturday, May-October, and 10am-2pm every other Saturday during winter months.

Every Friday:

All summer, the Green Mountain Gore Society is hosting their Outdoor Free B-Movie BBQ every Friday. What does this mean? In their words, “we’ll be firing up the grill and projecting a themed double feature of crowd pleasing, mind melting, eye rotting trash cinema on our MASSIVE outdoor screen!” Sounds fun, right? Best of all, admission and popcorn is FREE. Seating is limited so please, BYOC (bring your own chair). The first screening starts at dusk, and the event is conveniently located behind  Speaking Volumes on Pine St. Perfect after-foodtrucks party? We think so. Check out their Facebook (link above) and Twitter (@greenmtngore) for their scheduled weekly showings!

Sangha Studio: Name-Your-Price Yoga

Cheap Thrills

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Whether you have ever done yoga or not, I won’t try to tell you all the remarkable things it can do for you. You can Google that. What I will tell you is that a good yoga class, with the right instructor, can change my whole day my whole week for the better.

As someone who hates running and traditional gym workouts, taking a yoga class is the most reviving, refreshing, strenuously challenging, and most rewarding exercise I’ve ever experienced. I can tell you that it focuses me, it calms me, and it stretches and strengthens muscles that I didn’t even know I had. It helps me sleep, manage my anxiety, and just feel healthier all-around. And no matter how often I go, I’m usually just the slightest bit sore the next morning, which is always the most glorious feeling of accomplishment.

But alas, anything that costs money gives us an automatic excuse to just not do it, right? Sure there are free yoga classes on campus, but personally speaking, either my academic schedule always conflicts, or I’m just not crazy about the particular instructor teaching. I’ve found that really enjoying and getting the most out of yoga requires an instructor that you connect with. For me, that instructor is Caitlin Pascucci.

I started practicing with Caitlin two years ago when she taught at the Champlain College Fitness Center. I was immediately impressed by her passion and confidence in teaching, and her wise insight on how each pose can be modified to fit our own unique bodies. I also felt inspired by her, like taking her classes would help me challenge myself to improve my strength, balance, and focus—giving me a complete, well-rounded mind/body/soul workout. After that semester, things changed, as they do. I studied abroad, and when I got back, my academic schedule had sadly taken over my on-campus yoga schedule.

But in that time, Caitlin had done an amazing thing. She had opened her own non-profit Sangha Studio on Main Street, and eventually, its pricing has become completely donation-based. Not only that, it’s a sanctuary for all yogis and yoginis who practice there. For me, it is a place of peace, centering, and physical engagement. I can confidently say that Caitlin and the other Sangha instructors know their sh!t, and that they are damn good at helping you feel absolutely amazing.

The best part: students like us don’t have to dish out a fortune to keep coming! The fact that Sangha Studio has donation-based pricing allows you to name your price for a class, or a package of classes. Or, you have the option to become a sustaining member for a monthly donation of $39. Though the suggested donation per class is $10, you are free to pay what you want to pay (within reason, of course), or pay what you can pay. Their mission: “Health and wellness is a right of life, not a luxury. Participate, regardless of skill level and income.

So that’s it. You’re out of excuses. For convenience sake, I’m posting Sangha Studio’s class schedule here. Pick a class, and take a walk to 200 Main St. Suite 7, Burlington. You can’t go wrong, and you won’t regret it. Namaste.

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A Weekend Out of Town: 5 Ways You Can Afford Montréal

Cheap Thrills

Sure, the Burlington area has a lot to offer us: restaurants, bars, live music, shopping, a sick bike path, house parties, farmers markets, beaches, skiing. We even have cheese and ice cream factories and breweries virtually in our back yard. What more could we want?

Well, we all know Burlington is small. I mean, it’s not called “the smallest biggest city” for nothin’. And that is part of why, sometimes, we need to just get the hell out of town. Far out of town. About an hour and 45 minutes—to be exact—where we find ourselves in the majestic metropolis that is Montréal.

We can’t deny there is something alluring about the wanderlust of adventuring north, crossing the border, flashing our passports, and following French road signs. Even more alluring is the sprawling, bustling cityscape of endless shops, lounges, clubs, dives, and fine-dining establishments. Not to mention, the under-21 crowd can finally indulge in legal alcoholic liberty (often without being carded). And now that the Canadian dollar is equal to about 80 US cents, you get an automatic 20% off everything. There’s no better time to go.

But, as we all know, we don’t always have the cash to dish out on a few days and nights of high life in the city. There’s transportation, lodging, food, drinking, activities, more drinking—it all adds up fast.

This past weekend, some friends and I kicked off spring break with a trip up to Montréal, Quebec. Saving up for a cross country road trip this summer, my boyfriend Billy and I have been operating in strict survival mode when it comes to spending (one of the biggest reasons for this blog!). With that being said, we wanted to take advantage of spring break by going on a mini escape, so this is what we did right, and this is what I would suggest you do:

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1. Drive—Recruit a buddy who has a car, and split the gas. The more bodies you fit in that car (legally, please), the less you pay. Our gas was less than $12 US per person. We parked in a garage that cost us $58 CAN to park Friday night through Monday morning. This also came out to about $12 US per person. Otherwise, a two-way Greyhound trip from the Burlington Airport can cost $60-$70 bucks. Then if you drive to the airport, parking there jumps to $12/hour after the 4th hour.

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2. Book your stay with Airbnb—Anyone who doesn’t have an account with this site, make one right now. It was established by pilots who were flying all over the world and getting sick of staying in hotels. Oh, and it’s the best invention ever. People list there places for you to stay in; you can book one room or a whole place depending on what you’re looking for. We found a perfect little apartment downtown on a street surrounded by bars and restaurants. The best part: it was $71 US/night. That means the four of us paid $53.25 US per person, for a total of 3 nights. That’s $17.75 US per person, per night, for a bedroom with a queen bed, a  bathroom, kitchen, living room with a pullout queen bed, huge TV, Netflix, and free wifi. This was the view from our balcony!

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3. Cook your own meals—Dining out while traveling is debatably necessary (I do, after all, condone exploring through food above all else) but meals will empty your wallet almost as fast as booze will if you’re not careful. So after getting our mandatory poutine, crepes, and fondue, staying in our own apartment allowed us to use the kitchen to cook breakfast and dinner.

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4. Do the free stuff—We did a lot of walking. We walked from our apartment downtown to and around the Latin Quarter, the Plateau neighborhood, and the Old Port. But besides the walking, we did some free stuff as well. We went to the Montréal Museum of Fine Art and the Jean-Talon market: a village-like indoor food market with halls of artisanal quebecois foods, like fresh fish, produce, eggs, meat, handmade pastas, beautifully prepared ethnic foods, and gorgeous, colorful macaroons. This is where we bought asparagus, spinach, and ravioli to make for dinner, and eggs and potatoes for breakfast the next morning. The museum was a block from our apartment and because we had walked everywhere else, we decided to splurge on the roundtrip Metro ride to the market and back. This brought our intracity transportation to a total of $6 CAN (less than $5 US).

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5. Pregame—This may be an obvious one, but those who are going out to the bars legally for the first time can get a little hasty and wind up spending more on drinks. Find a grocery store for beer and wine, or an SAQ liquor store for the harder stuff and map out a few spots you want to hit up before you start pouring the drinks. Remember, you can’t use your 3G data in Canada unless you want to get hammered with fees, so always have a plan before you leave the wifi and don’t lose your friends!

With all that said, Montreal is a blast. I hope these tips help you enjoy a weekend “abroad” without feeling money-guilty on the ride home! And on that note, bon voyage!

Here are some more photos of our trip!

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And here are some other places we went that I would highly recommend:

Café Chat l’Heureux—At “The Happy Cat Café” you’re not only enjoying fabulous foods, desserts, and coffees, but you’re doing so amongst free roaming kitties IN the café! Located at 172 Duluth Est, Montreal, this spot is worth the walk from anywhere.

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La Banquise—Also in le Plateau neighborhood at 994, rue Rachel Est,
Montréal, this is the place to go for poutine. It has every combination of ingredients imaginable piled on a heap of fries, cheese, and sauce. And each one is as good as the next. It’s food is so good, the line out the door speaks for itself. I’ve endured this wait twice and I can promise you won’t regret it.

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Au Festin de Babette—Finding a cafe in Montréal that was classically cute and charming enough for us was no easy feat. When we came across this gem—once again, in le Plateau—on our last day in the city, we were in love. We hung out there for probably a couple hours, sipping the best mochas we’d ever tasted and noshing on a hearty brunch of eggs Benedict, quiche, and crêpes. We wrapped up our French-Canadian trip in the most delightful way at 4085 Rue St-Denis, Montréal.

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