Little City, Big Heart: Nashua, New Hampshire

I have been traveling a ton, lots more in New York and mostly big cities recently.  In fact, I fly straight off to Las Vegas next for 6 days before I head back home. But along the way there are gems to visit: Nashua, New Hampshire, is definitely one. I have visited before, but this time was different because it wasn’t a quick trip. I was able to stay for 5 nights and shared ideas with 4 amazing teams.  And the best part, I got to work with my friend Marc Fontaine.

Patrick McIvor and Marc Fontaine

When I joined the Goldwell KMS Team, Marc was one of the first people I met and because of his uniqueness, one of the people I love hanging out with.  Marc was born in France, speaks French, Italian, Spanish and English, all with a beautiful and strong French accent.  Marc’s a couple years older than me, and with all the things that we both have passions for – our industry, photography, food, health and bourbon to name a few – Marc and I always have fun together and I always learn something new.  So for this trip, I was extra excited as I flew out arriving late Saturday night into Manchester, New Hampshire.  After arriving, I hopped in a cab and was off to the Crown Plaza, my home for the next 5 nights.

Sunday morning was a short drive to Cassandra Salon and Spa right down the road, and right before our class I found out a lot of the team had attended the Madonna Concert the night before in Boston.  The funny thing about flying is, you often only know where you landed, not where you are in relation to other cities. “How close are we to Boston?” I asked, and to my surprise from the quaint idyllic surrounding of Nashua, I learned we were only 34 miles from Boston. After a very cool day sharing ideas with the team at Cassandra Salon and Spa, Marc asked me if I’d like to have dinner with him in downtown Nashua and off we went.  After dropping me at the hotel to freshen up, Marc picked me back up and let me know that his wife, Pat, was driving back from the coast of Maine and would be joining us for dinner.

We arrived at MT’s Local Wine Kitchen & Bar a few minutes before Pat arrived from the coast of Maine, and as we were waiting, our server offered to take our drink order. Marc and I are big fans of bourbon, straight or on the rocks is perfect, no need for any sodas or mixes, and Marc’s favorite when we are together is Knob Creek.  When Marc requested a Knob Creek our server offered an upgrade to a private reserve 120 proof with a much darker color and richer flavor. “Would you like to try one?”  she asked. “Yes, and make that 2 please,” I replied. As our drinks arrived and we took our first sips, Pat joined us at our table. With so many amazing offerings from the menu there was something for everyone. I ordered the sea scallops and quickly returned to the very interesting dinner conversation with Pat, a university professor who trains teachers. As our conversation ranged from Common Core to politics, and even the interpersonal skills of younger people and those now entering college, I suddenly realized she had just driven in from the “coast” and to my surprise it was less than a 1 hour drive. Hmm, good food, good people and one hour from Maine; I knew there was something special about this place.

The next morning it was off to the Firefly Salon in Derry, New Hampshire, and I was starting to wonder if this little gem called Nashua was the center of the New England universe.  After another great day sharing ideas, it was back to Nashua and Marc again asked if I would like to join him for dinner…of course. I’m no dummy when it comes to friends who know good things, you say yes and go. New experiences don’t come along everyday. Off we were again to downtown Nashua and this time our destination was Martha’s Exchange Restaurant & Brewery Co. and Marc and I were dinning alone.  From homemade beers, to an extensive menu, to even an entire glass counter measuring more than 10 feet in length displaying pastries of all kinds on multilayered shelves, it was magical. If that wasn’t enough, the ambiance was further enhanced by the large metal vats where beer was quietly brewing just steps from where we were drinking it. Marc ordered a lighter beer while I went for a deliciously dark stout to pair with the blackened salmon we both ordered topped with fresh crab in a light tomato broth.

The next morning, it was an early start as we made our way to the HC Studio in Brookline, Massachusetts, and though traffic was heavy, it was not hard to get to one of the trendiest neighborhoods right outside Boston from Nashua. After a great day with HC Studio, Marc had a full night of work, so I was on my own for dinner. Now I know New Hampshire is one of the smallest states in our country, but again this was just too easy. Even without a car my choices seemed to be pretty unlimited as I asked Siri for a recommendation and was not disappointed with sushi.

Wednesday morning Marc picked me up for our last day working together and had a surprise. He brought two of his favorite hats, one his friend Daniel photographed him in for his new headshot, and one for me to wear in a selfie we were taking with the both of us. When we arrived at the Serenity Spa and Salon, we were having so much fun, the owner even joined us for a picture.

I love where I live with my family in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, because it’s a great place to live and it’s so easy to get to so many places. Nashua is that and maybe even a little more.  Where I am convenient to Philly (1hr), New York (1.5hrs) and minutes from New Jersey, there’s a difference between other small cities and what I loved about Nashua was its people and even more importantly the hairdressers I met.  There is a definite quality of life that Nashua offers, from the logistical conveniences to Boston, Maine, winter activities, lakes, biking and hiking trails and more. But at the same time, the people I met were up to the minute with things that were going on, yet their lives were not spent running from minute to minute just trying to keep up, instead there seemed a bit more time to enjoy life, and even a night with Madge.


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