This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

First Day in Montreal

We are all giddy with excitement that we are in Montreal. I don't really have a bucket list. Really. I don't. Maybe a soup can list. There's not a lot on a list of things I must do in my life. I've never really had that. It's not like I'm not goal-oriented. I really am. I am just content with simple things in life. Like my goal of a sub two hour half marathon, or winning the company wallyball mixed doubles wallyball championship, or hearing my kids tell me "that was the best dinner ever". Those things are goals I strive for. Is that lame? I could care less if anyone thinks that's the case. I just don't have any desire in any single fiber of my body to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, skydive out of an airplane, jetski Lake Ontario (we drove over it!! now THAT made me fucking ecstatic!), or hike the Appalachian Trail.

BUT, in my tin can, I have always wanted to visit Canada. I don't know when it started but it started at a young age. I couldn't care less where in Canada because I didn't really _study_ Canada and I didn't know that Quebec wasn't a city but a province until much later in life, so I had no clue where Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver or Calgary were in relation to where I was. Nonetheless, I'm here now.

My friend Rebecca, who is from Ottawa, gave me a quick course in the area and her mom's # (who is still in Ottawa) in case we got into any trouble. I have some really good friends. :)

Traffic was pretty horrendous and reminiscent of NYC, or even Manila, Philippines, traffic. But we arrived Friday evening so I guess quitting time and arriving time for people like us. But we finally made it to our hotel.

You can see what a beautiful day it was too. We arrived about 4:30ish and the entire drive to get here was beautiful. I will document that later.

The city is beautiful. I LOVE cities. I love the country too. I love everything. But city-life is what I love most. I was in seventh-heaven in NYC; London was a brief but wondrous stay that I hope to go back to one day soon and Amsterdam was a dream too surreal to even believe it truly happened. Montreal is a close second to that stay in Amsterdam and the great thing is that it's much closer. I can see us coming back sooner than that second trip to Amsterdam.

After we settled into our room, we were off to tour our surroundings. We rounded the corner of our street and I saw this building with such a cool name. Of course, it reminds me of The Night Watch from the Song of Ice and Fire guarding The Wall (the obsession is still there...)

It's a great, beautiful, goth-looking building called The Black Watch - Royal Highland Regiment of Canada. I found them on wikipedia and I love their history.

We stopped at this open window cafe to grab a drink. Rebecca warned me that Quebec is French and for the most part, everyone around us was entirely speaking in French. My other friend Sherry mentioned that she felt like her trip to this part of Canada felt very European and I'd have to agree and the French-speaking helps.

And let me just say, on an ugly-American stance, why the fuck we are so obnoxious about our language? Again, the whole redneck-Repfublican-stereotype: learn our language if you come to our country. That attitude just sickens me, especially when I go to countries like THIS (Amsterdam was another one). People greet in their native language and as soon as they realize we are not French-speaking, accommodate, in English, NICELY. There's no rolling-of-the-eyes, exasperated sighs, or any air of 'jeezus-fucking-christ. can't you learn our fucking language?' ESPECIALLY because we are obviously Americans, one of the most arrogantly-reputed nationalities in the world. And may I say FOR GOOD REASON???

Just for added bonus: our national language SHOULD have been some American Indian dialect. But it's not. And I think we should have dual-language. WE SHOULD KNOW SPANISH, mother-fuckers. And it should be _required_ language learning schools. In ALL of the United States. Even the racist ones.

Back to my regular-broadcasting from Montreal...

This cafe was sooooo charming but it was also soooo fucking hot. I was so GD hot! It was a beautiful day but I was HOT.

I try to dress appropriately for a car ride because Tim keeps it freezing cold and I don't want to be freezing cold. So I had a light - like see-through - long-sleeved shirt and jeans in the car. But the fricking sun was on my side of the car ride and just beat down on me so I was slightly in an uncomfortable temperature zone.

Then with the heat of Montreal weather, and walking around, I was just BLAZING. This cafe had no air - just the open windows of its building. Which was quite 'charming' when looking upon it but walking inside was like an oven. But I wanted to enjoy the experience. And some wine.

Everyone around me, including my own family, appeared to deal with the heat just fine.

At one point, a homeless man came to the people that sat at the table in the picture next to the "window". The owner/worker came right out and angrily shooed him away. He just proceeded to the next table and again, was shooed away. That, of course, led to another bleeding heart Cindy discussion about feeling bad for the homeless guy and how I would have given him some of my food.

They sell wine by 1/4 and 1/2 litres. OMG. Restaurants in Raleigh PLEASE DO THIS. Why not????? I ordered a half bottle and the guy that took my order looked at Tim and then me and said "one glass?" And I said yes please...and he finishes with "because it's a very small bottle".

I also had a very small glass so together, it made for a lot of pours. And after all, was unable to finish it as hard as I tried. But the family refused to let me throw down the wine quickly.

Oh. The wine is chilled because it was hot as hell. The guy apologized, poured me the first glass and said "the first will be very, very hot but I will chill the rest for you". And yes, the first was very, very hot but he knew that one cannot wait for the wine to chill when one is ready to drink.

Afterward, CJ wanted to find a 'high-low' dress, so we stopped at a few shops on the walk back to the hotel. She found a great one and it just made me so happy to see her in it. She just looks so grown. But she's glowing and having fun and is excited about the Osheaga concert, which thrills me to bone.

We passed this beautiful cathedral. MiMi wants to see a cathedral. The big, gigantic ones because she finds them creepy :). We hope to see Notre-Dame Basilica while we are here. But we passed several churches like these. I may not be interested in hearing what they have to say but I do appreciate the architecture. And while George R. R. Martin has stolen my heart, The Pillars of the Earth is also one of my favorite books ever and it is about building cathedrals. This building reminds me of well as where we went to eat later in the evening.

We came upon this odd statue, a bit creepy, but then there is another one on the other side. It's an entrance to the Promenades Cathedrale, which is an underground mall. How cool is that?

Another thing for Raleigh, better yet, TRIANGLE residents to see: BIKES. Everywhere. Montreal also has a bicycle sharing system to help with public transportation and reduce traffic congestion. There are bicyclists everywhere and they ride like what you see in NYC movies. They weave around cars in traffic. But you know what else, they have bike lanes like we saw in Amsterdam. REAL BIKE LANES. A respect for the bicyclist.

Before we make it to the hotel, we find this address. Wish it was mine :)

The girls and Tim head over to the hotel swimming pool while I sit back and finish my book (while sipping on more wine - hey, I'm on vacation!). When they get back, we head back out for dinner.

The weather is much nicer now and I'm dressed with less clothing: shorts and my Fun. shirt. It's so beautiful. It's still light out but the traffic, both auto and pedestrian, is much lighter so we can enjoy the scenery at a slightly less hasty mode.

We end up eating at a place we drove by while we were stuck in traffic upon arrival. It was another beautiful, gothic-looking building, with yellow umbrella'd tables peppered around it. I loved the clash of old with new of that look. Plus, it was very European.

It was a beautiful, medieval setting. We ordered a cheese plate and a meat plate. Our poor hostess could not provide English-equivalent descriptions of the meats and cheese to us and I felt bad because I think we made her feel embarrassed. We didn't really care what kinds of cheese and meat was on there, just as long as the cheese plate was really a cheese plate. The first open cafe we went to gave us a cheese plate but it really wasn't one.

This one was indeed a cheese plate and it was wonderful. I have no idea what they were because her friend that came to help us couldn't really explain it any better. Well, she did because her French pronunciations were beautiful to the ears.

The meat plate was also beautiful but it did have foi gras and something made out of rabbit. I had enough wine in me to try it but not enough in me not to think about it and not enjoy it.

So all in all, first day and night in Montreal is wonderful. Just a sneak peek into the second day: we get the olympics LIVE. NBC: you suck. We watched Dong Dong of China win his Gold on the trampoline as it happened.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a great trip so far! I look forward to more blog posts from Canada. With regards to the language issue... I will say that my strongest memory of a trip to Quebec City in middle or high school was of my trying hard to use my French that I was learning in school in a restaurant. The waiter was horribly obnoxious to me, and it made me never attempt French again the rest of the trip. So... I think the eye-rolling and arrogance can go both ways.