A Travellerspoint blog

March 2008

Morcheeba day!

Today is the day I go see Morcheeba! I have been waiting literally, at least 10 YEARS. Oh my god, so excited... What I don't factor in however, is the state of my THROAT. I woke up with the most RAGING sore throat EVER. It just keeps getting worse and my glands keep swelling up. Holy crap.

Alana had to go to work today, and she woke up really early, waking me up in the process. I wrote my blog for yesterday, and while I was in the process, Martin, Alana's roommate came home. She had neglected to tell him I would be over this weekend, so I really surprised him when he was taking his shoes off at the door. Anyway, I decided that I would take advantage of the day, ignore the sickness, and just go to the art gallery and chill out, and maybe I will feel better by 9 p.m.... hopefully...

So I trudged over to the Musee des Beaux Arts which was recommended to me two separate times by two different people. There is an exhibit on Cuba that I just had to see, they said. So, I get there, pay the admission and coincidentally there is a nice guided tour just starting, so I tag along and go through, learning stuff about Castro and everything... I wasn't too impressed, but the poster section was cool, and I especially liked the giant spiral from the 1960s on display in the basement. It had a small blank square that Castro was invited to paint, but he never showed.

After this, I went to the top floor and looked at the classics painting and sculpture, which I really like. There is a really nice Rembrandt portrait and a whole bunch of other things. I couldn't be bothered to actually read about them because I felt like so much crap. I wanted to visit all the rooms, but that didn't happen. My head was pounding and my throat, still burning. I got out of there as quickly as possible, and as I was making my way to the metro, I noticed a swiss chocolate shop. I bought some truffles and chocolate covered apple slices for Alana to hopefully make her feel better.

Then, I went back, napped for three hours, still holding out false hope that I would feel better when I woke up. Nope. It was about six when I got up, and Alana wanted to have supper at home, which suited me just fine. We made some nice broccoli soup and I went out to the store to buy ice cream and a freshly baked warm (!!!) baguette.

Just before we ate, Martin's friend Nessa (sp?) came over and we had some (more) tea together. They went out and me and Alana chowed down on the soup and baguette.

Then, it was about 8 o'clock, which meant Earth Hour, so we turned off all the lights and went back to bed. Both of us are total wrecks and very pathetic looking at this point. Alana, hobbling around on her bum knee and me with a scarf and continual sad expression every time I try to swallow anything. *cry*

At 8:30 I made my way (slowly) to Club Soda, it was pretty far away but I made it just on time. I will mention that none! of the businesses on St. Laurent had turned their lights off for Earth Hour.

When I got to Club Soda I deftly dodged the "mandatory" coat check, because I was FREEZING despite the heat of the packed club. I also was not allowed on the ground floor because there was no more room down there, which suited me just fine, because I wouldn't have been able to stand that long anyway. I managed to get a pretty good seat on some stairs and I just sat there all bundled up the whole time, feverish and frozen, even though the place was sold out and steamy.

So, there was a Spanish duo who played some folky/techno-ey music, and then Morcheeba came on to way less applause than expected. The crowd was really laid back and either my age or older, I was surprised. They played all the great oldies, Trigger Hippy and Rome Wasn't Built in a Day included. I had a very nice time, despite the illness. I wanted to dance, but there really was no way, I was wayyyyyy too sick. *sigh*

The new singer is white, but she sounds a lot like the old singer, who is black. I thought that was interesting. She did an extremely good job at imitating the original vocals. Wow.

Oh and you should know this interesting tidbit. There were bronze-y coloured lights pointing down at a few tables on the opposite balcony and a couple on the other side were totally going at it! This girl had her hands down the pants of this really ugly, scraggly bearded hippy guy, it was INSANE. I refuse to believe they didn't know about the virtual SPOT LIGHT that was placed directly over their heads. It was SO WEIRD. WHO DOES THAT?!

After the show, I went straight back to Alana's on the bus and then ate some more blueberry ice cream and went to bed.

Alana and sad knee

Alana and sad knee


Alana and still life, flowers

Alana and still life, flowers


Alana's house

Alana's house


Amanda Morcheeba singer

Amanda Morcheeba singer


Bass player singing Run Honey Run, my FAVOURITE

Bass player singing Run Honey Run, my FAVOURITE


Berri-UQAM station

Berri-UQAM station


Club Soda

Club Soda


Me and Martin

Me and Martin


Me on the subway, angry at my failing health

Me on the subway, angry at my failing health


Morcheeba

Morcheeba


Morcheeba Guitar guy solo

Morcheeba Guitar guy solo


Morcheeba keyboardist

Morcheeba keyboardist


Morcheeba turntablist

Morcheeba turntablist


Spanish guy

Spanish guy


Spanish people

Spanish people

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Robin des Bois and Dieu du Ciel

Once again, I used pickuppal.com to quickly find a cheap ride to Montreal: $20 return! Abdul was a little late at about 5:20 p.m. picking me up at the Rideau St. LCBO, closer and more convenient than the Greyhound that's for sure.

While I was waiting I saw some guy walking around looking like he was waiting for something so I asked him if he was waiting for a ride too, and he said, "No I'm on the streets, got any spare change?"

"Uh, no, sorry"

Then a lady who worked at the LCBO asked me if he was harrassing customers and I said no, not really, it looks like I'm the one harrassing people around here.

A couple minutes later, another (this time very nicely dressed) guy looked a little lost, so I asked him if he was waiting for Abdul, and he said yes. His name was Tamsin (sp?) and we chatted a while about my cats and working at Nortel, and before we knew it, Abdul was there. Apparently he was stuck in traffic on the other side of the city.

OK, so we go off. The drive to Montreal was uneventful, it was spent listening to early nineties dance music in Abdul's tiny VW Golf, pretty hilarious. I'm short, so I was placed nicely in the back seat, kind of far away from the conversation.

From what I could hear, Abdul has had quite the interesting life, he moved from Nigeria, to Chicago, then to Saskatchewan and finally, to Ottawa. Now he is contemplating going full circle and moving back to Nigeria to work for the bank he left so many years ago. He says he'd be making $200,000 per year, so he would use that money to pay off his mortgage and then come back to Canada all set.

We arrive at Peel station in Montreal, and Abdul says he'll meet us at this exact spot (Peel and Maisonneuve) Sunday at 6 p.m. So that is awesome.

We all say goodbye and I'm sure will have fun stories to tell each other on the way back home.

Earlier in the day, I got an email from Alana, telling me that she had fallen on the ice and totally screwed up her face and knee! Oh no! So already, I am a little worried about her and feeling sorry for her (aw)

It's about 7:30 and I can't decide if I should meet up with Alain, the guy who bought me my Morcheeba ticket or go to Alana's house to talk and settle in.

I decide to head straight to the Robin des Bois, a really cool restaurant (with horrible service) where all the workers are volunteers and all the money they make goes straight to five different charities. If you're in Montreal, I suggest you check it out. But make sure you have LOTS of time for dinner, because you never know when they'll bring you your meal.

I told Alain I'd be there at 8 p.m. and when I ask at the door about the Couchsurfing table, the lady said it wouldn't be until 8:30. Alana lives close by, so I went over there to see her. She had said earlier that she wouldn't be able to walk all weekend, so that's why she couldn't come to dinner.

As expected, she hobbles down the stairs and lets me in, makes me tea, and I munch on the tofu wrap thing I made to eat on the way to Montreal. So much for dinner at the restaurant...

We talk about what we've been doing since October (I went to see Tori Amos in the fall with her and it was also awesome)

She tells me of her boyfriend Greg, and how, at strange times would bring up unwelcome kinky sex ideas, including giving her two pairs of previously opened (!!!) really hardcore handcuffs for her birthday and then running away (!!!) after she reacted with a horrified expression.

After this, they only saw each other once in two weeks, and she was mulling over what to say to him in an email about the "inappropriate" gift for that entire time, when suddenly, she gets an email from Greg's brother, telling her that he has died in a car accident! Very very strange. Alana's life is like a crazy sitcom sometimes.

She's also planning a trip to Iceland this summer, which I was pondering tagging along for before, but no, I decided I want to see Canada first before the rest of the world. So I'm sticking to the plan from now on.

OK, so back at the Robin des Bois, it's 9 p.m. and everyone's already there. I meet Alain and he gives me my ticket. I also meet the famous Tina from Germany, who pretty much started our Couchsurfing group in Ottawa. I had thought she was leaving Montreal for Ottawa tonight, and then I wouldn't get to see her. BUT it turns out, she is staying in Ottawa for TWO WEEKS starting tomorrow, so we will definitely see each other again later.

The waitress asks me if I want to order and I say, no I already ate, I'll just have this funny sounding beer, Belle Geulle (sp?) ... nice (derogatory) mouth... OK whatever, it wasn't that good. So blah blah blah, everyone is talking and having a great time, eating and I'm drinking my beer, then everyone is done and out comes the dessert menus. I order this awesome sounding brownie dessert with banana cream, and pepper (!!!) caramel sauce. How could I resist? Then the waitress comes and brings EVERYONE ELSE their dessert except me! I'm the only one who ordered the brownie so I guess they just didn't have it, but STILL she should have said that and apologized, don't you think? I neglected to mention, that before this, I had stood up a few times to let people out to smoke/go to the bathroom so I was standing and chatting with people a bit. Both times, she said to me "Are you leaving???? Don't forget your bill!!!" and both times I'm like, "No, I'm not, and when I leave, trust me, I'll remember to pay!" Psshaw, definitely do not go to this place for the service.

OK, so it's like midnight or something when this dinner is finally done. After the excessively complicated payment system, we go to this bar called the Dieu du Ciel, (God of the Sky???), a place that brews its own beer right in the front lobby. I quickly decide to order the maple syrup beer and it is DEEE-licious, then I proceed to have a two HOUR discussion about the problems in Haiti vs. the problems in the Dominican Republic with a guy who lived in Haiti as a child. Can't remember his name. By this time, my sore throat has become a raging FIRE IN MY SWOLLEN GLANDS, and I can barely talk over the excessively loud indie rock music blasting all over. So we take a break from our intense political discussion and I just watch the younger-than-me crowd absolutely hammered and staggering. A pile of three little blonde girls simply WRITHE on top of each other. The Haitian man says, "They are drunk and craving human touch". .... Uh... you think...?

"Let's find a guy who needs an unforgettable night out..." He looks around, apparently finds no one, then shrugs and settles back down into his unbelievably thick stout.

It's 3 a.m. and time to leave, so Alain offers to drive me home to Alana's, it's on his way and not far, so I accept. Alana left me the keys, but it's complicated to open her door, so I jiggle the little mechanism for about 15 minutes in a panic, until finally the door opens.

Then, I brush my teeth, and go straight to bed, cursing my crazy sickness, and feeling happy with the extremely full day, and excited to see Morcheeba tomorrow.

Alain at Le Dieu du Ciel

Alain at Le Dieu du Ciel


Couchsurfers at Dieu du Ciel

Couchsurfers at Dieu du Ciel


Drunken people at Dieu du Ciel

Drunken people at Dieu du Ciel


Empty bar at 3 a.m.

Empty bar at 3 a.m.


Haitian guy and a stout

Haitian guy and a stout


Me and maple beer

Me and maple beer

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The long journey back

I couldn't get up for church today, so mom and dad went without me. Not without guilt tripping me, of course. But I'm sorry, 9 a.m. is way too early.

Anyway, I managed to drag myself out of bed by about 9:45, so I started making some raspberry pancakes so that they'd be ready when they got back. Just so that mom couldn't guilt trip me anymore about being a derelict, one more time.

We had the pancakes and then went to Grandma's house to get angry at people and gossip for yet another hour. Which is always a lot of fun. (right)

OK, so then it was almost time for me to leave, so we picked up my mom's friend Elsie and then drove to the bus station, where I quickly caught a bus.

I met a nice Muslim lady, Sanaa on the bus from Toronto to Ottawa and we chatted about all kinds of things on the way home. She is a doctor, trying to get recognition from the government in Canada so that she can get a residency at some point in time. There were all kinds of cool discussions about Islam and Dubai. For example, did you know that if you are wearing a niqab in Dubai, you have to take it off to vote?! You also have to take it off to do a lot of other things there. It's a little crazy that in Canada we are having this big debate about it, when back in the Middle East, it is commonly accepted that people take of their niqabs for various security reasons.

Anyway, there were all kinds of discussions like that.

Later, I asked Sanaa for a ride home, because I was under the (incorrect) impression that she lived nearby. She said yes, but then I found out she lived on the north end of a Riverside Dr., not the south end. So I kind of felt bad, when her husband showed up with two kids in the back, to take me way out of her way so that I could get home. I could've easily taken the bus from Billings Bridge, which is sort of on her way home. Ahhh, so I just had to let them take me home...

Thanks Sanaa, now I will go to bed and sleep before getting up early tomorrow for work.

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Mom's crazy birthday party

Here I am, writing to you on the kitchen computer, which is surprisingly clean, after a day of chaotic feasting.

I was busy finishing up some of the desserts and combining all the ingredients for batter all morning, and before I knew it it was almost noon.

Mom's friends started arriving, and it was me and my dad's job to keep them plied with alcohol and sweet carbohydrates. Namely, homemade pancake syrup, pancakes and waffles. It became a little hectic, doling out the endless glasses of mimosas, so I enlisted the help of Aleasha, a really great friend of mine from way back in the Girl Guide days, to help me. She was awesome, and she graciously did all this, so that I could concentrate on the important job of flipping flapjacks.

I guess it went well, because the pancakes and waffles all disappeared very quickly.

I'm pretty sure mom had lots of fun and enjoyed all the flowers that people brought her. She continuously told the story of how I found her balloons while we were on our bike ride yesterday. *sigh*

Everyone went home at about 2 or 3, except for Ina and my Aunt. So we mostly just sat around and waited for yet another group of people to come over for Easter dinner (on a Saturday night, yeah)

Heather came over with her daughter, Dana, who I have been friends with since we were cute little Brownies in Mrs. Eberly's Stevensville troupe. It was a very nice surprise to see her again, after maybe six years or something. She's all married and living in Windsor, so it hardly ever ends up that we are in the same area of the world. We chat every so often on MSN so it's good to talk to her for real a little.

Soon after Dana left, my Uncle Peter came over with my cousin Mike, and his aunt, Ruth and his uncle, Jurgen. They are always funny people, and we had some good chats. I especially enjoyed hearing about their camper van journeys to the other coast in the 1980s.

Mike and I grew tired of the conversation so we went into the other room and watched Jackass 2 on my dad's ridiculously huge widescreen TV. Just TRY to avert your eyes from this movie, for two seconds, it's such a train wreck. That's all I'm gonna say.

Now, I'm tired and totally stuffed full of food and everything and I'm going to go to bed, to dream of a summer full of cycling so that I can get all buff again like last year. *sigh*

Dad making waffles

Dad making waffles


The ladies

The ladies

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

What's cookin' in the kitchen?

Today was the day to get ready for my mom's party. It's Good Friday, and in my mom's house you do not eat (very much) on this day. So we got up and immediately set to work, toiling away, getting things prepared for the big brunch tomorrow.

I spent about an hour husking a mound of strawberries... then another hour concocting homemade waffle syrup, and then another two hours (probably)... just, you know, throwing together some maple cream tarts and "lemon sabayon nests".

After this I took a "break" and completed my income tax forms, while watching a DVD on the Northwest Territories and whining about how complicated the forms are..."HOW COME THEY DON'T MAKE THIS OBVIOUS?!"

Soon it was time for dinner so we had the traditional fried fish and stuff, and after that, my mom and me made the traditional trek (by bike, first bike trip of the year!) to my grandfather's grave and lit the traditional red candle for him.

On the way back home, I spotted some white and purple balloons in a cornfield and decided to stop and pick them up, because MAYBE I WON SOMETHING! I slogged through the muck and picked up the poor wilting spheres of happiness, discarded from some recent birthday celebration, no doubt, and biked all the way home with them attached to my handle. Which wasn't very far, but still.

We went to go have a chat with grandma, who continues to stuff my face with chocolate and apple cake, as well as shower me with unwanted gifts of cheap clothes she finds on clearance. Usually, very unfashionable, but this time, it wasn't so bad.

Me and balloons

Me and balloons

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Yolande takes me to Toronto

I found this new website, pickuppals.com and I thought what the heck, and just typed in my destination for the Easter weekend. Niagara Falls, AGAIN, thinking nothing would happen. But within 2 hours, Yolande had written me back, offering me a ride to Toronto for $30! How could I go wrong? So, my plan is to drive with her there, then I will take the Greyhound the rest of the way to Niagara.

Yolande picked me up at work at exactly 4 p.m. with two other guys in the back, Teddy and Terrence. It was pretty awesome. Yolande and I talked the whole way to Toronto, mostly about traveling, while Teddy and Terrence drifted in and out of sleep in the back, occasionally piping up when we randomly started talking about Carleton University. The one thing all four of us had in common, was that we were all students there. Yolande's been all over the world, and is in the midst of planning a trip to China.

Yolande works for the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission, writing up new regulations for broadcasters in Canada. That's a pretty sweet job, if I've ever heard of one, and she doesn't even have to speak French (very well)!

So, blahblahblah 4.5 hours go by, and it's time to stop at the rest station. I was kind of uncomfortable doing this, because I knew it would make me late to catch my bus. Of course, I was right, I caught the bus way later than I wanted to, but it was cool because by the time I made it to the Toronto bus, I caught the exact same bus I would've been on had I left from Ottawa at 4:30 p.m. It doesn't seem to make sense, but it's true.

Yolande didn't want to drop me off downtown so I had to take the subway all the way into town from Scarborough Town Centre, which sucked. That took a whole extra hour. I should've thought ahead and brought my ticket with me so that I could've got right on the Greyhound in Scarborough. THEN I would've saved some time. But alas, the ticket counter in Scarborough was closed, and the bus driver told me I had to go downtown in order to get on the bus. Which by the way, isn't what a couple people in line told me. They said I could give the bus driver a "deposit" and then I could pay for the rest of the ticket when I got downtown.

But whatever, I paid way less for the bus than normal, and also made some new friends. Which was totally worth it. Pickuppal really works!

Now, I have about an hour to kill before my bus leaves, and my mom and dad will probably be worrying or something, because I told them I would leave early in a quick email I sent right before I left today. *sigh*

Yolande

Yolande


Terrence

Terrence


Teddy

Teddy

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Saba

Saba was like, the best place I've ever been, in my life. It's a volcanic island and we stayed at El Momo Cottages, which I would HIGHLY recommend. We walked up an old volcano in a rainforest, and met a bunch of interesting people at the cottage. Also, we walked around and picked up some black sand, then we mostly just hung out in the hammock with more Carib beer.

Meow

Meow

Posted by baixing 17:00 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Comments (0)