A Travellerspoint blog

November 2008

Mont Royal with Wai-Yin and Valerie

Valerie and I got a nice sleep, and she had planned to meet her friend (where else?) at Aux Vivres for brunch. I enjoyed a vegan "bacon", scrambled tofu and cornbread. Annie was really Francophone and she spoke English pretty well I thought, but it wasn't perfect enough, so she kept asking me for advice on her grammar. Funny.

We went to a little clothes store called Blank that sells made in Quebec merch. If I needed clothes I would buy them, but no, I don't. Last time I checked, my closet was overflowing.

Then, the plan was to go to Mont Royal with Wai-Yin, who I met on Friday. I had nowhere to go until 8 p.m. so I was game. It had been pretty nippy in the past few days, so all the paths were covered in ice. It was tough trying to climb up the gradual incline around the mountain. All of us had many embarrassing slips all over the place. Wai-Yin hadn't been in snow for FOUR years, so she made sure to get lots of pictures of her deep in the woods where it looked more snowy than it actually was.

We finally made it to the top, hung out for a while, and came back down. Sliding all the way down again! There were kids taking advantage of the ice on the mountain sliding down on their bums between the trees. It was cute.

On the way back to Valerie's house we stopped for some hot chocolate at Cafe Supreme on St. Laurent. Valerie was on her way to Indian food on the other side of town, so I walked with her to meet her friends, watched some French news (an extremely dramatic documentary about shoddy bridge construction) and then said goodbye.

I had about an hour and a half to kill before I had to meet Adjim for my ride back home. So, I went for a smoothie and bought a dozen Montreal bagels from St. Viateur. Yum yum, I'm still eating them for breakfast now!

Chloe and her friend was there when I got there, and we went back home to Ottawa. I just made the last bus home, and went to bed, thoroughly exhausted. Montreal, you beat me again.

Annie and Valerie

Annie and Valerie


Wai-Yin on ice

Wai-Yin on ice


Beautiful sky

Beautiful sky


Me, Wai-Yin and Valerie at the top

Me, Wai-Yin and Valerie at the top


Me, Wai-Yin, Valerie

Me, Wai-Yin, Valerie


Slippery stairs and Wai-Yin

Slippery stairs and Wai-Yin


Slippery trail, Valerie and Wai-Yin

Slippery trail, Valerie and Wai-Yin


Iciclist

Iciclist


Me on Valerie's couch

Me on Valerie's couch


Valerie on her computer

Valerie on her computer


Me vs. St. Viateur bagel

Me vs. St. Viateur bagel

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

Busy day with skylab, Teresa and Owen

This morning, I got up way too early for my breakfast date with Owen, Mike and Teresa, but that was OK. I packed up my stuff, and enjoyed a leisurely jaunt down St. Denis toward Cafeo. I got there even earlier than the coffee shop opened, so I wandered around some more until it did.

A few couples showed up and I thought they might've been Mike and Teresa. I had no idea what they looked like, so I waved and both times, they just looked at me, puzzled, ignored me and sat down. Must not have been them.

Owen showed up after that, but by now, I'm already pretty wired on the delicious coffee they serve here. We have some more coffee and wait for Teresa and Mike. They come pretty soon. I order the regular eggs/sausage/baguette/potatoes breakfast and drink some more coffee. We decide to head down to the Musee des Beaux Arts for the day.

This is probably my third time at the museum this year, so I decide it might be worth it to buy a membership. I'm pretty sure it'll pay off before next December. Even if it doesn't, it's nice to support a gallery so lover-ly. At the moment they are exhibiting a bunch of work by Andy Warhol, and some cool memorabilia from his Velvet Underground and Studio 54 days. Really cool stuff! I especially enjoyed a press release sent in the sixties about a art/music show they were putting on. "WOW --- AMAZING --- EXHILIRATING" etc. etc. etc. just the terminology they used for the crazy experimental performances was enough to make me giggle the rest of the day.

After we had our fill of that, we looked at some decorative furniture arranged in different decades starting at the turn of the century. That was pretty cool, I wanted to sit in all of them and try them out, but of course, that is a no go in an art gallery.

Then, we went for lunch at "Mister Steer" thinking it might be kitchy and cool. Turned out the waitress lady was a little crazy, making us put the ketchup and condiments back into the designated condiment holder if we forgot. There would be no mess on this table, not if Super Waitress could help it, no sirree.

So anyway, I ordered the veggie burger with a side of real Quebecois baked beans (feves aux lards). I assumed they would have bacon in them, but your typical veggie burger eater might not, so here's a word to the wise. If you are a strict vegetarian, don't order feves aux lards *whisper* there's bacon in there!

After this, we walked around Ste. Catherine St. Teresa needed a new dress for a wedding coming up, and I bought a few things at Lush for Valerie. (Candy cane bubble bath! and a coconut bath bomb)

We walked and walked and walked and walked, mostly aimlessly. At one point we had an imaginary goal, but it wasn't really a goal at all, because once we got there, we had no idea what the reason for being there was. So we just took the Metro back to Dieu du Ciel. It's my favourite pub in town, and I had arranged to meet Travellingjon there at 8 p.m.

We got there early, even though we got a little lost (again). We all ordered an absinthe beer, holy crap it was SO BITTER. Teresa: "It's like pennies in my mouth!" and then after that, I asked for the sweetest beer that they had, which was an Irish something or other. This one was delicious.

Jon never showed up! (Later I found out that his car broke down just before leaving home)

Mike and Teresa had to catch a bus home soon, so they took a cab back to their hostel in Old Montreal (it was beautiful by the way, it's a little cluster of cabins hidden away in behind the bistros and shops, amazing).

I went back to the subway with them, said goodbye and walked back to Valerie's house.

On my way back, I happened upon a small cluster of homeless people, staging a protest for more social services and that sort of thing. I don't think I was received very well. I was taking photographs and people with missing teeth and that oh-so-courante "unkempt" look would jump in front of me and dance, like they were mocking me. But that might just have been me reading into it too much, maybe they just wanted to have a little bit of fun. Nonetheless, I did feel like an outsider and voyeur at that point.

I had to call Valerie first and see where she was, she was about an hour away, so I took this time to call my mom and boyfriend to tell them I was OK. Then, I walked back and just waited at Valerie's doorstep until she showed up. She was there very soon, and I gave her the Lush stuff, she liked it a lot, and then went to bed. We planned on going out on the town tomorrow in Mont-Royal.

Me vs. coffee

Me vs. coffee


Theresa with delicious latte

Theresa with delicious latte


Me vs. baguette

Me vs. baguette


Owen vs. breakfast

Owen vs. breakfast


Mister Steer

Mister Steer


Me vs. "Old Montreal"

Me vs. "Old Montreal"


Mike

Mike


My "veggie" burger and beans WITH bacon

My "veggie" burger and beans WITH bacon


Theresa, me and Mike on the Metro

Theresa, me and Mike on the Metro


Homeless people

Homeless people


Homeless people 2

Homeless people 2


Caged flowers

Caged flowers


Homeless guy

Homeless guy

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

Aux Vivres, Alain and Valerie

I left for Montreal at about 5:30 p.m. on Friday night. After beer o'clock, I walked on over to the Petro Canada on the corner of King Edward and Rideau, a really busy spot at rush hour. I stand and wait near the convenience store, and find someone waiting for a ride there too.

"Are you waiting for Adjim?" "No, I don't think so, I'm not really sure." "Well, if he is coming at 5:30, he's probably your guy." "Is his phone number 532-5492?" "Um....no, it's 424-3234." "Weird, well I'm not in the mood for playing games, my driver better show up." "I'm sure no one's playing games, we'll just wait and if either of our drivers show up, we can go with them." "Yeah, I guess."

Wow, OK, this guy obviously needs to chill out a little bit. So I leave him alone and continue to wait.

Uptight guy's ride shows up, but Adjim is still nowhere to be found. I ask the ride guy if I can come with him and he says yes, but I decide to call Adjim first to make sure he's still coming, just so I don't ditch him. Yep, he tells me he's actually at the other end of the busy busy parking lot. I say thank you to uptight guy for letting me borrow his cellphone, give it back, and hurry over to find Adjim.

We still have to wait for Chloe to show up. A young student who has family in Montreal that she regularly visits. She shows up soon, and we head out. The weather is gross rain and snow, but we plod on, ending up in Montreal a little late for my meetup with two North Carolinian Couchsurfers.

I hurry over to Aux Vivres and try to find them. I don't find them at all, but I do find Alain, who I went camping with this summer in BC! I'm totally surprised to see him there with his Russian friend, Alexei. The place is packed, but I'm not very hungry. I order a delicious coriander carrot soup and end up getting a soy milk chocolate smoothie later. This is such a great restaurant, I can't help it. It's always busy and today is not an exception. Alexei leaves for some salsa or tango dancing, and Alain and I talk about his future travels for a while. He's got a whole bunch of trips planned, and since he's a successful real estate agent, there's no reason for him not to take off and go like that all the time.

I must be at Valerie's house by 10 ish, so Alain offers me a ride there. It's not far, and also on his way, so this is nice. I say goodbye, and promise to try and make it to a birthday party tomorrow night, but I'm pretty sure I won't have enough time. When we pull up to Valerie's house, she's waiting in the doorway for me. I bring all my stuff upstairs to her place, and then we immediately go to the Cheval Blanc for some microbrew. This place is the original Cheval Blanc, a while ago, they sold their recipe for a white beer, and you can now buy it in stores, it's called of all things, "Cheval Blanc". So they have a bit of money and have just recently expanded their pub to twice its original size. Fascinating I know.

Anyway, I meet a couple of Valerie's friends, Christine, Wai-Yin and a few of Christine's brothers and friends of her brothers. I excuse myself to go and call my mom and Keith, because they are worried about my rideshare tendencies. My mom gave me a number to call, but it doesn't work from the payphone I guess. I try a bunch of different things, and nothing works. So I just give up.

Christine is very quiet, but her brothers and their friends are rowdy. Wai-Yin is interesting, she's a Chinese/French/English interpreter who just moved to Montreal, so she's meeting a bunch of local people through Couchsurfing a lot.

I'm a lot more tired than everyone else here, so I ask Valerie if I can just go back to her place around the corner, try and call again and sleep. She says of course, so I try to call and call, but nothing works. So I send an email instead. Then I go to bed.

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

Ziplining to the max

The plan for this weekend was to go ziplining with the University of Ottawa Outdoors Club at Lafleche Adventure Park. I didn't know that Keith was coming to visit until a few weeks ago.

There was no way I was about to back out of ziplining, so I ordered him an extra ticket, and we were on the list.

It's freezing this morning, there is a thin coating of snow on the ground, so I decide to forego the coat liner, but not the long johns. Keith never brought any long johns, so he's already predicting he's going to be cold.

We ended up leaving a little later than I wanted to, so I was stressing out on the bus to the meetup point. I didn't know anyone else who was going, except for Adam, and I wasn't quite sure about where exactly we were all supposed to be meeting. We got there at about quarter to 10 a.m. and no one was there yet.

"I'm pretty sure we're supposed to be at Tabaret Hall, but Adam's not here. Adam's ALWAYS early, what if we're at the wrong place? I'm gonna go look for internet to double check what my email said."

So I go wandering around and Keith stays in the warm lobby, just waiting. While I'm gone, Adam shows up on his bike as I'm walking back from Starbucks, which was closed. He has already met Keith, and I am instantly relieved.

"Now don't you feel silly for stressing out this whole time? We're the first ones here!"

"Yeah....heh..."

I hate being late, especially when other people are counting on you, so yeah, I was stressed out.

We pile into a car with Angie, Jasmine and Tyler, then drive out to the Quebecois countryside. Last time Keith was here we went to Quebec too. Strange. On the way, we see an entire Saturday morning Christmas pageant walking down the street, we wonder if God or the Devil is "in the details" among other things.

It doesn't take long to drive there, so we all tumble out of the car, sign our waivers and grab our harnesses. This takes about an hour.

Our teacher, Lise-Anne (I think) takes us to the training course. We learn how to attach the carabiners to the "life line" (one at a time, and clipped in opposite directions) and we also learn how to attach the pulley to the zipline.

We crawl all around two small obstacle courses, complete with wooden bridge, swinging ropes, crooked ladders and anything else that could be concocted on a platform in the midst of the leafless trees. I'm definitely not as scared now, as I was when I did the ropes course at Doe Lake when I was in Girl Guides. I remember getting strapped into a harness and being sent up to the top of a giant pole, my legs and hands were shaking as I inched slowly across to the other side of the field at the top of another pole. It was terrifying. Since then, I had a chance to do a pretty long zipline at Carnaval in Quebec City, so I wasn't afraid this time.

After that, we head off to the "extreme" zipline course. Ha. It's pretty intense. There is a short zipline to slide down, then a SUPER long one, draped across a wintry, blustery valley. The wire looks like it could snap at any moment. I wait for everyone to go and I'm the last one to slide down to the first platform. Suddenly people are yelling at me and Angie wants to bail! She's so scared that she pulls herself back up to the beginning. I'd think it would be easier just to go sliding, but she's way too scared for that. We're taking a while, so the guide from the next group comes over and asks us what's going on. He says to tell Angie to follow him inside the building, where she will be warm and can wait for us to finish. After Angie disembarks, I push off and quickly make it to the first platform. Easy peasy. Jasmine jumps off and goes down the long zipline, and then I go, so that I can take a photo of Keith coming in from the long zipline. It always takes me a while to hook up my equipment because I'm so short, I can hardly reach the wire. I take a deep breath and just sit down and let gravity do the rest. Keeping my hands firmly on top of the pulley, the wire literally "zips" underneath it. Zzzzzzzzzzzzeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee, it's terrifying how fast it goes. I glance upwards for a second, imagine my hands accidentally getting caught in the pulley, then realize that maybe I should just enjoy the scenery sliding by around me. Yeah, forget about what could happen if my hands go somewhere they aren't supposed to. So that was fun. I definitely was not as scared as I thought I would be. There are about five more ziplines to slide down, and I tell myself not to look up at the wire that could mutilate me if I touch it, ignore the loud zipping noise in my ear and just enjoy the ride. This works, but I get really cold. When I'm finally done the course, I'm glad to get into the warm hut, and ride back to Ottawa.

Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Me vs. zipline

Me vs. zipline


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining


Lafleche ziplining

Lafleche ziplining

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