QOTD: "Only the man who makes freedom real to himself meets destiny." - Martin Buber
Reading: Douglas Mawson, The Home of the Blizzard
Listening to: Moxy Fruvous, Bargainville
Decluttering accomplishments: I ought to unpack and do laundry and do assorted household paperwork, but I will probably just sleep
So I went to Montreal for the weekend. This was triggered by my need to go to a baseball game there while it is still possible. Aside from which, it had been 35 years since I'd been there, and it's always interesting to wander around a city I don't know.
The first problem was getting there. I'd been unable to get a good fare, so had cashed in some frequent flyer miles for a ticket on Air Canada. The first step was the red-eye to Toronto. A mechanical problem delayed that for two hours and I was sure I'd miss my connection. The lack of checked luggage, combined with short lines at immigration, my rapid walking pace, and an unexplained delay in the Toronto to Montreal flight meant I actually made it. Not that it would have been a big deal since there are hourly flights on that route. Of course, we then sat for another hour on the ground in Toronto, so I didn't get to Montreal until 11 ish. Which was okay, since it's not like much would have been open at 9 in the morning.
Anyway, I took the airport shuttle bus downtown, followed by a hotel shuttle (included in the price) which I later figured out took three times longer than walking would have. My hotel room (at the Rennaissance, chosen because of location, price, and giving frequent flyer miles) was ready and I was more than ready for the restorative effects of a long shower. Then I set out to wander a bit. The weather was chilly and very wet, so I quickly ended up indoors. First, I had lunch (spinach quiche and a mocha at some anonymous cafe). Then I went to the McCord Museum of Canadian History, which featured an exhibit on men's fashion. It was fairly interesting, although the docent who was leading a tour didn't seem to do much more than tell people the same things that were on the signs. The most interesting bit of trivia is that colored neckcloths (later evolving into ties) came into style largely to hide tobacco stains. The rest of the museum was a hodgepodge of native and settler odds and ends, with a vague emphasis on how culturally diverse Montreal is. The most interesting part of that was a section on marriage, that showed photos of various inter-cultural couples, with quotes from one or both members of the pair talking about that. The quotes were usually labeled just "him" or "her" and it obviously never occurred to anybody that labeling a quote "him" under a picture of a gay couple was ambiguous.
The rain let up enough for me to walk around downtown a bit, where the most notable thing I saw was the "Illuminated Crowd" sculpture that's on the front of the Rough Guide pocket Montreal book. I walked around the McGill campus (some nice architecture), went back to the hotel for a short nap and then went over to St. Laurent (a.k.a. "the main") where I had a decent Thai dinner. Back at the hotel, my window was high enough that I could see the fireworks at the port later in the evening.
The exhaustion caught up with me on Sunday and I got a later start on the day than I'd planned. I dragged myself out early enough to go through the Biodome before going to the baseball game. I was very confused, as I'd mixed this up with the Biosphere, which had been part of Expo '67 (the previous time I'd been to Montreal, not that I remember much of it). But the Biodome is a rather different thing, essentially a walk-through zoo. And it isn't actually dome shaped, which is why I had been puzzled. The best part is the rain forest environment that starts it out. The animals there include various monkeys (tamarins, lemurs) and sloths, while most of the other areas are mostly birds and fish. The Lawrentian forest is, at least, pleasantly cool after the rainforest heat. The Saint Lawrence seaway area does have some ducks, but is not horribly exciting. At the end, one reaches the polar regions. The Arctic area has puffins, while the Antarctic has four species of penguins. Penguins are cute enough, as are puffins, but I'm more a predator sort of gal. I don't suppose the place is big enough for a polar bear or two, but one could hope. And it would solve the problem of there having been large numbers of noisy, rude children.
I walked over to the Stade Olympique (Olympic Stadium) and was in time to add a nice prize to the ballpark tchatchke collection. Actually, I had chosen this game specifically because of the gimme. Namely, I now own a Rusty Staub bobblehead! I remember Rusty from his days on the Mets, of course, but he did get his start in Montreal. They apparently did run out of the bobbleheads, as when I was eating lunch (a smoked meat sandwich - one of the primary reasons to go to Montreal, at least if you're a fan of Jewish deli food), somebody offered to buy mine.
As for the game, it wasn't horribly inspiring. Neither the Expos nor the Blue Jays played particularly well. More precisely, the batting was okay, but neither pitcher got off to a good start and the fielding was unspectacular. The stadium wasn't as empty as I'd expected and the official figure was that there were nearly 15,000 attendees. It's not a great stadium, but not as awful as I'd expected. Certainly better than Minneapolis and I'd put it ahead of San Diego, too. There did seem to be a few ardent Expos fans - including a guy behind me who cheered and jeered in an interesting bilingual mix (yessir, yessir, merde!) and another fellow who circulated Expos 4Ever petitions. There were also plenty of Blue Jays caps in evidence, though. The game took longer than games in the states, since they had to play it in French, as well as English. Okay, they really just announce things in both languages. I learned that the French for "home run" is "circuit." But why do people say "let's go" and not "allez"?
My evening featured some book browsing (Chapters appears to be the Canadian equivalent of Barnes and Noble or Borders) and an anonymous Italian dinner. I was ready to collapse fairly early, which was a good thing as I had to get up early for my flight home. All of which went smoothly enough and I was back in L.A. in time to get to a 1 p.m.. meeting.
Speaking of collapsing ...
Copyright 2002 Miriam H. Nadel