The fierce thunderstorm that has been threatening the Montreal skies all afternoon has finally cracked the heavens wide open, forcing me out of my touristy reverie and back into my room at the Traveldodgy Hotel. I thought I'd take the opportunity to share a few random thoughts and sights before I have to go get un-sexy for the cement scientist banquet.
- Drug dealers of my old house on Clifton St., weep for the beauty of the earth:
- Montreal traffic is generally unremarkable, except that the bus lanes are apparently also wheelchair lanes. Despite a clear left passing lane on the Rue Rene-Levesque, a bus packed full of Montrealers drove patiently down the bus lane behind a dishevelled woman in a motorized wheelchair rolling her way down the street at no more than 8 mph. That's the sort of thing that starts riots in DC (or at least I wish it would), but the bus and its occupants seemed completely nonplussed. Surely such stoic passivity deserves a reward- maybe a new verse in the nursery rhyme? "The Quebecois on the bus don't give a fuck, give a fuck, give a fuck!"
- The Conquering Carnivore strikes again: last night, Ness and I went to dinner along the waterfront. While Vieux-Montreal is certainly pretty, it's a tourist trap that definitely had me wondering where the cool, fresh part of town was. We stopped for dinner at an organic restaurant on the waterfront featuring "produits du terroir" (locally-grown/sustainable foods) . I spent a fair amount of time trying to explain to the waitress that as a vegetarian, I would not be enjoying the fruits de mer, or seafood. She pointed out the only genuine vegetarian item on the menu, in-season veggies with chick peas (pois chiches, my new favorite French word) roasted with a light organic nut oil. Sounds ridiculously tasty, right? When it came heaped unceremoniously in a big, white bowl, it was a mushy, flat, tasteless mess. Ness, who had warned me not to disturb her while she was gnawing on her perfectly roasted Cornish hen with a delicately balanced pesto, paused to taste my meal. "Oh, no, that's alright," she reassured me. "It's definitely vegetarian, it tastes just like health food." Dammit, the watery sangria should have tipped me off. When, when will I learn?
- Canaries in the Coolmine: I've never seen so many Joy Division t-shirts in one place in my life as I saw today in the Plateau. I counted 9, and that was only after I started keeping track. NINE.
- While my French is decent- I felt a deep sense of pride today when a shopkeeper told me that my accent sounded like that of a fusty old Parisian woman- I realized I have no idea how to address the panhandlers. Especially the one who asked me for change, and then asked me if I could kill the cop living inside his head. Note to self: make vocabulary flashcards.