Thursday, July 20, 2006

bouncing between cities

The eastern portion of my travels are over for now, though a return out east, to say Montreal, is quite likely. Last time I posted my sister was about to show up. All happened as planned and they showed up during the finals of the World Cup. Timing could you been better, but what can you do?

My sister, nephew and niece (from now on referred to as "family") showed up from the airport (short a bag Jack left on the shuttle containing his Gameboy and Ipod charger) at the Fairmont Montreal (I wasn't paying for hotels obviously, and actually we were getting friends & family rates at all the Fairmonts, hence the nice hotels). That night we went out to the old port area, found some quick food (kids were ready to pass out) and did a horse carriage ride around the old town. Mel caught up with us and we cruised the streets for a bit before the family wanted to go to bed... so Mel and I went one way (to the Jazz Festival - final night) and the family went to bed. Actually we only watched a bit of music before going for a wander along St. Catherines, admiring all the strip clubs, to a bar for a couple drinks.

Next day (I remember this being a Monday) in Montreal the family went to La Ronde - a Six Flags park with a dozen roller coasters. Uncle David did pretty well on the coasters, though the Sponge Bob 3-D ride did me in (I've got one kind of bum eye which I don't use all that much and apparently forcing my brain to use it causes worse effects than roller coasters). Anyway, it was a very fun day at the park.

Okay, I'll provide some shorter details for the rest of the post...

The 3rd day in Montreal Emma and I took off to the Biodome in the morning (a large indoor aquarium, zoo, etc. etc.). We took the Metro both ways and only spoke french for much of the way. It was a quick early morning visit, but a great time. We were back at the hotel (which was attached to the train station) by noon and jumped on a train to Quebec City.

Besides me, none of the family had been on trains. Crazy! We had a fun train ride to QC with food provided by me (bread, hummus, 2 types of cheeses, some puddings, salami... a very normal Paris lunch that the family enjoyed). QC was quite the change... small, quiet and quaint compared to Montreal. And we settled into the Chateau Frontenac which is litterally the castle on the hill surrounded by everything. Highlights in QC were:

- several nice meals in terraces (patios) with seafood and wine
- several good historical tours / shows / walks detailing the Plains of Abraham, Wolfe-Montcalm, the failed attack of the Americans, etc. etc.
- just the quaint and relaxing feel of the city
- good swimming and hot tub at the hotel (always important)

After 3 nights and 4 days in QC, we again jumped on a train to Ottawa. Ottawa was definitely a slower pace in terms of less tourists. Granted we were staying in a more business oriented area during the weekend, so that was part of the impression. We did several fun things:

- light and sound show at the Parliment Buildings
- amphibus tour of Ottawa (bus goes into the river and motors around for 20 minutes)
- Museum of Civilization and the new War Museum
- IMAX show (Kilamandjaro)
- a day of white water rafting on the Ottawa River about an hour north of town
- a really really good sushi dinner that is worth mentioning

Okay, that's enough boring trip details (I'm in Winnipeg again now), but I thought I'd give the nitty gritties for those wanting to know what we did on the trip.

I'm heading off to the cabin this weekend and then on Monday going sailing with my Dad for 5 days up to the northern part of Lake Winnipeg. I'll be back in Winnipeg for a few days after that and then heading to Calgary for Aug 4. I think plans are finalized now and Mel is flying from Montreal to Calgary for that first weekend... should be fun with a wedding in Kananaskis and then rafting down the Bow on Sunday tentatively planned.

Another recent thought... chariot for Burning Man is seeming like too much effort. Thinking of scrapping it...

Friday, July 07, 2006


Hello from Montreal! Doing the same as usual it seems... sitting in a cafe on a laptop. Actually, I haven`t brought my laptop or cell phone on this trip, but am borrowing a friends. Anyway, here`s a quick update (sorry the ` s are french accent graves or something...).

The time in Winnipeg has been great with not much besides family, family and some more family affairs. Attending roller hockey games, ringette games, making lunches for my sister`s kids (house sat with them for a couple days too), sailing with my Dad, painting the cabin with my brother-in-law, ummm.... lot`s of good quality family stuff, which was priority No.1 this summer! Will be back in Winnipeg for another couple weeks after the current trip to do a cottage weekend with the whole family (parents, brother, sister, and all the associated kidlettes) and a 5-day or so sailing trip up to the north part of Lake Winnipeg with my Dad. But that`s the future...

Spent the July long weekend in Toronto hanging with John & Jocelyn (John`s a friend from SF who moved back home to Toronto, well, actually Etobikoe or something like that for those who differentiate the suburbs from the city... I personally just refer to it all as southern Ontario). We went for a sail on Lake Ontario Friday afternoon and got to see the waterfront from the water side. Then went `out on the town` and saw some live music and closed the place down. I remember once again why switching to gin & tonics half way into the night is not a good idea (or at least I remembered the next morning as John woke us up at 7 AM to go to the cabin). We spent the long weekend at John`s family`s cabin on Georgian Bay. A very nice weekend of sailing, canoeing, boating, and reading (emphasis on reading for me - I can be quite boring when I choose to be). One of the near by islands had some cheesy fireworks, so we even celebrated Canada Day. Actually, we made it back into the city and down to the waterfront for Monday night and saw the official TO fireworks too.

I spent Tuesday at a relaxed pace making it to the train station around noon, then put my bag in storage and wandered around downtown till my 3PM train to Montreal. Was very nice weather except for a crazy heavy thundershower that forced me into the CBC building. This was actually nice since if forced me into the CBC museum which has histories and sets for the Friendly Giant, Mr. Dressup, etc. etc. Trains are so nice, but I can`t understand why:

A. there aren`t more of them (you`d think there would be a train leaving every 15 minutes)
B. they aren`t cheaper (TO to MNTRL was $92... how much does an airplane cost)
C. why did my sister make me pay for this... note she`s paid for the other legs of the train trip :)

It had been a while since I`ve been on a train and it was quite nice (i.e., I found a great used book store on Queen St. in TO and bought two books and the train gave me a good 4.5 hour start on the first book - Postcards - which I just finished yesterday by the way).

Been in Montreal for a couple days now. Melanie, one of my `students` in Pinawa many years ago picked me up at the Metro stop and has set me up at her new apartment. I`ve been there for 2 nights (or is it 3 nights, I seriously can`t remember, okay, must be 3) and she`s moving in today (I could be helping, but instead I`m hiding out in a coffee shop... something to do with 2 exboyfriends helping so I`m just making myself scarce. Her and I have caught a couple nights of the Jazz Festival. First night, the night I got here, we caught a tribute to Paul Simon with performers such as Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, Holly Cole, Daniel Lanois (a Quebec artist who I saw in SF last year), and several others. Last night was a more small venues including a stop at a salsa place where Mel made me Salsa and ChaChaCha (it was brutal despite having lived in the mexican area in SF for several years... Mel made me be the women and she led).

Other highlights in Montreal so far... a 13 hour walking tour that started way up north (relatively speaking... Jarry for those that know Montreal) on St Laurent, proceeded downtown, saw the Portugal-France game (city went nuts when France won), checked out a hostel (decided I like my current digs), then to the old Ville & Port, then walked back home along St. Denis. Definitely got my exercise that day. The next day I took it easy and went to the Musee de Beaux Artes (Fine Art Museum). Both these days were very much like a typical European vacation day for me. I can tell I`m on holiday because I can just randomly chat with people. Of course it usually seems to be cute women that I chat to, but what can I say, I have good tastes!

Robyn ( my sister) and Jack & Emma arrive on Sunday. Sunday is going to be a crazy day. First, it`s the final of the world cup. Regardless of the outcome, this city is going to be nuts. There are nearly as many flags hanging out windows and people driving 60 mph up and down streets as there was in Calgary or Edmonton during their hockey attempts. It`s also the last day of the Jazz Fesitval and that`s bound to be a blast. So the new arrivals should be up for a fun day!

Also still planning to be in Calgary for Aug 5-15 and then to Seattle for some climbing & hanging with Erin & Justin say Aug 16-20 and then continue the road trip to SF (arriving by say Aug 25) in prep for Burning Man on Aug 28 (just keeping you alls updated with the schedule hoping that our paths will cross).

A la prochaine!! (please no correcting my french! .... I need to practice bad!)