Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Merci Beaucoup Montreal

Tuesday was the only day I had available for tourism in Montreal. And it turned into not even a full day at that.

Just after breakfast, I remembered that there was a meeting of the CanSMOF board of directors -- that's Anticipation's parent non-profit corporation -- that I was missing. I hot-footed it down to the Delta (I needed the exercise anyway) and sat in on the last half-hour of the meeting. Then I went back via Eggspectation, where Cheryl was having breakfast, and briefed her on some Hugo Marketing Committee business. I walked back with her to her hotel. The two of us spoke briefly with Rose Mitchell, co-chair of Aussiecon Four, and then I said goodbye to both of them and returned to the hotel, where Lisa had taken advantage of my unexpected absence by doing a final load of laundry.

We went through our stuff, sorting out the clothing (like my suit and WSFS uniform) and papers that we don't need on the train trip back to Oregon and that would otherwise weigh us down. We packed it into three boxes we'd salvaged and carried it down to the Canada Post office located in the Palais. The boxes weighed a bit under 20 kg and ended up costing about CAD100 to mail back to Oregon. While expensive, this will make the return trip a bit less tiring, allowing us to not have to travel with our bags at crush capacity.

Having dealt with the business, around 2 PM we finally went to look at some of Montreal. We walked up and over into the Old City and down to the docks. As we started coming back up the waterside, ominous dark clouds began to gather and rumbles from the sky grew louder. When we stopped for a bathroom break, the small number of raindrops, Oregon-style, turned into a torrential downpour. We made a run for a small shelter, which turned out to be a gelato stand that suddenly had a whole lot of business. We bought one cone to justify using their shelter, and after maybe 20 minutes decided things had lightened up enough to venture forth again.

We made a loop through the Old Town area, looking at whatever caught our fancy. My experience from the trip up here a few months ago helped, as I had a rough idea of what was here. We looked at the Marche Bonsecours shops -- mainly to stay out of the rain for a while -- and after the rain abated, we headed roughly back toward downtown. We stopped at Canadian Maple Delights, where Lisa had a large maple cookie and a hot chocolate and I had a coffee and a slice of maple-lemon-lime pie and tried not to think too hard about my blood sugar. (I tested an hour later -- the number was high, but not critically so.)

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a camera shop and an electronics store that had earlier caught Lisa's attention. It turns out that the camera store had exactly the tripod Lisa wanted to have for her video shoot. Had we known that it was available here, Lisa would not have packed her second-best tripod and schlepped it across the continent -- we would have bought the one here and shipped it back home to her. Oh, well.

Everyone kept asking us while we were here whether we'd ridden the Metro. We'd never had time, and it seemed silly to ride just one stop from the station near our hotel to the one near the Delta. This afternoon, we decided to remedy this piece of our transit education. But first, Lisa had us walk down through the RESO warrens to show me the "flat fountain" on the branch under the Intercontinental that I had somehow not noticed earlier. I'd point to a picture, but we forgot to take one.

We then headed for Place Victoria Metro station. Not being familiar with the fare structure, we asked the station agents for a couple of day passes ($9). For reasons unclear to both of us, the agents decided it was too difficult to sell those to us and simply waved us through the gate. A free trip! But it would only be a single trip, so we had to stay within the system. We thought we'd ride up to the end of the Cote-Vertu Orange Line, then back in, transferring at Snowdon to the Blue Line, then again onto the other leg of the Orange Line at Jean-Talon, then again to the Green Line at UQAM and riding to Place-des-Arts, which is near the Complex Desjardins, a short walk to our hotel.

Our trip lasted longer than we expected when our train back from Cote-Vertu sat for nearly half an hour with the power turned off waiting for a disruption to clear. Other passengers tried to translate the announcements for us, but weren't helped by the fact that the announcements weren't very intelligible in French either.

While we were out on the system, Lisa took a photo of me and Kuma Bear on the subway:

We've been told "it's illegal to take photos on the Metro," but couldn't see any signs saying so, and nobody said anything to us.

Montreal Metro uses the rubber-tired system from Paris, with separate metal guide rails that steer the train without supporting the weight, and an electric third rail to power the trains. This apparently is supposed to make the cars ride more smoothly and quieter than conventional steel-on-steel systems, but the Metro didn't seem appreciably quieter or smoother than any of the other subway systems we have ridden.

After a brief stop at the hotel, we headed out looking for dinner and looking for something a bit nicer than the food-court food on which we've been living most (not all) of this trip. Fortunately for us Montreal isn't Fremont, where the restaurants start closing about 8 PM. Heading back into Old Town, we decided to eat at Restaurant Bonaparte, which Lisa had spied earlier. We splurged on their Tasting Menu, which is a multi-course meal that serves smaller portions of many of their specialties.

This was one of the better meals I've had in a long time. It's probably just as well that this was our last night here, or I'd be tempted to come back again and have a larger version of one of the things I had tonight. That would blow a huge hole in my budget -- we spent more on dinner tonight than we did on our hotel room.

After eating, we made one more pass through Old Town, picking up some souvenirs and things that are more difficult to get back in Oregon like Maple Tea, then returned to the hotel, tired and footsore but pretty happy about our day about town.

Alas, our train leaves at 9:30 AM and we are definitely not going to get enough sleep tonight. Lisa and I are tearing up our hotel room trying to repack as much as we can before going to bed.

travelswithkuma has more pictures of our exploits today, including pictures of the wonderful fish pond on the lobby level of our hotel.
Tags: anticipation, kuma bear, lisa, montreal, trains, transit, travel, worldcon09

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