Friday, October 14, 2011

montreal: le premier jour

Yay, Montreal! We had a blast on our trip and I can't wait to tell you all about it. I need to learn how to not turn the recap of every trip into a multi part novel because it takes me forever to compile these posts! But I don't want to leave anything out! So settle in for the long haul as I begin to divulge too much information. Kurt and I are ready to learn French, pack our bags (+ a few more crucial layers for that cold), and move to Canada! We enjoyed it that much.

To begin our journey, Kurt and I caught an early bus from NYC (Kurt's brother Erik took the train and met us there) on Thursday morning (three day work weeks are great :)  ). I was armed with a magazine, my new monster of a book (The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand), and the unique ability to sleep anywhere, no matter how uncomfortable. It was such a smooth ride and 8 hours practically flew by.

Almost half way through the drive, we took a 40 minute break in Albany. Most people hung around the bus station but Kurt and I hit the ground running to do some exploring.

Sadly, the town is a bit rundown, but I think we may have only seen a small portion of the city. I would like to go back and see a better sample.

The NY State Capital Building

Only facades were left of several buildings on the main street leading to the capital.

There is obviously some attempt at revitalizing the area. I wonder if they are keeping the facades and will rebuild the buidings behind? 

The City Beer Hall. We take these things seriously here in NY.

Eventually our break was over and we got back on the bus for the remainder of the trip. You can't see too much from the highway but the trees are beginning to change color. I guess one of the few perks of these dropping temperatures...

We finally made it to the border! Going through customs was quite an event. We stopped at the border area for buses and our driver got out and removed all the luggage from under the bus. Then he told us to gather all our stuff, get off the bus, and make a line in the customs building where we would be interviewed grilled by a border agent. I thought going into Canada would be a breeze but things would be tough coming back into the US (isn't that true of our unwelcoming American nature these days?!). I was wrong. I got assigned to this very scary lady who asked lots of specific questions and never cracked a smile. Why are you going to Montreal? What are you doing there? Do you know anyone there? Do you have a place to stay? Are you transporting any items that are not your own? It was pretty intimidating and I wasn't even doing anything wrong! I would be the worst criminal.

Eventually everyone survived the Spanish Canadian inquisition and we got back on the bus where we caused a ruckus with some Haitian/Trinidad-ian women by stealing their seats. Glad to see some people never grow up. Thankfully it was a short ride to our final destination: Montreal!

Kurt did an amazing job booking our hostel. It was only a short walk from the bus station and in the really gorgeous area called Le Vieux-Port (Old Port).

Door to our hostel. I can't tell you how many times we missed it.

We stayed at La Maison Patriote and had a great experience. It wasn't the cheapest place but you can't beat the location and the family that runs it was so nice. The place had tons of charm too.

Kurt and I dropped our bags and set out to see the city.

Not sure I mentioned this, but the original inspiration for our trip to Montreal sprung from this Explosions in the Sky concert at the Metropolis. (Remember when we saw them in NYC?) Kurt just can't get enough. We had been wanting to visit Montreal for a while, but I told Kurt, "We are not going to be those fanatics that absolutely must see a band whenever they come within a 500 mile radius." I'm putting my foot down.

The venue seemed to pale in comparison to Radio City Music Hall but it was still a great show. The guy who does the introduction even gave his spiel in French. It was a nice effort that the crowd enjoyed.

After the show, we took Erik back to the hostel to drop off his bags (he came straight to the show from the train station) and then we did some more walking around the city.

Our eventual plan was to find some beer and take it back to the hostel. That proved to be more difficult than we anticipated. It was kind of late and every grocery store and wine shop we passed was closed. We walked through Chinatown and hoped that one of the restaurant owners would sell us some. No such luck, but one guy sent us on a wild goose chase for a 24 hour store. After that search turned up fruitless, Kurt finally asked some young guys drinking beer in paper bags on the street (reliable source at least) and they informed us that stores stop selling alcohol at 11pm and the only place you can get it is at a bar or restaurant. Then he added: unless you can find some shady dépanneur (like a convenience store) to sell it to you. That was all we needed to hear and eventually found a store willing to sell us some Canadian beers under the radar. Woo hoo! Breaking the law my first day in Canada. By the time we got back to the hostel, I was too tired to even enjoy it but drank one out of principle. Kurt and Erik worked hard for those illegal beers! 

1 comment:

  1. Yea, we're forever spoiled by the acoustics of Radio City. There can only possibly be a few other places in the world as good to hear Explosions... ahem, if they play at Red Rocks ( we have to go! Also thought it was great that the crowd cheered them to come back on stage, then he comes back out and says, 'uh yea, there's only go-around, see you next time.'

    That Alberta's Best was amazing by the way.

    Can't wait for the next post!


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