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Friday, July 30, 2010

East Coast Earthquake - West Coast Special!

Waking at 5am really goes against my natural instinct, or so I would assume. When my alarm is set for that time, my body decides that's far too late and as such I tend to wake around 4am and toss and turn for an hour. This is one of those mornings. By the time I had packed, said goodbye and thank you to an almost unconscious Sabrina, and got to the bus depot, I actually was able to get the 5:40 shuttle to the airport instead of my planned 6.10. Flight was uneventful (I did spill some coffee on someone but it wasn't hot so I only feel like PART of a jackass), and when I landed, checked my emails to see if Eva, a friend of mine from 2007-2008 season had got in contact with me. She had, and would meet me at 11 in front of London Drugs.

The time was 10:50 and I was still at the airport.

Used the number she gave me to text her I was on my way, then hauled ass downtown, care of the $9 Skytrain. It's only $2.50 to get to the airport and $8.75 to leave. That just isn't right. London Drugs is right by the Downtown station so I got there around 11:30. Waited for an hour, texted Eva again, and also got on her Facebook (it had occurred to me that her German number might not work). I decided to grab the 1pm Greyhound home.

Or so I thought.

At 1:10 pm I get a call from a strange number, and sure enough, Eva had borrowed a random person's phone to call me with the number I gave her in the email. I left the bus stop and headed over to Denman and Davie, where I found her! We sat on the beach and caught up, I still in my jeans (black) on a sunny day (25C). Sweat. Eva was in town until Saturday, then she was headed to Montreal(!) to study for 6 months. The girl she was staying with, Tanya, was working at the Fish House in Stanley Park. Only a 5 minute walk from where we were, we headed over and sat on the patio. Met Tanya and some of her workmates, 2 of whom had a) just finished their last shift, and b) were two beautiful 19 year old girls from Quebec City. Once Tanya had finished, and seeing as she had the next day off (this girl works 7 days per week, so when she parties she wants to party) she was going to sit on the beach at English Bay, have a couple cans of beer, and find a good spot for the fireworks.

The Vancouver Celebration of Light is an annual contest in which 4 countries compete for the best fireworks display. It's a huge deal - Global TV and HSBC are among the sponsors. Tonight was Mexico, and rumour had it they had the legal limit of explosives for the size of the barge from which they are detonated. I had pushed my schedule back to get the 7pm Greyhound, so after a nice chillout on the beach I said goodbye to some amazing people and headed back downtown.

At 8:15pm I began asking around my friends that live in Vancouver asking if they could put me up for the night. The 7:00 never showed, which meant that I and another guy from Whistler had to seek out accommodation. He was set - working at Chateau Fairmont in Whistler, he went across the street and booked himself a staff rate room at Hotel Vancouver. I, on the other hand had no luck with my usual suspects so was determined to follow the enormous crowd back to the beach where Eva and company were anticipating the oncoming darkness. Luckily Tanya had offered me a place to crash tonight anyway, all I had to do was find them again. You know how easily an overnight bag rolls in the sand? Especially when it has 2 weeks of clothing in it? Not well, I can tell you. Not well at all. But I found them, and the group had grown from 6 (including myself) when I left, to eventually 14 by the time everyone got there, replete with bags, bikes, towels and booze. I was so happy to be back in the company of such good people, on the beach, watching the sun set, that I had my first drink in over 2 days. I didn't care that the Pilsner was warm and sandy, it was free. I felt as though I was in a beer commercial, and it was the best damn beer I had the whole trip.

The fireworks display contestants tonight were Mexico, and you know Mexico knows how to celebrate. It was all set to music and with the buzz I had going on along with everyone else's sentiments of surprise and awe, it was phenomenal. Don't pass up this opportunity if you're in Vancouver in the summer.

Tanya had to go to a leaving party around the corner, and Eva and I had our laptops with us so we headed back to the crash pad. It was a mission; the streets were packed with drunken revellers (and one car in particular: I don't know who you were Mr. Dances to Vengaboys, but you were doing an amazing job of embarrassing your girlfriend. We on the bus salute you!), and it took us almost 2 hours to negotiate public transport and hit the hay.

I am so glad to have caught up with Eva, she's an amazing girl and a total sweetheart. She mentioned Central America in January, so maybe if the season is good to me and I stay on the wagon we'll meet up again.

And that's that, kids. I'm actually at the Greyhound station right now, watching She's Out Of My League, because frankly it's a good story and it gives me some of that schmaltzy Hollywood bullshit that I love so much. I hope you enjoyed reading this account of my party holiday as much as I enjoyed living it. (And writing it obviously. It's all about you guys.)

Next time you see me, if I'm drinking cranberry juice and downing milk thistle tablets like they're gonna rot, it's just my way of apologizing to my kidneys and liver respectively.

Quote Of The Day: I bet this is the best bus you ever missed!

East Coast Earthquake - …And Then There Were Two

We walked seb down to the bus station (probably a good thing seeing as it was where I was getting the shuttle the following day) and Sabrina and I were back in bed around 11. (Not like that.) Naps rock, so just to catch up on the amount of partying and walking we were doing on an almost daily basis we crashed for a couple of hours. By 3 it was around 30C out so we walked along the waterfront to catch some breeze. I was just thinking about how mellow everyone seemed to be in Montreal. Then, shit went down. I don't know exactly what happened, but this guy was dragging a bike, then took a bike lock and… "brandished" it would be the better word. He was behind us, and there were 3 guys who I guess took offence to whatever had happened with the bike. Then, rocks. Both parties picked up decorative rocks from the street. Then sab and I got the fuck outta Dodge. When we got round a corner we heard cheering so I guess the matter was resolved.

Past the incident, we wandered around the park and saw some of the historical sections along the front. It occurred to me that Montreal, for all of its cosmopolitan atmosphere and lifestyle, they still retain a lot of the old world and stories. I mentioned that to sab, and she explained that it's important to the city and its citizens to remember the past; a lot of people died for the identity of the Quebecois. In a world where English is one of the dominant languages, in a country where English threatens to push French out of the rest of it, Quebec maintains and actually defends its heritage.

We walked through the financial district, a fair walk from the house. It was almost too hot to do anything, so Sab suggested… TOY STORY 3D! Fuckin A! There's a couple of cinemas in the downtown area, 2 on Rue Ste Catherine. The one near Carlos and Pepe's was frigging slammed. For some reason, being entertained in a dark comfortable, air-conditioned room seemed enjoyable to other people as well… We headed down the street. A loooonng way down. But it was totally worth it, because the Forum 22 was an experience. A huge place right downtown, it houses 22 God damn theatres, an arcade, a restaurant, and a wall of fame. Wall of fame you ask? Oh, that's because it's the former site of history. The Forum is better known as the holy ground where the Montreal Canadiens won every single one of their Stanley Cups. Maurice Richard played on, oh, maybe 300 of the teams because he's fucking amazing. They still have the centre ice circle on the floor, original seating has become benches, and it's this huge central arena with the screens situated around.

Toy story was great. I can't believe how good animated films have become, both visually and with storyline. Who would have thought I would care so much about some plastic (fictional!) toys and their stories.

A quiet one seeing as my bus leaves in the morning at early o'clock. Which means i have to get up at 5am. Which means as much sleep as I can muster.

Quote of the Day: I have that picture on my speed that i sell!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

East Coast Earthquake - La Grande Finale

East Coast Earthquake - La Grande Finale

Remember a couple of days ago when I mentioned I was hungover?

That was nothing. Nothing, my friends. I'm fairly sure we all woke up still drunk, and with this in mind we figured what better way to cure the INEVITABLE hangover than L'Avenue? Guillaume told us he was working the day prior, so why not?

The subway should have been our first clue.

Montreal, for all it's positive points, does have a downside in its metro; specifically the ventilation system within the actual carriages. The phrase "hot as balls" would be apt, and I thank whichever deity responsible for subways that it was only 3 or 4 stops. Being that hot is unpleasant with too many toxins in the system.

Totally different story at breakfast: no line-up (I love Mondays), and when we ordered the same thing, it was all I could do to finish even half of it. Guillaume was in fact working, and gave us (surprise) shots. These were firecrackers - imagine a Jagerbomb with rum and amaretto dropped into pineapple juice.

Oh, but reverse the order, so drop an ounce of juice into 3oz liquor.

Yeah.

Seb nearly puked. It was gnarly.

We had to do something. Paid the bill, walked down St Denis, and found a sweet brasserie, with some fantastic decor and a wide open front window for people watching. Guillaume the server finished at 4 so he met us for a beer alongside his girlfriend and his buddy. They invited us to a barbecue, which we gladly accepted, at one of their apartments. Home first though, to change, nap, clean up, etc.

Well we napped, but by the time we worked ourselves out the plans had changed and instead we ended up at Carlos & Pepe's, a mexican restaurant Sab was sure we would like. Over on Peel, it is more central to Montreal (and therefore further from where we had usually been exploring.) 28oz margarita anyone?

SO FULL! I only ate half of my meal, but Seb managed to destroy his burrito taco combo. We headed over to the tourist section, Rue Crescent. It was fairly busy even for mid week, and was definitely aiming for our wallets. One drink was $7.50… we headed home soon after, where we had vodka from our earlier barbecue plans. Seb took his pants off. Last night and whatnot. He had an early bus to catch - though my 8am flight beats even his 9:30 bus to Kingston.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

East Coast Earthquake - What Just Happened?!

Breakfast.

Breakfast Breakfast Breakfast.

Seb had heard of a breakfast place in Montreal that we had to check out. We looked it up, and this is what we read:

L'Avenue has the best breakfast I have eaten in North America.

How could we not go? When we got there, there was a line-up outside with about 15-20 people. The place was banging! As rightly it should be for a Sunday afternoon. At first, when we were waiting, we couldn't help but notice that the 4top at the window had all but finished, and the father was reading the newspaper. We started asking ourselves how someone could do that in an obviously busy restaurant.

Guess which table we ended up getting?

Me being "shy", it was tough watching the line go past with women all in it. Our server, Guillaume, explained that our pitcher of mojitos was on the way, there was a bit of a jam at the bar. Sab explained we had nowhere to go, so don't worry about the wait, we were having fun. Then he got us a round of shots for being cool. Seriously. The food was excellent and enormous helpings, the atmosphere superb, and the staff were cool as hell, despite a VERY irate table of 8 waiting at the door.
Here's a tip to those who have never worked in a restaurant: When you walk into a popular joint with seven of your friends, at 2 in the afternoon, don't threaten to "snap the waiter's neck" because you were waiting 5 minutes while they ready your tables together. Bonus tip: if you then loudly announce that you "have to drive back to New York", and a table nearby laughs and starts talking about how much fun they're having, yes, those two events are related. Fuck that walking stereotype. I felt bad for his wife, she was obviously embarrassed. Guillaume was a legend, bringing us more shots (people having fun in the windows makes the place look fun. We BECAME the atmosphere!) L'Avenue is definitely a must-do for Montreal.

Over breakfast, and our second pitcher of mojito, we talked to JP from our first dinner out and he was going to drive us to Piknic Electronik, an outdoor party with djs and drinks. The event takes place every Sunday during the summer, and is situated on L'ile Saint Helene. You may recognize this name from its most internationally famous event of the year, the Formula 1 Gilles Villeneuve race track. Even better, because there was a heavy metal festival occurring where the usual site for Piknic was, we got to drive on the track! We spent a good long while there, and the party ended around ten pm. We were certainly not ending! JP drove us back to the main city by way of a re-enactment of the course, and while it emerged the following day that all of us wanted to retire to the apartment for a couple of hours, we ended up going to a club far too early. A classic case of too many chiefs and not enough indians; we ended up walking down a Rue Mont Royal trying to decide where to go. It was a truly bizarre evening; Boptes was our first bar (more cheap Jack), and after a couple there, we headed over to a great bar, La Disterie where they make monstrous cocktails in monstrous jam jars. I saw Andrea, the best bartender of my trip; she honestly must have been working on 6 to 8 orders at once, all different.
I think we caught a cab… JP may have driven… If he did, we all survived.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

East Coast Earthquake - Road Trip!

East Coast Earthquake - The Road Trip

Wow, did I sleep well. Vince's bed has a memory foam mattress - the wine glass one from the ads. I don't think I moved last night! Sabrina got in contact with her friends and we arranged to meet in Laval before heading up towards Quebec City. Seb thought Montreal was really European; his head might explode when we get to Old Quebec!

QC is a 3 hour drive more or less, and with nothing to do, Seb and I fell asleep in the backseat while Sabrina talked to Jean (a really nice guy, but he was not confident with his English). They had all met working for the City of Laval when they were younger, first doing summer day camps, then in places like the arena. The job is excellent for teenagers: full benefits, great wage, no problem getting time off, and, apparently, meeting some great people you will be friends with for years afterward!

Remember how I said the other day that montreal is full of beautiful girls? Let's put this in perspective.

Montreal. Ain't. Got. SHIT. On. Quebec.

We were in the city maybe, MAYBE ten minutes, and seb and I saw some perfect creatures while we were waiting for the others to use the bathroom in Mcdonalds. If nothing else has convinced you prior to this re: visiting the French part of my fine country, please let this be the section that does.
When we had all regrouped, we headed out to see what Quebec had for us. I was getting deja vu all over the place (I had been here twice before, once with school in '95 or so and again with Jules and dad in '97). There was that art in the street that dad bought, there we sat and ate lunch, I even saw the street where we stayed with school in this rundown little hotel. LIkewise later when I saw various sections of the historical section, eg., the Plains of Abraham, it all came flooding back to me and I was able to recant the stories to Seb.
By the way, in the 5 or 6 days i've been here, my French has come flying back to me with a vengeance! I learned French at school for 10 or 11 years, but once I went to university I stopped using it. I was 19 when I stopped studying, and I'm 27 now. That's 8 years of cobwebs being dusted off, and I still can't believe how confident I've become. The general rule is, he further away from Ottawa one gets, the more likely it is that the people will use french as their first language, and therefore less likely to speak to you in English. I was a little apprehensive because when forced to speak my 2nd language, i get stressed, but when speaking naturally (for example, when explaining something to Jean) it sits much easier. When we took the tour of Parliament, it was the last of the day and it turned out to be French (no bilingual tourism here). Sab offered to translate in between the speaking and moving around. Thanks to my knowledge, and the tour guide's "proper" french (no regional accent) I was able to follow along well enough.
After the tour, people were hungry so we took a trip down Grande Allee Est, where most of the trendy places could be found in QC. That is, not quite catering to the tourist with meat pie and period costume, rather, fairly high prices and a cut throat competition with so many restaurants in the same region. Restaurant Aux Vieux Canons had yard glasses so that pretty much sold it for me. (Plus the hostess was gorgeous, so there's that too.) While the food was excellent (I highly recommend the duck pate), it wasn't what I had expected: Seb and I were gonna split a couple of apps, and one said parmesan fondue… What does that suggest to you, a selection of breads and a pot of bubbling cheese mixed with a white wine? How about two squares of breaded and fried Parmesan with some green salad on the side? We got the latte. The server had a point when she said the former would be more expensive, but hey, I'm on holiday, and thus do not look at the price. Whatever. She was a bitch about it, matter of fact during the whole dinner I watched her, and she was lucky to get the %10 we gave her.

We walked along the street to the lower section of the town, the older part, and it was here that really looked old world. Sab had found out about a few things to do, and we had to choose.

The only thing I have to say about Quebec, as a city and as a whole for I include Montreal in this, is that unless you are staying for two full weeks, you will not see it all. Summers in Quebec are limited to about 3 months, so they cram as many events and festivals in as they literally have the space to do so. (Just in the time I was in Montreal, there were 6 going on.) We had a choice of 4 things to do, and they all conflicted with each other in their timing: it was the last night of Cirque du Soleil, which was $55. There was also a free Cirque show happening (I'm not kidding) under the god damn highway, which, being free, wouldn't have been as good, but still, it's Cirque. A free international fireworks competition, and finally LA MOULIN D'IMAGES. This last one was the most intriguing: Quebec has a line of silos that used to be used for cattle meal. They were shut down some years ago, and instead of knocking them down, a company called Ex Machina designed a montage of images to be projected onto the surfaces of the silos. With the one "office building" acting as the main screen and the silos as background… You know what? It's hard to explain. Let's say it was a story of Quebec with no language barrier. That's the easiest.
We ended up going to the free show under the highway (which was still phenomenal; it's been a long time since I found something so harrowing that I literally stopped breathing) then we wandered over to the fields for a great view of the 2nd half of the Moulin. It covers everything - wartime, the Nordiques, the queen's visit, even the 400th birthday of the city in 2008. I would say that it's definitely a must see (happening Friday and Saturday nights all through summer).

We honestly must have walked 10 - 15 km today, (and Jean had already done a 15km run that morning before he met us) and we still had a three hour drive ahead of us. The other car with Marieve (very cute) Pedro (whose english was better than his French) and Jean (a photographer who I will refer to as "John", and supplied us with our QOTD below) had gone on ahead and we arranged to meet them at a Tim Horton's outside of town.
They weren't there when we got there, so Jean called them. John had been driving, and for whatever reason they had gotten lost (there is some controversy over the official story, but I don't know them, I won't take either side). They got there in the end, and Mari took over the driver's seat once we had said goodbye.
One hour later, and we're pulling over again, this time to let Sab drive for Jean felt himself falling asleep at the wheel. For a guy who doesn't wear his seatbelt while driving I applaud his responsibility. We had no problems with getting out at Laval, and subwaying back to Montreal centre, but he offered to drive us all the way home. He had to work at 8:30 the following morning, the poor sonofabitch. Great person, that Jean: though his English was by far the worst of the new friends, he was the only one that really talked to Seb and I.

(Although Marieve did tell me that my French was very good. Bam!)

Sweet, sweet memory foam…

Quote Of the Day: White people always smile in photos (…) Mystery is beautiful.

(I mean really.)

East Coast Earthquake - The Morning After

Friday was Vince's last day before he and Karine flew to Florida for 2 weeks (hence our using his apartment as a touchstone). Lazy morning punctuated by beer and Amarula coffee. We also finally got around to calling a barber for the straight razor shave. Booked for 1.30, Vince was picking up Karine for the airport straight from her work so he offered to drive us to the appointment.

I'm buying a straight razor.

I enjoy the ritual of shaving anyway; to turn it into an experience that can last 20 minutes, half hour, 45 minutes if you buy all the lotions and whatnot is something I want to investigate further. I haven't had skin that smooth since before I started shaving way back whenever. Next big paycheque is gonna be spent on a badger hair brush and some shave soap.

After feeling like a man, and saying goodbye to our host Vince, we wandered around Montreal looking for a place to eat and people watch. We ended up walking right down Rue Ste. Catherine, which is all pedestrianized. It's also the main centre for the gay district - we ate at a restaurant with some amazing focaccia pizza but whose name escapes me, and the restaurant was right next to a male strip club and a transvestite cabaret club. An unusual place, we saw all kinds of people walking past, including a man with no shirt walking his snake. No that is isn't a euphemism; the guy had a yellow boa about 8 ft long in his hands and just walked down the street as if carrying a fucking snake was no big deal. Montreal - We're comfortable in our skin!

The weather began to turn so instead of battling the winds we headed back to the apartment and lazed - although we did see the Hamilton Bulldogs tour bus! BULLLLLLLDOGS! Watched a couple of movies, and by 10:30 we decided we should get out and see what the city on a friday night had to offer. We weren't disappointed (I mean we didn't end up partying with strippers or anything, but we weren't in a big night mood anyway) and after fighting the crowds we went back to Saint Sulpice, and once again it impressed me with the size. 5 floors of party, I couldn't even guess at the capacity. Sabrina, who evidently does not eat, was dead set on poutine (of course), so we went across the street and her and Seb destroyed a bowl in under 5 minutes.

Home for 1am, Quebec city in the morning.

Quote Of The Day: (REDACTED FOR CENSORSHIP)

Email me if you wanna know what the quote is. It's a great one, but it has naughty words.

East Coast Earthquake - The Main Event

My God.

I am hungover like a motherfucker. Please excuse me if this post isn't as poetic as usual.

Birthdays are fun, especially when you only know your friends in town. For starters, we drove back out to Sabrina's place to pick up Seb's stuff for the week, and I realized how far out she lives - it's easily a 30 minute drive. We did the tourist thing and went to the Olympic Park. The whole deal - guided tour, up the tower, great fun for 20 bucks. After, we picked up barbecue equipment for the evening, and after turning on the TV, we all fell asleep.

As if that's how the day ended.

What actually happened: I called my sister and mama, and when I got off the phone, everyone ELSE had fallen asleep. So they prompted a nap. When I awoke, Vince was preparing for dinner, and I offered to help. Vince's girlfriend Carine came home and we were almost ready to go. By the time it was finished, it was the classiest barbecue I had ever been to: homemade guacamole, brie, wine, lounge music, dimmed lights and candles! Not to mention the company! Vince then busted out the bourbon and cigars… This guy's hospitality knows no bounds. A humidor full of some fine tobacco, and good conversation was inevitable.

After the man time, we hit the town to check out this place the kids were raving about, Passeport. Drum and bass night, with cheap pitchers (how's $10 sound?). We also asked a group of girls to take a photo; turned out they were on holiday as well, and one was from Vancouver of all places! They didn't know what they were doing for the night, so I invited them to my party! A round of Jack (8 shots) cost $24. (This town could kill me if they give away 3 dollar liquor). A hell of a time, Carine got hammered and wanted to hit the strippers but we were feeling the club. I couldn't tell you when we left, but hijinx ensued - construction signs were knocked over, tires were rolled IN THE STREET, and shit, some cops even stopped by to make sure we were having fun! At least I think that's what they were saying…

BIRTHDAY POWER!!!

Quote Of The Day: 2 plus 7 is 9! Do the math!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

East Coast Earthquake - Montreal Day 2

The couch was warm that morning, my friends. I awoke early, and after lolling for a while, roused seb at around 10. Sabrina had to go to work at early o'clock so we were left to our own devices. Knowing montreal more than we know Laval, where Sab lives, we grabbed the bus to the subway to take us to the city.

While it was cheap, it was long - 45 minutes on the bus, and another 20 on the metro to get to the meat an potatoes of Rue St Catherines. Liquid Nutrition, a smoothie bar for "breakfast" (by this time it was gone noon) which not only served healthy alternatives for people on the go, but also an entire shelf of protein powders, health supplements, power bars, and the like.

Seb had seen a barber's the day before, offering the classic straight razor shave, so we set out to look for it. He knew it was on St Denis, so after trawling the street, we took a break at TAMALES, a mexican restaurant (surprisingly). Margaritas beckoned. We answered. Vince met us, and we took a walk up Rue St. Denis.

When the rain came, we stopped in to a restaurant…. Bieres Et Compagnie has at least a dozen pages on their beer menu, from all over the world. They also have all you can eat mussels…. of all things. Not usually for me, but if they're done right I can definitely eat some. Were it an intended stop, we could definitely have spent the remainder of the afternoon tasting different beers. As it were, Seb and I took advantage of the shitty weather and geeked out at the IMAX 3d. (It was still about surfing and Kelly Slater, so not totally nerdy. Still, it was the first 3d film I've seen with that technology so I could appreciate it.)

Sab finished work, and managed to score a car for the evening so she brought our gear in from Laval. Much appreciated, we met her at Les Deux Pierrots, actually across the street from Les 3 brasseurs from yesterday. We walked back to the car and changed in the street (vince and his girl were having some time together so we didn't want to disturb them) then back to an italian restaurant Galiano for pizza and a phenomenal pinot noir. Vince's friends Fred and Martine met us there, and we headed to La Terrasse, a nightclub on the harbour away from everything else (link to follow). Talked my friend Jack (Daniels, don't know if you've met him) at midnight, and had a raucous start to the day. Met a few people who enjoy skiing so gave out my number, we'll see.

Drinking is awesome.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: She could be going to a puppy kicking convention and I'd still follow her.

East Coast Earthquake/Seisme du Est - Montreal Day 1

East Coast Earthquake/ Seisme du Est

A new airport - Pierre Elliott Trudeau, outside of Montreal. Turns out this "bare bones plan" plan I had going has one small flaw… Here it is almost an hour after I landed, and no sign of my boy Seb and his friend Sabrina. I'm hoping they thought it was a 1.15 landing, cuz I don't know where I'm meant to be staying, and I can't find out because a) there's no free internet at YUL (that I can find anyway), and i don't have any contact details (read: phone numbers) of either Seb or Sab…

Everything turned out ok, they came to the airport around 2 pm. Turns out there was a huge night of drinking the night before, they didn't head home until 6:30am or so. San missed a day of work, and they were both feeling pretty rough.

We went straight to the apartment we'll be living in, where Vince met us. He goes on holiday for 2 weeks as of tomorrow so the plan is to stay at Sabrina's apartment tonight.

Vince lives close to the city centre - 5 minutes, give or take 5 minutes, depending on your view of "downtown". Rue St. Denis, one of the better nightlife scenes, is maybe 10 minutes. I'll put some pictures up once we're moved in. Suffice to say, this is going to be a hell of a week. Walked to Old Montreal for a late lunch, at Les 3 Brasseurs, where they make their own beer on site. A pitcher of Russian (blonde beer, vodka, and lemon syrup) and we headed off after meeting JP, one of Vince's friends.

At this point, I think it's important to address a popular perception of Quebec. And yes. It's true. Montreal girls are fantastic to look at. Seriously, they care. I don't really know how to take this newfound information; the numbers game doesn't seem fair when they're ALL breathtaking. We'll see how that turns out.

Hey, guess what? The Just For Laughs festival is happening! Yay funny! All the shows are fairly expensive, but there's some decent buskers/street performers to keep the entertainment going. Vince got involved in a magic show (standard split the lady in half/walk through the solid rope etc.) but when you can buy beer in the street in plastic cups, anything is fun.

Montreal is very conscious of its foot traffic, and it's surprisingly easy to maintain one's bearings. Unlike other big cities like Vancouver or Toronto, the skyscrapers are pretty much limited to the business district - unless you want to go shopping at NIke or Lacoste, there isn't much reason to head that way. The CBC Radio building is a good landmark, it's tall and brown, as is the Governor's Hotel, or as Vince calls it, "the penis", due to its logo, and the coincidence that it signifies the beginning of the Gay district. So, with the lack of tall buildings, you can easily find where you are, and where you need to be.

Dinner that evening was at Les Deux Gamins, where the patio was flush with the street, not even a rope to signify where one ended and the other began. For 3 course, plus Seb and I sharing a bottle of red ended up at around $40 each, with tip. These courses included foie gras, escargot, steak and salmon, so that gives you an idea of the cost of living here. People watching was a high priority, so after we paid, we followed where most of them were going. Again, women everywhere!

We ended up back on St Denis at one of the bigger bars in town, Saint Sulpice. 3 levels, plus a backyard terrace bigger than most bars in Whistler, including Longhorns. That's all of longhorns incidentally, not just the patio. Hundreds of people, mostly young, all looking for a good time. We were all tired though, so the revelry was put aside for another night.

Sabrina lives a fair ways out, and at gone 1am after waking at 6 that morning, I wish I could say I stayed awake on the drive home. Alas, backseats on warm nights are my kryptonite - I was out. I do recall following signs for Laval - I'll find out more info in the morning.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sure, I speak French… "Mcdonalds".

Monday, July 19, 2010

East Coast Earthquake: Company Picnic

Oh, the stories I could tell...


If I weren't contractually obliged not to tell them, that is. The truth is that I didn't win anyone over with my stories of poverty and happiness (although, they all being doctors and what not, they have the money to visit so I'll have to show them, rather than tell). The ratio was, at an estimate, 4:1 female to male... way too awesome! The fact is, I participated in a sack race (3rd), a 2 legged race (2nd, with the before/after model) a scavenger hunt (team 1st) and a ton of other games, May or may not have toasted my dad in the dunk tank. I had a ton of fun, and who knows who I'll see again. Maybe I'll come back next year!

Interesting...

My friend posted this on FB, and it's definitely worth the read. It appears to be a message from space. It's been circulated many times, and while it may seem like a hoax, the introduction explains that it is different than the usual "messages". I'd really like to believe it's true; with all the death, destruction, chaos, and corruption in the this world, we as a race are pretty much doomed, and if this is a true way out of our terrible situation, I'm all for it.


Anyway, have a read.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

East Coast Earthquake - Dundas Edition

Back to Dundas, where my dad actually lives with his partner Margaret, and her son Jason lives there full time. He's now with a girl I know from my first season in Whistler. Small world eh? After dinner we all had a drink or two (except Margaret, she doesn't drink at all), and it was decided that Jason, Tracy and I would hit up a bar in downtown Dundas. The Collins on King West is a sweet bar with a good amount of beer on tap, and some awesome looking servers! 4 pitchers of Steam Whistle and a variation on the Crown of Thorns led us out the door… almost. Jason's friend Jordan called the shots (literally) and we had 5 rounds in 5 minutes. I don't remember them all, but definitely one Furious George (equal parts Mandarin Vodka and Creme de Banane with a dash of Tobasco, shaken - my own creation!) and a Crispy Crunch. I do recall giving out personality cards and wicked lines, and they offered me a job. Clearly I had to refuse. The blurry walk home was punctuated by a stop to the Mecca of drunk food, Tim Horton's! What I had, sadly, I cannot tell you.

The following morning, or should I say afternoon, we prepped for my barbecue party - mostly family, plus my buddy Justin and his family. Justin is one of my oldest friends, and we don't really need a plan to party. A nice quiet affair, burgers and strawberry pie, plus a couple of cards. Nothing fancy. Then, after I had a nap (yes, a nap. Screw off. I'm getting old) Justin and I watched Beer Wars, a documentary on the Big 3 breweries in America: Miller, Coors, and Anheuser-Busch, and the struggle of the independent breweries, followed by The Slammin' Salmon, a Broken Lizard production (they did Super Troopers), about a fine dining restaurant run by a retired heavyweight champion. Farve is the headwaiter… Highly recommended! We had a great system going on, namely that we could reach the cooler without getting up… someone had to drink it!

Finally we dropped Justin off back at Port Dover, where we hung out. That's pretty much the summing up of the afternoon. Hung out. I did get yelled at by a 4 year old for wrecking his sand castle (I don't buy it, I was really careful, but hey, this kid was pissed). He followed us half the distance we walked just to roar at me. It's cool though, I apologized and promised never to do it again. Then we high fived. And some girls laughed with us.

Back to the work house (not like I live in the dark ages and eat gruel, but the sweet pad where my dad lives on weekdays.) Tomorrow is the staff party - I could literally get in too much trouble. The boss is a skier, so I think I can wow him. Watch this space, I think tomorrow will be some awesome stories.

East Coast Earthquake: Day 1



Day 1

My dad has a new job since I was last in Ontario. As such, he also has a new place to live. Behold the bachelor pad...

Alright, it's not actually a bachelor pad, he's been with the same woman for a while.

And ok, it's not technically his, either, it's his boss's. He stays there during his work week.

But hey, a rose by any other name. I'm staying here for a little bit. Besides, this is the view out the window in the first shot.

It's also his 'office.'

Did I not mention Bossman's financial situation? That's kind of important. It's in the realms of "no apparent end to his wealth", apparently.

Example: The guy offered to personally finance to have the 3km of PUBLIC road he lives on paved over (it's now gravel). Why, you ask? Oh you know, he collects cars. Actual ones. Classics (an original Shelby Cobra worth a reported 7 figures), supercars (what's half a dozen freakin' ferraris here and there") - he basically gives Leno a run for his money when it comes to hobbies. So he wanted the road paved to protect the cars he drives - for fun - on the weekends. I admire his passion for machines almost as much as his disregard for price tags. (Incidentally it didn't go through, so he bought a trailer to cart them over the gravel to the main road. F**k those guys, that's why!)

Like I said, I'm staying here. And you're not. Call the house what you will, it's pretty fantastic.

By The Way: 'Bossman' is a great name. Was it a Megaman bad guy? Sounds like a cross between a hip hop artist and an actual pimp.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

East Coast Earthquake: The Beginning

Well Folks, here we go.

A couple of months ago I decided that for my 27th birthday I would venture east to the party capital of Canada.

No, not Halifax.

Not Toronto either.

Alright, Canada kicks some serious ass when it comes to having fun. Montreal, in my mind, more than most. The allure may have been brought on by the fact that I haven't been before, and possibly also brought on by my multiple friends I have met in my 5 years in Whistler who I haven't seen; I feel like I should at least try and see a couple of them!

So. The itinerary is thus. I'm actually on the plane right this very instant with Old School playing in a smaller window. I am about 90 minutes out of Toronto, where I will be until the 20th when I fly on to Montreal. I will be spending a week there before heading back home. Hopefully, I will be documenting most (not all, I try to keep this page relatively PG) of my stories as often as possible. I'm fairly sure it's going to be as fun as hell, partly because I am working on a very bare bones plan. Toronto is a catch up with friends and family as much as possible, because how many people can you possibly see in 4 days?

Also, I will attempt to document the many bars and parties, at least the ones I remember! Hess Village in Hamilton will be good times all round, and hopefully I'll get a night in Toronto town… but like I say, bare bones plan. Let's see what happens.

By The Way: Ever noticed how similar Fight Club and Old School are? Todd Philips wrote it with that intention. Seriously. Google that shit. He's amped when people notice.

UPDATE: the German guy sitting next to me is TOTALLY WATCHING FIGHT CLUB AT THE SAME TIME!!!