Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Our return trip from D.C. was marginally better, but I still have no intention of using that mode of travel for a journey that long again, unless we can have a sleeper car. All of the ideas anyone has ever given me about the "romance" of train travel was stomped right out of me by the smell of the bathroom and the guy in the seat in front of me who managed to eat two tuna sandwiches (very slowly, of course) within a four-hour period.
I went to work on Friday and Saturday as usual, and then I got up early on Sunday and went to Montreal with my friend J(female). Montreal was lovely. Chilly and wet, but lovely. We were only staying the night, so J booked a swanky(ish) hotel right downtown. We drove in and went immediately to Jean Talon market, as usual. I introduced her to my favorite pastry of all time (date bars as big as your head), we had crepes and coffee drinks, we walked around the spice shop (I bought lemon stuffed olives and some pink Himalayan salt for the b.h.), and then grabbed two loaves of fresh bread and then went to check in.
We decided to ditch the car for the night so we wouldn't have to worry about drinking. J was intent on shopping, so we asked at the desk how to get to the underground mall area.
"It's just down the street," she said, glancing at her watch, "but most of the stores are closing right now. You might find a couple that are open until six."

This threw J into a bit of a panic, and I can't be certain but I thought I saw sparks coming from the heels of her knee high boots as she sped through the carpeted lobby and out onto the street.
The stores were indeed mostly closed. We did manage to find a giant, city block by city block square and seven stories high department store that was still open, though. She was looking for a bathing suit because the hotel had a rooftop pool and she had failed to bring hers.
I meandered around the ladies section for awhile, not really shopping so much as admiring the fact that the place actually had clothes that I would wear. In Vermont, I find malls and department stores terrifying and abhorrent, filled with bad perfumey smells and clothes for slutty teenagers, or women who dress like slutty teenagers. But here there were the kind of clothes that you actually see in magazines and catalogs. Clothes in muted colors and styles that are very traditional, rather than loud and trendy. It was fascinating. When I remarked upon this phenomenon to J, who was heading to the fitting room with a bikini in each hand, she said that it was very European. Having been all over the world, she was speaking from experience. She seemed to think it was all very normal. I was envious.
I tried on a sweater. It fit. It looked good. I looked like me in it. I bought it. It was remarkably easy.
We went back to the hotel to look up restaurant information. I was actually wishing we could just go straight to Brasserie Dieu du Ciel and eat a light dinner over several beers, but I knew she wouldn't want that, so I kept quiet. We ended up at a Bistro near the river in Old Montreal. When we walked in, the hostess asked if we had a reservation. The place was empty, and it was just after seven. We replied that we didn't. She started to show us to a table against a wall with a view of the waitress station.
"Can we sit at one of those," asked J, gesturing to no fewer than six empty tables that had windows looking out onto the street.
"Those are for reservations," answered the hostess/waitress, smiling sweetly.

Okay. We sat down and looked at the menu. There was one vegetarian item, which we were immediately informed that they were out of. There was a salad and a soup that I could eat, though, so we ordered. Four women came in and sat down at the table next to us, which was also not a great table. They were obviously related, and obviously American. The mother was Southern. We ordered wine and dinner. The next people in the door were a young couple.
"Do you have a reservation?"
"Well, would you like one of these?" She gestured at the window tables. J looked at me and made a face.
We ate our (mediocre) meals, finished our wine, and skipped seconds on wine as well as dessert and coffee. That waitress probably doesn't know (and might not care) what she missed out on, but her tip was as low as I ever leave. I was not thrilled.

We took a cab to the Brasserie next. Even though it was getting late at this point and it was a rainy, windy, cold Sunday night, the place was packed. We ordered snacks and a round of beers. Our waiter was friendly and fabulous. We got another round, and we each got a t-shirt. We spent double what we did on dinner, and left a nice tip even though he was apologetic for not paying us more attention. It was as if dinner had never happened. J(female) was drunkenly texting J(male)(the text read as follows: "J!!! Call us!!! We're in canafa!!!) while I was looking around for the nearest convenience store. We found one just up the street. J(female) bought a six pack of the beer she had been drinking, which was a coffee stout at 9.2% ABV. I picked up another of the vanilla bean and cocoa stout that I had been drinking, as well as two bottles (also from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel) that are not available in the States for the b.h. We walked outside. There was a cab across the street with no driver in iit. The top was lit up, though, and I don't know exactly what the sign said (still haven't learned French), but I did recognize the word hemlock.
"Is this a poison cab? What the fuck?" This was a lot funnier at the time. You'll have to trust me. I took out my phone to take a picture. The picture looked like shit. I tried again. Just then, a man came over to us, wondering what the fuck we were doing. The cab driver. Fabulous. He drove like all cab drivers everywhere, times ten. He told us he was a refugee from Tunisia, and that he hadn't yet been to Vermont because the day he tried to go was the day Bin Laden was killed and he got stopped at the border and was turned away.
"Are you here for the convention?"
J replied "yes" and I replied "no". In unison. More laughter.
"She's here for the convention. I'm just along for the ride," I said, the last word wooshing out of me all at once as we rounded a corner at forty mph and J rammed into me. More laughter.
We got to the hotel in one piece. We went up to our room and changed into bathing suits, all the while talking about how nice it was going to be to have a quick dip before bed. We walked from the room the long way around to the pool, so we wouldn't have to go through the lobby wrapped in towels.
The pool was closed. We went to the front desk.
J: We can't get into the pool.
Guy at the desk: Yes. It's closed. It closes at ten.
J: It says it's open 'til 2300.
Guy at the desk: It does?
J: Yeah. It says 2300, and it's only ten-thirty now.

The guy says to a woman who is also behind the desk "Hey, the sign by the pool says 2300."

Obviously there is no lifeguard and the pool is closed, so we head back to our rooms. But not before going back (the long way) to see what the sign said. We laughed when we saw that it said 2200, and I even took a picture so i would remember to blog about it.

Perhaps it's best we didn't swim after all.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Actual Announcement on the PA at the LG:

“Will the customer with the blue car, license plate number XTW782 please return to your vehicle? Your car alarm is going off and the person inside is frightened.”

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I can't sleep. This is not unusual, of course, nor is it surprising, but it is very, very irritating. The alarm will go off at five-thirty, at which time I have to get up, clean up, get dressed, make the bed (or rather, cram the bed back into it's proper space under the couch cushions and replace said cushions), put the bags in the car. We'll be driven to the train station, where we will catch the train, transfer to another, and finally arrive at Union Station, where we will board yet another train, which will take us back to Vermont. I absolutely *hated* the journey here, and I am not looking forward to the return. The one comfort I have is knowing that we will have a virtually unlimited supply of delightful beer.
The last couple days have been very relaxing, for the most part. I have actually slept quite a bit, which might be part of the reason I feel like a vampire on a day pass right now. Too tired to type more, though, so I think I'll have to settle for an audio book. Wish me luck. I'm quite certain you'll be hearing from me again tomorrow.

Monday, October 10, 2011

The b.h.'s family seems adamantly opposed to fresh air, for some reason. His sister's place is in a hilariously cookie-cutter little suburb of our nation's capitol, about as safe a spot as you're likely to find in this part of the world. And yet, all doors, windows, and even window shades remain shut- all day. And so I find myself, alone, at sunset, with a Bell's Two-Hearted Ale and a lurvely sunset. It seems that I have worked out how to blog from my phone after all, and so I have all of you for company. Cheers, my friends.