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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Montreal!

I spent the weekend in Montreal with Lorien. We took the midnight bus from Toronto and arrived in Montreal at 7 a.m. (Note to self: never, ever, take the midnight bus anywhere ever again. You cannot sleep on public transportation, but since everyone else can and wants the lights off, you can't indulge in any late-night knitting or reading. It's hell and you hate it.) We were staying at Auberge Alternative, a backpackers hostel in Old Montreal. I've stayed in a few hostels in the US and Europe, and as any budget traveller knows, the quality and comfort of these places varies immensely. One of my least favorite hostels was India House, a hostel in New Orleans. In theory, it was great: cheap rooms, large kitchen, soda machine that dispensed cans of Red Dog, a crazy kooky pond with alligators. In practice, though, it was awful. The main reason I hated it was because they had one common room that allowed smoking. I think I'm pretty reasonable about people smoking; I don't really mind it in bars and I think that the impending smoking legislation enactment in Ontario is ridiculous. However. For a hostel to allow smoking in its one and only common room, with its one and only TV, and the only indoor opportunity for reading past sundown (the lighting in the dorms was bad), is a very cruel practice and should be ended immediately.

Auberge Alternative, on the other hand, was wonderful. Lorien and I arrived at 7:30 in the morning, exhausted and dirty. Check-in wasn't until noon and though we could've stayed in their common room until then, the wonderfully accommodating staff allowed us to sleep on air mattresses in the bedrooms, free of charge. That in and of itself was a blessing, as I hadn't gotten any sleep the night before. The common rooom was pretty cool: very bright and colorful, with lots of plants, tables, and chairs. We hung out there at night and drank our wine.

We were put up in a four-person room which is pretty reasonable for a hostel. One of our roommates was this guy:

Richard is a totally goofy but kinda cute English guy travelling around Canada. He made an excellent dining companion and had a great sense of humor. Which was good, cause the other guys we shared the room with were major snorers.

The hostel is in Old Montreal, which contains most of the tourist attractions.
That would've been fine if I'd been with my parents but really, I feel like I've seen enough churches and museums to last a lifetime.
Case in point: this is the history museum (Montreal history). It was right across the street from the hostel but we didn't make it there. Oh well. That said, though, we did go to the Notre Dame Basilica. No pictures cause I'm not that into God, etc. So, most of the time we just walked around the city and checked out the neighborhoods. Honestly, I can't think of a nicer way to spend our time there. One area that both Lorien and I liked was the Mont Royal Plateau. The main street had lots of funky shops and boutiques and restaurants. We also wandered into the residential district, where the houses all have these cool stairs leading up to the second floor.

Here are some pictures of Lorien and I posing in front of a pretty painted staircase:



We were going to try to be proper tourists on Sunday by going to the Mont Royal park to see the view of the city but the weather was definitely not cooperating. It rained all day. All day. Like it rains in Portland, but worse. Of course, both of us got water in our shoes and our pants were soaked. Instead of going to the park, we went to Notre Dame, then shopping! I love shopping. I go through phases where I think, maybe I don't love shopping, but when I'm in the mood, man, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. We went to Rue Crescent, which has a lot of bars and restaurants, and also contains this total gem of an accessories store, "something with the word bijoux in it." We both found great screenprinted shirts there that were 50% off. That's like the magic phrase, open sesame and all that--50% off. I got this lovely shirt:


At the end of the day, we were trying to figure out where to go next, and we stopped in a random doorway to look at the map. Some guy walked by and was looking at us strangely, which I couldn't figure out. That's when I realized we were standing under this sign:


All in all, the weekend was a success. The weather definitely crapped out on us, and we didn't get to experience Montreal's nightlife, but other than that we both had a great time.

2 Comments:

  • Tasha, I am sorry I was so slow on Monday morning and almost made us miss our bus (and to think I wanted to do my hair!). Thankyou for being very patient. You were a totally fun travelling companion! Merci.

    By Anonymous Lorien, at 11:11 AM  

  • i always knew you ladies were hussies. well, my dad always said, find what you'd do for free and figure out a way to get paid for it.

    glad you ladies had a fun time!

    By Blogger al, at 7:25 PM  

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