More Adventures In Montreal

So, bright and early the next morning I woke up, eager to put my one day in Montreal to the good use. I wasnt supposed to meet my friend, Phil, until noon, so I had quite a bit of time to kill meandering towards the place where I was to meet him. Not far from my Hostel was Parc la Fontaine, which no matter how hard I tried I seemed unable to pronounce to the satisfaction of the Montrealese. Montrealians? Montrealites? You know what I mean. Anyway. So I hiked the two blocks to this park and wandered around there for about an hour. Found some extremely friendly squirrels who ate out of my hands quite charmingly. Here is a picture of one that I think is desktop quality (click it for the full version if you want to download it):


I think his hands being made into fists is a coincidence; I dont think he wanted to take me on. Still, it was pretty cute. So I let him eat most of my energy bar

I found a more timid but no less cute squirrel in this tree, and anxious to try my telephoto lens and newfound understanding of F-stops and aperture priority photo settings, took this picture:

Ok, no more cute animals for the rest of this post. Promise. So I slowly wended my way through the back streets of Montreal and came across a charming little petisserie called Bouche de pain, or mouthful of bread. I had the most delectable strawberry rhubarb coconut layer cake thingy. I bought several (they were day-olds on sale). I later came back and managed to sweet-talk the recipe out of her – once she was assured that I wasnt trying to steal her recipe for her competition and would never publish it :)

I gave her some of my recipes in trade, and bought a couple more pastries so we were both happy in the end. I met my friend Phil and let him win a few games of Chess. Im sure hed tell a different story, but who are you going to believe I mean, really?

We hiked to the top of Mont-Royal, and looked out over the city. On the way down I led him through the forested parts, taking shortcuts and not exactly sure where I was going, but pretending I did to consternate Phil, which was actually a lot of fun :)

Once we left the park we hiked downtown to Old Montreal. Saw some old buildings. I dunno. Im not a huge fan of Victorian architecture myself. But there was lots of it there for those who do :) Saw Nelsons column, dedicated to Horatio Nelson, hero of Trafalgar and someone Ive always rather admired. And it was cool because in the Nancy Drew book, she dropped off the money for the ransom demand (long story, trust me) in a trash can by Nelsons column – and I touched that very trash can! Woo-hoo!

(I dont care if it was fictional, its the principle of the thing.) So a little later I saw one of the most unique McDonalds Id seen and a caption popped into my head so I had Phil take this picture of me; it took awhile because I think it was about rush hour and we had to wait for a lull in the cars.

It just seems that wherever you go, McDonalds will find you. Now why cant Taco Bell be like that? I actually *like* Taco Bell!

So after another dinner at that Thai place Phil and I parted ways, I went back to my hotel and rested my by-now aching feet. I had hiked 10 miles in about 6-8 hours, over up one 1500 very steep hill in the middle of town and over Montreal which is at a pretty good slope in spots.

That night had a rather nice chat with a Frenchman, who let me borrow his laptop to check my mail; it was a mixed blessing because, being a touch typist Im used to keys being in a certain spot, and he had a French/Euro keyboard – *everything* was in the wrong spot! It took me about 20 minutes to write a 150 word letter home and another to my ride who was going to pick me up at the border – and thats saying something since on a very good day, I can type 200 words a minute.

Next morning I said goodbye to Montreal and caught my bus back to Cornwall, hiked across town and over the bridge to American customs. At this point I had hiked about 20 miles in 2 days, with probably a 25 pound pack. So I was tired, since I was pretty unaccustomed to that sort of thing.

American customs decided to hassle me; not hassle exactly, but waste my time. They asked me hundreds of questions – personal, unimportant things. I guess they were bored. Why are you here, who are you meeting, do you know anyone here, what is their name and address, are they male or female, where did you meet them, where do you live, how did you get to NY, how did you get to Cornwall, how did you travel to Montreal, who is picking you up, what is their name, where do they live, what do you do for a living, do you live with your parents, do they know youre here, have you ever been arrested, do you have a drivers license, have you ever traveled anywhere else, where, when – seriously, every question there and several I have forgotten. They wasted about an hour. They werent threatening or intense – though they werent nice either – but they just kept on and on.

They found my juggling balls in my bag and wanted to know what those were, I told them, I dont think they believed me and wanted to see me juggle them so I did, they ransacked my bag, then they saw my camera and wanted to look at the pictures on it, then asked me about every thing on it – is this your hand feeding the squirrel, why are you standing in front of a McDonalds, who is this, where were you, etc.

Anyway. They held me there so long that my cell phone battery died, but eventually they let me go – by then my ride had gotten bored and drove off to do something else, so I was left stuck in the absolute nothingness of the American side of Cornwall – seriously, no town, no gas station, nothing – with a dead cell phone and no ride.

The moral of the story is when you go through customs, say as little as possible. Never volunteer information, and when they ask you a question give them as little to work with (while being polite and even bubbly) as possible. My mistake was that early on I answered their questions in too much detail, and then they took that information and asked more questions about all the things I answered with, etc. Next time Ill give them less to work with.

And you know the irony of the whole thing? They never even checked my pockets or my coat! They wasted an hour asking pointless questions, ransacked my backpack, but never even checked to see if I had anything in my pockets. Ah well. Finally my ride showed up and I went back to their house to pick up my stuff and rode the bus at 4:30 the next morning to Syracuse to pick up my plane; the bus was populated with Amish moving from one place to the other which made for an interesting ride. Did you know all their hats look the same? They had quite a time keeping them separate in the overhead compartment.

I wound up at the airport 4 hours early, but I lucked out – one of my fellow bus passengers was also headed out by air and wasnt leaving for 3 hours. I was trying to drag 3 enormous packages (well drilling materials mostly) into the airport and she took pity on me and helped me get them checked. She was a rather charming British teacher who was on some sort of exchange program.

Elaine, her name was. She was doing research for a thesis on why people liked gothic novels. Since Im interested in almost every subject, we talked about Edgar Allan Poe and other Victorian goth, and she explained her theory for why people enjoyed them; essentially that traditional explanations are that people like to be scared, but her theory was that people vicariously get to do the scaring and actually subconsciously pretend to be Dracula and the other villians.

Her theory made sense to me, and I even inspired a line in her thesis; I made the statement I wouldnt have seen it if I hadnt believed it, in response to one point of her theory, and she was so impressed by that she was going to put it in her book. The irony of all this is that I discussed the merits of Poe and Stoker and others for well over an hour, and had never read any of them or seen any movie adaptations. Well, actually, the real irony is that she never figured that out :)

After awhile we played Sudoku together for an hour or two, then parted ways – her to Memphis, me back to Dallas. Its truly amazing the fun you can have with people whom youve known for only a few hours and will never see again.

Then it was back home to the grindstone for several months, before my next trip – Ecuador! (Im leaving the 9th of April, 2008, for about 2 months, so check back often for posts and pictures!)

2 Responses

  1. prarabsob Says:

    Hello my friends :)

  2. Mike Adams Says:

    In 95 i did a lot of driving. I was staying in motels and near the canadian border and decided to head into canada thinking id just grab a room there and check it out a bit. the candian custom asked me some questions. he was like do you have any money. I said no. He didnt speak english real well and eventually i got the impression he was concerned about my lack of cash so i said, oh i have creidt cards. I pulled out like 7 credit cards, 5 expired but he didnt seem to notice, and instantly there was no problem, i was able to cross the border. The story of me comming back is not so happy. But that is another story. Nice blog very entertaining account of canada.


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Posted on March 31st, 2008 by Natnee and filed under Canada |



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