Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mercredi à Montréal est génial!

That's right: Wednesday in Montreal is awesome!

I'm not even gonna tell you what I did for most of the morning -- see yesterday and the day before and the day before. . . .

For lunch, I hit the supermarket on Avenue Mount Royal. A couple days ago I saw in their salad bar what looked liked a crab cake in a red pepper cut in half (description was in French, so I was clueless), but they didn't have it so I sampled other fine food. Probably good that I didn't know I was eating. One was a thinly sliced meat, the other I think potato and cheese, plus I had the type of bread they serve in Indian restaurants. Kick ass!

Around 1:30 p.m., I grabbed one of the rental bikes in front of the supermarket. These Bixi bikes have an interesting pricing structure. For $5 you get a subscription for 24 hours. If your trip is under 30 minutes, you don't get charged extra, and you don't have to worry about locking the bike cuz there are hundreds of docking stations all around the city; if you go over 30 minutes, you start gettin' charged extra. It's pretty cool: once you swipe your credit card in a docking machine's computer, it gives you a five-number code (keypad only has numbers 1, 2, + 3), which expires in 5 minutes.

Anyway, I headed a few blocks down to Parc du Mont-Royal. It took a little while for me to find the main bike path, then I was on my way. It's at a slight incline for about four miles, buy, boy, did I feel it. Eventually I did get to the top of the mount, where I could see for miles. I took pictures but they didn't turn out too well -- gonna have to invest in a wide lens.

Going down the mount required almost no pedaling. And just like when I was pedaling up, I had a soda-drinking grin. Beautiful day out. High 70s.

Leaving the park, I biked it to an avenue a few blocks parallel from where my B&B is. I stumbled across a used CD store called Beatnik. They had this soundtrack I've been looking for, to the film Amélie, but I wanted to get the French one (Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain). And it's new! I also got the soundtrack to Blade Runner. Oh, real quick: the store was interesting . . . the retail version of a China doll. It had three or four rooms; you couldn't see 'em at first, but as you walked back, you came across each additional room. Groovy.

Around 3:30 p.m., I docked the Bixi bike a block from the B&B and just hung out for an hour or so, then it was on the Metro to catch the soccer game. The game didn't start till 7:30, but I wanted to get down there early for dinner and buy some souvenirs at the stadium.

I was going to have dinner at the restaurant in the Observatory, but it was closed, so I walked down the road, where I remembered a few restaurants from Sunday. The best bet was a place called Madison's, subtitled New York Grill; I would've preferred a Canadian joint, but everything else was fast food.

I order a two crab cakes as a starter, and the main course were ribs, mashed potatoes and a salad. I washed everything down with a Molson Dry. When in Canada. . . .

I got down to the stadium around 7. I made a beeline for the boutique and got a Montreal Impact jersey for myself ($90 [$78 U.S.], yeah, it's a lot, but I'm not buying any other souvenirs for myself, plus I love soccer jerseys) and a scarf for my oldest nephew.

The turnout at the game was pretty good for a team, from what I understand, isn't going to make the playoffs (they're about halfway through the season, and a couple of their best players are injured). After the first half, the video screen said there were 12,443 attendees. I don't know about that. If it is a 13,000 seater, I'd say it was more like 10,000. Still, impressive for a hockey-loving town.

My seat was fine -- not a nosebleed as I'd feared. If the weather's nice, there are really no bad seats in the stadium, since it's on the intimate side. Really fun to see my first professional soccer match. I forgot what skill it takes to play the game. And neither team scored a point, so it could've been worse for 'em.

The game let out around quarter to 10. It took forever for me to get back to the B&B. The Metro only runs about every 10 minutes that late. And it didn't help that at one point I hopped on the wrong line. Grrr . . . second time that's happened.

Around 11 I exited the Metro's Mount Royal station. Not feeling like walking 15 minutes, I took a Bixi bike back to the B&B. Kinda neat how when you pedal, lights in the front and back flicker, to alert motorists.

I stayed up a little to watch the news. Wanted to see what they said about the game. The sports guy was less kind than I, complaining that the Impact can't score, although the visiting team, Baltimore, had an outstanding goalie (dude could catch a ping-pong ball with his eyes closed). And I think the commentator should've mentioned that the Impact was down on Baltimore's side of the field more often than not. Then again, I'm biased, since I'm a citizen of Montreal for the week. . . .

My best friend on Wednesday in Montreal, a Bixi bike.

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