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Un Jour a Montreal

We went to a bar right around the corner last night, where music was being played by some French Canadians. We bellied up to the bar and ordered beers. Alex incited me into committed drinking when he said, "tonight'll be a minor night."

Amelie and Catharine kept bringing us beers and talking with us, and soon, I had nine down. Alex had eight. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves among the beautiful serveuses Quebecoises, but I suffered from sticker shock when I got the check. $165. Montreal is expensive.

We got up around 10am the next morning, and wandered in separate directions. Alex went for a run, and I busied myself with morning things, like pooping, peeing, showering, toiletrying, laundry, reading, and email. It was after 1pm before we got out the door and started walking in no direction in particular.

We stopped for lunch at some Mexican place. I suppose I should have expected Mexican food not to be very popular here, but it surprised me. It's a cornerstone of American dining, and it's all but absent in Canada. When we were in Ottawa, we asked a bartender if there was a place in town where a body could get a late-night burrito, and after a bit of stalling, the bartender announced that she didn't know what a burrito was.

Anyway, we started walking uphill. A lot. I started breathing heavily, reminded by my drained capillaries that we were climbing the base of Mont Royal, which overlooks the city. According to placards there, Jacques Cartier himself scaled the mountain in 1535, named it, and declared that there would one day be a city before him. Montreal was named for the mountain, and I had a hell of a time climbing it.

Empirically, it shouldn't be that difficult. Unfortunately though, I was hungover and out of shape, so I was gasping and sweating for most of the way up. When we reached the summit, we found a large stone-railed, semi-circular overlook that offers a mind-boggling view of the city and its ranks of highrises marching off to both horizons. It was simply amazing. Pictures(including the ones I took) simply do not do it justice.

We found an open field nearby and sprawled out on the grass in the shade of a large maple. I can't speak for Alex, but I drifted in and out of consciousness for the 45 minutes or so that we lay there. It was immensely comfortable. We found a nearby pathway that led to a sheer face of the mountain on which a winding staircase was perched. It took us an hour to scale the mountain, and fifteen minutes to climb back down. It was a shock to the system to, at one moment, be comfortably strolling in quiet, pretty woods, and at the next to be watching a frantic stack of cars zoom past, four inches from the curb.

We walked all the way back to the hostel, where we sat nursing our aching feet for perhaps an hour before going back out. We got some pizza, and walked over to the Jazz Festival. We stood watching some really excellent jazz and blues performers, but in the end, had to get going because plain and simple, Montreal had exhausted us beyond the capacity to enjoy ourselves. We have to check out by 11am tomorrow anyway, so we're back at the hostel now.

I just checked some email, browsed some websites, wrote down the address of the place we're staying when we get to Quebec City tomorrow evening, and filled out some postcards. And I'm spent.

10:38 PM, Jul 5, 2007

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