Trip Start Jan 09, 2004
Trip End Jul 14, 2004

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Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Nous sommes arrivés à Montréal! In fact, we arrived more than a week ago now. Je pense que Montréal est une ville unique et très amusement. I love the French influence, it's great practice for my upcoming stop in Paris!

In Calgary, I had lined up a room in an apartment here for our two week stay, which I was a little dubious about as I'd never met the character we were renting it from, and I didn't know exactly where it was. For all I knew we'd be catching the metro every day to civilization. We had an address and phone number, and no definitive arrangement for getting our key and the like on arrival.

I knew though that we had to get the shuttle from the airport to the main bus depot, from where a taxi would be about five dollars. So on collecting our baggage we found our way to 'L'aerobus' outlet, where we needed to buy tickets. Copping out immediately, I asked the nice, portly old man "Parlez-vous Anglais?" To which he responded 'a little', but insisted I speak to him in French. He could speak English perfectly well as I discovered later in the conversation when I was gettting quite lost, but he forced me to practice, fresh off the plane! It actually all went very well and was a good boost to my confidence. Following that, my patience with French has gone downhill (it's so easy to give up when you know most people speak English, even if they'd prefer not to!). It's great here in that if someone doesn't understand your English (or French!) they're almost apologetic, whereas in Paris they can be downright rude - as I guess they have the right to be when it's the exclusive local language.

On arriving at the bus depot I rang the apartment, to hear an answering machine message - "If this is Cobi and Ian, there's a key in the letter box. If it's anyone else, please don't break into my place". A taxi ride later we were at the door of an apartment only two blocks from Rue Ste Catherine (the main strip). After traversing a dodgy staircase we found ourselves in a three-bedroom bright and freshly painted place with wooden floorboards, the only shortcoming being a ridiculously inadequte lighting system. For less than the cost of a backpackers dorm room, and with phone and broadband internet included, this was a score! I was delighted. We met Will and Alex, our housemates, who are great guys. Will is an elusive engineering student and Alex is an eccentric - uh, DJ? Video editor? Bar tender? Linguist? He speaks both French and Italian better than me. He is an entertaining guy, we'll leave it at that.

My pleasure with the apartment rapidly dissapated when I realised we'd left a bag in the taxi, and my mobile phone in Calgary. The phone is still somewhere on it's way here (I hope), but we managed to get the bag back from the very taxi driver who drove off with it accidentally, which was a good welcome from a city whose hospitality can be erratic.

Since then, Ian and I have had a very laid-back and lazy time in Montréal. Plans to go to Quebec City and Ottawa together have been cast aside as we sleep in until midday each day. This is what I call a holiday. Travelling and holidaying are very different experiences. I'm sure by Ian's departure on Thursday I'll be well rejuvinated, to commence actual travelling again.

We've done most of the things one should do in Montréal - headed down the the Vieux Port and beautiful old Montréal, spent a sunny afternoon exlporing Mont Royal (designed by the same guy who created Central Park), gone out to Montréal Island and the like. I would say I've eaten a Nutella and banana crepe almost every day, my staple in the French-speaking world!

Tomorrow night we're going to see an intimate Powderfinger concert at the Cabaret, purportedly one of the city's older, classier music venues, which I'm really looking forward to. Ticket's were only $15! We have plans to eat Putin and at the famous smoked meat and bagel places, but keep getting distracted by the Creperies.

We're off to watch the Flames again tonight - certainly not the fun it would be in Calgary, but a neccesity nonetheless! Au revoir, à bientôt!
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