Montreal, 2012

Another year, another Fantasia film festival. :)
This time we had a huge group interested, but I refused to do any more cat herding to get us all there and in the same hotel. I chipped in on an rental car for the way up, brought my folding bike for transportation, stayed in a hostel, and grabbed a ride home with someone else. Low key and filled with movies and brunching, it was just what I needed (though another trip might have to be made to actually hang out in Montreal).

All my movie reviews.

Thursday July 26, 2012

After going back and forth a bit on what time we should try to leave Boston in order to avoid rush hour, we settled on 6pm. I rode my folding bike over to Forest's place and met him and Vanessa there. I just had my bike trunk bag and a backpack (which unfortunately reaffirmed that I can't ride with a backpack as it causes issues with my shoulders), and the bike folded down nicely to fit in the trunk with their stuff. Didn't hurt that they'd been upgraded to a slightly bigger car than expected. Forest tried to get the bike rack he'd borrowed from Brian on the back of the car, but we couldn't figure out how to get the parts that would actually hold the bike on to stay fixed. Bike and rack back to the house, waved goodbye to the blue haired violinist room mate off to a band photo/video shoot and we were finally on the road. To Starbucks. :) Coffee for those that drank it, and tea and a sweet for me (vacation!), and then a quick stop at a gas station for another kind of coffee drink in a glass jar and then we breezed through the city and onto the highway.

It was almost disturbing, after years of driving up to Montreal after work on a Thursday or Friday, I'm used to it taking 2 hours to get to NH, but we bombed north and got to the tolls super quickly. We made a quick stop at the NH liquor store for their host gift and a bio break. We had a nice long twilight for the drive and got to see the pretty mountains as we continued north and through Franconia Notch. The border crossing was easy, and soon we were navigating the highways to skirt downtown Montreal and drop me off in the old port. I was staying in the Auberge Alternative and just skated in under the 1am front desk closing time. They were super nice and understanding that I didn't have enough Canadian cash on me to pay for the room up front, probably since if they'd have had to wait while I found a bank machine 1am would have come and gone. They even offered to put my folding bike in a storage room tucked up in the stair well. I was able to find my room (pink?) on the top floor, six bunks instead of the four I expected, but only two were taken so I was able to get a bottom bunk. I had enough light from the hall to stuff my things in the under bed storage locker and get the sheets on the bed. I think that I just went for a wander to stretch my legs (having been in the back seat of the car the whole way from Boston) and look for an ATM, but I might have taken a shower as well. The room was pretty warm, tucked up under the roof, with a box fan blowing in the open window.

Friday July 27, 2012

In the morning I found out the downside of the bed I'd chosen: it was right across from the window where the sun streamed in as soon as it cleared the building across the way. Plus the window was open so the garbage and/or recycling trucks working in the street below were clear as a bell. I think I was first up even after having been last into the bunks after no amount of hiding under my pillow would block the light. I got dressed and went downstairs to pay for the bed ($27/night) and for the breakfast buffet ($5, though you could do individual items for a decent price: the tea, juice, bagel and cereal that I had barely would have been more than $5 individually). The kitchen rules were that you had to wash, dry and put away your stuff after you were done, so the place stayed nice and clean at all times. There was room to store your own food and cook it as well, and it was neat to overhear all the itinerant young people talking about the parts of Canada that they had visited or were planning to visit (two groups coalesced over Victoria). I have to admire people willing to take on a cross Canadian trip by bus or even train, that's a serious time commitment. A posted sign on a cork board showed an opportunity to drive someone's car to Nova Scotia and I regretted the limited nature of my vacation. :) Up to my room to brush my teeth and get my bike stuff and then down to get my bike out of the storage room, and I was off to brunch for noon.

I zig zagged through the old port to get onto the bike path up Rue Berri and was thankful of the year of living on top of a big hill: even on the 7 gear folding bike I was able to get up the slope easily. I was a bit early for meeting my aunt and uncle at L'Evidence so I folded and double locked my bike and walked up the street to the Fluevog store. :) I was almost drooling over all the new fall styles that they had in, but was able to restrain myself. Walked back to the restaurant and found that Monica and Roger had been early as well, but had gone walking the other way to kill time. :) We grabbed a table on the patio, giving Roger the sunny seat, and dove into catching up and good food. My first movie wasn't until 2:50, so I had lots of time to linger over tea and breakfast (and beer/juice cocktails in their cases :) ). I think we finished up at around 2 and at that point I was ready to head to the box office to pick up my tickets for the weekend.

I folded and locked the bike right next to Concordia's Hall theatre and was able to get my skein of tickets (10) without too long a wait. Then it was across the street and into the line for "Night of Nightmares" at de Seve. Near the end the screen went black and the lights went up and down and up and down... eventually someone told us it was a voltage spike and we had to wait while they replaced a burned out bulb in the projector. Then it was across the street to catch up with the Boston crew for "Dragon", but because I was late due to the delay in the last movie I ended up sitting by myself in the upper level. They let ticket holders for the next movie, "Doomsday Book", wait in the lobby afterward, and I met up with Tony and Juliette in line there, as well as I think Michael and Amanda and Chris who were going off to see something else, or clubbing, I can't recall. After this movie, the group coallesed again and Tony, Juliette, Chris and I went over to Nouille Express for a quick supper (the shrimp and chicken pad thai wasn't bad). Then it was time for "Play Dead" with Forest and Vanessa. Forest pointed out that Teller had been filming people coming in the door of the theatre, but I missed him in the shadow of the play/movie's star since that guy was really tall and wearing a purple suit. :) Both of them did magic tricks after the movie and Q&A, it was neat. :) I was pretty beat by the time that movie finished (4 movies that day) and think I just headed back to the Auberge to take a shower and crash. This time I rigged up a blanket to block the sunlight and was able to sleep in a lot more comfortably.

Saturday July 28, 2012

I did the hostel breakfast again, really enjoying the relaxed morning vibe. Then it was time to bike out for brunch again, meeting Justin and Kym at Universel on Peel. We were all early, they spotted me as I was looking for bike parking, their drive from Ottawa went more quickly than anitcipated. I had the Mexican breakfast burritto and it lived up to the high standards I've come to expect from that location. Lots of tea and chatting, though Kym and I got onto fashion (she was here for a shopping trip - she turned me on to a new shoe designer and the url seems to be gone from my bookmarks, probably safest for my credit card, there were a lot of spike covered options). Then we all walked together toward the theatre since we'd left a bit too much time for brunching. Justin and I had yet more tea at Cafe Depot, and then as I saw the line for "A Letter to Momo" start to move into the Hall theatre, we went our separate ways.

This was my movie heaviest day, so after that one I was out in the lobby again to wait for "Mon Ami" and tried to save seats once I got in for the Boston crew. We ended up in two rows but it worked out. The lead actors and the director were there and did a good Q&A afterward - that's part of why I love goign to the festival, the behind the scenes glimpses of the movie making process, you can tell most of the people do it for love. Then Cris and I then went back in for "Nameless Gangster". Next up, I had a bit of a break, so I grabbed a quick dinner with Forest and Vanessa and Cris at Universel. My chicken poutine was really good though the others' meals weren't up to snuff. We shared a pitcher of sangria as well. Cris and I then went back for "Graceland", arriving a bit late at the smaller theatre since I'd misjudged how long it woudl take to walk to Peel and back. I ended up in the front row next to a big guy who kept coughing, I think I spent the next week fighting off his cold. :/ Cris was one row back and got to ask a question when the director did a Q&A. Tiny bit of hidden drama there, they refused to answer any budget questions (lots of producers in the line up at the front). We were in the same theatre for "Zombie 108", which I picked since it was teh first Taiwanese zombie film. I think Michael and Amanda were there as well, since we ended up going back to their hotel room to hang out for a bit afterward - we tried to find Forest and Vanessa, but cell phone failure led to not getting updated on a change of pub venue. I didn't stay long, my eyes were starting to drift closed and I still had to make it back to the old port. I think I got back to the Auberge at around 3am (the last was a midnight movie), and locked my bike up in a rack a block away before punching in the door code and creeping into the bunk room. No chance to set up the blanket blind this time, but the next day wasn't as bright (or I was more exhausted).

Sunday July 29, 2012

I just skimmed in before the end of breakfast the next morning at 11am, ending up with the exact same food as every morning - but it was so good! :) I'd had half plans to go the Indiana Jones exhibit at the Montreal Science Museum (not far from the Auberge) but Michael had said they tried the other day and were told that the timed tickets were sold out until later in the week). So I just packed up and settled up at the Auberge and had a lazy ride back to Concordia (during which a guy in a truck asked me, while I was biking up a hill, how to get to Toronto, and then didn't believe me when I gave him my best guess) to meet up with the others to see "The Kick". Cris had skipped it (mistake! ;) ) and we met up at Mad Hatters for brunch (french toast for me) and sangria. He'd picked up a dozen bagels for me during his morning wandering around, but somehow I'd managed to not do any shopping except to buy food to go in ma belly.

Quick drive to the border and across, though as usual I had a moment of panic - they asked for more ID than my permanent residence card, luckily I had my passport as well, but I thought the green card was enough. Hrmph. Anyway, through and down through NH to stop and pick up a bike pump forgotten after a brevet at Peter White's place. He's not as scary as I'd imagined him. :) We were pretty hungry by then and the area was fairly sparse on restaurants, but we lucked into passing by and stopping at Tooky Mills Pub in Hopkinton, getting in 10 mins before the kitchen closed. Delicious food, and I had a gin and tonic as well. Traffic got heavier as we got closer to Boston, but the earlyish start helped with tiredness (though I didn't have to drive, I like to at least try to stay awake when I'm the only passenger). I got dropped off at home at around 11:30, dumped my backpack out over my clothes hamper, took a shower and crashed into bed.

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