Montreal, 2004

The closest that Kraftwerk was going to be touring was Montreal, so Cris and I decided to drive up from Boston, spend the weekend in Montreal, and take in the concert on the Saturday night.

Fri Apr 23

Tony picked me up from home at 3pm, we drove to his place, then Alewife to return a mic to Whitney, then to Cris' work by 4pm. Transferred stuff to Cris' car and were on the road north. Little traffic. Stopped at a sub place for food, had a search for gas after, which resulted in getting *back* on the highway and going to the next exit. Stopped in Burlington to get coffee/chai, and managed to get out of the Starbucks/Borders complex with only a bit of distraction (Tony found the one person he knew in that town, she worked there).
At the border, we had our passports ready, but the Quebecois guard wasn't quite as prepared. The standard questions came out and then he blanked, stumbling over asking us if we "had any ..... weapons? Meat?". Luckily he was amused as well, and waved us through. We wandered through small highways until we got onto the main route 10 to Montreal, and were ably directed by Tony to Brian's house. Dropped him off, got quick directions to our bnb at Guy and Rene Levesque and headed out again. All I can say is that I'm glad I had my map with me, it saw a lot of use that weekend. We finally pulled up in front of Le Petit Prince at around 11pm. The host let us in and led us up to the top floor to the Blue room, and wandered back off to sleep. We dropped our stuff and then took a quick walk so I could hit a bank machine. We briefly considered going back out to a club with Tony and Brian, but Sapphir was just a bit too far away, and we were a bit (or at least I was) overwhelmed with the Ste. Catherine crowds of mostly drunk kids. So, back to the bnb for a soak in the jacuzzi and then to sleep. The decor was nice, the alcoves next to the sink had glass containers and a lamp, lit from below to create a coloured splash of light. The tub was surrounded by non slip steel, and the fireplace and window seats were nice touches. We'll be going back. :)

Sat Apr 24

We woke to the smell of baking bread, it was heavenly. We were down for breakfast around 8:30, fresh hot croissants, fresh squeezed orange juice, warm waffles with fresh fruit, and a selection of tea. Bridget and Ethan wandered down soon after us, also in town for the concert and taking advantage of the amenities of the bnb. I was lusting after the retro stylings of the kitchen, enjoying the sun streaming in the window, and comforted by the cute dog, Mocha, who flopped down on the wooden sun warmed floor.

After breakfast, Cris and I took off for our monumental hike: first the old town, getting there the fastest way but through lots of construction. We popped into Notre Dame, neat stained glass, and a gorgeous organ, and the altar piece was all lit in blue. We visited the chapel behind the main nave and it was all golden and warm. Then we meandered over to Bleury and Parc, stopping to rest for a bit on a bench on a rise where we could see over the downtown core and Chinatown. Then over to St. Denis and walking up. Everything was just opening up, as it was just 11am now. We browsed through a bike shop, went back to check out the tea store, but the cafe wasn't open until noon, found Atom Heart, an alternative CD store and both came out with a pile of cds. Another customer was listening to a new disc by Manual, I should track down more tunes by them. I got two Joy Division cds, a Silver Mt. Zion one, Papua New Guinea by FSOL, and a Tiger Lilies/Kronos Quartet/Edward Gorey collaboration called "The Gorey End". The clerk was quite nice, I remembered him from my last trip up after talking to him a bit, and he let us apply my 10% discount to Cris' purchase. We popped into Rio and X20 to check out the boot selections (nothing grabbed me), and I tried on some too long skirts at X20.

By this time we were a bit hungry, so we went on a search for Mad Hatters so I could get my poutine and sangria. We passed the hotel I stayed in in 2000, and found the French restaurant that I hadn't been able to remember the name of: Gutenberg. Mad Hatters had moved, but they had a sign up directing us to the new location, which conveniently enough was 2 blocks from our BNB. The ambiance was the same, and the food just as good, we sat in the bay window and had a leisurely lunch well lubricated by potent sangria. We dropped back into our BNB to leave our CDs, and then it was off to the Metro (which runs much much farther underground than the T in Boston, it reminded me of descending into the Tube in London or the one stop in downtown DC that I visited) to make our way up to Cotes Des Neiges and the Oratory. The dome of the latter was clearly visible from the subway, so we navigated by sight (with a brief stop at the Pharmaprix for allergy meds and for me to mail my sister a CD) to the bottom of the steps. We hauled ourselves up most of the way, then ducked into the lower chapel and found an escalator to take advantage of. The main cathedral was much more modern and cubist than I was expecting, it was crushing rather than uplifting in spirit... We popped into Frere Andre's chappel, saw the piles of crutches and canes left over from his faith healing, then made our way back down the steps. There were great views over the city from each of the balconies.

I realised that we were close to the Cotes des Neiges cemetery and we managed to find an entrance but we had a bit of a time matching up the cemetery map with my map and I was pretty much lost as we made our way across. The cemetery lies on the side of Mont Royal, so we were climbing most of the way as we walked. Then we found an exit, and decided to continue on towards Mont Royal st., not quite realising that it was *over* the summit of the mountain. We should have waited for the bus, but oh well. The sidewalk ran out near the summit, and we took off down a trail from the observation point, as we could see the park and street that we were aiming for (we were just above where the tam-tams were held during the summer). A steep descent through beaten paths, over some helpful stairs and a bridge over a creek, and we came out at the level of the park. We decided to skip the goth shops on Mont Royal and headed back down towards the French restaurant that we wanted to have dinner in, as we were now on the same street as it was close to.

We were the only diners at Gutenberg for most of the time we were there, from 6pm-7:30 - one couple came in but left when they didn't see anything on the night's menu that they wished to have. I was lucky that I ate seafood, as I had a choice of scallops or shrimp, and took the former for my entree. Sauteed mushrooms with chevre to start, a good wine, and a decadent chocolate dessert made for a wonderful meal. Our waiter was attentive without hovering, and I suspect that he was also the maitre d' at that point as there was no need for more than one staff member.

Walked back to the bnb for a bit of a rest, as our legs were a bit worn out at this point. The rich meal needed some digesting time as well. Cris offered to drive over to Metropolis, so we left the room at around 9, took some time to find parking, and ended up walking in during the second song, Kraftwerk had taken the stage at 9, the time on the ticket. Oops. We checked out upstairs, trying to find a place to see, then came down and stood on the side, then made our way into the crowd. Great set, the crowd was enthusiastic (all ages), and our feet didn't fall off from standing. They did three encores, one with robots, and one with grid suits on, lit by black lights. We spotted Bridget and Ethan but didn't see Tony and Brian until we were outside. The latter two convinced us to meet them at Saphir, so we headed up St. Laurent to get the car, but decided to just walk when we saw how bad traffic was. It was very crowded, lots of bouncer guarded doors and lines down the street. We spotted the goth club by the crowd out front, and made our way up. We grabbed a table and watched the dance floor, each taking to the floor for one song, but didn't spot the guys before we were overcome by smoke and tiredness at around 1:15am. We ducked around the still heavy traffic on St. Laurent and drove up St. Denis to St. Joseph on a quest for bagels. We eventually circled back on 1 way streets and made our way to St. Viatur bakery for wood oven baked sesame bagels. Mmmmm. Back to the car and to the bnb, and a soak for our poor legs in the tub. I'd managed to strain a stabiliser on my knee, and was just generally sore from all the walking, climbing, dancing, and standing.

Sun Apr 25

Breakfast smells woke us up just before our alarm at 9am, and we did a bit of packing then went down to have our eggs florentine, with more fresh oj and fruit, and really good home fries. Back up to finish packing and to take our things downstairs for checkout. Being on the 3rd floor was *not* appreciated by my legs this morning. Loaded up the car, and took off to pick up Tony at Brians. We managed to get into the building and knock on the door w/o waking anyone up, but eventually Tony peeked out, tired out from going to an after party after getting to Saphir just as we were leaving. Threw him into the backseat, did a short detour to Fairmont Bagels (much more crowded and "retail" than St. Viatur's, and I did a taste test and found out that I do tend to prefer the former's sesame bagels, though it was neat to see the pile of dough and watch the baker cut out and hand roll bagels for baking in the wood oven) and then onto the road to the border. Despite much stressing on my part, we ended up questioned by the border guard who's often done Cris' TN applications, and he waved us through w/o stopping us for what I thought was mandatory photographing and fingerprinting. I was shocked, but I guess now I can stress until my trip to BC next month - I'm sure they'll do it at the airport even if the land crossings are a bit lax. Tony and I slept through much of the drive, even stopping at the Brioche Bakery Cafe in Mont Pelier and getting chai didn't keep me up. But eventually, close to Concord, I was able to stay awake and talk to Cris. Dropped off Tony at Cris' work so he could get his car, to my place to grab concert tickets, and then to the Paradise to see Einsturzende Neubauten. :) We'd checked the show time in Montreal, it was supposed to be doors at 5pm, and we got there at around 6:30, but the ticket said 7pm, and that's when they let us in. The show started a bit after 8pm, due to some problems with the compressed air thingy. Blixa was in a good mood, and everyone seemed really into making sounds. We'd grabbed a booth area as soon as we got in and sat there the whole time, accreting friends as they showed up until we were at critical mass. At the end of the first recorded CD, about 10:15pm, we took off, as I was about to fall asleep on Cris' shoulder, but I'd enjoyed the concert up until then, though it was quieter (erm, well, ear plugs were a good idea, but the songs were a bit slower) than I expected.
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