Monday, April 30, 2001

Montreal is very old, and it is interesting to see the mix of old with new all together. Montrealers love lifestyle, fashion, and the good things in life like good cuisine, festivals, partying with friends, and showing guests a good time. However with the age of the city and the state of the economy, taxes are out of control, and the infrastructure is in dire need of massive improvement.

Calgary, like all the Western cities, is very new. There is no mixture of old and new because there is nothing old. Calgarians are the epitome of people that love money, affluence, status, and the good life that money can bring. This is definitely the entepreneur's paradise, with tax levels nothing compared to Quebec, but we also lose something in the lack of culture and activity that also helps to define what a community is. Maybe in a hundred years, Calgary will have some of the class that Montreal has. I wouldn't give up the opportunities and lifestyle afforded by living in Calgary, but I loved Montreal's charm and cosmopolitanism and is something I would really like to return to soon too. With the distinct culture that has developed in Montreal, with big Canadian city affability and European influences in style, art, an fashion, I would also safely say that Montreal has got to be the "gayest" city in North America as well!

Anyways, it's back to my normal practical life yet again. I start the new job tomorrow. I did nothing all weekend other than work, and today Joe is moving his stuff in. Cheryl is not planning on moving until tomorrow or Wednesday, so the place is looking a little chaotic right now. I'm going out biking tonight, and getting prepped for the big day tomorrow. I'll write on my thoughts about my entire situation later in the week when the ust settles....Ciao
On Friday, I got packed and headed downtown with my luggage to the bus depot. I put it in a locker and wandered around the Village and Ste-Catherine one more time. I jumped on the airport shuttle around 4pm. We left Dorval at 6:50pm EDT and I was coming into my apartment at about 11pm MDT. It was the end to a great trip, and I hope to return to Montreal very soon. Everyone there was tying to convince me to come back for Divers/cite in August, but Joe and I have already committed to going to Vancouver Pride, which is the same weekend. Next year will definitely be a consideration.

Some things I learned about les Quebecois and les Montrealais in particular:
1. If you're a pedestrian in Montreal, you can forget any inclinations you had in believing you had any right-of-way over vehicles, bikes and other pedestrians.
2. If you're an alcoholic and find yourself here, you are in BIG trouble. You can buy beer at the gas stations for chrissakes!
3. If you like rich fatty foods and you smoke, then you should be here
4. If you like lots of culture, history, art, or nightlife, then you should be here.
5. If you would like to visit a very cosmopolitan city with non-stop things to do and see, people that are friendly, accommodating, diverse and tolerant of everyone else, then Montreal is the place for you.
6. If you like paying insane amount of sales and personal income tax, then this is the place for you.

I guess it goes with all things, for the things you gain in some places, there are always things you have to give up.
After a nice sleep in on Thursday, I called Rejean up to see if he wanted to go for a few more cool ones on the patio at Cafe Europeen that afternoon. He agreed, so I picked him up on the way and we sat on the patio in the hot sun all afternoon people watching and telling each other crude stories about our friends. I had to race back to Jerome's to meet him, and then we got ready to go out. Tom came by and picked us up around 8:30. We went back to the Village. Tom and I checked out BPM, the DJ supply/dance music store. Can you say "vinyl"? We ate at Bato Thai, a really great restaurant with really good service. Afterwards, we stopped by Tom's so I could see Jerome's art pieces I hadn't seen yet, and I got to wow over Tom's impressive CD and video collection.

We didn't stay long since Jerome is allergic to Tom's dog, so we walked up to Mont-Royal Park to meet up with Wendy and crew. They were sitting in the big gazebo. We moved down to the Jacques Cartier statue. We weren't there long when the cops came along poured out the beers of the people in the group who were drinking, and told us to leave. We all went back to Jerome's, then the group went to a bar across the street. I was pretty tired so I stayed at Jerome's and crashed.

Sunday, April 29, 2001

Well, I'm back in Calgary and my computer's acting up. I had a blig blog to post last night with details of the rest of the trip, but for some reason, my IE disconnects and I can't communicate with the Cadvision server....weird. anyways, here goes attempt two. I'll try and keep the entries shorter so I have less of a chance of losing them.

Wednesday(25) after I got home from my run, I got ready and headed to Olympic Park. I got to see the stadium close up. It really is an architectural marvel...the Biodome next door is a continuation of the same sweeping lines. It used to house the Velodrome, but is now home to the botanical gardens. I didn't do much touring around figuring if you've seen the interior of one stadium and botanical gardens, you've seen them all. I didn't know there was an observation deck at the top of the support tower for the stadium which would give you an awesome view of the city, however it was also $10-15 to ride up to the top too.

I hopped on the subway again and headed back downtown. I wandered around, checking out Simon's again and the men's clothing shops in the Peel district, and from there I walked up to McGill University and wandered around the campus for awhile. Can you believe that the students center is named after William Shatner? There is also another FineArts building named after Captain Kirk. The business school is nowhere near as nice as Scurfield Hall, and it is named after Samuel Bronfman. There was no massive student's center, I'm assuming that since the campus is right downtown, there is no reason to locate all the services on campus.

Anyways, I headed up to Jerome's again, and when he got home, we got ready to go out for supper. Jerome's coworker, Fernand organized the meal at le Bistro P'tit Bonheur in the west end. It is part of a massive remodelling job of one of Montreal's oldest theaters, being opened sort of as a dinner theater. Very nice. 25% of the bill amounts from the evening were being donated to the Montreal AIDS foundation, and 80 restaurants were participating, so it was for a good cause. The meal was exquisite as well. Fernand got 14 people together for supper. The conversation flip-flopped between French and English all evening, so I only picked up on parts of the conversation, however I did get to meet some new people.

Afterwards, Jerome went home to sleep, and I went out with Sergio, Rejean and Barry to La Track. Beers were cheap and plentiful. We had a fantastic time, and at the end of the night, Rejean and I were the only survivors. I ended up getting home at 5 am.

Wednesday, April 25, 2001

It's Wednesday morning and I thought I would type down a few lines before I head out for another run this morning. Monday I ended up doing some more shopping. I didn't get up too early since I've been totally abusing Jerome's movie collection all week, and staying up until the wee hours of the morning watching movies I haven't seen before. After my run I headed back home, quickly got ready and went out to check out some of Montreal's bike shops. I became a transit guru, essentially taking the metro from one end of the city and back again, since one of the shops I wanted to check out was on Boulevard Decarie off the Cote Vertu station. On my way back I took the Blue Line back instead of the Green Line which goes on the north side of Mont-Royal to the Jean-Talon station, instead of heading back through downtown. I got home in time to let Jerome in when he got home from work, athough he did get home before me. He had been a little worried. I guess the last time Bob Flynn was in town, he had Jerome's apartment keys left for the day, and locked Jerome out of his own house for twelve hours or so.

I finally got to meet Tom, and the three of us went for a late dinner in the Village. Tom's an accountant and has been crazy busy with income tax season, so hasn't had any opportunity to get out for awhile. He's really nice, and him and Jerome seem to get along extremely well.

That was the end of Monday. Tuesday I went back downtown and toured Vieux Montreal et le Vieux Port. There is some amazing architecture down along the river, and some well-preserved buildings from the late 1600s and early 1700s. many period pieces of architecture standing side-by-side to each other. I got lots of pictures of such landmarks as le Basilique Notre-Dame, Rue de la Commune, Rue de St-Paul, and l'Hotel de Ville. I then went back downtown to do some more shopping. I went back to Simon's, checked out all the men's clothing stores at Ste-Catherine and Peel, and headed back to the Plateau to get home before Jerome. Last night we stayed in and Jerome made some fanastic pizza.

Today I'm going to Parc du Maisonneuve, where the Olympic Stadium, the Botanical Gardens and the Biodome are located. I officially finished shopping yesterday, being WAY overbudget, so this is a nice quiet sightseeing day. Jerome and I are invited to an AIDS fundraiser where 80 different restaurants are holding some type of dining event. I don't know any details yet, but it sounds like something interesting to do on a Wednesday night. Tomorrow I have absolutely no plans, but Tom is supposed to be taking me shopping at BPM, a huge dance music store (something Jerome avoids like the plague), and tomorrow night is supposed to be a farewell party for Wendy (and I guess me as well.....:-)....). So there's still a lot to do before I leave.

That's all for now. I gotta get running...literally.


Monday, April 23, 2001

Bonjour de nouveau! It's Monday morning now. Jerome's gone to work and I just got out of bed, so I've got the run of the apartment for the rest fo the day. It's supposed to get up to 21^C today, so I'm about to get my running gear on, grab the camera, and head up to the top of Mont-Royal. The panorama is supposed to be awesome! I made up my list of bike shops and such to check out today, so that's my agenda until Jerome gets home.

Saturday was a pretty crazy day. Jerome and I went downtown and checked out Rue Ste-Catherine, the main shopping district. The sidewalks were clogged with people, and the streets were clogged with cars. This mayhem went on for miles. It was quite an experience to see that many people in such a small area.

We went to lots of stores, most noteably Simon's and Urban Outfitters. They had fantastic clothes (and cheap too). I bought a new jacket and a shoulder bag at Simon's. Jerome bought his new "flame" belt at U.O. - and yet another pair of pants. We walked down to the other end of Ste-Catherines into the gay village and checked out some of the stores there as well. We stopped for a beer at Cafe Meteor and ate at Club Sandwich. We had to make a stop at the legendary Priape on the way back to Berri Station to catch the metro back to the Plateau.

I had a quick snooze while Jerome finished his newest painting (yet unnamed - a mosquito/nurse hybrid), and then we got ready to go out. We got down to the Unity Lounge around 10:30, and headed upstairs to the club around 11. It is a huge bar with the main dance floor on the second floor, and then two other bars on the third floor. There is another bar that goes out to the rooftop patio on the fourth floor but it doesn't open until later in the season. Anyways, one of the third floor bars was full when we got there (apparently a lot of the all-night clubbers pre-party here until they head to Stereo or FOAM) while the rest of the bar was empty. About an hour later, the place was packed. We moved between the main bar and the other third floor bar all night. The main bar was playing a lot of the cheesy gay standards later on, while the other one was playing some really soothing house and ambient stuff all night, and was my environment of choice. The main bar became a little more trance-y as the night went on and the shirt started coming off. I swear there wasn't a chest hair to be found among the several hundred men (and women--thankfully) on the dance floor. We ended up the evening in the other upstairs bar, which was packed as well and had a lot less pretentious attitude. We grabbed a cab home after closing the bar down, and immediately crashed.

Sunday morning should have been more sleepy than it was, but Wendy called at 9:30 to ask why we were still in bed. Jerome had done the same thing to her on Saturday morning, so I guess it was sweet revenge. We got up, went for breakfast with Wendy and went over to her place to install a light and get her bike dismantled for her move to Toronto on Friday. We helped her move her apartment-size washing machine down the stairs. She traded it with some neighbors that were holding a crappy item sidewalk sale out on the street for a set of shelves. As we were bringing it down, Wendy let her end slide down the stairs instead of lifting it up, and the top broke off. We made a good attempt to hide the broken top, and got away with it to start with. Wendy had to run across the street to borrow some tools from her DJ friend Tony, and as we were coming back, the husband who was running the sale was running toward us. Wendy was screaming "Run!" since she thought it was about the broken lid while I was laughing so hard at the idea that neighbors were trying to screw each other! The guy came up to us, and in his Greek/French accent claimed that the machine wasn't working. We went over there again, and showed them that once you plug it in, yes, the pump runs, and that, no, the wash cycle doesn't start until the tub is full of water.....too hard to figure out I guess. Anyways, I guess you had to be there to find the situation funny.

Afterwards, Jerome and I walked towards downtown again, and checkout out some of the retro furniture stores along Amherst via Av. Papineau and Parc la Fontaine. We ended up in the Village again on Ste-Catherine, and did a bit more looking around but didn't do any buying since a lot of stores were closed. I bought a CD in Archambault's (the big record store). Jerome was complaining about his sore legs, so we took the metro back home and I spent the rest of the evening lying in bed and watching movies while he did some emailing and went to sleep.

Saturday, April 21, 2001

Greetings from Montreal! I got here safe and sound yesterday afternoon. Jerome met me at the Berri/UQAM station and we dropped my stuff off at his apartment before we went out shopping (didn't waste any time there, did I?). I bought some cool shirts at a retro store (Retro Rage) on Ave. Mont-Royal, and as we went down Rue St-Denis (fantastic shopping - apparently there's a LOT more on the Plateau Mon-Royal where Jerome lives) we found some excellent buys at a few shops. I got a nice sweater on sale at Senso Mio and some new shoes at Pegabo. We went looking for a jacket for me, but to no avail. I have an idea of what I want in my head, and we weren't able to find it anywhere yesterday. We brought our wares back to the apartment, and got ready to go out. Jerome and I took the Metro back downtown to the Village and went bar hopping. I was floored by the sheer size of the Village. It's HUGE! and all gay, which is amazing. Certainly some liberties going on down there that you will NEVER see in Calgary. We checked out Sky (just newly reopened and remodelled. - very nice inside, lots of eye-candy too), Stud, Le Drugstore (HUGE bar, with a great rooftop patio wherre I"ve already eyed a spot for people watching this afternoon), and Campus (where do these grow these specimens? - especially Darren, the geographically-challenged stripper..."Calgary, Ontario?"). It was a pretty casual evening. Got back to Jerome's around 3 and crashed. We want to save our energies for shopping tomorrow afternoon, and dancing at Unity (THE Montreal bar) and Stereo (afterhours - if we're still alive) tonight. It's gonna be crazy! I'll sign in tomorrow again and let you know how things went......

Friday, April 13, 2001's me again. It's 2:30am after Bermuda Shorts Day, and I just woke up from a long-deserved sleep. I've been sleeping very little the last week trying to get everything done. I can't believe it's all over! Yesterday was pretty fun....the beer gardens at school took a lot out of me. I came home about 8pm, went to bed "for a couple of hours" and ended up waking six hours later! I bought a ticket for the BSD party at Desperado's' which I've ended up missing. What a waste of money that was! Oh well...I have a few more hours of e-commerce to do today, and that's it. Weather permitting, I should go for a bike ride today. Bob's birthday is tonight and I'm supposed to be heading up to Signal Hill for that. Joe has to work tonight, but I may go over to visit him later today.
I'll write more later....