Earlier this month I had the good fortune to take a very short trip to the San Francisco area — Half Moon Bay to be specific.
I was there to check out some new consumer electronics technology, which I’ll be writing about in the next few months. Yes I saw some very cool stuff, but one of the highlights of the trip was being on the Pacific Ocean-side of the continent.
My Office shot was something of a construct. If you look closely in the right side of the image you can see the corner of a desk. That’s where they expect you to sit and work. As if.
That table I plopped the laptop on was just in front of the window…a much more creative view and hard not to take advantage of it.
August 3rd, 2009
A day in the park.
So we had our second wind after a long day yesterday, but what a beautiful day. Time to walk. And walk we did, back down Ste-Catherine Street and on and on.
Once again I noticed how the three story buildings around us were very well kept and interesting to look at. The roadways were busy but not bad for traffic. I heard the sound of people speaking French all around us but in a way, because I don’t understand, it was just words and nothing more than background noise; I really hate listening to other people’s conversations, this was one way I didn’t really have to.
Montreal is a very busy city , however, having said that, it still nonetheless has it’s charm. It’s hard for me to really understand what it was that made the city so exciting for me but it was there. Even in the most downtrodden areas of the city, which we visited later, I still felt very attuned to a city I had never been in before; language differences and all.
We walked down Saint Cath’s then turned down rue Berri and from there headed down to the Old Port – vieux Port. Part of me realized I was probably in a “tourist high” but I so thoroughly enjoyed the walk along the old port that I wished I could go there every day for my breaks and just sit and enjoy life. Although I suspect a minus 20 temperature would change that idyllic vision, I would still think fondly of the summers yet to come in that.
The flower gardens were gorgeous and fresh. Someone spends one hell of a lot of money keeping this so beautiful so people will come back to see it again. As an unusual sort of thing we saw a few Segway’s and people-propelled carriages (bicycle’s build for four?) and realized we were in a sort of Montreal version of Disney Land but it was summer and a Monday, so the tourista peeps were out in full force everywhere we looked.
The old part of Montreal beckoned to us from the port even though we knew we would probably be seeing much more of it on the weekend to come. So we made a few jaunts along the small streets just to get a taste of it then I whined no, suggested, yeah, that’s it, that we go back to the port so I could pick up my first pair of “holiday” shoes. Yes, my feet hurt. Big time. Croc time.
Okay shoes in general, suck. I would walk barefoot if I thought I could get away with it and not step in some nasty city thing and hurt myself. So I am constantly in search of the holy (horns and trumpets would play here) “perfect pair of shoes”. In fact the term “perfect pair of shoes” is like faster than light travel; impossible at this particular moment. I digress.
We walked, and then walked some more, had lunch. Then we started to fade around 3 from either exercise or maybe the heat (I vote exercise). Got sort of lost trying to find our way back (no there is no short cut through the CBC building grounds it is all an illusion from Google maps and perhaps to confuse someone like Rick Mercer). So after extricating ourselves from the morass of CBC land the humidity and my intensely sore feet wore us down (there was no way Brad was going to carry anything but my bad shoes back to the B&B). As we dragged our sorry butts back up the hills to the B&B, we passed an IGA on the way, bought supper, some alcoholic beverages (for medicinal purposes) and finally relaxed back in our perfect room.
Eat, surf, sleep.
August 3rd, 2009
You know sometimes getting up at 4 AM on a Sunday morning has it’s benefits…you might end up in another city then wish you could stay. Forever.
It was raining as we landed. I looked outside after we’d retrieved our luggage and wondered how they had managed to get such a nice fountain into the middle of the parkway by the arrival area. As we got closer to the door I realized it was actually the overloaded drainage system spilling over the eaves of the building. Still the wonder of a new city had started for me.
I had told Rob, our host for the next 6 days, what our flight number was, and he thought… maybe an hour or hour and half at the most after landing to get to the house. Needless to say we made life difficult for ourselves as we took an airport bus which is great if you’re single as it only costs $16 instead of $38 for a cab…sigh. So we get to the bus station, which is very close by and had no idea where we were in spite of: careful planning and studying of all the maps and locations of the places in our area. No map available and a GPS that needs several hours, it would seem, to reacquire satellites and yes until finally it was starting to rain again as we dragged along suitcases.
But while I was dragging those suitcases and giving Brad stink eye for not being as prepared with the technology, I took in everything I saw. The backyard gardens, the flowers along the sidewalks, the coziness of the three-story buildings, the lack of traffic (really) and all the people walking around to their cars or on business listening to French and me trying to understand. All of it made me wish I was moving in for awhile and not just a visit. I do not think I have ever felt like that before as a stranger in a new land. Sure after awhile a lot of people get “tourist” syndrome you know if you win a million dollars you’d move in but as I was heaving my luggage up yet another curb, I was thinking “How fast can I learn another language without being immersed in it? and in Alberta no less?”
Luckily Rob was watching for us. So we had transposed the wrong address into the GPS and here we are looking bleakly at a hairdress shop wondering if we were even close to the right area. I then spot a guy across the street looking at us like we should be on his side of the road just as he’s probably wathcing yet another pair of confused tourists dragging suitcases. And success.
You’d have thought we had crossed several time zones instead of just two by the way we were dragging our butts but the humidly, the early rise, the frantic preparation and packing before we left finally started to catch up to us.
Our hosts wereperfect. Rob introduced us to their home and was a treasure trove of information. The home, built in the middle 1800s, and possibly renovated a few times I’m sure, made for a unique interior especially when modified to suit a bed and breakfast. Our room faced the street (the two windows just above the street level) but had very special soundproof windows in it. They were as soundproof as possible with the exception of very loud cars and city vehicles – garbage trucks, street cleaners and the like, it was pretty peaceful and truth be told very comforting.
After a short rest, we unpacked then headed out to one of the suggested restaurants called EstAsie – an Asian fusion place. The waiter we had was charming and teased us with simple French to see if we had picked up anything. Brad made a good effort but I probably understood him better. A few drinks later and we were in very good spirits trying to think our way through a language we’d only been reintroduced to a few weeks ago.
The Village or Gay Village of Montreal is different and rue Ste-Catherine’s being closed to vehicle traffic for the most part allows everyone and his dog (and we saw a few of those as well) to parade down the street wearing or doing anything they want. Brad had a ringside view of a PR event launching a new (male) underwear line complete with cameras and people in suits all adding to the mix. I had to wait for other events…much later.
It gets darker earlier in the lower lattitudes, which made us think it was much later than it probably as we left the restaurant for another strol. But a few drinks, a good meal and a long day finally took its toll on how tired we really were, so we started back to the B&B. At that moment, the heavens opened up and the most wonderful torrential rains fell. We still had no sense of direction on how to get back to our accommodations so we got thoroughly soaked to the skin, wandering down side roads (that we learned later made no sense until you see it on a map) until we finally reaching the room. We felt like we had had a shower with our clothes on.
After putting on dry clothes I sat on the bed and tried vainly to keep my eyes open. I was dead tired. The clock read about nine but that was Montreal time; for me it was only seven and I knew if I went to sleep now I’d end up getting up at four in the morning again. Thankfully (in a way) our hosts were having a party upstairs. They had to have been the quietest 12 people I’ve ever heard but the music they had going made it a little easier to try to stay awake. Still the soft, king sized bed with every type of pillow you could ever want finally beckoned me to crash hard, I’m pretty sure I was asleep before I put my head down. Brad stayed up a bit longer but he said he wasn’t too far behind me.