Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Rain, sun, cars and the Canadian French.


I went to meet Buffy at the airport and we got her sorted in the hotel before a walk around the local area. We started off with Crescent Street, which yesterday was just a normal street, but today had been turned into a mini carnival, complete with pit lane girls, fast cars and a few free drink trial giveaways. We had a laugh trying the free Baileys and Lager drinks, before hanging out at the stage at the top of the street where at 6pm Kimi Raikkonen appeared to sign a few autographs. It was a fun hour and continued as we took a further walk around the outside of the Art museum as I showed Buffy some of the things I had seen the previous day.

Later on as we headed back to the pub for dinner we heard a bit of shouting and suddenly there were riot police everywhere and the all too familiar taste of CS gas hit my throat as a load of student protestors ran away from the police in our direction. We spent a few minutes watching the melee as the police and protestors had a few shouting matches and charges at one another before it all died down and we finally headed for dinner – a little bit of excitement for the end of the day. 

Me and a Lotus

Kimi!

I predict a riot

So do they!


The next morning and we were up early and out on the tube, heading for The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the Canadian Grand Prix Practice. It was all going well, with hardly anyone else about until we got the tube going across to the circuit, where we were piled in one on top of another to a completely full train. Then when we reached the circuit itself we had to queue for about 45 minutes to pick up our pre-paid tickets. That’s not bad though as it was pretty disorganised and some unfortunate people had joined the wrong queue and had to start over again, with another long wait ahead. We then made it to the circuit in time to see the last half hour of the first practice session. It was a good start as we managed to find a good spot, right next to the track where we could see all the cars very closely. All too soon the session was over though and so we had a good wander around the entire circuit, accidentally coming across the pit lane area just across the track from us before finding a great little spot right next to one of the stands. It was down a small pathway and not a lot of people found it. It did however have a great view over two corners of the circuit and so we spent the next 2 hours there, watching session 2 of the practice. Buffy seemed to be really enjoying the thrill of the fast cars and loud noise as I was.

Weirdo and a bloke with a ferrari hat

Cars

Buffy and a Ferrari

IT RAINED A LITTLE.....


The session was all finished about 3.30pm and we decided to miss the queues for the tube and instead walk back to town across the road bridge. It was a good choice as the next half hour was mental!! We saw a cloud enveloping the city about a mile away and knew it was going to rain soon. But we didn’t expect what came – winds that gusted to about 70mph, thunder and lightning and rain that came horizontally across the river and soaked us through with absolutely nowhere to hide. Buffy had her new triple gortex coat on and kept reasonably dry, where I had my zero gortex t-shirt which was soaked in about 5 seconds. I did have Buffy’s umbrellas but that lasted about a minute in the wind and helped only to keep the rain out of my eyes.

Finally the worst of the rain passed and we continued our walk back home. It was a lot more fun that standing nose to tit in a tube train full of strangers though!

After drying off and having a rest we went out to a lovely little French cafe that Buffy was recommended by a friend of hers, It was brilliant – apart from the French lady not understanding me saying ‘beer’, but being fully conversant when Buffy said it! The food was great – I had duck, Buffy had chicken and it was delicious. A great little find and a lovely little place to eat with a few of the locals. It was also just away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets.

Saturday it was F1 Qualifying day and so we headed out early to another recommended place – Schwartz’s Deli – traditional Jewish style deli, with hand prepared meats and a cool 1950’s feel about the place, with communal tables and a menu that hasn’t changed since before I was born. We went for the popular corned beef sandwich. But this was different from normal corned beef – Slabs of beef, cured over time and cooked to perfection with mustard, pickle and fries on the side. We ate with our fingers and loved it as the meat dripped out of the sandwich onto the plate. Another brilliant choice, not only for the food but the atmosphere, service and the actual look of the place too.

After the Qualifying session was over we spent the afternoon walking around the old town, checking out the arty streets and found a cool little open air shop cum stall, hidden in a small split level patio through a tiny alleyway. It was ace, with loads of cool weird stuff and ivy growing high on the walls all around. We spent a while there before getting thirsty and finally settling on Maple lemonade – hand made of course, which was delicious.

She likes food

Nice tunes

Maple Lemonade

In the clock tower

Racoon

Finally we wandered around the harbour area, climbing up into the clock tower I had passed the other day and checking out the large yachts that have appeared in the harbour. It was a great day out, on a lovely sunny afternoon and a shame it had to end.  In the evening we ventured out again – this time up the hill of Mount Royal Park, to watch the sun setting over the city. It was a beautiful summers evening and we even saw racoons right under the lookout waiting for food from all the humans above to be dropped to them, before we walked back down the hill in the dark to get a well deserved drink.

Sunday and the whole reason we are actually in Montreal – The Canadian Grand Prix. It was a scorcher. We arrived at the track by about 1045 and grabbed a good position just behind the front row of people, in the same place we had watched the practice session. The sun stayed out and got hotter and hotter, so we left the blanket to mark our spot and went to sit in the shade in the peace and quiet till about 15 minutes before the race.

What the fuck!?

Lewis on the celebration lap after winning

Montreal at night

Race cars and big hair

When we returned we did notice a particularly strange fashion statement. One bloke had decided that instead of having his arse hanging out of his jeans, he would pull up his two pairs of underwear (yes, he had two pairs of pants on), to his midriff, to show off the makes – Calvin Klein and Quiksilver. There is only one word for how he looked – ridiculous. But he made us laugh at least!

 The race wasn’t the most interesting race ever, but with Buffy shouting for Ferrari and me McLaren, we had fun taking the piss out of each other as they moved up and down the field. In the end, a great pit stop tactic from Lewis Hamilton, gave him the edge over Alonso and Vettel, passing them both and winning the race. I was well happy with a McLaren win, but with Jensen Button coming well down the field we called it a draw between us two. A long hot walk back to the city followed, during which time we searched for a swimming pool on the internet to spend a lazy day at tomorrow, which is due to be even hotter. Then a lazy night with a pizza and some TV followed. It’s been a hectic, busy, fun, hot and belly filling weekend in Montreal and it’s been great.

We spent all Monday back on the Ile le Notre Dame. It was cloudy when we arrived and so we had a little look around the Biosphere, which is a massive, sphere shaped cage like building, which houses a museum about ecology and saving the earth. However, due to this global warming, it was by now a lovely sunny day, so we knobbed off the museum and went next door to the beautiful outdoor pool, where we spent the whole afternoon. It was a relaxing lovely afternoon with dips into the cool waters interspersed with lazing about enjoying the warm weather. It was just what we needed.

After a nice Thai dinner we went home, Buffy packed her stuff and then we caught the bus to the airport, where Buffy left and went back to Winnipeg. I now have the next 9 days on my own again. Tomorrow, it’s a trip to Quebec City.

Biosphere

Pool

Thai food


I have to say, the French in Montreal were actually ok!!

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