Kitchener and Creature Comforts

1 January – 3 January

Kitchener. Small city. Brother and his friend cook excellent vegan food. Must gain mastery of the seitan. Dumplings, noodles, salads, good wine. Good coffee at Matter of Taste. See movie of True Grit. Good adaptation of Norwood’s book of same title.

New Years and Niagara Falls

31 December – 1 January

My brother, Matt and I spent seven hours on a bus from Montreal to Toronto. There we were met by my brother’s friend. We then spent some additional hours in the car to Niagara Falls. Our plan – join the masses at the Falls to celebrate New Years. We killed time at my brother’s friend’s friend’s house in Niagara Falls suburbia by watching bad movies and eating good food. We called several taxis. They told us to wait outside. And that is how we spent New Years – standing in the ‘warm’ on a suburban street in Niagara Falls, waiting for a taxi that never showed. Some small children ran down the street with sparklers.

The next morning we visited Niagara Falls proper after a Canadian style breakfast of french toast, bacon and maple syrup. We drove through the Las Vegas style hotels, casinos and arcades with flashing lights. We could hear the sound of games machines, pinballs and hawkers. Down by the falls, a hooker stumbled down the street worse for wear. Some tourist in a SUV stopped to take a photo of her. Crew from last night’s New Years concert were dismantling the stage and sound equipment. A thick fog obscured most of the falls. Through the fog you could see an old hydro-electricity station. On the way out of Niagara Falls, we drove back to the falls and got a clear view.

Onwards to Kitchener and the exceptionally good cuisine of my brother and his friend…

Montreal

22 December – 31 December 2010

In the interest of this travel blog catching up to some time remotely near the present I will enlist a listing strategy.

  • We caught Amtrak’s Airondrack to Montreal on the 22nd December. It was cheap, comfortable and long. I liked watching the climate get more and more icy.
  • It was snowing in Montreal.
  • We stayed at Auberge Espace Confort. The first night, after we had gone to bed, the fire alarm went off. There were no staff in the building. The fire brigade arrive. Our room, with all the electronic appliances unplugged and a lack of fire, was the culprit. We went back to sleep, safe and unburnt.
  • Walking through the Latin Quarter, the Old Quarter and the Old Port.
  • Ice-skating at the Old Port.
  • Extremely good meal at L’ Epicier in the Old Port. They accomodated vegan requirements without a reservation. The best creme brulee of my life.
  • Contrasted by the number of homeless people and mentally ill having to walk and walk all night in sub-zero temperatures. The lucky ones were in the ATM rooms and subway stations.
  • Christmas day in Trois Riviere with a Montreal family.
  • Moved in with S., a friend of my brother, who very graciously acted as our tour guide.
  • The archaeology museum has an unusual method of incorporating First Nations into the history of Montreal for the 21st century. The level of ‘Hoorah’ left me somewhat uncomfortable.
  • Saw Black Swan. No surprises.
  • Mont Royal is pretty. Recommend the view over the city at nightime.
  • Otto Dix exhibition. Amazing art, bad exhibition space for that amount of people (not) moving through it. I wanted to punch someone after ten minutes of it and one of our party was physically stuck and unable to move for an hour.
  • Don’t eat at L’Avenue unless you like having lunch after four, waiting in line, doof doof music and waiters who are more interesting in chatting/feeling each other up than serving your meal.¬†We were also unfortunate in that one of our four meals was cold by the time it was served another rendered me queasy for 24 hours. For the love of god, go across the road to any of the other exceptionally good restaurants.
  • Strombolini excellent.
  • Blue Nile african restaurant also excellent.
  • So much good food and wine…