09 September, 2004

Montreal Notes

Due to extreme cheapness, decided to forgo staying 3 nights in a posh hotel and would instead book a bunk at the Hostelling International youth hostel in downtown Montreal and feel what it's like to be a penniless backpacker. It was actually a pleasant surprise, being clean and the bathroom not being stinky (wonder of wonders, a maid materializes from nowhere every morning to disinfect every little tile!). They assigned me to the largest room holding 10 people, thus I was able to meet and chat with my roommates - even hanged out with them on the last night - so at least in this respect the hostel is ideal for solo travellers.

The hostel also organizes activities almost every day - like we went to the Mont-Royal park on Sun where the locals hang out (think Central Park), and also to Parc Jean Drapeau where there was an Electronic Picnic (with DJ) every weekend. Too bad I missed the Tuesday and Thursday night pub crawls in nearby Rue Crescent (one of the two main drags for bar hopping, the other being Rue St. Denis). But you get the idea, its much more fun than staying in a hotel room by yourself.

What is without doubt the most memorable thing about the trip are the travellers I met, ranging from the Portuguese guy Vasco who's 30 and has never had a real job and is now on a 3-yr PhD program which is fully funded by the govt (free tuition and he gets CAN$3000 monthly allowance!!! Life is so unfair), the British-Malay girl who was telling me about the ice wine tasting tour in the Niagara area, the Chilean chemist to whom I was animatedly recounting that I witnessed the extraordinary 5-set Nicolas Massu match at the US Open, the two Japanese students (Yuzge and Tatsu) who struggled mightly with their English and yet somehow we got along well during the picnic - Yuzge was fascinated when we taught him the lyrics to "Mr Robato" so much so that he kept singing the chorus - 1,2,3 all together now - "domo arigato, mr robato...domo"), my Canadian roommate Corey whose wallet was stolen inside our room (the only downside), this English guy Richard whose favorite expressions "Ace" (as in "that'd be ace, man"), "classic" ("wow, that's classic") really cracked me up, the Aussie Steve who looked like a homeless bum (according to him he looks less so nowadays coz he shaved off his beard) and was recounting how enamored he was with the woman bartender at the club the previous night and how he got shot down in his attempts to get her phone number, and the French student couple who at first were simply amused and mystified at the TV show "What Not to Wear" and but were at the end of the night quite addicted to it.

No comments: