Monday, October 24, 2011

Flying low at 53

Who knew I would have so much to say about a trip home? I thought it would be pretty uneventful, just getting the job done and being home. Was I wrong. Firstly with our usual grace 0800 turned in to 1100, but it was worth it. Well sort of, it was rather ironic, but after attending a half day on intentional burns, I think I got scalded by the water in the hotel. And while I personally appreciate the opportunity to make that decision for myself and am a sinner because my own hot water at home is turned to “hottest”, I am not a hotel. It is a situation where a child could quickly sustain burns. So note to self, send a letter to Hyatt Montreal! Jodi wanted one last chance to get a photo of a church I had mentioned in an earlier blog , we checked out, and trekked off to get that photo. On the way she spied croissants and suggested we stop for breakfast before hitting the road. Needless to say she lured me right in! I had an almond croissant rather than plain and oops, this one is not as good as the ones in Paris. We purchased two plain ones for the road, which escaped the clutches of border patrol, but more about that later.

On the way out of the hotel I wanted one last chance to use the facilities and we stopped in the WC at the bar of the hotel, just because it was on the way to the parking garage. Never miss a chance to be a crapper checker! It was the most awesome bathroom I have seen in a long time. It was hard to photo, but the sink was on long “trough” with faucets hanging out of the wall, in the foreground of the trough, was a long flat stone which was a little angled back towards the wall (and the drains) with soap dispensers sitting at the back of that long stone. On the other wall were butterflies cut from beer cans, some which acted as light shades. It was amazing and I wished I had used it before. What does that say about me that I like to use cool bathrooms, I wonder?

I was a bit concerned at getting the car out of the garage as we had watched people struggle with the payment booth all week, but it gladly and easily took our $105.00 automobile hotel bill payment and off we went. I had to stop and take a few photos of some lovely old houses as we left town. I truly think driving in Montreal much easier than Paris! We had decided to get across the borer as soon as possible because we had less things to struggle with in the states, such as currency conversion, phone charges and Delores Gramin. So we crossed at Alexandria Bay, New York. There is a huge bridge we crossed and the scenery was breathtaking, of course no photos because of the railings, but still. We were one of the lucky winners selected for auto inspection and it was a mess. They directed us to a area to park the car, hand over they keys and just walk away from all our possessions, just like that. We were allowed to take our purses and wear a jacket, which they never inspected. The guy was an ass and I tried to joke a bit with him that I needed some kind direction, because I was a “driving across the border virgin”, but he could not even participate in any kindness. This all makes me a nervous wreck because my “good girl” syndrome kicks in and we truly do operate under “guilty until proven innocent” at these check points. The guy inside was even less appealing, and Jodi did not find my joke about a dead insect I had noticed on the dash at all amusing, the poor critter had been there for about a week and I thought it pretty funny, apparently he did not, nor did she. For a dead bug he was pretty well traveled. I also pointed out that it was Jodi’s BD, something he could have noticed had he been paying attention and wished her happy BD, but I had to help him with that too! Geesh, and I pay his salary! ON the way out, there was one guy that was friendly and kind, THANK GOD, or I might have to write another letter! Seriously, I always think we do a lot of posturing, but the bad guys do what they are going to do one way or the other.

About now I am hungry again and we begin looking for a NON-chain eating establishment. I was about to believe I was going to be forced to participate in a chain restaurant experience, and out of nowhere appeared the little Mom and Pop place I think they have 2 stores there. Stefanos was awesome, I had an amazing angel hair pasta with red cream sauce and italian sausage, and Jodi had an calzone. The waitress did not bring my bread ( I had a “meal” with salad pasta and bread) and I was glad I Jodi wend and nagged for me as it was amazing bread! Of course we wished we had one at home! During our meal Jodi realized that she is out of memory on her Cannon, Oh Lord, here we go again, out of memory, out of energy, both are BAD!

The rest of the way was pretty much uneventful, we saw the most beautiful sunset of the trip and Jodi did her level best to capture it. I am continually amazed at the beauty of our earth and reminded how much we need to be caretakers of it, the lovely trees, the grassy slopes, the lakes and rivers, the sunrises and sunsets!

We decided to take a quick peek at Niagara falls because I had not been there before and got a room at the Holiday Inn, Jodi had to poke fun that I would chain hotel it!

It was to a good experience though, some idiot decided to move tables from a room across the hall from ours at 10:30 at night! I felt obliged to give him the hairy eyeball, what a dope!

The restaurant for a hotel restaurant was ok. I had cream of chicken soup and Jodi had the pot roast meal of the day, though she was not thrilled with her beef and the gravy, she liked the potato and vegetables on the side. Off to Niagara Falls!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sweatshirts, Purses and Soap

Resting in is one thing we do well, so this morning we finally got out on the streets after noon. As we left the building I realized I had not asked the Concierge to get reservations for dinner, and as we re-entered, two fire trucks pulled up and many firemen got out. I asked if I could actually take the elevator back up, and they all said yes. Jodi wondered if it was smart to take the elevator up with a fire in the building, as we smelled smoke. Odd I thought, until I figured out that someone was stuck in the other elevator. As the stuck person exited, Jodi began taking photos of the rescued maiden quite quickly. We walked back toward Le Papillon for a fare-the-well Bruschetta, stopping here and there to take photos. Jodi was playful with more photography in the windows, taking pictures of me and the both of us in pretty creative ways! In Chinatowns there were some kids playing “Anime”, I think. NO rain, but rather cloudy again, and cool. There is something about people who speak French, they like to post their pooches out side the door of stores! This little fellow, was tied though, so not a real Frenchie! We both ordered the roasted red pepper soup again, followed by Bruschetta for Jodi and mussels for me. The service this time was deplorable, but the soup very good. I tried Jodi’s bruschetta today, with two servings she had a bite to share. It was very good. I wanted more, but had the mussels coming and I did not want to destroy my still present appetite (no breakfast makes for a hungry girl!). We waited and waited, Jodi’s bruschetta was almost gone. When they finally arrived they tasted excellent. The sauce consisted of wine, salmon, mushrooms and cream. But wait, did I mention the grit in the mussels (Moules)? It took me years to actually order them for myself, but at last, thanks to my cooking instructor in Paris, I did. I did not want to make them for one of our meals, but he convinced me that good fresh mussels are not gritty. Well guess what, these mussels were horribly gritty so my “feel good” did not last for long. How DO people eat them that way?

I wanted to go to the Marche BonSecours because one of my friends said it was fun. It was! Jodi found a new purse there, that is very cool. She too, found a hat that is adorable on her. So she has her birthday present a day early. There was a sort of big name designer sale there too, which was very interesting, but also VERY crowded. So we left after we were accosted by a guard wanting to look in our bags. We walked back picking up a souvenir for this or that loved one, occasionally taking photos. One of mine will show up in my valentines next February, I think!

Jodi is out of soap and wanted to look in IGA for her special brand. She didn’t find what she wanted but I hit a gold mine, Jasmine, Lavender, and Lilly of the Valley! Sure hope they wash as good as they smell. One package did not have a UPC and did not scan, so we waited and waited, which I cold tell was making Jodi miserable, hot and tired of standing!

Dinner was to be a encore of Restaurant Julien, which in my opinion has the best Steak Tartare I have had here. We got reservations for 7:30 and came back to the hotel to rest a bit before dinner. Our first trek to the restaurant was difficult, now we know exactly where we are going and get there in 10 minutes. This experience was VERY different from the one a week ago, and might have been spoiled if not for the Maitre d and a another waiter who joked with us some. Out cute little blond waitress was hurried and uninterested in us, she ran around literally like a chicken with her head cut off. IF I could take a video of her home and show it to the ED nurses, she would have been a good example of poor customer service! Jodi ordered Rossinni Filet and I of course ordered Tartare. There were the requisite banana chips, which Jodi said were not as good, they were indeed a little greasy and overly salted. My tartare was as good as before, I will dream of it for a long time! Jodi’s steak came with a dollop of FoisGras, which I obligingly took off her hands, it was good, but it was missing it’s yang. She said her potatoes and beans were insipid, but her steak was good. I am glad because the steak was one of the most expensive things on the menu, and it would have been a pity for some part of her meal not to have been scrumptious!. She comment that her meal was not a good as Ruth's Chris! AUGH, another chain restaurant! We finished up with some tomfoolery over a Birthday Brulee and a cappuccino for me, which did even have the same foam. Jodi often says not to muck it up, if you loved it once, leave it. Maybe we should have.....

Jodi says since I have been enlightened I should just be happier at home now. The Maitre D and the one waiter who was actually paying attention to us, had a conversation about how EVERYTHING is French, French Fries, French Toast and Creme Caramel. Hmmm.... I wonder why they taste better away from home, maybe it is the French spoken in the background?

Travel Lovin Daddy's Birthday

Today is my fathers Birthday. My love of travel is something I attribute to him. WHile both of my parents love to travel, my memories of him when I was a child and getting ready for vacation are ones of great joy and suspense. He was always so happy to be getting ready to go! I believe this may have been an inherited trait as my memories of my grandparents are that they too loved to travel a well.

Conferencing today was BUSY, I rarely saw Jodi, but this led to some interesting results! She went on a photo safari and got some great graffiti shots. She thinks it all very interesting. She was taking to a guy in one of the parking lots, they wondered together how they paint in some of the places they do, how do they access their canvas. Much of it is too intricate to do in one sitting. Regardless she got some awesome photos.

Lunch today was the afore mentioned dreadful fish meal at the conference. Again I am starving. After some discussion we decided to see the light show at the Basilica, rather than try the food and wine event in the mall here at the hotel. Hitting the drizzle, AGAIN, we purchased tickets for a mere $15.00 a piece and went off in search of food. Another restaurant that i had been salivating over was restaurant Bonapart, but I did not think that it was going to be in my future. But who knew it is right around the corner from the Basilica? After sending pleading eyes Jodi's way, I had to be supplicant again to the maitre d as the only table for 2 available at 7 p.m. needed to be empty by 8PM, that was good with me as our tickets were for 8:30PM/ We each ordered soup, potage de legume for Jodi and Lobster BIsque for me. Neither of were raving about this bastion of culinary delight at this moment though the accompanying bread was good, as was the house red. Jodi’s salad was a salad according to her, but my mushroom raviolis, were a taste of heaven! LIght pasta concealing coarsely diced mushrooms covered with a delicate buttery sage sauce, left me feeling that transported into a perfect epicurean moment!

The “And then there was light” show at the basilica Notre dame, was really a history of the basilica. I went in hoping for a musically cultural event, and it fell short. But to be honest on consideration of the other “Lumeriers” I had attended it really was similar. Unless one is intent on photography in the church, it was a good expenditure and I wished we had not gone in earlier in the week, but saved our time for this event.

Chilled by the walk home it felt good , but not as good as the ravioli, to get back to the omnipresent Hyatt and into bed. I say omnipresent, because so far we have not really lost sight of the Desjardin tower that houses the hotel. That is comforting!


Today I had a long lunch break, well maybe not, but if I was supposed to be some where else it was not well publicized. The concierge tried to get reservations for Brasserie T for us and they would not make one until 1:30, ( the break was from 13:30 to 2:30) so we just dropped in, and of course they easily seated us. This was a place I wanted to try for two reasons, one is that they have Fried Cheese which I thought wold be like the cheese you get on the edges of a pizza,I thought Jodi would like this. The other reason is that the restaurant is an off shoot of Toque, which made me think the food would be stellar. I must love being wrong! The fried cheese was sort of like our fried mozzarella at home, it was a mild cheese but not mozzarella, accompanied by a sauce that resembled marinara, it was good, but not what I was looking for. Jodi did not partake. She ordered ordered the soup of the day, a squash soup , but she was not charmed. My steak tartare was more like a beef ceviche than a tartare, and I was overwhelmingly disappointed. Even the wait staff was haughty and arrogant, cute in Paris, not so much so here.

For most of the time we were in the restaurant we watched a homeless lady take a nap on the grass across the way. At one point a lady walked towards the homeless lady, then veered away. A few moments later we saw her approach the homeless lady again, and seemingly inquire and then walk away. Near the end of our lunch the homeless lady got up, picked up her stuff and walked off. I have noticed from the beginning of our time here quite a lot of homeless people, which seemed incongruent as it gets so cold here. Serendipity as usual answererd my question as we stumbled into St. James United Church to have a look-see and encountered a charming man who told us about the story of the church, the Canadian Health Care system (which he says saved his life - not the usual disparaging story one hears), and the homeless. So besides a better understanding of how the homeless are handled here (He said many homeless people do die here each winter because of the cold), I leaned about how Canadian churches got smart about a hundred years ago and united in order to pool their resources during the Gold Rush. Since I have often had an image of our creator in Heaven wringing His hands over our bickering about doctrine, I was impressed by this action.

Dinner was at be an INdiana group affair, which was well represented but sadly not all of us were there. Regardless it was fun to get together with old friends from through out the state and spend non-work related time! Sarah picked out a creperie that she felt was modestly priced, and would have if not for the beverages, alcoholic and not. I had a chicken and mushroom crepe and Jodi had a vegetarian version, both of us were well pleased, we ended this repast with a banana and nutella crepe which fell short of the Parisian version.