Sunday, January 9, 2011

Bienvenue à Montréal (Day 0)

I'm in Montreal for the next two weeks (at least) for work. I could be in Montreal for a year, but I still don't know that yet - hopefully I will find out this week.

I flew Saskatoon->Edmonton then Edmonton->Montreal, leaving at 10:30am Saskatoon time and arriving 7:00pm Montreal time - a bit of a long day.

When we left Edmonton it was super bright so I closed my window shade and watched a movie or two. It blew me away when I opened it and it was pitch black - I guess flying east is like time travel. Here's a neat pic I snapped of the rainbow spectrum in the sunset:
It looked better in real life. 

After waiting an hour for my bags then waiting through a 100-person taxi queue, I caught a ride to my hotel/apartment from a cabbie who was angry I didn't have cash. Tough luck buddy, I guess when I charge it to my Visa you get audited on the tips. Deal with it. 

My apartment/hotel is nice; it's paid for by the company and has a little kitchen so I don't have to eat restaurant food every day: 
A 10-minute walk from company headquarters, but I guess I'll figure that out on Monday.

I asked the front desk where I could grab a quick donair and was told that most restaurants are closed on Sundays (at least downtown at 9:30pm, I guess). Damn! So she recommended the hotel restaurant across the street. 

I sat down in a lonely booth, one of maybe five people in this huge empty restaurant. I could hear the guy two booths down complaining about something and the server was being apologetic. Off to a good start! 
They tables have lamps so it is CLASSY.

I ordered about 5 minutes after sitting down and I took the above photo immediately after ordering. It's Montreal, so I ordered a smoked meat sandwich (more on this later). My food came disturbingly fast; if you examine the EXIF data between the above and below photos you will find they are exactly FIVE minutes apart. So this is like a wood-panelled McDonalds? 

Smoked Meat* and coleslaw hiding behind Starch Mountain. Coleslaw is a vegetable, right?

Supper was... bad. Sorry, there's no other polite words for it. But here's the upside: I now have a terrible smoked meat sandwich as my baseline experience when I go out for a fancy smoked meat sandwich! At one point, my server came by and meekly asked, "is everything... okay?" I felt sorry for him; he knew it wasn't okay. I told him it was good and tipped him well. As I left a party of four walked in and they all ordered the same Smoked Meat Combo. I held my tongue. 

Two other gripes: I feel like a weirdo not knowing any French. If I am here for a year, I promise (to the INTERNET!!) that I'll sign up for a class and put in a legitimate effort, but I feel like losery when someone says "bonsoir," ("bon swa") and I say "err.. hi." My other gripe is that I'm sick with a head cold and that just sucks all around.

To summarize: crappy/boring travel day, but I'm feeling optimistic about the trip in general. I am looking forward to what's ahead at the office, and doing some exploring in the evenings and this coming weekend!