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Tuesday 11 Dec 2007
Montréal, Canada

2 more days left in Montreal .. 4 more in Canada!

And so my journey in Canada is drawing to a close... I have but two more days left to explore Montreal and then 2 days in Toronto before I'm back off home to Ireland for Christmas...

Thankfully today was also my last day working full time. From here on I'm continuing as a part-time consultant while I pursue another project for about 6 weeks.
This gives me ample time to spend the last two days taking in the Montreal sights and activities that I gotta do before 'je depart'.

My ear is still ringing slightly after that gig last week.. not a good sign.. more tinnitus.. and I thought I'd gotten my fill of it when I played in the band with the lads back home during uni.

THERE YOU GO KIDS.. BRING EAR PLUGS TO GIGS.. just in case they decide to go mental with the volume!

Not a good year for me.. last Christmas I bruised my ribcage.. almost breaking it. Then I snap my elbow on Vancouver Island.. and now I'm going deaf from too much rock and roll!
If there was ever a time my body was telling me slow down.. it was this year!

Sod that... I'm gonna rock out and be extreme till I break my neck in a horrific headbanging-while-parachuting-with-a-snowboard-attached accident!

Riiight soooo... last weekend I took in a few more sights around town.

I wrote out a list of various things that sounded cool in the Lonely Planet.. and I wasn't disappointed.

I first popped off to check out the Olympic Park.. a large stadium where the 1976 Olympic Games were held - but it's now mainly used for large ceremonies and concerts. It's truly a testament to grey concrete buildings with a sweeping wave-like shape around it's edge! It even still retains the kitschy 70 style furnishings and interior.

It is quite a sight.. a testament to bygone days.. but now deserted, and crumbling somewhat - like Ozymandias' temples in the desert. Small chunks of concrete seem to be strewn all around the place since apparently the upkeep of the structure is highly expensive (and the local gov isn't always forthcoming with the patches).

The adjoining structure housing a large Olympic swimming pool seems to be the main hive of activity now. It's open to the public for swimming (which is cool).. and you can even see the Canadian Formation-swimming team in action preparing for the China olympics!

I then took a detour to "Petite Italie".. and suddenly I was in a land of Fonzie-lookalikes and supermarkets stocked with seemingly nothing but tomato sauce! I didn't spot the streets full of Italian flags that are mentioned in Lonely Planet, but I DID head to Marché Jean-Talon .. a brilliant little market that had the most exquisite food you can imagine. All organic and all fresh. Think of a delicacy and you will find it here.

I stuffed myself on fresh fried squid, chips in the fish shop.. and then had a dessert of Baklava (Turkish treat of vermicelli with a rose-water-flavoured base, and delicately covered with hot brown sugar.. yummy!). Total price.. about 5 euros for the lot!

Finally.. I went out of my way to a really remote sight mentioned in the Lonely Planet book: St Joseph's Oratory .. built by the tiny 4ft high saint Brother André.

I wasn't expecting much of this place.. just that it had Brother André's heart on display in a glass case, and I was morbidly intrigued (much as I was in Bangkok when I went to the forensic museum).

Once again Montreal doesn't disappoint. This 'little' side-attraction .. barely mentioned in LP, turned out to be the highlight of the day!

The building structure is stunning to look at. Perched high on the edge of Mont Royal - overlooking the city, with a grand Napoleonic château-esque entrance... it's dome almost rivalling Montreal's Notre Dame cathedral for breathtaking design. There was a French mass on inside (it was a Sunday), plus hundreds of pilgrims were wandering around the place hoping to be cured of their ills (since brother Andre was known as a healer). "Sure my elbow could do with a bit of healing too..", thought I.
Old walking sticks adorn the walls of the building, belonging to those who were miraculously cured.

As I wandered around the Oratory, there was a maniacal organ playing somewhere above.. sounding like something from a Hammer House horror movie, and soon I eventually found my way into an immense cathedral on the 3rd floor with a huge organ perched over the congregation.
Looking like something out of C16th Paris.. it's hard to believe the entire building was built in the 20th Century.

I eventually found my way to the museum, where they had a life-size wax figure of Brother Andre (where I first found out how small he was!)... then the heart in it's case... creepy indeed.

Finally I popped off to check out the Casino (which is on it's own small island!). I read that it was a "little piece of Las Vegas in Montreal", but it was more like a little piece of Liverpool. Just packed with floor after floor, row after row of 70-somethings in cardigans staring mindlessly at slot-machines. Nothing special really.. no roller coaster going through the Casino ala Las Vegas.. although the building looks pretty as you approach it.

All in all.. a great day.

Feeling like I deserved a little summat... I also bought myself a new mp3 player.. a Creative Zen 8GB ... fantastic piece of kit with great sound and brilliant screen which is actually watchable.. yet isn't much bigger than the crappy new ipod nanos!

Got it for 40$ less than retail since it was on sale for some reason... and about 60 euros cheaper than it'd cost at home! w00t!

Right so.. last 2 days.. I've got a few things on my list that I've got to do before I leave... Wink

As an adjunct.. I'd like to mention an interesting notion I came up with while I was chatting to Niki on MSN.

Before I came to Canada, I imagined things like maple syrup and waffles would be a staple diet of every Canadian.. good 'wholesome' junky food.
But I quickly came to discover the staple is more like Sushi, Lebanese, Mexican.. you name it.
(I think I've had maple syrup only two times here!)

That's really a metaphor for what Canada is like also. A symbiosis of multiple cultures co-existing together and sharing each other's lifestyles.

I guess all the 'new world' countries are like that essentially.. US, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

Aaaaaand on a COMPLETE separate topic... There was a major bomb in Algeria today. Lots of people died. I turned on CNN hoping to hear at least something about it. Nothing. Just some news about a high-school shooting that happened a few weeks ago and the psychological profiling of the suspect.
Evidently viewers have more interest in this than anything happening out side of the country.

That's what's wrong with America.

Sure the people are nice n all.. but it's their complete lack of regard for anything that happens outside their country (despite sticking their nose into other country's business when it suits them) that is so irritating.. they're fed what the media want them to see.. and do they complain? No!

What do they say instead? "If you don't like it.. then you can GIT out!" ... *sigh*

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