A Royal Mountain-Montreal
We rise early this morning to see Mark and Matt off for work and get ready for our train to Montreal. After breakfast and a shower, we say farewell to their beautiful home and hop in a taxi to the train station. We are able to check our luggage so we can be free to wander around the downtown area.
We walk through a beautiful indoor corridor from the station over the train yards directly to the CN Tower. From there we head down towards the waterfront for excellent views of the city. We hang out at a Starbucks to read news and post yesterday's blog entry, then walk back up to the train station.
Forty-five minutes prior to departure a long line is starting to form for the Montreal train. We get in the line and are surprised at how pushing or shoving, or attempting to jump the line is non-existent here. Everyone is very civilized at this point. It is a different matter when we actually get on the car we have been directed to board. People have spread out everywhere and there aren't two seats together anywhere (no reserved seating). So we get off this car and ask where they would like us to board.
A whole group of us are standing there waiting for instructions, and when they direct us to car five there is a stampede and Jonathan and I face the same situation. We end up sitting on opposite aisles, just one row apart from each other. I am next to an elderly woman who speaks a little English, but is reading a newspaper in some eastern European language I don't recognize. It might have been Polish.
It is amazing the difference in the track quality between yesterday and today. In the US our tracks are in sad need of repair, so the trains must go relatively slowly. Here they are laid straight and true, and our train approaches 90 MPH at some points. I read my Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book and Jonathan dozes for much of the 5-hour trip.
A short taxi ride takes us to the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where we are staying for three nights. We call our friends Jim and Chris and arrange to meet them at their place around 7pm.
They provide drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and we spend a couple of hours admiring their new condo and catching up with their news and also another friend, Al, who is on his way back to New York after a private trip to Newfoundland.
Mark and Matt worked a partial day in Toronto, leaving on a 3pm train. They call when they have reached the city, and we walk to the gay Village area to meet them for dinner. The seven of us land at a fusion style restaurant for a wonderful dinner at a surprisingly reasonable price. I have a lightly seared tuna steak with a salad and vegetables for CAN$18. It is like a mini-reunion of several of the guys on the Croatia tour last May!
After dinner we head out to see some of the gay nightlife for which Montreal is famous. We start at a trendy bar with a huge rooftop deck with a hot tub and a small swimming pool (nobody in either, but the place is packed). Then we visit Taboo to see some of the famous Montreal male dancers. Jonathan decides to rename the place "Anorexia" as the guys are too skinny for the most part. We sit through a few dances then go our separate ways. A fun introduction to a great city!