So, I left the restaurant, visited some gift shops and bought more postcards but the sad thing is I forgot to buy magnets in Toronto and Montréal. I have a collection back in Brazil and had a plan of having magnets of all the cities I had been to. Lucky me I'll go back to Boston and can make up for that, but I should keep in mind the next time. I also saw some extravagant places like the cinéma above. Love is in the air? Couples free on Monday and Tuesday. Too bad I was alone (and it was Sunday, or not bad at all).
From a distance I could see my destination. Le Mont Royal. It is not a high mountain but is a must-see in the city. When I got there, the first thing I saw was this statue and a lot of people. There was a handicraft fair, people selling things and some guys playing music. It was what Fink had told me I should see: the famous tam-tams. People playing the drums. I liked it but they were rather below what I expected if compared to the drums of a samba school or a school band.
So, I climbed some stairs and started one of the paved trails up the mountain. The vegetation was beautiful and there were a lot of people. I guess it works like a park for them, trees, people walking couples, families, kids, bicycles, people running or jogging. I was observing everyone, some speaking English, the majority French. There was even a couple speaking Portuguese and trying to take a picture.
As I approached a certain altitude, the cityscape started to reveal itself amidst the branches and leaves. I was sure as soon as I got up there the view would be breathtaking.
And so it was more than I expected. The weather was wonderful and although it had not been a piece of cake to get to the top (I had got slightly tired), it was not that difficult as well. There were hundreds of people on the lookout and you had to wait a bit before you could get a spot to take a nice picture or take a good look. Behind me, there was the house with the flags. I don't remember if it was a museum or anything. I just used the toilet there and kept going up. There were some more trails and I reached a cross and the transmission antenna.
The cross was metallic and there were some people sitting under it. I just passed by. I left the main paved way and got this trail. I liked this idea of taking a trail without not really knowing where it was taking. I guess I am having a certain pathway phase. Long ways, short ways, winding ways, they draw my attention and have been making a strong impression on me lately.
After using the restroom and walking to the antenna, I decided to go down the mount. It would be easy and in half an hour I would be at its basis. I got to the paved trails and started my descent. I had walked for 10 minutes when I saw a small trail going down through the woods. I remembered that I had realized the paved way was designed as a continuous U after another. So you would walk straight, there would be a curve and the way would continue, parallel to the previous, in the opposite direction. I got me thinking: why should I walk until the curve if I can make my way through the woods and reach the paved way without walking so much? In no time I was walking among the trees, down the hill. There were some people there, the trails would go different directions so I had to calculate very well which way to go. Some parts were steeper, I had to hold on to branches or roots, sit, crawl. And the paved way would never come. I got to cliffs, fences, so I decided to go back the way I had come from. I started walking up and up. I was sweating and it was 30 minutes I had been stuck there. The paved way would never come, some people were coming and going and I was curious to know where they were coming from. I realized I had walked in circles. Then, I started following a weird guy with a hat who looked more lost than me. We reached a clearing and after that I walked to another direction and I reached the paved path. It had been more than 30 minutes. And I still had all the way to go. Now without straying from the path.
When I got down there I had mixed feelings of relief and guilt for being so stupid. I was also tired as I must have walked more than 10 kilometers by then. I had reached the outer part of the mount in a different way from where I had arrived. I ended up at a certain street and going down that street I realized the buildings were offices and parts of the McGill University.
When the buildings of the university ended, I reached a big avenue. I think it was Sherbrooke. I walked along it and saw more buildings. My intention was to walk back to the Coop. I walked through downtown and was following some signs in order to get to the Old Montréal. I went past some interesting buildings and when I saw I would not get to the old city so soon, and I was already so tired, I gave up walking and entered the first subway station. I was only three stations away, but I had reached my limit of walking. I sat and my feet hurt and I just had an urge to take a shower.
When I got to the Coop there were many many people there. They were making the Thanksgiving dinner and I greeted some of them. I was happy the bathroom was free. Fink had been kind enough to let me put my bags into his room so it would not be in the public space. I was so tired. And there still was a dinner party.
After taking a shower I felt better. I changed and went to the living room. Fink was busy and the other people were just talking and it was so strange that no one would ask me about anything. I saw another guy who seemed a bit out of place. I approached him and we almost greeted each other at the same time. I told him I was a couchsurfer and he said he was one too. So the people of the house were busy and did not really have time to integrate people, we had to make our way to being noticed, introducing ourselves. We sat on the couch and started talking. Stephen was from New York and was spending some days in Montréal. Another guy joined us and we found out he was a German couchsurfer who was couchsurfing someone else's couch but would come to the Coop later that week. We didn't have a place at the table with people so we helped ourselves and sat on the couch. Three couchsurfers sitting and eating on the couch. We even took a picture of that. Simon and Anne joined us later. Maïa also came and she was the only person from the house who really spent some time talking to us. She was so nice. Some people left. Others stayed. People suggested we should go to the nightclub that was just next door. The name of the place was La Tulipe. I didn't feel like going. Some people had gone to the roof to smoke and others were just cleaning. At that moment I was engaged in conversation with a guy, I am going to call him Kris. He said his name twice and I could not get it and he said it was the German equivalent to Christian. We were talking about our lives and the conversation was very interesting. Everyone else had left and we stayed there cleaning and there was a guy who had come in late and started trying every door and was looking very suspicious. While we cleaned he stayed there, just listening to the music but we finally decided to go to the dance place and we asked him if he wanted to go. I was afraid of leaving him alone there. We went downstairs and entered the club.
Admission was free. At first, I was in shock. I had never seen a club like that (and I guess I never will). The decoration was tacky and from the 70's, for sure, or even before. The people were a collection of exoticism. The ages ranged from 18 (let's be optimistic) to 85 (more than half a dozen could be this old). People were dancing and some would stare so eagerly, one could tell they were eating you with their looks. We found some of our friends, they were leaving. We found out they were on a small stage and we went there. Stephen was absolutely uncomfortable there, especially when some mature guys tried to touch him. Kris and I just started dancing but I could not help being amused by the situations and interactions going on around me. The music was old and strange as well. Some decade-old pop songs in French. I was sure they would play Jacques Brel sooner or later. Stephen gave up. We stayed a little longer. When we were about to leave, we ran into Simon and Anne, who started to perform and sing along the next song: Gigi L'amoroso by Dalida. It was a show! We left and went upstairs. The guys were planning to have our own party instead of trying our luck at La Tulip. They connected the sound system and selected a bunch of wonderful songs. We danced, created performances, sweated. Remember I was tired? It was past 1am I was one of the most excited with the situation. Who would say that with less than 10 people I would have more fun than with the hundred next door?
After that, Kris left, some of the residents went to their rooms, but Maïa asked us, Anne, Simon, Stephen and I, who were sleeping in the living room, if it was okay to leave the lights on for she wanted to paint something. We said ok and I joked that I just couldn't sleep if she was singing along. Had I known then she was a professional singer, who had just even been to Canadian TV! I was just teasing her. She turned on an LP and I noticed someone else got a bit upset with that and I also could not get to sleep until the record ended and I fell asleep, after all I was tired indeed.