Tuesday, August 7, 2018

The Halifax Explosion (and how one egg is un oeuf)

My last entry was written at a fine cafe by the name of "Dilly Dally" - additionally, I believe I mentioned stopping in at a bar on my first night in Halifax - both of which are photographed below for your viewing pleasure.

I'm trying something a little different this time with the blog - instead of using the Blogger app, I'm typing all of this directly into the Blogger website. I've heard from a few of you (okay, okay, just my mom) that you didn't receive a push notification / email when I published the piece I wrote at Dilly Dally the other day. Maybe putting it through this way will change that?

In any case, I should probably catch you up on what I've been up to.

After leaving the cafe, I made my way up to the Citadel in Halifax. Due to my time limit in the city (my train left at one in the afternoon), I chose not to purchase admission to the site and instead walked around it for a bit - it seemed like the type of place that would take a half-day to actually wander around and take full advantage of. Instead, I circled it and read some plaques - including a reminder that the largest pre-nuclear explosions happened in the harbor (bay? water area?) in Halifax due to munition ships colliding. The whole story is fascinating and a testament to human courage and charity. If I were on a real computer, I'd link to some info right about now.

After circling the Citadel, I started, well, Dilly-Dallying around Halifax, trying to take in as much as possible in my limited time. I wrote one mediocre poem outside the Halifax Central Library (this is where I'd link my fiction blog) and wandered toward the train station.

There were three pit stops on the way to the train station: some government house promised "free tours" (of which I could not partake, but took a quick peek inside nonetheless), a pint of beer at Garrison Brewery (as recommended by a coconspirator the previous night), and some supermarket (two small loaves of bread, a chunk of cheese, some pepperoni, and a liter and a half of water for dinner and breakfast on the train - <$10 USD).

The train itself was about a million cars long - especially considering the hike from the very end to the first economy class car with my backpack. Nonetheless, I got myself settled in and scouted out the cafe car.

The whole trip would take twenty two hours - from one in the afternoon to ten (eleven in the original time zone) the next morning. My seat was fine for sitting, but holy hell I was uncomfortable due to my inability to put my feet up. I finished Agatha Christie's "The Secret Adversary", I finished Jack London's "The Call of the Wild", I started Jessup's collection of "Short American Humorous Stories" (we'll see if I finish - the prose is positively antique and the humor seems to consist of "how can we make fun of people's accents"). I also started Terry Pratchett's "Snuff" (one of the very few modern books I have on my kindle).

Twenty two hours is a lot of time to fill! There was live entertainment that provide an hour's distraction and my reading took up a few more hours. I did try to get some writing done, but was mostly uninspired - a few of the paragraphs above cover my travel journal and my fiction has mostly been scratched out upon review.

Regardless of my success, the train pulled in to Montreal and I had to make my way to my AirBnB. I had set my check-in at two in the afternoon, so I had about four hours to kill. I decided to walk down St Catherine Street, which happens to be the gay district in Montreal.

I think I came in at the end of some festival - all the streets were blocked off, there were rainbow overhangs for at least a mile, and lots and lots of tourists. I know they were tourists because they kept asking me questions - the sweaty guy with a big backpack hurdling down the street. Unfortunately for them, I had no answers. There's also the matter of a Montreal habit I picked up on - instead of walking on, say, the right side of the sidewalk (or even the left! I can learn to live with it!), everyone here seems to walk straight at you, no matter your position on the sidewalk. This has been consistent over the past few days and I'm VERY tired of stepping into the street to avoid oncoming pedestrians.

Regardless of pedestrian etiquette, I climbed my first thing in Montreal - some bridge over nothing which, I suppose, gave a view of the now-past festivities.

I survived the trip to my AirBnB, much in need of a shower and a nap. To kill time I'd stopped in a park (the parks here have free WiFi HINT HINT PHILLY) and got coffee and a light lunch at a local greasy spoon.

In the AirBnB I made quick friends with Matthieu (host) and Daniel (fellow traveler) - both of whom have had adventures I look forward to emulating. They had some good advice for my future travels (workaway, upwork, Bankok tips, and a push toward Kuwait, of all places). Beers, sleep, and a breakfast of eggs & potato hash of my design (which could have turned out better, but such are my limitations) get us to today (Aug 7).

After breakfast (and another nap - jeez that train killed me), I made a practice run back to the Central Station through the above-pictured bunker of a subway stop. I figured I should know how to get to the train to Quebec City before it left without me on Thursday!

I didn't really have plans for the day, so I ended up wandering toward Montreal's Old City. There exists a skyline and shops and all the exciting things you might expect of a city. In fact, I climbed another thing, then took pictures of other things.

Thing I climbed.

Picture I took.

There's nothing exciting to say here, but I felt the need to break the pictures up.

You think he gets tired of standing?

Again, nothing exciting. Regarding the title of the post, I was very pleased with myself when I bought breakfast supplies and managed to get by with three phrases in French (Hello, Please, Thank You) until the end of the transaction, at which point I was asked if I had a pen (to sign my receipt). SO CLOSE! As I was buying breakfast food, I was reminded of the classic joke "why do the French use a single egg in their omelettes - because one egg is un oeuf!"

I found myself on an old pier and snapped a bunch of photos. As I wandered around the area, I found some info plaque that basically said "if you want to go up to Mount Royal, follow the yellow triangles" (plus free WiFi the whole way - HINT HINT PHILLY). Climb things because they exist? Right up my alley.

I took a panorama shot of the city as seen from the river, then, after a sweaty hike, I took a panorama of the city from the top of the mountain.

I also took one picture because I came up with the following joke: "you ever get to the end of a rosary and thing 'this guy's a little cross'?".

After all that hiking up, the way down was a lot easier.


Note the cross wayyy up there.

After going up Mount Royal (which, by the way, having a milkshake mid-hike may not be smart, but it is tasty), I made my way through some parks and whatnot (indeed - one whatnot was a cafe) and had some poutine at La Banquise, which is apparently a place of some distinction. I met a trio of fellow travelers (a grandmother, mother, and daughter) who were traveling with a fun attitude.

Now I'm back at my AirBnB with not much else to report. I should figure out a better way to end these.

Tomorrow purports to be a rest day (laundry day!) and on Thursday I hop on a train to Quebec City. Perhaps I'll add another anecdote or two to this entry tomorrow. Let me know if you see it in your email!

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