DAY THREE - IN MONTREAL
The Howard Johnson Motel hasn't improved any since the last time I was here and so I can feel pretty safe about putting up a photo from 2010 instead of one from this year that I ... errr ... forgot to take.
They have hovever increased the prices since then (although that might have been a seasonal thing - remember that it was November when I was here then) and there was no free breakfast included on my internet booking. The positive side was that at least I wasn't awoken at some silly hour in the morning by some people's unusual bedtime activities as I had been last time.
The shower was good too, once I'd worked out how to work it, and then seeing as how check-out wasn't until 11:00 I profited by setting up the mobile phone that I had bought last night and clearing a pile of paperwork.
Canadian Tires just round the corner on Boulevard Langelier was the next port of call and amongst the things that I picked up from there was a solar panel and a leisure battery. These will be quite useful items for when I'm becalmed somewhere on my plot of land.
Home Depot was next and that involved a 10-minute drive through the suburb of Anjou. It's really nice out here as well and I'd be quite happy to come and live in this part of Montreal. I bet that the house prices are pretty extravagant here, although news of my interest in this part of Montreal will cause a dramatic collapse. Not even I would be happy living next door to someone like me.
I have a meeting with some wind turbine experts at 14:30 in the centre of the city and The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav did the business by guiding me there. A good purchase was that when I was here last, and now that I have the mobile phone as well, or cellphone as they are called over here, I'm ready for anything.
Regular readers of my outpourings will be aware that normally on my travels around the world it's usually school buses or cattle herds or something similar that halt my progress when I'm in a hurry. But not here in Montreal. Here, I had to drive all the way through the outskirts of the city being slowed down by the bin men. That's probably something that is going to be very symbolic about my stay in Canada this year I reckon.
The Rue Iberville brought me down to the Rue Sherbrooke East (which we will be encountering on numerous occasions as it is a key road - part of Highway 138 or the Chemin du Roy in Montreal)
Waiting for the traffic lights to change so that I can turn right (there's no right turn on red on the island of Montreal) I noticed the bridge in the distance. I've no idea whay bridge it might be so I'll have to make further enquiries about that
Further on down rue Sherbrooke Est towards the centre, being stopped at yet another red light gives me the opportunity to have a good look around and my eye is caught by this beautiful building, or edifice as the Québecois call them - there are no immeubles in Québec by the way.
It's somewhere just after where the underpass is and just before the turning for the Rue St Denys, so this makes it something like n°430-something in case you are wondering. It really is impressive and it gives you some idea of how Montreal must have looked at the turn of the 20th Century before the planners got going.
The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav seems to have an obsession with certain streets in Montreal, that's for certain. I remember from last year that no matter where it was that I was going in Montreal, she had me turning into Cavendish Avenue even though it might not have been the best way to go, and would you believe it that she's gone and done exactly the same thing again!
I couldn't do my usual trick of hunting down some bargain basement parking as I would normally do if I were on my own time and so I had to park in a multi-storey car park at the office where I was meeting. And at $14 for just 90 minutes, I would have been better-off coming on the bus. But at least in the basement there was a shopping mall with the best Dollar Store I have encountered and I now have loads of further supplies for my journey.
The meeting was quite profitable and Nicholas gave me a load of useful tips and hints about people to see and things to do. I was grateful for all of that. It only left a visit to IKEA and I would be finished with Montreal for now.
Hmmm. Shopping for furniture in IKEA - this is becoming serious. Anyone would think that I am planning to move in here. But I now have a cheap kids bed ... "how cheap are the kids?" - ed ... that I shall be cutting down from 90cms to 60cms in early course, a mattress reduced by half because there's a tear in the cover, some bedding, a set of saucepans and a tin opener.
On the subject of bedding, I did notice that the double-sized quilts in the bargain basement were the same price as the single-size - a whopping great $14:99, would you believe? So I've bought a double and I can fold it in half inside a single quilt cover and that will give me added warmth for when it goes cold.
And I'm also going to have to stop wearing yellow polo-shirts in IKEA - this is twice now that I've been asked where the trolleys are.
We've already discussed a couple of differences between Quéecois and French - here's another one. In Québec, "living together" is not vivre ensemble but habitez ensemble. I'll make more notes about things like this as I go along.
Out in the car park I noticed a few people staring into the Dodge window looking at His Nibs. Yes, call yourselves Canadians? I bet you lot don't own a moose. Mind you, who owns whom? That's the question.
With the Dodge all loaded up, it's time to hit the road through the gathering gloom, and I can't believe how quickly it's gone dark here. I've told The Lady Who Lives In The SatNav to find me the quickest way to Québec without using the freeway - the plan being that she'll direct me onto Highway 138.
And yes, onto Rue Sherbrooke which is exactly where I want to be and back past Rue Iberville where we started this afternoon and .. wait a moment ... down Boulevard Pius IX and back heading west this time - right across the bottom of Rue Iberville. Some flaming quickest way this is.
Now it's Rue Papineau and over the Cartier Bridge to the south bank of the St Lawrence. This isn't much use here - what's she up to?
It seems that the quickest way from Montreal to Québec involves driving around a flaming housing estate for a flaming half hour in the pitch black. Quickest way? You never would have guessed it from this.
Finally I end up on something that looks like a road and it may well be the correct road too because it says that the next left turning is in 57 kms. It's like being back in Labrador again isn't it?
This seems to be Highway 112 that I've used to leave Montreal, wherever Highway 112 might be going to. It's not going to Sorel-Tracy where I spent a night last year, because that was posted off somewhere else. However, my natural curiosity has overwhelmed my impatience right now - let's see where Highway 112 goes to.
But this little detour gives me a moment or two to muse over events back in Montreal. On my way to IKEA earlier we were stuck in a traffic queue as motorists were obliged to negotiate a car broken down in the middle of the highway. I was watching a motorcyclist on his machine, and I noticed that he made no attempt to filter along between the lanes of traffic.
We've encountered this before, haven't we? Wyoming in 2002 . It must be illegal to do this in North America and that's bizarre. It defeats the whole purpose of having a motorcycle if you can't filter through the traffic as you can in Europe.
And that opens up another line of questioning. In Europe there are many things that are prima facie illegal but yet the citizens have a more … errr … pragmatic way of dealing with legislation and the police turn something of a blind eye on many occasions to people adopting a more "common-sense" approach. Here in North America it seems that the majority of people have, well, shall we say, a "more-literal" approach. I'd love to watch a motorist from Brussels driving around these highways in North America, and to see what the local traffic police make of that.
Right now I must be following the St Lawrence somewhere comparatively close-by because I'm not alone. You may remember my arrival in Montreal when we flew just along the southern bank of the St Lawrence. Right now, there's a whole regular stream of aircraft flying towards Montreal just over to my left.
It's a good job they are there as well because now I'm some way out of Montreal I've hardly seen another vehicle on the roads and it's only about 21:30. I've said before, haven't I, and on numerous occasions that there seems to be some kind of curfew in North America at 21:00.
That is, of course, for most things. Here I am in Pont Cesaire having gone around a detour and I have just encountered my first marching woman. Isn't it good to be back in Canada again?
I find somewhere where I can have something to eat (and do you know - I've forgotten to note where it was) and from here, being rather fed up, I set course for Trois Rivieres along the freeway. There should be some place along here to stop for a kip as I'm starting to feel tired. I've not adjusted to losing this six hours yet.