We landed in Montreal Friday night after a stressful run to the airport. Glen came home just after 5 and I took an umbrella down to meet him on the street as it had started to rain. We went inside, finished the packing, then went to the British pub on the corner, The Bishop and Belcher, for some pre-flight dinner. The rain was coming down much heavier by then and our feet were soaked by the time we walked the fifty metres to the pub.
While inside the rain came down even heavier and we wondered how we’d get to the subway station without us and our luggage getting saturated, and then wondering if the plane would actually take off. Luckily, it eased off by the time we wolfed down our food and headed out the door.
I said we needed to leave the apartment at 6:30 but it was about quarter to seven by the time we actually left. Google said it would take 40 minutes to get to Union Station, hop on a bus and then catch the ferry to the downtown airport. Great, that would leave us enough time to check in (30 minutes before the flight departed). What I hadn’t factored in was when the ferry left. Glen said it was every fifteen minutes but is that on the quarter hour or something different. I got worried.
Thankfully, the subway wasn’t closed from the sudden deluge, there weren’t any major accidents blocking the streets, and the ferry was waiting for us and left two minutes after we boarded. We were still cutting it fine. The nice (and cute) guy in front of us let us go ahead of him because he could see me getting anxious about missing the flight.
The check-in process at Billy Bishop Airport took much longer than I thought it needed to. We’d already checked in online and been sent out boarding passes on our phone. All we needed to do was drop off one bag, as did all the people in the queue in front of, but for some reason it was very slow and inefficient. Why do you need to see my ID if I’m flying domestically? Why can’t we print our own luggage tags and attach them ourselves so we can just throw the bag at you?
I realise that when these processes came into force in Australia there was probably some grumbling about still paying high prices but doing practically everything ourselves. Personally, now, I’m glad of it. Especially the bag drop machines at the domestic airport. They’re great. You don’t have to talk to anyone or wait for anyone until security. They should implement that here.
Security was the usual slow process…though this time I actually held people up because my shoes beeped. The tiny metal eyelets around the shoelaces set off the machine. More than the steel ring I wear on my finger. Anyway, through relatively quickly, down the stairs to the departure lounge and then jumped on the plane with ten minutes to spare.
The plane had quite a high number of gays, all on their way to Montreal for Divers/Cité. The flight was turbulent and we couldn’t get up through the whole hour flight. The flight attendants ambled down the aisle giving out water and snacks but then returned to their seats as we began our descent.
The flight was only short but when we landed it felt like we were in another country. It’s very disorienting to go from an English-speaking place to French-speaking in under an hour, yet still be in the English-speaking country. Everything is in French (or if there is English it’s second and in small print). People don’t say hello, they say bonjour, even if they’re not French-speaking themselves. My brain went into hyperdrive as it tried to translate as much as possible. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired.
We collected our own bit of luggage (and discussed buying more suitable cabin luggage so we can pack everything in that and not have to wait at baggage carousels) and then went in search of bus 747. A taxi from the airport to our hotel would have cost $40 and there was a shuttle bus that stopped one street away from our hotel and only cost $9 each. The choice was relatively easy. There was also a very big queue for the taxis.
The bus took about 40 minutes and dropped us outside a train station which is opposite our hotel. We cut across the small park/al fresco area and got into the Hotel Gouverneur Place Dupuis Montreal. Being 10:30 at night, I was worried that our room might have disappeared, which would have been a problem as Montreal hotels are pretty booked this weekend. As well as Divers/Cité, there is a three-day music festival called O’Sheaga which seems epic. Hence, little accommodation.
Success though. Our room was still available and not only that, we were bumped up to the 27th floor into a business suite. Which had a king size bed. Business people must need all that space for their thinking time. We unpacked and then headed downstairs for a quick walk around.
The hotel is right on Rue Ste-Catherine, aka the gay street. A lot of clubs and bars with a lot of people. It was 11 o’clock and there were people everywhere. It helped that the weather was so nice. There was an outdoor art installation called Memory Gaps, which we had a look at. It was pretty cool with black or white walls and drawings and words in the opposite colour.
We walked all the way from one McDonald’s to another, which seemed to conveniently book-end the street. What was nice was that cars weren’t allowed down Rue Ste-Catherine so we were free to ramble from one end to another and then back to the hotel to sleep.