Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Arrived after dark with nothing interesting to take a picture of. I'm right downtown next to the Bell Centre again, and hoping to grab a half-hour to run over there tomorrow to get myself a new Habs t-shirt or jersey.

I'm in a big shiny tower surrounded by hundreds of other big shiny towers, which is part of the fun of being in Montréal. Oh, the Vieux-Port is wonderful too, especially if it's new to you, but to me Montréal means Rue St-Catherine (where I wandered around a bit tonight), where high-end boutiques sit side-by-jowl with "Gentlemen's Cubs" where sad-sack hucksters on the sidewalk invite the punters in to see the lovely ladies (I swear in Montréal they still have these guys), next to mom-and-pop Indian, Greek, Brazilian and Ethiopian restaurants and Korean-immigrant-run dépanneurs. I love it. I wandered through a film shoot wrapping up on a sidewalk tonight. Love that, too.

The hotel is a chic, boutique-y hotel with clever lamps and a flatscreen TV and post-modernist furniture. It also has a "refreshement sensor system". This means that, planted here and there about the room on countertops or in the mini-fridge, are little trays with sensors underneath bottles of water and beer and wine and tins of soda, and Toblerone bars and mini-cans of Pringles and other things laid out to tempt you in hotel rooms at $5 and up a pop. ($9 if you move the half-a-glass-serving bottle of bad white wine.) These sensors automatically report to Central Refreshment Intelligence that you've lifted up an item, which is then automagically added to your room bill.

These stations are laid about the room like land mines, and I find myself walking lightly, lest a heavier-than-normal tread lead to a shudder that tells Central Refreshment Intelligence that I've moved a 500ml bottle of spring water at $4.95 plus tax. I've considered trying the old Indiana Jones "replace the coveted item with an item of exactly the same weight so subtly that the sensor can't detect the movement" scenario, but after wandering around the room looking for something exactly the same weight as a medium-sized bag of M&Ms I decided I wouldn't give my BlackBerry up for them, anyhow.

I'm currently watching a movie on CJMT filmed entirely in Russian, Finnish, and Sami, with English subtitles. There's Montréal for ya, right there.


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Blogger Mike said...

I don't miss living in Plattsburgh, but I do miss living 40 minutes from Rue St. Catherine and being able to pop up there on a nice crisp Saturday, for no reason except to walk down the street and check out the shops and people, and then come home with a fresh loaf of really good bread. I particularly miss it at Christmas -- what a great place for holiday shopping amid the lights and music.

8:56 a.m.  
Blogger Xtreme English said...

I loved Montreal when I visited there in 1980 or so. Do they still have those small shops in the old quarter that go rent-free to local artists?? and the die for!

10:20 p.m.  
Blogger ronnie said...

Mike - I so wish it was closer. It's about a day's drive from here. (A long day's drive. Most people driving to points west actually stop to sleep in Quebec City before they get to Montreal.)

XE - I haven't been in the old quarter for about 15 years. They still had them then, though.

The food! I had marinated pheasant for dinner one night I was there, Thai lamb curry another. Still to die for.

8:54 p.m.  

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