Montreal – Another World in Montreal

We’re awake, but not because of our own choice, or our body clock’s will. But by because of our introverted asian friend.

I mean, she’s not completely introverted. She did tell us that someone told her we didn’t have a blanket last night. Anyways… Im in and out of sleep more times in half an hour, than I’ve had hot dinners. She’s banging around, and to reach the door, she chooses to carry her suitcase through the triangulated space between the corner of the sofa bed where my head lays, a little bedside table and the door way. It doesn’t work in anyone’s favour.

We go back to sleep. By the time we awake, we are the only ones in the house. Mo has gone to work and asked us to leave his only key for his house in his letterbox. No worries at all. I cant believe this guy hey. Trusting his house to complete strangers. Its amazing.

So Bec has got like 6-7 layers of clothing on, and she is just starting to pack up our gear, when, as I am off to the shower, I hear her say “Oh man!…”

“Whats up babe?”

“I forgot to put a bra on…”

I find it hard to maintain sympathy in this moment. I burst out laughing. “Oh babe… That sucks” *continues to giggle on the way to the shower*. It’s minus 20 degrees today, so hence the bulk layers she is wearing. Each one, utterly necessary.

This is our last day in Montreal, so we want to make it count. Mo has got other people staying with him tonight, so we have arranged to couch surf at another chick’s house. She isnt there till 5 tonight, and we dont really wanna be there much earlier than that, so we decide to check out the Bio Dome. We’ve been told that it is an experience we have to do. So, that is what we do.

Lucky for us, it is right next to Montreal’s Olympic park, which is right next to where are staying. Win for everyone.

We decide to do a double pass. We did wake a little late, so by the time we packed everything, and got out of the house, it was nearly midday, otherwise we probably woulda spent more time there. We decide to do the Bio Dome, and the Insectarium/Botanical Garden. I head up to the counter, and notice that there are better prices for locals instead of tourists.

I look more touristy than an asian at disney land, but I’m gonna give it a crack. Bec is off to the loo, so I say to chick at the counter, “Hey. I just need two adult tickets”

“Ok. Where would you like to go?”

“Just to the Bio Dome and the Insectarium/Botanical Gardens thanks.”

“Not a problem”

“Now, my wife and I have just moved to the area in the last 2 weeks. I was told to tell you that we are residents. We live on…” I draw the biggest mental blank. I have crossed that many signs in Montreal, its not even funny, and I cannot think of a single one. I start to gesture roughly where we ‘moved to’. She reaches across the counter, touches my arm to get my attention and gently says to me, “It’s ok. I get it. You’re a resident”.

I look her dead in the eye with the deepst look of gratitude and understanding that I can conjure “Thats exactly right. Thank you”.

We saved like $20 on that alone. Thats lunch back in my pocket.

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My Mate, McCaw

We thank our friend and into the Bio Dome we go. The doors open and the curtains part. We walk into the area, and it feels like the scene on Jurassic Park, where they walk into a whole different world. Its amazing. The environment is all open. Only a few of the animals are segregated, and all the rest are free to fly and climb as much as they can and want in the arena. Its amazing. They have literally just created a jungle inside this arena and all the animals that can get along together, they let get along together.

They have got sloths hanging out with Marmosets and Tamarins. Birds flying wherever they want, and snakes with frogs, cos the tree boa cant pick up heat from the frogs cos they are cold blooded.

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Fish that could eat a man

Its very well crafted. We wander around in amazement, seeing everything that we hadn’t seen before. The sloth was my favourite. I was struggling to find one, so I asked the guy, and he says “Oh yeah. We have got 6 in this enclosure”. “Liar”, I think to myself. “Oh ok. Wheres abouts are they”. He takes me over, and shows me this Sloth sitting right at the top of the tree, and just as I look up to it, it rolls it’s head over and takes a peek down at me. You fricken legend. Made my day.

The guy tells me that when they are wanting to move to the other side of the environment, they will even use the railing from the structure of the building to get across. I’m liking them even more.

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A Piranha, about the size of my handspan

We head through, and come across Piranhas, which Bec and I have decided to keep as pets. There are all sorts of animals, and they are all so chilled out. Its so cool to see. We spend a good hour and a half in the exhibit, and it was worth every moment. We wanted to get the most out of the experience, so we tried to take in as much as we could.

We get our fill from the rainforest exhibit, and make our way to the Canadian section. Instantly colder. We layer up again. In the rainforest, I was sweating right out. In the Canadian exhibit, I’m goosebumpin’ it already. But, we aren’t disappointed. We first see a river otter. They’re all cuddled up in their little make-shift cave. Its cute as hell. We wander around a touch further, and lo and behold, Bec starts getting all giddy.

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Barry, the Beaver

“Look Billy!”, pointing to the corner of the enclosure, “Its a Beaver!”. I see him. All cuddled up and looking like he is trying to sleep. Its definitely the high light of our trip so far. We watch him, and then out of nowhere, his mate comes cruising along the water. Bec and I look at each other like we have just discovered fire the for the first time. Its amazing. We love it.

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Happiness is watching a Beaver

We get our fill, and we both wanna just touch it. It looks so soft and cuddly. Its amazing. We wander around the enclosure and see a racoon that doesn’t have any interest in us. I make some weird noises, but they are all noises that he has heard from many passing tourists trying to tempt him the with the wonder of what that particular bird might actually be. But he knows that its not a bird, and instead, a human’s mouth having an epileptic fit while trying to create a sound intriguing enough for a racoon to cast his gaze their way.

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Barry. Underwater.

Its not happening.

We turn around, and the very next area we find ourselves in, is the underwater part of the exhibit for the beavers. To our wonder, as we turn around, there is a beaver swimming right past the glass. It is totally awesome to see something that iconic so close to us. We hang around for about 10-15 mins and introduce any other straggling tourists to our newly found friend.

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Baby Canadian Lynx. Super cool.

We head from here into the big underwater exhibit. Pretty much, there is just loads of fish in a bloody massive tank, and some of the birds dive down to get some food, which is kinda cool to be honest.

Lastly, we have the arctic exhibition, which is loaded with puffins and penguins. Its feeding time, and it does not disappoint. These guys go troppo, and there are two in particular that love the trainer, or at least love the treats that the trainer gives them. They just hang around and he pats them and they follow him back to the doorway. Its so friggin cool.

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My Mate, Pete, the Puffin.

I made a friend though. He was a puffin, who just wanted to eat my pen. He was super interested in it, and almost a bit aggressive about it, which made it all the better. We wrap up at the Bio Dome, and make our way to the insectarium. There was a comment made by the lady at the counter that I should have paid more attention to. This was something like “If it is too far away, or too cold to walk to the insectarium…”. I should have paid more attention, because it was a 10 minute walk in -20 degrees.

Not nice at all.

We finally arrived, with my beard hairs fused to each other and in a permanent state of crunchiness. The insectarium was something I hadn’t really seen before. There was an entire room full of cabinets, which were all full of different insects. Ranging from beetles, to butterflies, to spiders, to insects that I didn’t know could possibly exist. There is so much diversity among them. I also learnt that 1 in every 4 living things is a beetle. Thats about all I have to say about that.

It made me feel like I am hideously out numbered. If I am to be honest, the whole thing was a bit weird. There was just dead insects in bulk. Insects that look like they should never be able to die are dead. Its rather crazy.

Insects that I never knew could have existed had once existed, and it is cool to get up close to those insects that you have always wondered about.

After the insectarium, we head to the botanical gardens, and as much as this is exciting to Bec, I find some parts of it interesting, and other parts hideously boring, so I linger on the interesting bits to kinda counteract the boring parts. But, that being said, the interesting plants are pretty friggin awesome.

My fav was the Bonzai tree. 100%.

They look like they should be fake plants. They are so detailed that they look like they just came out of some guy’s model collection. I’ve seen them online, but I haven’t been able to see them in real life before, and my word, it is the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

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Bec, getting her asian on for the Bonzai Tree.

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We wrap up here, and head to get some food before we meet our next couch surfing hosts. We head to a place called Lester’s Deli, which is known for it’s smoked meat sandwich. It is literally just bread, meat and mustard sauce, and it is amazing. There is more meat than bread, by about 3 times the quantity. It is delicious.

The chick that was serving us though. She is the epitome of the experience I would expect anyone who doesn’t enjoy french people as a whole. Everything about poor hospitality is her to a T. Just bloody irritating. This chick next to us sat down, got the same treatment, and got up and left. If this place wasn’t such an icon, I would be doing the same thing. But the food.

The food was exceptional. Simple, but delicious.

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Lester’s Deli

We stuff our faces, and give the socially mandatory tip.

We head to meet out Couch surfing mates for the night. They are right next to the McGill station where we got off yesterday, except that they are on the 19th floor. She is Chinese, he is Mexican, and they are a couple. She’s very excitable and chatty, he is a little more reserved, holds an intense gaze, but is a super interesting bloke.

He’s studying Nuclear Engineering, and she is finishing her PHD in Neuro Science. These guys are on another level, but we still get to interest them with all the curiosities that Australia has to offer the rest of the world. They’re a great couple and would happily hang out with them again.

 

Montreal. You have served us well. Thank you.

 

Come back tomorrow,

Billy

 

 

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