Month: July 2016

The Parental Visit

After little more than six months I was going to see my parents again. On my familiar ground, but for them no more than a holiday visit. And just like with my boyfriend’s first visit, I didn’t know how to feel about having familiar elements from a shared life show up in the space that was only mine (and a few thousands of Canadians, but when do they count?). It wasn’t nerves or a lack of wanting to see them, I just couldn’t imagine them in this picture.

Luckily our band was still strong, and my attempt at tourist-guiding them through Ottawa (well, I even managed to show them some not food related things) didn’t go that badly, I think. I was surprised with how easily they fit into this narrative. Just parents coming over to see if everything’s okay, to discover your new place. And because I was the one with a clue here (about this city), I didn’t completely slipped back into the daughter role, but it was pretty much three adults hanging out together.

Together we did/visited new things and familiar things, and like that it makes this entire situation feel more real yet again. Yes, I am in Canada by myself (for how long it’ll last), my parents have the proof, they support me. That also means that the goodbye after five days was surprisingly hurting. We will see each other again soon, very probably, we got through six months without seeing each other, so why the tears?
Goodbyes are just never easy when it’s a loved one, I guess. Yesterday I left them in Montreal and after a week of seeing each other every day for several hours in a row, it feels a bit stunted. But I have to go back to work again, they fly back home soon, and everything will be ordinary again.

I guess it’s better to feel that way than not care at all. I knew that before, but I’ll still make it my first life’s lesson after my thirtieth birthday.

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Montreal

It’s been a week since I’ve returned, let’s try to make a report about it.

I’ve been curious about Montreal for a while and it being relatively close (just two hours by train), I felt like I could make a small trip out of some time. But then you work with a weekly schedule that never gives you days off in a row, and you just keep waiting.

But no, finally there was Tuesday to Friday off, and I went for some last minute booking ($1118 for a plane ticket? Okay, let’s do the $133 for the train!).

Some points beforehand: I feel like my going-in-the-wrong-direction sense is getting stronger. Meaning that I walked much more than necessary. It took me until the third day to recognise that Montreal is like Manchester, but with a more laidback mood and more French (industrial, colourful, skyscrapers, a big mishmash). Taxi drivers are rude assholes. Oh, and a mini collection of pictures.

On the first day I managed to find a park and my AirBnB, so that was at least something. Everything else was a sweaty, frustrated mess, mostly because my shit phone provider doesn’t even cover the closest city and I had to walk around without Google Maps (managing to not even find the Tourism Centre at first try). Yay, paper city maps!

Having “lost” the first day, I went all-tourist-out on day two. Renting bikes (if you manage to not take more than thirty minutes between two stations, you can rent bikes for five bucks a day), cycling to the islands, to the old part of town, to the new part of town, up the mountain, through the cemetery (okay, I did that walking) (the cemetery had larger than I’ve ever seen before prairie dogs), finding the recommend food places (and loving them). Go, go, go!
Having me collapse at eight at night, trying to come up with something else I should do with my valuable time, and deciding that reading in bed isn’t that bad either. But Montreal is pretty awesome to cycle through, never a dull moment. I was surprised by all of the graffiti everywhere, the amount of parks and squares full of greenery, the asshole cab drivers. Poutine is still not that great in my opinion, though. Asian pastries are, I had steamed green tea cake, mochi and a Chinese donut, which came on a stick for some reason. What do you mean, I judge a city by its food?

And on the seventh third day I falsely thought I could fill my day with shopping. Plenty of malls around! My train leaves at seven, that’s almost early!
I gave up after three hours, a dress, a backpack and a smoothie. Having heard about Five Guys I got a late lunch there, but the blowing away didn’t happen. I spent some time in a square instead, reading.
Being much too early at the train station worked in my favour with a free donut from the smiley Dunkin Donuts guy, and I finally found an Empire Magazine (I was on a holiday, after all).

The train ride back was filled with a wagon full of loud children. At least I hadn’t planned on sleeping.

I definitely recommend Montreal for a short stay, because it’s weird and beautiful and has so many amazing patisseries (and other food places, don’t worry). The bike system took some time figuring out but works, and I think all kind of vacationers can find something they like over there.

And yes, I may be planning a second visit for a Mamie Clafoutis/Patisserie Harmonie/Kuzo round trip. There’s always more to explore, after all.

 

 

Once more, once more

Today I signed my “determination of contract”, aka a note on printing paper how I’d be out by August 31, and preferably sooner.

In two days I have a job interview, which will be part of my decision on how long I will need my new living space. Here we go again.

Cashing a check

I was pretty sure I could remember that I would get a check from my phone provider (a “security deposit”) after six months, but couldn’t find any proof of it really going to happen. Combine that with the Canadian Mail putting down work, and I was unsure if I’d ever have the experience.

Because I never cashed a check before, checks aren’t things in the Netherlands (any more), and until now I did just fine with paying things in cash or online banking (“Interac”, which is still sorely lacking in userfriendliness and possibilities).

But the check arrived, and even though it felt like something from a scam, I took it and went to the bank. Can I get it in cash? Do I have to put it in an account? Can I do both? Turns out, there’s plenty of possibilities, and cashing checks is really easy to do. Another new experience survived.

Canada Day

The streets are silent and empty today, in Ottawa. Is this how the capital celebrates Canada Day, by escaping it? No, it just depends on where you go, and today we go to Parliament Hill and the Park next to it.

Here are the food stands, photo opportunities, freebies you don’t necessarily want or need but still accept. The Hare Krishna sing, the people are dressed in red and white, and Trudeau (yes, I spotted him!) tried to wave at all of them.

Still, even with thousands of people in such small space, the festivities are impressively contained, with a low volume, with little littering. Coming from Queen’s Days, I felt like I was experiencing an early morning or the day after, not noon – smack in the middle of the party day. Maybe Canadians are just too considerate to make a loud mess of things.

I got my Beavertail to make sure I was part of the party (well, that is going to be an one time thing), and got EH and a maple leaf sponged on me. With a freebie (President’s Choice antlers) on my head, I did my rounds. To discover that besides things being cleaner and less loud, it’s still a national day off, which some people take as an excuse for dressing up. I wasn’t filled with Canadian pride, nor put off by it.

Tonight are concerts and fireworks, assuming it won’t be canceled because of the rain falling now. We wouldn’t want to make coming to the festivities a bother, after all. And a crowd full of umbrellas is an explosion of “Sorrys” waiting to happen.