43 More hours in Montreal

Yes, hard to believe I was just here 2 weeks ago but here I am again in beautiful downtown Montreal. I flew through Atlanta this time and was extremely foolish not to eat between flights. Since 8 am all I’ve had to eat is a handful of airline peanuts and a soy latte.

The trip was mostly uneventful. The highlight of my hour in Atlanta were these trash-eating garbage cans.

They plug into the wall and when you toss something in, they start grinding and growling, crunching it up right before your eyes. Very high tech waste disposal in Atlanta.

I got to Montreal around 4pm and believe it or not, it took me nearly three hours to get to my hotel. First, customs was a log jam. Last time I was here, I breezed through it in five minutes because it was completely deserted. I even took a survey while waiting for my driver, saying I was highly satisfied with my airport experience since I got through everything in ten minutes or so. That oughtta skew their results nicely, up against anyone answering who’s endured the real hell of it. This time it took me probably forty minutes to get through a line that wrapped around and around, filled mostly with what looked (and sounded) like all 200 members of the Russian Symphony Orchestra.

Once free of immigration, I stood in yet another line for the ATM and then grabbed a cab to my hotel. I had little faith in my driver and as I found out later, with good reason.

I’d taken Dramamine on the plane to make sure I didn’t get motion sick during the cab ride to downtown. ‘Thing is, Dramamine may be great for motion sickness but it does f*ck all against smells. You know, they really shouldn’t let cab drivers wear cologne. Or at the very least, they should disallow them marinating in it. Ten minutes into the ride my stomach was churning and I was slumped in the back seat repeating to myself, “You’ll be fine. You’re not going to puke. You’re NOT going to puke!” Then he turned the radio on.

Unfortunately for me, I not only had the perfumiest cab driver in Montreal, I also had perhaps the only black man in the world who loves James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful”. He cranked it up and started singing along and I seriously thought I would be ill all over the back seat. James Blunt finally stopped whining and then – oh no! – I heard the opening chords to “Come On Eileen” by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, one of the two most irritating and lethally catchy songs in the world (the other being “The Safety Dance” by Men Without Hats). I almost laughed at the horribleness of it all but couldn’t because I was too busy trying to breathe through my mouth.

The ride felt truly endless. I had to endure crazy swerving, honking horns, suddenly-slammed brakes and even Swing Out Sister–does anyone remember them?–belting out “Break Out”. FINALLY we pulled up in front of my hotel. Well…we pulled up alongside my hotel. My cabbie wasn’t inclined to actually pull around the block in order to go through the one-way valet area so I grabbed my bags and schlepped them from the sidewalk to the lobby.

The place was palatial, with a beautiful lobby and nearby restaurant called Chez Antoine. Things were looking up – and then I presented my hotel voucher to the concierge and she told me I was at the WRONG DELTA HOTEL. She gave me a map and drew where we were and where my hotel was, and I was a good 15 minutes away from it. By then I was beat, but I was also understandably leery of cab drivers so I chose to walk the whole way.

The first Delta hotel I was in was gorgeous. MY Delta hotel was decidedly less impressive. It was also a high rise, but with a low ceilinged, small lobby and modest waiting area. On the way up to my room I couldn’t help but notice the dirty, scuffed door frames in need of paint and the loose, lumpy carpeting. Inside my room things didn’t get much better. I find the place is clean but bland, featuring the bargain basement version of shabby chic (heavy on the shabby, a little light on the chic) –

With deluxe entertainment system:

and the lumpiest bed in the history of lumpy beds:

I think there might be a body under there.

The best thing about my room is that it has a thermostat that no matter what I set it on, keeps the room cold enough to store raw meat so there’s no danger of heat exhaustion. Yay for a first night at the Montreal Motel 6! Oh well. At least they have room service. Maybe I can order a drink stiff enough to help me ignore the body in the bed.

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