Vancouver to Montreal (via Calgary), Sunday 8th January 1994
I got up 5.30am ready for the taxi to the airport at 6.00am C$24 (about £12). I soon got to the airport. It was still dark. I quickly checked in and had coffee while waiting, observing and listening to conversations. I shuffled over to the window seat. There was a slight delay because of congestion and a problem with ventilation on one of the engines. A woman on my right was very stressed because of queues and getting on the plane late, in contrast to my state of complete blasé. I saw great views of Calgary after an hour’s flight, a cluster of skyscrapers, just past the mountains. Fields were covered in snow. It was a further three hours to Montreal, all dark and covered in snow. At the small Dorval Airport, it was cold outside – the exit on the ground floor was through two automatic doors. I used the multimedia information point to find out where the buses were. Buses to the centre dropped people off at a posh hotel in the centre then there was a free shuttle to the hostel. I talked to the driver about the dual language nature of Montreal and the problems associated with starting a conversation: he said that he waited until the other person spoke before he spoke. The hostel had moved from the advertised address, and I was given directions by people entering the house “1030 Macay St” a 15 minute trudge through the snow via taking a photo after being asked (the camera had such a long delay between pressing the button and taking the shot). A friendly warden, a free skates offer on the notice board; I went to room 110b, complete with Australian who had taken my bed, so I just moved to another. A friendly atmosphere in a basement area, kitchen and TV area: what make it friendly are the small dimensions of the rooms, with no great large rooms, and such a contrast to the Vancouver hostel. I went to the downstairs Peel bar: So lively and full of students, great cheap tortellini and salad, beer and two cups of coffee for £4. They were playing an electronic pub quiz with mobile answer units, and the winners received free beer – excellent! I am writing this in the TV room during a discussion about Canada’s national sport of hockey. People were playing chess. A 39 year old was talking a lot and as mad as a fish. My watch stopped working. I went to the Peel Bar with the lads for a beer.