Sleeping on a ship

This will be the last entry in this blog. I enjoyed writing it and apparently there were at least some people who liked to read it but here in England I feel that not that horribly much exciting stuff is happening to make a blog out of it, despite all my weekend travels. I find it also quite hard to keep up with writing a blog, so although it has been fun, I stop here now.

I flew on Tuesday (12th September) from Montreal to Boston. I was spending one night in Boston and had booked my flight back to England for Wednesday 13th September. I had booked a night at a ship, because I had found out that this is offered and I thought that sounds so cool. I had to check in at their office at the harbour and took an airport shuttle and then a water taxi to that office, was so cool with the water taxi, I didn’t even know before that that existed.

Then I checked in at the office, could leave my luggage there and had a few hours time before I was supposed to be back at the ship to get into the cabin, so I went for a walk after sitting for so long. It was a nice day and I mainly walked around in the park.

Then I got hungry, so I went to a Turkish place I had seen on the way, I got a cold vegetarian platter, was quite nice.

Afterwards I still had some time before having to check in, so I went to an outdoors bar at the harbour, always wanted to check it out although my stepdad called it „Ballerman“. 😛 It was quite nice actually but got bit lonely. At 8.30 we had to check in at the ship. We were shown the cabins and then one of the sailors of that ship invited us to go to a pub nearby. Me and two American girls joined. It was a quite nice evening and the sailor had a crush on me (I think I impressed him with my outdoorsy lifestyle :P), so I got all beers for free that night and he invited me to join him on a winter cruise to the Bahamas, it’s funny but very unlikely I’ll do it.

I slept well on that ship, alone, just for the record. 😛 It didn’t move around as much as I expected though. Here are some pictures of that ship I took the next morning:

      

It’s called Liberty Fleet Tall Ships. They do different cruises during the day and the evening and offer those overnight stays and that cruise to the Bahamas. I can only talk about the overnight stay, that was a cool experience and not horribly expensive, I think around 62 dollar one night. I can recommend it, it’s fun, and maybe you’ll meet a funny sailor too. 😛

The next morning I went for a breakfast in a nearby cafe and then I walked around quite a bit, because I knew that a long flight was awaiting me. I went to Harvard because my laptop had stopped working and I was told that there’s an apple store there. They didn’t fix it and luckily that was a quick fix back in England but at least I had a nice walk along the water whilst waiting for my appointment:

     

I definitely miss those big waters in England.

Then I walked back to the city centre and had fish for lunch near Faneuil Market. Yes I know, not vegetarian, but I suddenly wanted to have fish and it was worth, it was tasty.

I had to make sure to pick up my luggage at the office before it closes at 5 and my flight was at 21.55. I arrived very early at the airport but it was ok. The flight back was ok and now I’m back in England.

I had an amazing time in the US and Canada! I met many cool people. I learned a lot whilst doing the new projects at Brown and I’m definitely more motivated for my PhD now and have some motivation to do more. All the climbing was also great, it was so cool to climb outdoors and I learned a lot from all the climbing too. Being alone for such a long time at the other end of the world taught me how much I can do alone. My mood and my self-esteem improved a lot and I hope I can keep that up here in England. But I must say that I’m not too sad to be back. It was nice coming back to everything I know and to see some of my friends again. Let’s hope that an exciting time is awaiting me again! 😉

 

A tribute to Leonard Cohen

Apologies for the delay in entries.

My laptop had stopped working but now it’s luckily fixed. I’m back in England and it’s actually nice to be back.

Here come the last two entries of the blog. It has been fun to write and I got some good feedback, but I wouldn’t want to keep writing a blog, it’s hard to find the time to write regularly. I’m back into reality anyway, so less exciting things happening on a regular basis. 😛

This entry is about my last day in Montreal.

Everyone who knows me well knows that I’m a huge fan of Leonard Cohen. Funnily I didn’t like the music when I first listened to it in my parents‘ car. I was a teenager and thought this song „I’m your man“ is so unrealistic, who ever finds a man like that? But now I only would add to this song: „If you want a climber I’d do every rock for you.“ 😉 When I grew older I started to really like his songs, English is the most beautiful language when you read the lyrics. There’s so much truth in his songs and I guess I can identify with them because I’ve also truly loved. Leonard Cohen was born in Montreal, so I always thought that it would be interesting to see the city where he grew up. Thus part of the reason I decided to spend my holiday in Montreal was due to him.

I started the day (Monday) with daily duties though, I packed quite a bit of my stuff (my suitcase hardly closes!) and sent away the postcards I wrote to my family and friends. Then I went to Westmount, where Cohen was born and grew up. That’s his birthplace:

I walked a bit around Westmount but not much because my legs were really tired after the day of hiking. I saw the synagogue where Cohen had his bar mitzvah though. Then I took the bus to Boulevard St. Laurent and went to his favourite coffee place, Bagel Etc.

I must say, good choice! It’s a nice individual place and the music was good too. I ordered a coffee and a vegetarian omelet, it came with potatoes and challah bread, it’s made on shabbat. My mum makes better challah bread though! (It’s a Polish Christian tradition to make it on Christmas.) The food was still nice though:

Just opposite to the cafe is the Parc of Little Portugal, where Cohen liked to spend time, so I went in there too.

Afterwards I walked to the Jewish cemetery, at the entry of Mont Royal, where Cohen is buried. Most of the cemetery was closed though, I walked a bit through the open part but it’s a huge cemetery, I didn’t find his grave. But that doesn’t matter, I think his family kept it on purpose quite private and actually I think graves are not that important. For me, it’s not that important. I rather want to remember people how they were when they were alive and I also want to be remembered like that. When I die, then hike the mountains again that we did together rather than coming to my grave. But it’s a Jewish tradition to put stones on graves (you can do that on my grave too because my stepdad has Jewish ancestors so I feel a little bit related to that, and my Polish family has Jewish roots back deep in the past too and mainly stones of mountains would be so cool on my grave, sorry, death is a serious topic and luckily far away of me for now but just in case something happens I can tell you my preferences), so I had a stone from the hike the day before in my pocket and I wanted to leave it for Cohen, so I put it near a maple tree near the cemetery.

That’s the Jewish cemetery.

That’s the tree where I left the stone.

Then I went back home and in the evening I met Abdou again and we went to a bar. It was a cool place, I would have never discovered it on my own and it was very nice to see Abdou one last time. I had a cocktail and afterwards we walked a bit around and he showed me the Latin Quarter, looked like a cool place to dine out. Then I went back to the hotel, I was really tired and I guess Abdou realised it because he mentioned it. All the activities of the days before, getting up early and getting to bed late, had tired me out…

 

Mont Orford

On Saturday night, after coming back from Quebéc, I was invited via Facebook to join this local group I had talked about before for a hike. I was first unsure because I didn’t know if I can deal with another short night, the plan was to leave Montréal at 7 a.m., but my other plans for Sunday weren’t that exciting, just some indoor climbing in the afternoon, and the weather was supposed to be good, so I thought that would be a waste. Enormous amounts of coffee kept me going on that day. 😉 The people with whom I went hiking were two locals, Olivier, who had organised that, and Mahude, Oliver’s friend, who was quite new to hiking. Apart from that a Swiss guy joined as well, Paul, who had recently moved to Montréal. The plan was to do a trail that included Mont Orford and some smaller peaks. It wasn’t very challenging and the height wasn’t that enormous (Mont Orford, the highest peak we did, has 853m). But it wasn’t all flat, it was quite a bit up and down, so that was nice and I enjoyed very much to be in nature and out of the city. Good to see more of the area anyway! And of course good to get to know other people again. 😉 I mainly talked to Paul because Mahude really wasn’t used to those hikes, so she and Olivier were left quite a bit in the back. I talked French to all of them because it was everyone’s native language and for me it was good to practise and to learn some mountaineering-related terms in French. 😉 Sometimes some English phrases still came up automatically though. I thought that’s interesting, I never used any German words, it was just English that sometimes came up instead of French. I thought that’s maybe due to the fact that I knew I wasn’t talking in my mother tongue but I don’t know, it’s interesting, isn’t it? Paul taught me quite a bit about nature and trees (most of the hike was through forests) and we also had some interesting political conversations, I was so proud that I could do all of that in French! We did a race for part of the trail, which means that we ran part of it, I lost, but hey, that’s ok, he’s a Swiss mountaineer with longer legs. 😉 It was so much fun, I really thought that I’d like to do that again, I was proud of my fitness and how my smoker’s lungs managed that run. There were lots of viewpoints on the way, so I took A LOT of pictures, you can just scroll through them.

Paul and me also took a lot of pictures of each other because we were for quite a lot of the time bored when waiting for the others.

And here, that’s with the others during a snack break:

And a self-timer picture:

I was very fascinated by the autumnal colours but it didn’t turned out that well on the pictures:

   

And those pictures were taken on Mont Orford:

When waiting one time for Mahude and Olivier I saw a group of guys going up Mont Orford the other way and they were scrambling part of it. One of the guys was really scared and behaved very awkwardly so just to prove to myself, I had to try that scramble too, and,… It was one of the easiest scrambles I’ve ever done. 😉 I don’t judge anyone who’s doing it for the first time but I’m just so proud of how I improved at that! I also realised that when looking at Mahude, she was still using her hands much more than I am doing by now.

The guys also bouldered one rock but I decided not to. It’s not easy with boots and they were very scared when coming down, so I was glad that I hadn’t done it.

During one of our breaks we also saw a couple and the girl was juggling. She was asking us about the area and about climbing, so I could recommend her the climbing I’ve done in the US, in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire of course. It’s cool that I’m slowly becoming an expert. 😉 The girl was juggling, she was so cool, and her bf (I guess they are together) didn’t talk much, so the opposite of those American women on the bus the day before, that girl knew what she was worth regardless of her partner. 😉 She also taught the others some juggling but I didn’t push to the front of the line, balance and me aren’t best friends and I already was quite tired at this point. I took some pictures though:

Some more random pics:

And here, that’s the view on Mont Orford:

At the end I got VERY tired though. I had underestimated everything a bit by pushing myself so hard at the beginning and at the end I felt that I was losing energy and strength very much. Hey, after all it was 20k and 600m of height that we did in total! Paul was at the front and I was left with the others at the back, sometimes even a bit behind them. I fell twice because it was getting dark and I was losing energy and balance. I found that so embarrassing, I was glad that no one saw that. Luckily nothing serious happened apart from that my trousers got very dirty but one time I twisted that ankle a bit again, that ankle I had twisted before. I guess it’s still weaker than the other ankle and to be honest, I wasn’t that consequent with strengthening exercises here in Montréal as before. But luckily it seemed that nothing too bad happened to the ankle, I was able to finish the walk. It was 8 p.m. by the time we got back to the car, so the hike took us 10.5 hours. 😛

We got back to Montréal at 10 p.m. and then I had to take the metro back. I felt that after such a long hike I need to have some kind of dinner but I wasn’t up for a restaurant. I really didn’t want to go to Tim Hortons, that’s open all the time, it’s like Dunkin Donuts, with sweet stuff, but I wanted something savoury, but not a bagel, I had enough bagels recently. So I saw a Mc Donald’s close to my hotel, and I got chips and a burger but they didn’t have veggie options. I didn’t care at that moment at all though, so I got a hamburger. I thought how that’s against all my beliefs, pure capitalism making them work 24/7, then having meat (and bad meat I believe) and indeed, when I had that food in my room I didn’t like the smell and the burger wasn’t very good, the chips were alright though. Well, I guess after that long hike it’s alright that I had bad Mc Donald’s food. 😛

 

 

 

 

Rock concert and Quebéc city

On Friday night I went to a rock concert in a venue very close to my hotel, so that was convenient. I had seen when walking by that they had a show called „Homage to System of a Down“ and on the internet I saw that tickets are free, so that convinced me even more. It was a good night, the atmosphere was very relaxed, no annoying men trying to flirt and generally very relaxed and alternative people. The music was good too, but the two bands before were very hard-rock like. 😛 The first band only consisted of women, my feminist attitude liked that. 😛

The second band were men with a lot of make-up on and making a real show, with lights and fire, the first time I had seen something like that.

The actual band was playing SOAD songs, as I expected from the title. I once read that that’s quite a thing, that musicians play songs from famous bands and people go there because it’s cheaper if it’s covered. They were doing it really well, nearly couldn’t tell the difference and it was nice to know the songs and the rhythm (and I really like SOAD). Sometimes I thought though that it would have been also nice if they had played own songs, you know if they had their own style.

On Saturday I went to Quebéc city. First there were rudimentary plans to go on a hike with a local group I had found on Facebook but then they cancelled the plan, so I thought I will use the day to go to Quebéc city. I had found out in the tourist information that there’s a tour going there but I preferred to go alone by bus. However, I saw that on Friday night the tickets for the bus were nearly as expensive as the guided tour, so I thought, well, let’s go for the tour. It left Montréal at 8 a.m., so that was a bit tough after a short night after the concert, but I managed it, at least I could relax a bit on the bus. Next to me there was a girl from Ethiopia sitting, she was a doctor and on a holiday with her family. We talked a bit (I started the conversation) and she seemed friendly. She was very impressed by me travelling alone, having already seen so much of the world, doing climbing and hiking and doing a PhD. I told her that she has also something to be proud of, she’s a doctor, she’s saving people’s lives every day. I don’t think I do something horrible amazing, I just like to do interesting things and living the best life that’s possible but as I said, my self-confidence is quite good recently and maybe I’m really an interesting and cool person to know. 😉 I got very quickly annoyed by all the other people in the bus though. As you know by now I’m not the typical tourist at all. I try to merge with locals as much as possible, that’s why I don’t regret having gone climbing and dancing so often although I could have done more sightseeing in this time. The bus driver was funny and friendly but when he told about any interesting sights on the way and that we should get our cameras ready and take pictures and like in a dictatorship, everyone obeyed, and all those tourists with their cameras, horrible, I liked to be a rebel and not to take pictures. 😛 I was mostly annoyed by some American woman who flirted all the time with a man who was apparently staying in the same hotel, as I found out during the course of the conversation. The women were in their 60s or early 70s and I thought it’s so embarrassing that they flirted with that man. Girls, listen to me, for good, the ultimate goal in a woman’s life is NOT to find a man! If you find someone with whom you can share your life, that’s nice, but friends, other family, a job, hobbies,… All those things count too! And looking at those women I got scared how I’ll be in my 60s or 70s if I don’t have a long-term partner by then… Still, I hope I won’t be like those women. I had found out that some people even got a shuttle from their hotel, I didn’t have the possibility because my hotel wasn’t expensive enough. 😛 But how lazy! The bus drive was 3 hours and after that we were still sitting a lot in Quebec before having the possibility to walk around (I’ll write in a second about that), so: how lazy! I mean it’s good for old people or people with mobility issues but I think many tourists are just really lazy. That’s what my mum said in Dubrovnik, that many tourists just want everything organised for them. I get it if you have a very stressful daily life, and I don’t have a family to care for yet, but still every day I organise my life in a foreign country (England), I organise my PhD, part-time work, and I organise various other things but still, on holiday I don’t want to have everything organised but I think I just want to have the possibility to decide myself. 😛 Anyway, so in Quebéc we had a tour guide showing us a bit around old town. It was interesting what she told and she also had a funny attitude but it was again a lot of standing and not much walking and then we went back into the bus and were driven around and they told us what we can see and I thought I finally want to get out and walk around and see those things! But first we went to the Montgomery falls, which was a cool thing to see but just very short, only 20 minutes time.

When we finally had the 3 hours to explore the city I thought that I definitely need to walk around a lot to make up for all the sitting and that I need to escape from the masses because during the 45 minutes in the old town I have seen that it’s just crowded by tourists, so I went to the harbour and walked a bit along the water. It was very nice, very peaceful and nearly no tourists. 😉

I ended in the old port market and went inside. Lots of fresh fruit and veg! But wasn’t really worth for me to get any, I got some tomatoes though as a snack and to have with my bagel because I had the bagels from the day before with me and the tomatoes were really good! Very tasty! I walked back on the fort and had good views on the city from there, so I experimented a bit with taking pictures of different styles:

 

 

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Then I went to Château Frontenac which is a very famous and very expensive hotel:

There was a Salvador Dali sculpture:

Other pictures that I took there:

   

The walk made me discover various interesting things anyway:

Then I went to the citadel and walked a bit around there.

    

Then I went to the old town, I thought once I’m here I need to see a bit of it, but I didn’t have that much time anymore before the drive back. There were lots of shops but very expensive ones and quite touristy ones (lots of souvenir shops), so I thought better for my credit card anyway that I didn’t have that much time anymore. It was also hard for me to deal with all those crowds, it’s too much sensory input for me, I also hear all those conversations, it’s hard for me not to listen, it’s like unfiltered sensory input for me, which is hard to ignore and that makes crowds and big events very hard for me to deal with.

In conclusion I’d say about Quebéc, it’s a nice city and the landscape is very nice, but especially the old town is horribly crowded and touristy. If you go there from Montréal then take a normal bus instead of an organised tour even if the price is similar.

 

 

 

 

Jewish Montreal and Mont Royal

Today I joined a tour about the roots of Jewish history in Montreal. It was mainly in an area called Le Plateau, it’s now rather an area where different immigrants are living, and also students and hipsters. That’s what happened in New York as well: the area which was first settled by Jews has now „modern“ immigrants, when the Jews got enough money to move to nicer areas, and then students and artists move to these areas, because the rents are cheap, and then the rents rise, and that’s called gentrification. Nowadays Jews rather live in nicer suburbs of Montreal. (There are still about 90,000 Jews living in Montreal! Out of 1.7 million people living there  in total.) This tour was about how Jewish immigrants, mainly from Eastern Europe, founded the city, and it was very interesting, I learned a lot about architectural history as well.

You can’t read it that well, but that was the Jewish equivalent of YMCA.

That was an old synagogue, Hebrew letters on there, now it’s a collège français.

Apart from me, there was just one man taking part in the tour, it was a Jew from Israel. I felt very insecure when the guide asked us where we are from, and I said Germany but quickly added: „I now live in England“ but I think it was unnecessary, the man didn’t seem to care. He was friendly, maybe us Germans worry too much about those things… Anyway, my family wasn’t as guilty as some other German families, after all my mum’s Polish and my stepdad (to whom I feel closer than to my biological dad) has Jewish background! But still, it’s a German thing I suppose…

All in all I didn’t take that many pictures on the tour, because the man didn’t take many and somehow I felt stupid to take many in that case, but here is a picture of nice houses in Montreal:

And here I managed to catch the tour guide and the other tourist from the back and the first house was actually home to the „founder“ of Jewish life in Montreal:

The guide told many interesting facts, for example that there was a class division in the Jewish community. I wasn’t that aware of that, I always thought that the Jewish community has a strong connection, not only because of their religion, but also of their culture, I wasn’t really aware of class divisions within the community but of course that existed and still exists. And the tour guide told us that there was a strong left thinking within the Jewish community in Montreal, but in the 1950s there was a strong anti-communist movement not only in the US and Western Germany but also in Canada, so the government closed down one leftist Jewish community centre, nowadays it’s a communal garden:

The tour ended at a bagel bakery, Fairmount Bagel, the guide praised the bagels so much that I thought I had to get one, and indeed, they are amazing! So much better than the bagels we are used to in the US or UK. Afterwards I walked towards a Jewish bakery the guide was talking of, but I found a Jewish supermarket on the way, so I went in there and got quite a few things, some pastries (which are very similar to Polish ones, but Polish and Jewish cuisine mutually influenced each other) and hummus for my bagels and some fruit and a juice and chocolate with Hebrew letters, quite funny:

There were many orthodox Jews in that supermarket, they really had the orthodox clothing, hats, the man had the special hair and beards… It felt weird for me. No one cared about me (luckily I don’t have „German“ written on my face :P) and I don’t care about them, if they want to be orthodox, it’s their right, but it felt weird, I was wondering how the children feel as teenagers? Whether they feel like they don’t belong to the majority? Or are they so tied within their community? It’s something I can’t identify with at all, if people want to be religious, it’s their right, but I guess any strong religious behaviour feels strange to me.

As I was quite close to Mont Royal, I decided to walk up there as that was on my to-do-list for the visit anyway. I first walked for a while through a forrest. There was a path but no signs at all but I still ended in the right direction! Very glad I can trust my navigation skills. 😉 It was nice to walk there, very peaceful and there were nearly no other people.

I ended up at the summit of Mont Royal, there was a bus stopping at the same time and tourists went out and took some pics. I thought how weird, there are even not walking up that hill, it’s really just a hill, not a mountain! I felt much better walking everything, it was nice and much more rewarding. I walked a bit more through that area and ended at another viewpoint, very nice views from there.

My tour ended at a small lake that I had discovered on the map and then I decided to go back.

Definitely, I can tell you, walking everything is so much better than taking the bus or driving! I love to walk through new cities, sometimes without a specific goal, it makes you discover great places. And my feet were very tired in the end, I felt like I got my workout even though I wasn’t climbing or dancing today.

I took a slightly different route back than usual and I saw quite a bit of the McGill university campus:

I got a salad for takeaway for dinner because I felt that after the poutine yesterday I need something healthy and I didn’t feel like going out for dinner, wanted to rather have a relaxing evening in my room with a salad and beer and sorting out a few things.

Actually I was supposed to join a local hiking group for a hike tomorrow but unfortunately that got cancelled. There might be something happening on Sunday though, so I signed up for a tour to Quebec tomorrow, should be interesting to see as well. It’s starting at 8 a.m. and I’m going to a rock concert tonight, got free tickets for that, so that will be tough, but I’m young, I’ll manage that! I’ll keep you updated xxx

 

Chambly

Here come first the pictures of Wednesday, from the old town tour and my Chinese food:

The woman in the grey jacket was our tour guide

Montreal is 375 years old!

On Wednesday night I went with the guy whom I had met the night before dancing again, this time in another venue. It was kizomba music first, so I could practise what I had learned on Tuesday. I had the feeling that it went pretty alright. Afterwards there was salsa music, but I must admit that I had forgotten quite a bit of the steps. Nevertheless, I had the feeling that I managed to do the turns more in time, maybe my feeling of rhythm really improved. 🙂 He even told me Bachata music, and I had the feeling that I got that too, maybe it’s not all hopeless with me and dancing. 🙂 It was a very nice night. I liked the way he was touching my hips, I often think my hips are a bit too fat but now I felt very beautiful.  I got pretty quickly quite tired though, I think because I’m still pretty self-conscious when dancing. I quite liked taking breaks and watching other people dancing though, they had quite a high standard. And I realised that I think women look better at dancing. 😛 I don’t know, it just looks better when women do all those hip-shakes. 😛 There was some English music in that venue but also a far amount of French music which was cool, I really got back into French in general and French music. 🙂 Here are links to two songs I listen to pretty often recently.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAMWdvo71ls

The guy, Abdou, invited me to go to Chambly on Thursday, a town close to Montreal, so I thought why not. It was raining pretty hard on Thursday but we still went and actually we were quite lucky because it stopped raining. We first went to the fort, there was a museum inside (for free) but I was more up for walking outside, the air felt so fresh, it was actually a nice idea to get outside of the city.

    

And because I was with someone this time I got him to take pictures of me (that’s not easy when travelling alone :P). Especially for my mum who follows the blog pretty frequently and likes to see pictures of me. 😛

     

Abdou told me quite a bit of his life story, was pretty interesting but I won’t tell about it on here, it’s the privacy of others that I respect. Sometimes I’m happy that people trust me so much, I mean he barely knows me but told me quite a bit about him. In turn, I didn’t tell much about me, apart from some general stuff but nothing too personal. I experienced many not very nice things and sometimes I’d like to talk about it but I would have to trust this person very much… Abdou also told me that I don’t have to worry when he invites me to go out or do stuff, he said that’s not with the intention of getting me to bed but just to spend time with someone nice. He said „you are very cool“, that was nice to hear. 🙂 And it reassured me, I like having male friends but it’s not that easy, often they have sexual intentions. There are quite a few studies actually, men have more often sexual feelings towards their female friends than vice versa. We walked a bit around the town and I saw a nice shop with alternative clothes, so I dragged Abdou inside and I got an orange shirt, I think it looks quite nice:

I wasn’t sure whether it makes me look too pale, but Abdou said it’s alright.

Afterwards we went for food, we had poutine, that’s the famous here, so I thought I had to try it. It’s chips with A LOT of gravy sauce and cheese and I thought once I can betray my vegetarianism and I had it with Italian sausages. I didn’t like it though. It was very heavy and the cheese was disgusting, tasted more like butter. I didn’t manage to finish it. Afterwards I felt like I need to eat more healthy stuff the next days, it makes you crave vitamins. 😛

At the end Abdou and me took a selfie:

In the evening I went climbing again, I had arranged to meet someone at 6 but he wasn’t there. Later I saw that he had messaged me that he came later but I hadn’t see that because I don’t have Facebook messenger, didn’t work out well… I had found someone to belay me though, but that wasn’t a nice experience, most of you have seen the Facebook post I guess,  I have tried very quickly a hard route, a 6a, but that was too hard for me, maybe also not a good idea to do it with a belayer you don’t know. I fell on this route and he didn’t catch me. It was quite at the beginning and luckily nothing bad happened, I think the worst was the shock. The fall felt indeed pretty horrible… It had tired my body out, all this trying and the shock I think. Afterwards it was hard to regain the confidence in him belaying me and in my climbing, so I felt even on easy routes pretty insecure. I still did quite a few climbs though and even finished with a 5c, so something a bit harder and I was pretty proud of it. Not sure with the climbing though, made me realise that it’s an „inherently dangerous sport“, you have to be careful, but I still wouldn’t want to give up on that, it became too much part of me. However, it might have been the last time climbing here in Montreal as it’s quite a way to the climbing gym and I want to discover more of the city, I might go hiking tomorrow (Saturday, I found a hiking group) and will probably go to a concert tonight (Friday), got a free ticket! I took pics of the climbing gym though as a memory:

   

Various events

Last night I went to a dancing event, as I planned to. It was kizomba, that’s a dance from Angola. It was in a club quite close to my hotel, I found it on the internet when I was searching for dancing events, they offer free dance lessons which is really cool, so there was this kizomba lesson. I was intimidated again when I arrived because there were many black and latino people and I thought they would just think of me as an unrhythmic white girl. But as they taught everything from the beginning I wasn’t too bad I guess. And I’ll give this advice to everyone who has problems with rhythm like me, just dance with black men and women, the way they move makes you feel the rhythm too. 😉 After the lesson there was social dancing and I ended up dancing with one black guy who asked me for a dance. He had a bit experience with kizomba and I thought he’d gave up on me when I sometimes didn’t really know how to move but he didn’t give up and after a time I became quite confident with moving around. If you are interested in the dance, here’s a link, although I bet I didn’t look that good. 😛

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WOVBNULkYc

I found this dance very interesting because it’s very sensual and erotic but there wasn’t anything happening between me and him but I think that’s what I actually like about dancing, that all sexual things stay within the dance. Well, he said in the end that I made good progress. I understood „problems“ at the beginning though and was very shocked, like thanks for saying out loud what I know, but he actually meant progress. 🙂 (Appendix: I really didn’t turned him off with my lack of talents. We are going to a salsa event tonight. It will just be dancing though, I don’t want more and I really hope he doesn’t hope for that…)

Today (Wednesday) I went climbing in the morning. I had arranged the session with a girl via Facebook. I was quite looking forward to climbing with a girl because I had been mainly climbing with guys recently (generally have rather been climbing with guys, probably due to the fact that more guys do it than girls) and also the dancing and everything, I felt I had a bit too much attention from guys recently and just wanted to spend some time with people of my own gender. She was a local, I really love how my hobbies make me meet different locals! She preferred speaking French, so that was a good chance for me to practice my French and learn some climbing-related French words. 😉 She was much better than me at climbing but it was good to watch her, taught me about how I should move, although she did a higher level than me. But that’s also a good thing about climbing with girls; guys use much more strength and girls technique, so I can learn more for myself when climbing with girls. Well, generally a balance of gender is nice I guess but I must say that I feel more confident with girls, probably due to some internalised gender roles. Generally I felt like „it wasn’t a day of gravity“, as Michol would say, I hadn’t drank much last night but if felt like even that was too much, but I still managed to do some good moves, so I left the gym being happy.

Afterwards I went to a free tour around the old town where I had signed up for. It was really interesting! The woman who led the tour just had a very good way of telling things about the history and random facts and I actually managed to concentrate all the time, that’s not always the happening at those tours I must admit. I also saw some new places that I hadn’t seen before, for example another church. 😛

The tour ended in the financial district that I hadn’t seen before and we saw the Palais de congrès de Montréal from the inside, it’s very big. It’s a convention centre with many shops, places to eat etc.

This was near Chinatown, so I decided to have dinner there. I had tofu with mixed vegetables and rice and a hot lemon with honey because it got pretty cold and I needed to warm up and didn’t feel like alcohol. The food was good, it tasted pretty authentic. What puts me off eating Chinese in Western countries is that I don’t think the food is necessarily very nice, it’s often pretty oily and quite greasy actually, but this one is good. It was cheaper than the places on Rue Sainte Catherine where I had eaten before too, so I definitely recommend Chinatown if you are ever in Montreal!

Unfortunately something messed up with the pictures when I wanted to upload them because I had to delete some as there was not enough space, I think they are deleted from the blog now forever. 🙁 Well, anyway, I can’t care too much about the pictures now, sorry, because I’m going to the salsa dancing now, but of course I’m very happy to show you any pictures when you see me again and I hope it will work out with the other pictures later during the stay.

 

 

First proper sightseeing in Montreal

Today (Tuesday) I didn’t have any plans, so I thought I’ll just explore the city a bit. First I walked along Rue Sainte Catherine (the street where I’m staying) because I had to find an apple store. I can’t use my US sim card here anymore but I want to have a working sim card in case I need to call, so I wanted to change it to my British one. On the way I stopped at quite a few shops, they have so cool clothes here! And not very expensive. But I didn’t buy anything, the phone was so expensive and I don’t have much space in my suitcase, if I buy something I want to make sure I really want it.

   

I walked into another church, this time a Catholic one. That’s interesting, that they have Catholic and Protestant churches here. This one was pretty impressive:

         

Maybe there’s a hidden religiosity that I go into so many churches? 😛 It’s always weird for me though if there are people who are actually praying, then I feel a bit bad for just visiting the churches. The silence in there intimidates me too, I don’t think that God if he exists wants that, I believe he’d want us to have fun! That’s the weird thing about those monotheist religions, I think they see God as too strict. They have some problems with their superego I believe!

Afterwards I walked to the old town, that looks really nice. I actually booked on a free walking tour around the old town for tomorrow, but I wanted to explore it a bit on my own before.

   

   

   

Then I walked to the harbour. I like water so much and I’ll definitely miss all the water when I’m back in Birmingham, as I had written before, so here come a lot of pictures of the water:

And some workers at the harbour:

And more pictures of the water:

I had also discovered a book store which had a very nice atmosphere and because I’m such a feminist I got two books, one calendar for women haha and most important, the standard book of feminism, „Le deuxième sexe“ of Simone de Beauvoir. Yes, I got that in French, I always planned on reading it in French! Well, the first step was to get it haha, now I only have to actually read it.

Afterwards my feet got pretty tired, so I went back to the hotel room to chill a bit. I wanted to sleep but somehow I couldn’t. Anyway, it was good to chill and I took the time for the blog haha. But now I’m getting hungry and I think I’ll go to another dancing event later!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First impressions of Montreal

Now I should rename the blog to „Canadian adventures“. 😉 Anyway, here comes the first post from Montreal.

I flew on Sunday from Boston and it was rather stressful because my phone had stopped working, the screen just didn’t react anymore. It annoyed me quite a bit because the phone wasn’t cheap and 2 years isn’t that old but I guess nowadays it’s old… There’s a conspiracy going on anyway that all technics stops working when you can’t return it anymore after 2 days… It was sometimes relaxing without a phone but also quite annoying actually and I wanted to have the possibility to make calls whilst being in Montreal so I got a new phone. There was just an apple store in Providence Place so I went in there and he recommended an iPhone. It was quite expensive but I hope it will last for a bit then, I will take care of it. Then I had to run to my train to Boston and I carried this heavy suitcase and my handbag and was really afraid of missing the train because they don’t go often on Sundays and I got quite a bad asthma attack… My health’s a mess. 🙁 But I caught the train and arrived in time at the airport. Everything went alright with the flight and I found the hotel quickly. The area is quite good, quite central, but it’s next to a sex shop. I always think I shouldn’t get too drunk that I don’t confuse the shop with the hotel when coming back. It’s quite though although it had reviews that it’s loud outside. No people shagging at night. 😛 After I arrived I thought that I should check out the area and go for a beer. I found a sports bar, it made quite a nice impression. There were three men and I could tell that one was interested in me. I looked at him, I was up for a conversation, but actually nothing more. He approached me and got me a shot. Later another one got me a beer. It was funny to be the target of concurrence between friends. At some point it got a bit annoying though and I left because I had arranged to go climbing the next morning, so I wouldn’t want to be too drunk. They wanted me to spend the night with them but I really wasn’t interested in that. They weren’t very attractive and I just got beyond this point of random ONS… So I walked back to the hotel and do you want to know what I did because I actually enjoyed being alone and having all the freedom of being alone? I turned on the music and sang songs pretty loudly. 😛 (Hopefully I woke no one up.)

The next morning I got up quite early for climbing. The breakfast isn’t too good at the hotel. There’s toast and croissants with jam or nutella and cakes, nothing savoury. The collection of cereal isn’t too great either. But they have yoghurts and fruit, so I went to a shop to get some own cereal. I walked to the point where I was supposed to meet the guy for climbing. I had quite a bit of time, so I could just stroll. I stopped at two churches and went inside:

   

I liked the fact that one church had the pride flag outside, I think it’s a very good sign if they show that they are welcoming to people of other sexual orientations than the heterosexual one, that’s something the church has to work on.

I arrived in time for the climbing and met the guy, Matthew, with whom I just had been in touch via Facebook before. He seemed quite nice. That’s a thing I really like, with the climbing and with quite a lot of things I’m doing on holiday actually I meet quite a few locals, which is really nice. Some people were wondering that I’m going to Montreal just by myself but I had joined that climbing group on Facebook (and also a hiking group but not sure if they plan anything), so I thought I wouldn’t be totally alone all the time. At times it can feel a bit lonely though (I’m writing that on the second full day here) but then I can message with my friends if I want to (although I try to avoid the internet a bit) and actually I’m back quite soon, so I’ll see my friends again soon. 🙂

Matthew had been climbing for about as long as me but he’s quite a bit better. He has much more determination than me haha. It’s interesting to climb with men who are about my age. They can push you really hard to the limits. Sometimes it can be tiring but it makes you improve. The thing with sporty guys at my age is that I want to impress them even if I don’t have any deeper intentions other than just to climb with them. I still want to be that woman who can show her climbing skills. I remember the last route I did on that day, I had to overcome an overhang and I already was tired but I wanted to show that core strength and that balance. I was really tired after the session though. Afterwards I had a shower and got ready, because I have plans for my stay here, I want to get back into dancing! That was a quite spontaneous thought haha, I had been dating one guy in the US and he said that he was a good dancer, I never got the chance to check it out. I was quite upset when he had ended the whole thing but then I thought, I will just enjoy myself and will get back into dancing. I first went for food (had a sandwich with grilled veg and a salad and a local beer, was quite nice) and then I left for dancing, it was a tango event. I had taken some tango lesson in the past at Warwick but not since I started studying in Birmingham. I felt very intimidated when I arrived, they all were so good dancers! It was a bit difficult for me anyway because it was a location that also offers lessons and most people knew each other and danced with each other. But some men also asked me for dancing. I was honest that I feel pretty rusty but it went ok, at least in my opinion. Most of them were also quite happy with me I guess, most didn’t stop dancing until it was time to change partners. Only two stopped which left me quite self-conscious but then later I got the feeling that they were self-conscious themselves and needed a confident partner. But it went ok with men who were confident at leading. I remembered the second one who expected me to do some sexy moves with my legs but I just couldn’t do it. 😀 That’s a thing that’s difficult for me with tango, those sexy moves with the legs, that’s unlike me. The ochos were difficult too, I didn’t know when I was supposed to stop turning. Turns are difficult for me at dancing because I have no feeling for rhythm at all. Still, the feedback wasn’t too bad, I’m actually thinking of going back into tango or maybe salsa, I think salsa is a bit easier.

There was one man who was a really good dancer and the funny thing is, he didn’t make that impression. He wasn’t that attractive, apart from being quite a bit older than me he wasn’t very tall and quite round too, not fat, but definitely round. I’m very much into sporty guys, not those fitness-obsessed but I like a certain level of sportiness and although that man wasn’t sporty he knew so well how to move! I saw that quite often, sometimes the men where you expect it the least are the best dancers. And the best thing is, at the end I also got to dance with him. 🙂 My highlight of that night were two men dancing with each other, that looked very good and you don’t see it often. You often see two women dancing with each other but not two men, they are too afraid of losing their masculinity. 😛

Last post from the US

But not the last post of this blog, because now I’m finally on holiday and will keep you updated about Montreal of course!

It feels very weird that I’m leaving tomorrow though and rather won’t come back, at least not in the nearest future.

It has been an awesome time! I’ve learned a lot during my internship, I met very interesting and nice people both at uni and on the climbing trips and I also learned a lot in terms of climbing. I really like this area and I’m a bit sad of leaving everyone again but at the same time I am also very much looking forward to seeing my friends in England again.

So here comes a short summary of the last week: It has been mainly determined by my stupid phone. I went to that phone shop where I left it on Sunday on Thursday again and asked about the phone and that stupid guy said that he forgot about it! It made me incredibly angry and I said I’m leaving on Sunday. I didn’t know what to do and it made me so angry that I started crying outside which made me even angrier because I don’t like anyone to see me crying. I asked a random man for a cigarette and another guy passed by and asked me for a fag but I didn’t have any. He still said that I’m beautiful which made me happy again, because I don’t think I looked very beautiful at that point haha. And by the way, dear male readers, although I wasn’t interested in that guy, that’s an ok way to talk to a girl! It’s not annoying catcalling in my opinion. But it really depends on the situation, sometimes even that may be annoying but at that point I needed something nice. I ubered my way through until I ended in a phone shop where I returned today. For a short time it seemed like the phone was working but now it’s not anymore which is very annoying… At least the guy in the second shop didn’t charge much because he feared that it might stop working again but still very annoying. I don’t like not having a phone, I like the idea of being able to call if necessary and set an alarm (doesn’t really work on my laptop) and google maps if for me really useful… Well, at least I have a watch and a laptop and a camera but still, I guess I need to get a new phone, and that very soon, which is annoying, because I spent so much money on the repairs (including the ubers) and now I need to get a new phone, and the spendings do annoy me, because I need to watch my money, but well, I can’t change it… I don’t know, I guess I learned not to get that horribly annoyed about things that I can’t change. It’s a good thing I’ve learned that!

Apart from that, I don’t feel that I did that much for uni this week. Yesterday, on my last day, I felt like I didn’t end things properly. Well, with the CRT I did about everything what I was supposed to do I guess but with the EEG experiment I didn’t finish the analysis. But then I have to remind myself that it’s not my fault, I needed processed data for that and I didn’t get them in time. I will finish the analysis in Birmingham but it would have been nicer to start the holiday with that work finished and start in Birmingham with new things… At least this internship gave me good ideas how to process with my PhD when I’m back in Birmingham. I want to do more projects, I’m quite motivated actually! I especially want to work on that neuroimaging stuff, that’s quite important nowadays for psychologists.

On Monday Joo-Hyun invited us for lunch, very kind of her. I provided Printen (the gingerbread from Aachen) on the lab meeting yesterday, they liked them a lot, it’s nice. Yesterday was 1st September, Anti-War-Day (which I always celebrate, just like the end of World War II), so my contribution on that day were cupcakes in the style of a black forest cherry cake, I provided them for my house. They liked them but I wasn’t 100% happy but it’s hard that I’m 100% happy with anything I do anyway… Here’s a pic before I put the topping on:

And with the topping:

My mum asked for pics of the uni, I don’t know, I didn’t feel like taking lots of pics of the uni 😛 But here, that was where I was based:

On Thursday I got a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream in a Ben & Jerry’s shop. 😛 A huge sin but so good! I thought once I’m in the US I need to get it. 😛 I also did a lot of sport this week, so at least I worked all that food off. Actually I exaggerated a bit too much, I did sport for 6 days in a row (from Saturday till Thursday), yesterday was a day off and today I did sport again. My muscles were aching a lot on Thursday… Friederike, my German flatmate, was really surprised how much sport I do. Well, here comes the difference between me and other sport fanatics. I don’t do it to look good or to impress men. Well, I like a sporty look but doesn’t need to be huge muscles, also for men that’s not necessary I think. But I certainly don’t do it to impress men. I want to be fit and good at climbing, that’s all. Well, and the reason I did so much sport this week was because I will do less in Montreal and because I was so happy that my ankle is finally ok again! I also went climbing indoors on Tuesday, I’m back at my old level, that felt so good.

Yesterday I did a small good-bye party. Not people turned up but actually that was ok. Ken, Michol and David from the climbing crew came and it was a very nice evening. Actually it was good that it wasn’t a huge group because I always feel awkward in big groups and I find it hard to talk then. We went to a bar called „The Hot Club“- weird name but actually very nice, with a big sitting area outside at the water. I will definitely miss the water, it smelled so nice of the sea. The canals in Birmingham aren’t the same… Here are some pics:

And here, that’s us:

And a pic David took:

They actually had interesting conversations about relationships and they said it’s definitely better to be alone than to be desperately with someone just to not be alone. That’s absolutely my point. Here comes something personal I admit, I started with online dating a few months ago. I refused that for quite long but then I found it hard to meet people who are not just young students. Well, I like that you can chat with so many different people but my views on that are a bit different, I guess with some people I could be perfectly friends but not in a relationship but they all expect a relationship I guess. Sometimes it turns me off when they imagine of doing all sort of things with me, often even in their first message! I mean it’s not about anything sexual, but why imagining hikes with me if I don’t know if I want to go hiking with them?? (I bet they read it in weird relationship guides, that women like those messages. Sorry, guys, we don’t like it. At least I don’t.) Then I think a relationship is such a great adventure because it develops over time and you don’t know where it will lead to. But those expectations turn me off. Sometimes I’m still on that site just because it’s funny but mostly I’ve been avoiding it recently. I think I sent the link of the blog to some of them, they might be reading it, and even the person I will now talk about might read it, but I don’t mind: There’s been one person with whom I’ve been writing a lot, and for the first time it seems like there are topics to talk about (although, weirdly, we don’t have the same political opinion and even not that many hobbies in common). There’s the same sense of humour, which is probably more important than whether the other person is as much into climbing as I am. What I enjoy the most is that there’s not this huge expectation of future. We will hopefully meet when I come back and then see. I’ve not always been that relaxed but you just have to wait and see how things develop.

So, my experience from online dating is that I feel sorry how needy some men are! It’s a huge turn-off, just as an advice.

Today I walked a bit along Wickenden Street. I’ve seen this street before and thought it has nice shops. There were also many nice cafes (hipster-like :P) and I thought it’s a shame I didn’t come here before. I had a coffee though at a place that Melanie recommended, it was indeed very good. I was sitting outside and I thought it’s actually not bad not to always have a phone- you can enjoy the moment much more without a phone. Luckily I didn’t buy much, my suitcase is very full anyway, probably I can’t buy much in Montreal either… I got a CD for a dollar though, was on the off chance but I actually even like the music:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAs9JqcpdH0

I also discovered a church (Portuguese I think) and wanted to go inside, I’m getting old, wanting to see churches haha, but it was closed. On the pic it doesn’t look as nice as it actually did:

I also took a pic of the sculptures for my mum, she likes sculptures and she’s reading the blog pretty regularly 😛

And here’s a picture of the water:

By the way, those Germans flatmates turned out to be pretty nice! They started to ask about my day and I was supposed to go to see the water fireworks with them that sometimes happen in Providence, but unfortunately they weren’t on today. I don’t know why they were so weird at the beginning, maybe because everything was new to them and because they were jet-lagged but it’s good that they were nice, made the last days more enjoyable.

Ok, that was it from the US! I will keep you updated about Montreal though as I promised!