Thursday, August 03, 2006

Montreal, part deux

Sorry. It's been hectic since we got home. Okay, back to vacation...

So following the drive through Oklahoma City-esque 'burbs, we arrived in the central city and were dropped off at the main bus depot. From there, we caught a smaller shuttle bus to the hotel. (Aside: while waiting for the shuttle, we met a guy who was there for the country line dancing competition and was from Richmond, Virginia; two years ago in Amsterdam, we sat at an open-air cafe and shared the only open table with a guy from... Richmond, Virginia!)

The Hilton Montreal Bonaventure is set on the 17th floor of a big office building. It has two acres of rooftop gardens... and no elevator! Yes, there is an elevator from the lobby up to the hotel, but the hotel itself is a split-level affair and has no internal elevator. This is not convenient when one is traveling with a large rolling bag and a companion with a cane. Our room had a lovely view of... the parking structure next door. At least we didn't spend much time in it (awake).

We found the Metro station, bought three-day passes, and headed out to the Olympic Stadium. We hadn't had dinner, so we went to look for something quick to eat before the Opening Ceremonies. Montreal managed to locate its Olympic Stadium in a completely residential neighborhood. Despite being adjacent to a major street, there were no commercial establishments of any kind visible from the stadium. We walked a ways and found a place that did a really good hamburger steak.

Back at the stadium, we discovered that our tickets were really good seats. I knew I didn't go for the cheapest seats, but I didn't get the really expensive ones, either, so we were pleasantly surprised. The athletes marched in, then there were introductions (in multiple languages) from various dignitaries. The Mayor of Montreal nearly got a standing ovation, but the Minister from the Canadian federal government got a reception I can only liken to Donald Rumsfeld in the Castro. The Mayor had to take the mic again and admonish the crowd. The guy should have been glad that they were searching people for bottles at the entrance!

After the speeches, the show began. Martha Wash ("It's Raining Men") led off. The acoustics in the stadium were horrible, and they tried to make up for that fact with increased volume. The lesbians from Vermont seated next to us were smart enough to have brought earplugs. Other performers included Deborah Cox, Diane Dufresne (who is apparently NOT a drag queen, though she certainly could have passed for one), Sylvie Desgrosseilliers (very good singer), k.d. lang (who is as fat in person as Deborah Harry is old), and someone named Jonas, who is a total throwback to the '80's (picture Prince's wardrobe, Brett Michaels' hair and a Stevie Nicks song).

The real highlight of the show, though, (the reason the Vermonters had driven up and totally worth the price of the tickets) was Cirque du Soleil. We've heard people rave about their shows in the past, but I have frankly never been interested in spending valuable slot-machine time in Vegas paying $100 to see a "circus act." Wow, has my tune changed! I cannot wait to book a trip to Lost Wages and see every single one of the four or five Cirque du Soleil shows on offer there. They were amazing! There was this thing with two guys that was the most mind-blowing combination of athleticism and eroticism I have ever seen!

After taking the Metro (along with everyone else in Montreal) back to the hotel and changing clothes, we headed out to the "Body" official opening party featuring DJ Abel from Miami. This was a 10 p.m.-8 a.m. event. By 3:00 (midnight on this coast), Stan was tired and I was bored. I tested my theory, though; we didn't wake up until 12:05 p.m.!

Once we got ourselves together, we headed to the square that was the focal point of Outgames activities and milled around. We got a free souvenir newspaper and a really nice gift--new Gilette Fusion razors (worth $8.99 U.S. each according to this week's Walgreen's ad). Shaving luddites that we are, we hadn't even upgraded to the Shick Quattro, let alone the FIVE-blade Fusion. I was still using the Sensor and Stan was using a (gasp!) TWO-blade razor. After having tested the Fusion, I can't see any appreciable difference in the closeness of the shave, and it is a huge piece of equipment to stick on your face (bigger than the shaving surfaces of some electric razors).

Next we walked around the Village, Montreal's gay neighborhood. It is impressive; a larger strip than the Castro. Then we headed over to Parc Jean-Drapeau (a man-made island in the St. Lawrence River) to see the beach volleyball competition. That venue turned out to be a horrific walk from the Metro stop, but we made it and took a bus back!

Sunday night was the Pride (Divers/Cite) parade, which features a lot of illuminated floats. Very nice. (And they kept the dang thing moving, which has always been San Francisco's problem.) After that, we were so tired that we went back to the hotel and crashed.

We got up early on Monday and went to the badminton competition. (We wanted something easy to walk to after the previous day's nightmare.) For me, badminton was the "other" game that came in the package with lawn darts and I hadn't really given it much thought since I was a pre-teen. We were surprised at how big a deal competitive gay badminton is! We talked to a couple of guys from the London team and one from the Montreal team (a transplanted Vancouverite).

Then it was back to the hotel to check out, grab some lunch and the shuttle and head back to the airport bound for Chicago, then Wichita, Denver, L.A., San Francisco and finally home. With 20-20 hindsight, I can say that I should have booked two weeks in Montreal instead of three days. It was a great city (like I said in my earlier post, we didn't even see the city itself, just the games), and we want to go back. We also really enjoyed the games; we're making plans for Copenhagen in three years.


Blogger buff said...

WOW< stud. You had a super time at Out games. How do you like the fusion razor. I'm a quattro guy myself. Big hugs and thanks for the fine summary of your visit to Montreal and the Out Games.

9:59 AM  

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