Monday, May 26, 2008

To Montreal and Back- 60 crazy hours

Left half an hour late, not too bad for us, still making lunch hour at the CIA in Montepelier, Vt, and a very good lunch it was, too. We had Asian noodles (pot stickers) made of seitan, and they were so tasty. Second time I've had seitan at the CIA. Never see it anywhere else--beats the hell out of tofu. Second course was a chicken breast with a totally yummy salsa made of everything but the kitchen sink. They do know how to cook in Montpelier. Town of full of the old granola types, kind of refreshing after Boston.

Rain everywhere, then up to Montreal via the back (read bad) roads and just in time, whoppee, for rush hour.

With Grapeshot navigating, we found the hotel and checked in, chilled, had some drinks at the convivial bar, and wondered out in search of a lively neighborhood which we found, full of students and young folk ready for a Friday night on the town. . Still full from lunch, we ate some onion soupe with bread and cheese thereon. Always yummy. Now full, half-tipsy and tired, we wended way back to the hotel and bed.

Saturday morning in search of cheap non-hotel breakfast. Found a cute little place and the coffee was good but there were yesterday's croissants. Nobody ever asks, "ou sont les croissants d'autan?"

We bought subway passes and were off to the Museum of Fine Arts and the only Cuban art exhibit of its kind ever.

It was good, and instructive that it showed the long radical tradition in Cuba and the various strands that made up the culture, slavery, the native Americans, the sugar cane culture, such a varied mixture to produce Cuba.

I have to confess that a very long time ago two girls in the dorm room next to me got all fired up and went to visit Fidel, Raul and Che and assorted hangers-on at the then Shamrock Hilton, the glitziest new hotel in Houston. Word had it they goats and chickens were part of the entourage, but I do not know this for a fact. The young ladies interviewed the revolutionaries, and it made a big splash but the university was horrified, and well, back in the day. I found it terribly exciting and wish I had kept the pages of the Houston Chronicle which recorded things in very great detail. Fidel, Raul, and Che.

Another story involves an English history professor of mine, an Englishman, very dry wit, who told the story of driving around the hills of Cuba in a jeep (a dangerous thing to do back then) and as luck would have it, they were stopped by the revolutionaries and asked for identification, and Dr. Nelson pulls out his socialist party card, and then it's brother! comrade! Hermano!

Now my goal is to finally finish the novel Three Trapped Tigers which documents the music/art/party scene right before Castro came to power. It was good to be young and full of idealism, don't you think?

The exhibit was huge and varied and quite inspiring, and so we stayed at the museum for lunch and ate Croques Monsieur, the French version of grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, and they were very fine and arrived with a nice little salad as did ever so many things on the Montreal menus.

Window shopping on Sherbrooke Street. I have to tell you I found a tin (8 oz) of loose tea for $35.00. a humongous amount. Subway back to hotel, chill, change clothes, watch a little TV. The Canadian television ads are much less prudish or maybe just freerer than ours. Same goes for Europe. Our ads are really very circumscribed, which is a shame.

Off to a cozy little French restaurant for dinner. I had frog legs, which I do love and get to eat very seldom. They were delectable but might of had a soupcon more garlic.

Back on the Metro, which we were getting pretty good at navigating and to bed, alosh in food and booze.

Next morning, another stab at breakfast, another cute cafe and this time the croissants were fresh. I had apricot.

Navigated out of Montreal in light traffic and beautiful sun. Only one navigational glitch, which took care of itself. No cars at the U.S. Customs crossing, we just whizzed through, and drove in the beautiful green mountains thru New York, Vermont and New Hampshire. Took a ferry across Lake Champlain. Lots of folks enjoying le camping and le beau weekend. Stopped at Simon Pearce in Queechee for lunch. Beautiful glass, beautiful wood items, beautiful linens, and very nice lunch overlooking the dam.

Made a stop at the New Hampshire state liquor store for provisions, and arrived home at 6:30 to the pleasure of the cats who were happy to see us after only two days. Pets are always happy to see one, and there weren't even any mad (where were you?) meows.

We grilled "Bistro Chicken" tonight and it was so tasty, along with grilled eggplant, summer squash and zucchini and the first corn on the cob. Life is bon!



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