Journal Entry # 25 - Road Entry#15 (Kalcheim's Home - West Stockbridge, MA - 12:38pm - July 26, 2010)

Summer breeze, summer ease.

I am back in the United States of America. The drive from Monteal to Albany, NY was received through rideshare on Criagslist. The driver, Frederick, lives in Montreal and works in New York City as a economist for a investment banking firm. He writes algorithms and uses derivatives for a living while taking care of his girlfriend and 2-week old daughter in Montreal. Two other riders sat in the back seat - Andrew and Danna. Both were young professionals either finishing or continuing their graduate degrees in Montreal and New York City, respectively. The ride was educational, interesting, and entertaining overall.

We left Montreal around 5:15pm and arrived right outside Albany, NY at 9:15. I was dropped off at a random exit ramp along the expressway so that Julia Kalcheim could come pick me up from West Stockbridge, MA. Lee Kalcheim and my dad have known each other for 34 years and the last time I saw the Kalcheims was in 1995 or 1996. A lot has changed since I was 10 years old. Lee still has his mustache, Sam and Gabe still both play the violin, but 14 years has elapsed and they are grown men with their own mustaches, intellect, and wisdom. I've only been here for 16 hours, so the next 24 hours will honestly give me a better idea of how things have changed, or stayed the same amongst the Kalcheim's.

REWIND - Montreal while staying with Frederic Paquet Roy in Lachine - Montreal. It's a Thursday, July 22nd - Dad's 62nd Birthday.

I found a internet cafe Thursday afternoon around 11:15am so that I could post my last blog entry. I used the cafe to get more surfing requests done for the weekend in Montreal because Lee had informed me that coming down to Massachusetts would be better for them on Sunday-Tuesday. I decided to stay in Montreal instead of heading to Quebec City or Ottawa because everyone I had talked to said that Montreal is a beautiful and energetic place to be on the weekends (even more so that weekdays). I eventually found a couch within the 3 hours I spent at the internet cafe with a host named Damien. He was able to provide accommodations for 2 nights and 3 days in Northeast Montreal by the Olympic park and stadium. I concluded my internet cafe session with the news, facebook, and my daily sports news.

I took the 120 bus from Lachine to the Argignon metro station next. Took the green line metro to the Lionel-Grouix station in order to walk to the Marche Atwater (The Atwater Famer's Market). I could notice my french vocabulary starting to improve as the week progressed which was enjoyable. I walked around the open-air market for a brief overview of the vendors and layout. The butchers were located inside the old Atwater market building where you could find anything between a pork tenderloin to pre-made kebab skewers to 12oz steak shanks. Atwater market also has dozens of gardening vendors and produce vendors outside. I bought some raspberry's along with a slice of pizza from the Pizza Mia shop and had lunch on their patio. They were both refreshing and delicious. I then thought that I would by some more fruits as a thank you to Frederic for hosting me and I would bake him a cobbler. I found an internet connection up the street at the local mall and looked up a recipe online, went back down to the market - bought my ingredients, and proceeding to take the bus back to Lachine in order to catch Fred before going on a rollerblading venture together. We had planned to meet back in Lachine around 6:30 and I got on my bus at 6:15pm. I knew I was going to be late, but I didn't think I would miss him like I did because the bus driver took forever to leaving the station and get down there (1 hour!). I missed Fred by 7 minutes when I found a note on the kitchen counter time-stamped 7:20. I was mad and frustrated with myself because I had heard so much about the river walk blading scene and the beauty of the landscape. I made the cobbler, threw it in the oven and went on a quick 30 minute cross training workout while the pastry baked. It was done when both Fred and I got back to the apartment around the same time. Fred and I prepared a simple potato salad dinner with homemade dijon vinaigrette, wine, and cobbler. My time and experience with Fred was quaint and fantastic. He is an exceptional chef and knows that right ingredients always makes a delicious dinner. I packed my things in preparation for a morning send off, read my book, and dozed off for a great night's sleep.

I got to Damien's apartment at 12pm on Friday, July 23rd. Damien was my savior host that I found on couch surfing. I expressed my gratitude and desperate search to him the night before I got settled in his swank apartment. He lives on the northeast end of Montreal near Olympic Park and the stadium - Rue Hochelaga. The apartment doesn't have an beautiful facade and the building is very understated for the amenities inside.

Damien is a 28 year old social worker in Montreal that helps with the unfortunate, drug addicted, and their disease prevention needs (needles, condoms, etc). He also happens to be my first gay host while traveling. It was interesting to meet him and get to know his interests (Lady Gaga, Madonna, cycling, partying, cooking) because it was the first real time I had spent with a homosexual. The only other known encounter I've had with someone gay was Michael Marcone in New York, who is a friend of my friend Kaitlin Prince. And to put it blatantly, I had a fantastic time staying and hanging out with him Damien. Friday was a little crazy for his schedule but we spent the entire day together Saturday.

Friday started with he and I getting to know each other, but he had to go to work from 2pm-6pm, then go to a work party from 6pm-9pm, then private gay party from 9-11pm, and then a open minded function at a club from 11pm-4am. He said that I was more the willing to be accepted and received at the club function from 11pm-4am, so I kept that option open as I proceeded to venture throughout Montreal for my day.

I worked off the internet in his apartment when he left at 2pm until 4:30pm before running 5 miles. I ran throughout the Olympic park that sits right behind the stadium. It was a beautiful run and the first time I listened to the Marathon Training podcast I downloaded. It is a great way to get my runs and training in because I listen to the necessary information for my Honolulu Marathon in December. I felt great after running and proceeded to shower and get ready for a night out on Sainte Laurent / Sainte Denis. Damien said the club function was in that area and gave me a dinner recommendation before hand called Kyber Pass Afghan cuisine. I took the metro there and had an amazing dinner! It was my first time having traditional Afghan cuisine, but it reminded my of an Indian cuisine with flatbread, rice, curry infused vegetables, and the smell of over a hundred spices. From Kyber Pass, I walked up and down Sainte Denis until I heard some jazz coming from an underground entrance. I went down to the jazz lounge/restaurant to be inundated with the sweet strings of two jazz guitarists and a bassist. The string trio played an fantastic set of jazz for an hour and a half as I sat, listened, and sipped a red ale. It was so peaceful and romantic. The concept of a jazz lounge/restaurant is absolutely going to be a date location of mine for years to come.

The trio ended my set and I was on foot again. The charisma of these two major streets in Montreal reminds me of places like the Lower East Side in NYC or Hawthorne boulevard in Portland, Oregon. A combination of small businesses, restaurants, quick-eats, cafes, bars, corner markets, and your occasional national retail clothes store (i.e. Urban Outfitters); a real young and hip place to be.

I was traversing these two streets for at least an hour when I decided it was time to meet some interesting new faces and go to a bar, lounge, or club. I met Shannon and Lisa on the side of the road when I overheard some english ladies speaking english. I was attracted to english like bugs to a dead carcass when I was in Montreal. I actually told them I was introducing myself because I heard the english and wanted to meet some new people while traveling around Montreal by myself. They were very kind, like almost all Canadians, and invited me to their private surprise party for their friend Amanda at the B-Side Lounge on Sainte Laurent. I don't like to brag much but moses couldn't have done better himself, me and 15 ladies with a VIP booth and two magnum bottles of vodka and champagne. They even offered me my own glass and cocktails, but I was already buzzed from my beers at the jazz club, didn't want to consume more alcohol for weight/hangover purposes, and didn't want to intrude on their alcohol consumption. I knew I could enjoy my time with them without drinking as well. So we sat around, lit up some sparklers, sang happy birthday, and danced the night away. To say the least, I had a great time.

When I got done with all of that, it was 3am - bed time with the metro closed. I had to take a $5 Bixi-Bike rental back to Damien's apartment. I have to say that riding a bike back 12 miles with some alcohol in you is a little difficult and dangerous, but I did it nonetheless. Damien wasn't even there when I got back and received a text from him saying that he found a boy-toy and was gone for the night.


A sudden impact of saliva on my feet and a violent pain of dehydration in my mouth approximately at high noon.

I woke to an empty and clean apartment with Damien's cat licking my feet. This black cat, a french name that escapes me now, was all over me. I have to admit, animals do love me.

I made a quick bagel, had some water, and took a long shower to get my day started. Damien got back as I was in the shower. He made a sincere effort to spend time with me because he felt bad that he and I never met up the previous night and he felt like he wasn't being a good host yet. I said it didn't matter because I had a great time on my own! We made our plan for a humid day: grocery shop, stay inside, do laundry, eat dinner and let the day cool down before going to his friend Katherine's apartment for a pre-party and then go to Belmont Club on Sainte Laurent. This is exactly what we did! The food he prepared was great and the dessert was even better. The dessert, dessert name I need to insert here, was filled with fresh blueberries, cheese, and a pound-cake like breading. It reminded my of a blueberry cheesecake I once had, but significantly lighter on the pallet. I met Katherine and Mimi later that night before we all went to Belmont.

Belmont is another open-minded club that Damien likes to go to. It was sweet cream and ice cream night there. We got into the club and I got a feel for the layout - two individual bar rooms to the right and the lounge, dance-floor, coat-check, stage, and small cash bar to the left. The club looks enormous from the exterior, but is quite small once you get inside. It was obviously a gay club with men outnumbering women 10 to 1. I had a great time nonetheless because the music was outrageously uplifting and moveable. The beats lasted until 4am and I danced by myself or with the group. What a workout!

What I did notice was that this club was like any other straight club in the US or Canada. Although there were groups of gay men and sprinkles of lesbians throughout the place, they still interact the same way, congregate the same way, look at each other with temptation the same way, get hit-on and approached the same way, and have a real human-to-human conversation or relationship the same way. A place I was totally unexposed to and at a distance seemed unattractive, was refreshingly interesting, educational, and enjoyable. I met a couple of guys in the process and got hit on a couple times, but respectfully declined their offers to dance together. I was so happy that Damien opened my eyes to a place where I would never had gone before on my own. It was a great night with a couple cocktails, Captain Morgan infused ice cream, and great music! To say that I had a blast would be an understatement.

Sunday consisted of getting everything ready to get out of Montreal. I left some running clothes over at Danny's apartment and had to pick them up before getting picked up on my rideshare down to Montreal. I did some e-mails in the morning, folded the laundry, put in in my bag, made lunch, and went over to Danny's apartment at 2pm. I got my clothes and headed to the park to listen to the tam tams. Every sunday afternoon, the tam tams are multiple drumming circles in the Mont Royal park from 12pm-9pm. There are thousands of people lining the bottom of the park in the grass fields. The epicenter of tam tams is at the statue in the park with gypsies selling their hand made earings, art, drums, musical instruments, and clothes. The entire landscape is populated with locals and tourists enjoying the sun, fun, and activities that the park has to offer (volleyball, biking, running, swimming, hiking, basketball, football, soccer, frizbee, etc...) I then took a local bus down from the park to the meeting point for the ride down to West Stockbridge, MA. As I said before, we left around 5:15pm once Danna, Fred, and Andrew were there - I was the first to arrive at 4:50pm. I picked up a subway sandwich along the way and ate it for dinner on the ride down.

El Fin.