There’s a scratching noise coming from the corner of our room. I think it’s just the cat, it’s scratching pole is in our room, but it’s too methodical. The noise is rhythmic and not enough to fully rouse me from my slumber. I learn later that it was my wife beavering away at the personal gift she’s made for her friend’s birthday which is tomorrow night. An hour or so later I find the energy to lift myself out of my bed and begin the day, one that will see me touring Montreal’s premier amusement park: La Ronde.
Our hosts are making us breakfast today, a simple one of coffee, eggs and bacon. Now I’m usually one for eggs, they’ve long been ruined for reasons I can no longer remember, however I’m tempted by some home made hot sauce that had a powerful aroma. Eggs, when accompanied by something with actual taste, are a far more palatable affair. Of course in usual fashion I probably overdid it and paid the price over the course of the day. The rest of the breakfast was delightful however, even the filter coffee which is typically trash in these parts of the world. Once we were done it was a quick trip to La Ronde and revisiting something I hadn’t done in half a dozen years.
The weather is pretty much perfect, although being in the sun with no shade did push it into unbearable territory. Unfortunately we found ourselves in peak season so the park was somewhat packed. However the time spent in lines passed quickly, the conversation flowing around numerous topics whilst we waited for our turn on the ride. We managed to hit all the flagship rides including a large, wooden roller coaster. Unsurprisingly it was exactly how I remembered riding a similar one in Australia, my bones shaken to the core and my adrenaline sent to all time highs.
Our hosts had warned us of one roller coaster, one that had been recently changed to go backwards rather than forwards. This coaster had apparently made both of them quite ill for a period of time, enough so that both of them warned us against riding it. Their warnings were only reinforced by the fact that the lines for this ride, out of the all the rides, were non-existent allowing us to stroll right up and get straight on. The ride itself was great however but our newfound strength and hubris would soon be our downfall.
To cap off the day we boarded one of those typical carnival rides, the ones with the seats on long chains that spin around for a few minutes before sending you back down to the ground. All of us walked away from that feeling rather awful, a simple and uneventful ride able to do more damage than all of the previous combined. This made the walk back to the car a slow one, the nausea only abating once we’d finally found our way back home.
The day was finished with an extremely late dinner at a lakeside restaurant, one that our host had previously worked at. I indulged myself in an old favorite, BBQ chicken wings and a blue cheese burger. Canada might not be America but I’ll be damned if the portions aren’t the same. We once again began the slow waddle back to the car to end our night back at home.
All the while this went on I couldn’t help but remember how I felt the previous time I was here. The city of Montreal is a dichotomy of old and new, juxtaposed against each other nearly everywhere you look. Even the new can look old too, with (I’m told) the construction handled by the Montreal Mafioso who do poor work for extraordinary pay. I find it interesting as cities typically gentrify holistically, sections being upheaved and renewed in one fell swoop rather than in isolation. But this is just the view of an outsider, I have no reference as to why these things are they way they are.
The strategic gap in the curtains I had left the night before had worked well and I was awake several hours earlier than I usually was, despite the fact I had been up to midnight watching a new series on Discovery (Brewmasters, check it out if you’re into beer). Still I rolled back over and went back to sleep as Rebecca had been struggling to get to sleep all night, wrestling with what seemed to be an infection of some kind. Three hours later I got us both out of bed and ready for the day ahead, one that would take us over a hundred miles south of where we were.
After the fun I had had at both Disneyland and Universal Studios I was keen to hit up yet another amusement park. This time around it would be Legoland which was about an hour and a half drive from the hotel, hence the reason for wanting to get out early. Still we managed to get out shortly after 10am so we arrived with plenty of daylight to spare. The park itself was no where near the scale of Disneyland or Universal studios but it still had a parking lot to rival the others. We found ourselves a spot and headed on in and that’s where I started to notice that things weren’t as they were at the other parks. Mostly it was average age of the other punters, most of them were below 10.
Legoland it seems is mostly aimed at the younger generation with the rides, attractions and live shows all geared towards them. There are of course some things for us oldies to enjoy like Miniland (where there’s Lego replicas of cities) but for the most part unless you’re a youngster or accompanying one you won’t be missing anything by not visiting this place. We wandered around the whole park in about 2 hours not really finding anything that really tickled our fancy and the swag to be had here could be found at any place you could get Lego anyway. Disappointed we decided that since we’d already made the majority of the trip to San Diego we’d go the last 30 miles and knock off another attraction, Seaworld.
We got there with a few hours before it closed and there were still a few shows on before it was going to close. We started wandering around, checking out the various animal enclosures. The various aquariums they had were pretty interesting with a wide variety of sea creatures that I hadn’t seen all in one place before. After an hour or so of seeing some of the sights we went to the dolphin live show which also had 2 whales and a host of birds. It was a pretty well done show and whilst I’ve seen all these animals before I can’t remember seeing any of them perform. Almost immediately afterwards it was time for the final show of the day with the famous Shamu the killer whale. Again the feats they’d managed to train these creatures to do on command was quite amazing and the show went for almost half an hour. Afterwards we did a quick run around of some of the other exhibits we missed, including the penguin enclosure that had a smell I won’t soon forget.
After being ejected from the park we decided that since we were 2 hours away from home we might as well find some grub here before hitting the road. I found a local place in one of the coast side hotels that had good reviews so we hit it up. The had an amazing beer selection so I ordered myself up a Belgian Triple, a slightly wheaty beer that had a really good taste to it. I also found out that “cheese steak” was code for a subway style sandwich rather than a steak with cheese on it. The food was however quite good and we left there fat and happy, ready to tackle the road home.
We have 2 full days ahead of us before we take the 14 hour plane ride home and at least one of them will be partly spent back at Disneyland for one last time, cleaning up the last few attractions we missed. It’s been an amazing month over here in the USA and with the end so close I’m starting to get all nostalgic for the good times I’ve had over here. Still as they say all good things must come to an end and soon it will be time for me to reintegrate back into society, however much I may dread that.