Sun. Feb. 5, 2016:
I woke up at 9am to the temptation of Doritos and the thought of getting a latte from the Starbucks downstairs. The smoked butterscotch latte was only ok, but definitely better than the in-room coffee. There was nothing on TV except for the newest iteration of Scooby-Doo, and Brent was still at the gym running. Meanwhile outside looked like a snow globe.
We started the day out at Paillard bakery. On the way there the church bells were ringing and echoing off the buildings, combined with the snow it was a very nice effect. Paillard was a similar chain to Panera Bread but a thousand times better. There were two separate lines for sandwiches and for pastries so we split up. Brent had wanted a chocolate croissant, but I could not see everything in the display cases so I got him the first chocolate pastry I saw, a chocolate pastry braid. I had a pastry with raspberry jam. At the last minute I could not resist ordering macarons, besides there was a maple flavoured one. I had to. The macarons were good but a little bit dense for my liking. The pastry was fresh and delicious. I couldn’t open the screw-off top on my Boylan’s soda so I put it in my purse for drinking later in the hotel when I could pry it off with a bottle opener.
We walked back to Bonhomme’s Ice Palace because the brochure said he would there for a photo op. We cut through the kiddie section of Carnaval and via the passageway through the fortification wall to get there. There were lots of people milling about, but the ice bar was surprisingly not that busy- probably because it was just before noon. We caught a glimpse of Bonhomme but it turns out you had to line up to get a photo with him and they were winding down. I had always pictured it as Bonhomme just wandering around the various Carnaval sites and waving to people, not a 30 minute appearance behind a velvet rope. It was a bit disappointing.
Our timing could not have been more perfect. The ice canoe race was at 12:30 and we had just enough time to walk over to the site. I was not enjoying going down the steep hills and stairs, they were icy and scary. I slowly inched my way down a steep curving hill, desperately holding onto the handrail. Apparently a lady with a cane and a child passed me but I paid them no mind, I was not about to wipe out on ice. On the way we noticed a small alley on the side with lots of little shops and we noted it for later on our way back. We also passed by one of the other pubs that we had found on Google and we added it to our afternoon plans.
We got to the river and it was already so crowded but we were not even near the official start site. As we got closer the crowds grew bigger. We stopped to look at the ice floes but they were moving so fast it actually made me nauseous. As got closer to the start site we could now hear the announcer. We had no idea what he was saying but the excitement was growing, the race was starting soon. I was more excited by all the dogs I was seeing, it was a great day for dog-watching. Even Bonhomme was there, albeit in the announcer’s booth, to kick off the race. We had mistakenly thought that the race was down river, making the crowds on the other side of the river look like idiots. Turns out we were wrong, the race was across the river, oops. It was ridiculous to watch as the canoes plowed into the ice and the racers had to get out and push the canoe along the ice until they got to a clear spot. All the while the current was pushing them downriver. It was crazy. In the end we had no idea who won. It was however less ridiculous than I had imagined. I linked the words ice and canoe in my head and I was picturing people racing in canoes made of ice.
After the second race set off we left, it was much the same as the first and again we had no idea who was winning. We walked around some of the pretty little side streets of the lower half of the city. Eventually we made our way back to the little promenade we had walked by earlier. On our way to Uncle Antoine’s pub we stopped at a mystery doors booth which was part of the Comedy Festival site. I was not amused. One door was an upside down bathroom, one was a wall and one had a funhouse mirror. I didn’t get it at all. Brent was tempted to have a fireside beer, but the thinking went that the beer selection at the bar would be better. On the way to the pub we stopped in at a cider store. It was my kind of heaven, I ended up getting a small bottle of Le Pedneault cherry flavoured cider, made in Quebec, of course.
The pub was a small former cellar, with an arched ceiling. It was very cozy and we had seats right by the fireplace. I did not know this until we had sat down, because as soon as we entered my glasses fogged up. I had wanted to order a locally brewed wheat beer with elderflower and raspberry but it was all sold out, so I settled for a mulled wine instead. The service at the pub ended up being unbelievably slow. It was a good thing we did not have anything else planned for the day. Needless to say, we only stayed for one drink. The ladies at the table next to our finished up around the same time, on the way out the door they warned the group coming in that the service was slow- it was that bad. They were nice ladies, one of them complimented Brent’s Blue Jays hat.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the beer shack and Brent had a fireside beer. We had a nice spot by the firepit- that is until the wind changed direction and blew smoke all over me. We stopped at Mary’s Popcorn, I was convinced that this was a Canadian version of Garrett’s Popcorn and there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to try it. At the last second I opted for the maple pecan popcorn over the caramel popcorn. It had maple, I had to. I kind of wish I had paid more attention to the prices. Ah well.
It was nice to chill in the hotel, drinking cider and soda and eating popcorn and Doritos. As we were watching The People Vs. OJ on a streaming site, I could not believe the commercial. It said it was 10 second long, but it went on for at least a minute of just a message on the screen.
For dinner we headed out to Bar L’Inox. The plan was to stay and watch a bit of Superbowl 51 as well. The weather was horrible, everything was slushy and melting because it was only -1C. As we walked it started to dawn on us that the bar might be full, we were cutting it close. On the way we passed through another Carnaval site but it was closing down for the day. We did get to see a kid in a giant inflated bubble roll down a hill and try to knock some pins down.
The bar was not super busy and we managed to get a table with a great view of the TV. We ended up staying until half-time. The service was great and we had great seats. The whole while I nursed a giant pint of cider, meanwhile Brent enjoyed four pints. All I could think of was taking an Advil, my knees and hips were hurting. The hotdog I ordered was far better than I had expected. It was called “European,” so I assumed it would be a higher quality meat. Instead it was baked into a French baguette. It was very convenient and not messy. My only complaint is that there was not enough whisky cheddar. I also regretted eating the chips on the side. I had forgotten my Invisalign containers and toothbrush back in the hotel and the chips were sticking in my teeth.
Across from us there was a reserved table of millennial couples and their kids. Some of them were quite drunk and one started slow-dancing with her husband, blocking our view of the game. She was more into the half-time show, singing along with Lady Gaga, than the game itself. I too was not much into the game, but I did not make a fool of myself. I was content with being entertained by the commercials and saying things like “he’s running up the pitch” from The IT Crowd. The best commercial by far was the one with Justin Timberlake and Christopher Walken. There was also a promo for the upcoming TV adaption of The Handmaids Tale. I was all excited until I realized it was on Hulu, meaning it would not be airing in Canada. The half-time show was really weird. Lady Gag was flying around, and she ended it with a mic drop. At least by then the annoyingly loud and obnoxious guys were gone. They were ridiculous. All their team had done was walk onto the field and they started cheering like crazy.
On the walk back I had Pokemon Go open and I was narrating the walk. There was one stop that claimed to be a 400 year old cannonball that a tree had grown around. I took a picture of it and we would look it up once we were back in the hotel. We walked over to the Dufferin Terrace by the hotel for one last look at the St. Lawrence River and the lower part of the town. It looked so pretty all lit up and with snow swirling around. Even the trolley that transports people between the upper and lower halves of the town was lit up. From the other end of the terrace we had a great view of our hotel and the wall and the town below.
Back in the hotel room I snuggled up with my book and a cup of Honey Lullaby tea under the covers and some popcorn. Brent had the football on in the background but I was over it by then. Even though it had taken a dramatic turn, I had checked out. I tried to read my book but I kept getting distracted by Pokemon. An hour later, all caught up in my notebook and having run out of Pokemon to catch, I was ready to settle down with my book. The football was still going, it was now in overtime.