Tuesday, September 28, 2004

New England - Original.

Last couple of days have been spent kicking about Montreal,
nice town but it sucks when you have no cash to frolic
with. Russell, a chap named Phil and myself put a curry
together which was pretty tasty. The kitchen in the hostel
is located in the same room as the main relaxing area and it
was funny to see everyone elses eyes streaming while we ate!

Left Montreal on the greyhound, Burlington,Vermont was the
next destination. The US border is only about an hours drive
south of Montreal and it's about another hour to Burlington.
The border crossing was a nightmare, the border patrol
looked like (and probably were) ex-marines and loved
grilling us with questions and generally making everyone
feel bad about coming into America. As I wasn't either
Canadian or American I was taken into the 'room at the
back' for a few more questions about my visit. I got more
of the same stuff, "Why are you coming to the US?" and
"What's that bag of white powder you have in your bag?" (it
was laundry detergent in case you too were wondering).
Still, they let me in after almost managing a smile at a
joke I cracked about the British. Burlington itself was
pretty nice, it's populated by maybe forty thousand people
and is situated on Lake Champlain in the state of Vermont.
It kind of reminded me of Carmarthen (but sunny and hot)
with all the little cafe's and corner stores. I met up with
a guy called Marc, I'd met him at my uncles wedding in Nova
Scotia back in June. My uncle Owen worked in Kenya for a
while and Marc was out there at the same time so we were
introduced and Marc said that I could stay anytime if I was
visiting the States - It just so happened that he lived in
exactly the same town as a girl I know, Ann, who I was on my
way to see anyway! Funny. So Marc and his wife Tina both
work out of Burlington and have a nice little place in the
South of the city. (I'm not too sure how they qualify cities
over here but it was a city all the same).

We went to another Wine and Cheese evening (the second in
about a week, people might think I'm classy if I'm not
careful) last night. The dinner party consisted of an
English guy called Hammond (the host), a well travelled
couple in their early sixties , a chap called Bob...,
another couple of women and a Welsh guy called Chris (me..).
The food was great, the wine was flowing and the cheese was
tucked into (very nice cheese although one particular piece
smelt like the stuff in between my toes...)

The next night we travelled for about an hour South to a place called Brandon and were driven by Marcs mate, Tom. Brandon was a nice enough place (small town) but I didn't see much of it as it was dark. Turned up at a garden party that was in full flow. The band was playing Jonny Cash, the kids were running around while most of the adults were either eating the (great) buffet ot standing somwhere near the beer kegs. My destination then! EVeryone had fun, had a nice chat to a few 'real' Americans (as in not the ones in Disneyland or the NYC Taxis). They all seemed to know where Wales was - a nice surprise as I didn't have to explain for once. Sat round the fire and sang more Jonny Cash until about one when Tom drove us back home.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Where have all the good people gone?

Montreal, it's pretty French. Nice French architecture, nice French food and no French people because they're all Canadian! Genius! Trip over sucked, missed my flight at 11am Monday so slept for 3hrs in the departure lounge until the next flight. Four and a half hours in the middle aisle of the plane (no view) between a Korean dude (no conversation) and a Mother and 1yr old (no sleep). Some stupid Chinese girl took my rucksack (as she thought it was hers, oh you've got a Welsh flag on yours as well then?) from the bus into downtown, it was midnight and I had to wait around for freaking ages for it to come back. Into the hostel at about 1am, quite possibly one of the best hostels I've ever been to! A plus point at last!

Went out in Montreal last night with a load of international kids, spent the entire night with two Aussies that live in Edinburgh, a couple Canadians and a mexican girl call Vileda (I believe..) Good night all round, drunk on two pitchers so danced like a goon (love dancing quite a lot) for a while before retiring at some point in the morning. Woke up two German girls when I got back into the room by falling out of the top bunk during the night! They weren't best pleased but cheered up when I complimented them on their skimpy underwear when I caught a sight of them prancing around in the morning!

Today, met a Scottish guy named Russell and we both took to the streets to find shit to do. Discovered that they'd closed down the main street to hold a rock concert and to play street hockey. That's the second city that I've seen that happen! Who gives a shit about people trying to get to and from work, let's just play hockey and Rock!! Walked up Mount Royal (not really a mountain, only 233 metres tall), the hill that the city was named after. Tried my hand at French for the first time in ages, think I called the woman in the supermarket a whore rather than say thanks!!

Quiet drinks tonight, loads of English and Aussies around tonight, so I doubt it'll be quiet at all really! Can't wait!

Monday, September 20, 2004

Jenga!

Another day spent lying in bed (mostly). Ho hum.

Things are on the up though! My credit card block has finally been lifted after days of chasing Egg. They seemed quite shocked at the fact that I knew exactly what had happened to my card, I asked them to place an anti-referral marker on the account for the next two weeks while I was still in Canada. "Oh my god, the customer has a brain, quick, get a manager!" They were good though, they have a new messaging service on their website which means that you don't have to talk to someone that doesn't know what they're doing on the phone (all current and former HBOS employees can sympathise? I used to be one of those people).

Went to a party last night hosted by a couple of Suds co-lawyers in the making. It was a Wine and Cheese evening which I didn't like the smell of (geddit?). Sud and myself were some of the first guests and it didn't seem like the party was going to kick off, especially when the host talked fondly about the nice cream carpet shortly before I spilt a huge drop of red wine over it, classy guy! Once the cheese was flowing, we decided to pick up a game called "Truth or Dare Jenga". We had a good laugh at it initially, it was just like Jenga but each block had a little Truth or Dare task on it i.e "Dance round the room with a broom" or "What's the strangest thing you've ever done in the dark?". We started playing it and the laughs stopped once people realised that they had to do this shit. A couple of Aussie girls provided some entertaining scenes, one dancing with a broom quite well! I ended up having to take my t-shirt off for an entire round, not nice for some people I'm sure but funny all the same. No-one, unfortunately managed to pick up the block "Mime three things you do before you go to bed..". The Aussie girls decided to leave so Sud and myself took off as well, think the entire party left soon after! We waited at the bus stop to go to Doolins (again) and found that two girls from the party were heading in the same direction. We lured them into the pub and we all had a lovely chat until about 3am! Home after waiting around on the streets of Van for an hour, crawling with tramps and cops. Another well spent evening!

My last night in Vancouver is being spent staying in as I have to save a little bit of money. Off to Montreal tomorrow morning and really looking forward to it!

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Straight Vodka....Eugh!

Had a nightmare over the last couple of days, my Visa has been blocked as I've used it way to much over a small period of time "Dear Mr.James, we suspect that you card is being used fraudulently yarda yarda.." F'in Card companies! At least they're doing their job right I guess.

So, that's been a pain plus my Canadian account has completely F'd up and thinks that I have no money at all, which I do. I have no money whatsoever and I've had to rely on Sud to buy me all the essentials like Vodka, Fast food etc. We've been so skint that the only way to save money when we go out is to drink straight vodka (as we can't afford the mixer) before setting off to the bars! Why don't you stop drinking? - ed.

Last night we went to the Cambie downtown, has become one of my favorite places in Vancouver as it sells jugs of beer for $9.75 (about 4 quid - bargain) and has probably the most eclectic mix of punters I've ever seen in a pub. Five choppers parked outside with their hairy tattooed riders getting cheap beer inside, loads of international kids, Van locals and one or two classy looking people. I managed to insult a bunch of Europeans (Swiss or Swedish, we couldn't figure it out) by informing them where there were some empty seats so that they could sit down - they took this as a hint that they were standing too close to our table and shuffled away about 5 feet!! Went to Doolins again for our usual mischief. Met some Kiwi's, an Irish girl that came up to me (wasted) and kissed me on the cheek before walking off into the crowd.., a couple of Fijian rugby players (One of which was the nicest guy in the world and gave us his address to visit when we're in Fiji!) and a bunch of Canadians as usual. Good times.

Feeling rather rough today so we've just managed to get ourselves some bagels for breakfast (at 4pm) and some wine for a party tonight. It's a hard life!!

Think I'll spend a day doing nothing tomorrow, I'm flying to Montreal (Other side of the country) on Monday and I'd rather not have a beer-filled stomach on a long flight with toilets from which you can hear everything!!

I miss the George even more, on the Uni campus here you can't get a fried breakfast anywhere, not too happy. When I'm feeling crap I used to love going to the Sugar Shaker and getting served double breakfasts from the Spanish lady... I'll be home at some point though and the George has some new staff to befriend I've heard!

Still laughing about Owains shrapnel collecting!!

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Welcome to Vancouver!

The trip down here was a pretty tough one, Ryan picked me up at around 6:30am yesterday and we quickly went to Starbucks to get a caffeine fix. I've only ever once been to a Starbucks, they kind of scare me. I always panic when I'm inside (The same panic that you get when you've accidentally wandered into the women's underwear section in a shop and the assistant says "See anything you like?") as I don't know how to order coffee properly. When asked what I would like, I always reply "Coffee", "What type?" "Normal" "We don't serve Normal, the list is here.." (Produces a list of drinks names which I'm convinced have been made up on the spot) So I get the 'Mocha-shata-lota-fish-rappa' blend. "Which size cup would you like?" "Normal?...." What a friggin nightmare.

The journey took us about 12hrs in the end, plain sailing through the (Spectacular) Rockies. Felt knackered but I couldn't sleep as I didn't want to miss any of the stunning scenery. Huge mountains all around you (snow capped for extra pretty-ness) and Ice-blue rivers snaking along the valley bottom. Places like Banff and Lake Louise are all on the way down to Van, quite fun locations themselves. Went to Banff the other day and to a place called Johnston Canyon, a pretty nifty little gorge. The canyon was decorated with Waterfalls, pools, rapids and some unusual bodies of water called 'Inkpots' (Pools of 'ink' coloured water, like a natural lava lamp, kinds). Loads of tourists (hate them...) turned up at the same place and mildy annoyed me so I stood on top of one of the lovely waterfalls and removed all of my clothes... bar the kegs (it was cold..) much to the disgust of a small group of Japanese people and an elderly couple. Other people saw the funny side though!

Made good time, fell asleep for about 20mins at a time. Got out to re-fill on gas and to stretch legs every now and then. A traffic jam about 100km from Van held us up for an hour - wouldn't mind usually but I was already bursting for a piss after an hour of waiting. Not pleasant.

Got to Van in the end, Ryan dropped me off at UBC (University of British Columbia) and Suds house. The last couple of hours of the trip got a bit slow, 10hrs in the car with Ryan and conversation was running thin! We both tried to tell jokes but our tired heads could never remember the punchline or the point of the funny story! We were in good spirits all the same.

I had been awake for over 25hrs as I didn't get to bed the night we set off. I got to Suds, made a nice cup of tea and tucked myself up in bed..... Nah, not really - we went to the Students union for a couple of jugs of beer and some chicken wings. Then descended upon downtown Van once more! A hostel bar was visited, met some cool people in the form of an Essex guy called Chris and a Welsh/Australian guy. If I was in any doubt as to his Welsh heritage, he took his shirt off and showed a tattoo of the Oz and Welsh flags crossed, then said he was from LLanrumny originally! On to Doolins for more drink and dome crap dancing. Got home, wasted, very tired and covered in Mud (?).

Another trip to downtown is arranged for tonight with Ryan and his buddy Jamie. Good times!

Monday, September 13, 2004

Goodbye to Cowtown.

The last few nights have been spent drinking again, causing my nose to turn a 'drunken tramp' shade of Red. No reindeer jokes please.

Went to the local Gay Bar last Sunday, was quite fun but some guy kept pinching my arse throughout the drag show on stage and I didn't really like it... I don't go round pinching girls arses in clubs, well, maybe to get other people into trouble...

The Den Monday, Chillaxed (Stupid Canadian word I've heard a lot recently Chilling-Relaxing) on Tuesday. Went to the Back Alley with Tyler, Natalia (from the house), Greg, Brett, and a load of Tylers mates. Good fun, drunk, danced and passed out.

Been working the last few days, out to the Night Gallery last night with Jason (chef from work) and Ryan (chef brother) to watch an accoustic set from one of their buddies, and finished my last shift in work tonight. Nice to be out, was getting really sick of washing dishes but, at least I didn't have to wear a tie!

Off to Vancouver in about 1hr, got to go and have a shower. Ryan is driving us down, it'll take about 10hrs through the Rockies but we'll be stocked up on plenty of coffee and House music for the trip!

Curly II : The return of the red-eye!

It's been a week since my last update and that wasn't even that informative, or entertaining. Nevermind. Just got an internet connection again and service should resume as normal, although some deliveries may be delayed due to speed restrictions between Cardiff and Newport.

The object of my affection for the last couple of weeks has been the 'Den' - aka Calgary Uni Students Union bar, one of my many weaknesses! Term has started again and I was lured by the offer of really cheap beer served in a sweaty venue with loads of students! My first night there I managed to get "I've never had alcohol before"-drunk and wound up losing Brit, Greg and Scott (Their flatmate) at some point. I realised that I was way too far down the chain of Evolution so I decided to walk back home, this was almost a good decision apart from the minor detail that I didn't have a clue where I was... I picked a nice looking road and set off into the night. The Uni, I've been told, is a half an hour walk from my house - bearing this is mind, I left the Den at approximately 1:00am and arrived back home at 6:30am! I don't remember much apart from the fact that everytime a picked a new road to walk down, I'd walk for about an hour but end up in exactly the same place that I started. This apparent centre of gravity for a drunk Chris was a flagpole sporting a nice red flag. After I stumbled across it for the fourth time, I became rather angry and tore the flag from the top of the pole and took it with me as a trophy. I woke up at some point later on freezing cold in a large thorn bush with a red flag wrapped around me (The flags revenge?). Made it home somehow and passed out for about two days!

(NB. When the author states that he 'passed out', he is referring to some rather strong weed with Greg which made him forget what actually happened at all during the day)

I returned to the Den two days later (like a criminal returning to the crime scene to cause more trouble) but with more of a sober head on me. Another good night was had but I was a little bit scared by the fact that so many people in the club recognised me... "Hey! You're the Welsh guy from Saturday night aren't you?" I left even more confused.. but I stole some more traffic cones for good measure.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Oh dear.

Hey to all my avid readers,

I've been really drunk and really stoned for the last week and my free internet access has been withdrawn. This is just an emergency broadcast to let you all know that I'm still alive!

Will post all the "fun" stories soon.

Chris

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Oh! How we used to laugh...

I feel the need to start every entry with the word "So", this isn't because "La" is a note that follows, but because it's a kind of fed-up way of saying "I haven't done that much recently but I'll try to write something interesting at least". It's also the word that people use when there's a longer-than-usual gap in the conversation (Apart from certain people that I know that will fart just as the pause gets too long...) "Soooooo, what's happening then?"

So, the title of this little entry. How the Brits joke that every corner shop is run a certain Mr.Patel or one of his cousins! I really liked Mr.Patel in the corner shop in Llandeilo but he never seemed to trust me anywhere near the beer section... But, my point. The Brits have a good laugh at the corner shop phenomenon but in Canada, there's nothing. I have to walk for 30mins just to buy a loaf of bread (people in parts of Kenya may be thinking that I'm a cheeky bastard but bare with me), no longer can I wander along to the cornershop in just my underwear and buy a can of beans without anyone batting an eyelid. I feel empty. If I've learnt anything from being in Canada, it's the value of the local store. Thank you to Mr.Patel in the Llandeilo Spar, and to all cornership owners that sold me food and cheap beer whenever I needed it! Finally, I'd like to say sorry to the guy that runs the cornershop on Tewkesbury St in Cathays for stealing your "Play the lottery here" sign while your sales of lottery tickets were at an all time low... I gave it back in the end because I felt bad!

The last few days have been spent either sleeping in the house or pretending to sleep at work. Business is slow and there's not that much to do apart from make rude shapes out of the mashed potato in the restaurant kitchen. You would be surprised how many herbs resembled pubic hair! We finally decided on using cress for "La pubes" and Rosemary for those funny hairs on "La balls". I've used crappy French for the purpose of not offending people that read this, it lessens the blow, I've found. The only people that I've offended now are the French no doubt "Yoo r not Fronch and yoo insult mon language weeth yoor deesgusting grammar! I spit on yooo"

Brit has had her boyfriend, Greg, staying with us for the last few days. He's been good company and we've sunk many nasty beers together but today was their last day in the house. Brit and Greg are moving into a new house across the street tomorrow and I think I'll kind of miss them. Brit has been great, kind of like a girlfriend that I couldn't touch, and Greg has been a drinking buddy that I couldn't drink an O-bomb in front of - just incase I embarass myself too much!! A new guy named Keffrey is moving in tomorrow, he's a 29yr old Jamaican guy, ripped to shit but seems nice enough. Kind of a weird replacement for Brit though!

Well. Have to work for the next 3 nights. Hope something interesting happens before I go as I need a few good stories to tell.

On the same subject. One of the waitresses that I quite liked, Lucy, stayed for a few drinks the other night. She's a totally nice girl, only 18, which surprised me as she seems to know a lot about everything and also seems quite mature. I didn't like her just to French.Connection.U.K her but, I just admire her attitude towards life (believable? Those who know me well will think so). Perhaps this was the Canadian girl that I have been looking for? She seemed to get better as I got more drunk... That is, until the point where she pulled out a British passport! Her dad is English! I was supposed to get a Canadian wife, breed a new World-Dominating Welsh/Canadian Rugby team and to start a successful Moose farm while I was out here! I needed a Canadian to do that, not a Brit! Nevermind. Maybe my rugby loving, moose farming love is out there somewhere... *Sob*