Back to Civilisation

Fri, 18 Apr 2008 02:21:29 +0000

Wasting a Day Index Montreal

...or at least, somewhere where you're allowed to flush toilet paper down the bowl.

I didn't sleep very much on that flight. Partly I can blame this on my Brazilian neighbour, who's a little on the gangly side, but mostly I blame Air Canada: those seats hardly recline at all. After the practically horizontal recliners available on the bus route between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, this came as a bit of a shock.

Canadian immigration were, like always, assholes. Well, maybe that's unfair: they weren't particularly mean to me, just to every Brazilian. I saw one student shuffled off to an interview room because the immigration officer said she "didn't believe she had the means to support herself in Canada". And while it's mean of me to complain, the net result of all this grilling was that the queue was painfully slow: I was there for half an hour.

Nevertheless, with the one exception of immigration officers, Canadians are universally friendly and helpful, and also their country is very neat and well-organised, so I found my way to the hostel with less trouble than I've had in any new city. And for only $2.70 as well, which beats every other city in my experience for cheap airport transfer.

So it's early in the morning, I haven't had any sleep, and I don't have anything to do apart from make sure I get to bed early so I can catch my early-morning flight to Montreal tomorrow. How to fill in the time?

My solution turned out to be to spend the entire day in the Royal Ontario Museum. And I have to say, it's one of the nicest days I've yet spent on this holiday. I just randomly and inefficiently wandered my way around the exhibits, which is my favourite methodology for museums. Every hour or so I popped down to the restaurant for a snack or a drink. And it was very relaxing.

The museum itself is one of these combined natural history / historical museums, which I find a bit of a strange combination. But it did mean that my day was pretty varied. My favourite part was the "first nations" section. Partly because it was the only part that was uniquely Canadian, but also because it was just really well put together. Lots of artefacts, lots of insight into daily life of traditional societies, but also stories of individual people to put some human faces on the artefacts. Not at all like the travesty the museologists have inflicted on Perth museum's aboriginal exhibit, which is so busy trying to accentuate the now, and the positives, that about the only knowledge you come away with is the vague sense that being black somehow makes you want to play football a lot.

They also have an enjoyable collection of baroque furniture here, for some reason, and a pretty good collection of suits of armour. Lord only knows where they got it all from. I also liked their Chinese and Japanese exhibits, which were worth brushing up while I have English captions to read, before I visit the countries themselves. Surprisingly, the fossil exhibits didn't do much for me. Somehow I seem to have seen all the glyptodon and megatherium skeletons I ever need to see. Pity, because the museum's collection is very impressive.

I have to get up at 5 tomorrow to catch my 8:15 flight, so I really have to get to bed Right Now. The next few days are clearly going to be somewhat sleep challenged, I can tell. But I have three days in Montreal, so hopefully things will be somewhat relaxed.

Wasting a Day Index Montreal