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Chapter 4: Canada (Part 2) & the USA

The jacket saga continues

sunny 27 °C
View Travelling 2016 on Daniel.J.B's travel map.

Since my last post, I've been overwhelmed by the concern regarding the welfare and whereabouts of my jacket. Oddly enough it overtook me and made it to Halifax before I did, courtesy of Fréderique, the Dutch tenant of my Couchsurfing host in Ottawa.

While my jacket was on its way to Nova Scotia, I was still in Québec City, which was no bad thing. Following Montréal was always going to be tough, but I once again benefitted from an awesome Anglophile Couchsurfing host named Daniel and his Colombian flatmate Ricardo. It also helped that on my first full day in the city I met up with the lovely Steph, with whom my sister did a student exchange 13 years ago. We reminisced about all the conversations we didn't have because I was a somewhat shy 14-year-old at the time and barely spoke a word to her. We had a rather tasty burger and I forgot to get a photo of us as my mum had requested. Back at Daniel's that evening we were joined by another CSer, Calvin, from a part of Canada I couldn't remember the name of but though it sounded a bit like a Pokemon. We drank Jack Daniels and I finally got to play my favourite travelling card game, Yeniv. I won.

The next day I actually got a good look around Québec and the old city in particular, and it is a really beautiful place. As a Spurs fan I was less than enthused by the number of cannons around the city, but I'm reliably informed they aren't there in homage to Arsenal. Apparently it's just because the French and British bickered a bit back in the day. Calvin and I met up with Rached, a Tunisian now residing in Québec I'd met in Montréal, and had some excellent gelato.

Given it's not the biggest place, one day is plenty to see most of the sights in Québec. Myself, Calvin, Daniel and Jeanette, a German I'd met in Montréal, therefore decided to head to Jacques Cartier National Park and do a spot of trekking. This was a good decision. The place is phenomenally beautiful, and the 16km route we took had a spectacular view from the summit. Pictures, as usual, don't do it justice, but I've added a few below anyway. We also saw a porcupine, which was cool. We bolted on a little 4km hike as a warm down, finishing just as the heavens opened.

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I returned to Montréal in order to fly to Halifax, where I would be staying with my great-aunt Valerie. Upon arrival, I messaged Fréderique and she agreed to leave my jacket at her hotel reception for me to collect in the morning. In the morning, I therefore made my way to her hotel reception to collect my jacket, but the staff knew nothing of it. I messaged Fréderique who replied with "Crap.. I forgot." At this point I was beginning to accept that my jacket and I just weren't meant to be, so heroically braved the violent rain and wind and made it to the maritime museum around the corner for shelter. After spending a few hours in the museum, which was excellent, I found the weather was absolutely beautiful and was grateful not to have the burden of a jacket. I had some ice cream at the port and saw some jellyfish.

While in Halifax I met some of my extended family, had a lovely meal and forgot to get any photos as my mum had requested. The next morning I returned to Fréderique's hotel reception once more, having been assured my jacket was now there. Guess what? The guy at reception, the same chap as the previous day, seemed to think I was playing some weird and really not very funny practical joke and assured me my jacket was not there. I tried, to no avail, the hotel down the street before giving up and heading to quite literally the windiest place on the planet, Peggy's Cove. Despite the wind and my lack of protection from it, Peggy's Cove was awesome, especially as the tide was in and waves crashed violently against the granite rock formations.

Then, finally, at the third time of asking, the greatest reunification for 26 years happened. Great crowds gathered as, at last, my jacket was presented to me. It was like I had won the Masters. I celebrated this momentus occasion by joining Fréderique for a beer, along with her friends and colleagues, all of whom were in town for a science convention. In news that may surprise some, scientists are in fact real people and it turned out to be a pretty good night, during which I learned to hate the bloody p19 protein, whatever it is.

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With my three weeks in Canada complete, it was time to head to the US. I'd already booked flights to and from Miami when I found out Flight of the Conchords were playing in Philadelphia that weekend, and after a few beers decided the added miles and expense were worth it to see them live again, having done so in London years ago. The only downside was I'd be going solo, and these things are always better with company. Nonetheless, I went ahead a bought a ticket.

Now, in my Iceland blog I wrote about how bizarre it is we come across certain people at certain times. I guess some call it fate, something in which I've never really believed. But as I was in the hostel waiting to set off for the wonderful Mann Center, I overheard an English girl, Jas, talking about the show, and it turned out she was going too. Great, I thought, a drinking buddy (and someone to split the taxi fare with). We got chatting and after a while checked which seats we were in.
Me: BAL-BX - ROW 20 SEAT 12
Jas: BAL-BX - ROW 19 SEAT 12
Seriously. 8,000 odd people and she was directly in front of me. Fortunately we also got on, so like that the one reservation I'd had about going was gone. The Conchords were every bit as brilliant as expected. Possibly more brilliant. Their new material is as good as ever, and their rendition of Foux du FaFa was as hilarious as Bowie's in Space was emotional.

Walking through unknown parts of Philadelphia at night was something I'd been explicitly warned not to do. After the show we decided to walk through an unknown part of Philadelphia at night to find a bar as the crowd died down. It wasn't one of the nicest neighbourhoods but the bar was cool and the beer was cheap, so it was worth it. All-in-all, it was a pretty epic night.

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I spent the brief time I had in Philly walking around, ticking off the clichés such as the Rocky steps and statue and eating cheese steaks. It's a really cool place that reminded me of Montréal in many ways, and somewhere I'd like to spend more time. As I write this I'm preparing to head back to Miami, my fourth flight in three days, before I start my South American adventure on Wednesday in Quito.

¿Hablas Español? No.

Posted by Daniel.J.B 10:46 Archived in Canada Tagged walking hiking travel quebec quebec_city music usa america canada florida miami philadelphia pennsylvania halifax comedy gig nove_scotia

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