Jun 15

An F1 Pit Lane walk

Canada is one of the few F1 circuits that offer access on the Thursday before the race meet starts. You don’t even need to have a race ticket to access the track. So off we went to hang around the pitlane for 3 hours – along with a lot of other people! But it was not that crowded, the circuit had done this plenty of times before and had the organisation sorted. A queue, a bus to the pitlane and then the chance to queue up for driver autographs or just walk up and down the garages.

Neither of us wanted to get autographs – the queue was long, you never knew who you would get and neither of us tend to collect them – so we just went straight to the cars, taking lots and lots of photos. We also saw quite a few drivers heading out for their track walk.

Back into town and a bit of tourism – the Notre Dame Basilica. Built by the Francophone community, it’s completely different to the churches I usually visit, with the English reformation stripping out all the decoration back to the raw stone. I prefer the unadorned grandeur, but I can see the reasoning behind the decoration.

Montreal June 5 2014

We ended the day with a trip to Crescent St, which is blocked off and turned into a F1 party street, with lots of sponsor stalls and events. This is supported by the official sponsors; a few blocks over on Peel St seems to be slightly more unofficial, with non-sponsors getting into the act. Both a fun places to wander around! We bumped into a few F1 fans we knew from Twitter and ended up with a few drinks.

Jun 15

On the train to Montreal

Wednesday was another travel day. I met up with Sofia at the train station and we jumped on the 5 hour trip to Montreal. Definitely not as much beautiful countryside as out last train trip (Prague to Budapest) but pleasant enough. The plane trip itself would have been cheaper (we went business), but when you add on costs to get to and from airports, the time for that, the time waiting, the train was a far more pleasant and convenient experience, when you add in the large seats and the free drinks and meal.

The rest of the day was basically eating, a few drinks and a lot of lazing around! The hotel was to the north of the town centre, near the Village and the Latin Quarter, with a high level of students and good, cheap places to eat. The row of pink balls all along this section of the street gave an indication that this was the ‘Gay Villiage’ – or that could be just because that is what it was called on Google maps!

Jun 05

Some time in Toronto

The day started with coffee and chat. Gaming, game design, trademarks, AI, the future of humanity, startups, population growth and Malthus. Just your everyday small talk :-) A great chance to talk about different things, that I don’t have chance to think about in my everyday job.

Next, off to the airport for my next phase of the trip, heading up to Toronto. Newark airport was pretty painless, except for the need of Air Canada to charge for bags – why not just put it in the original price. They were not overjoyed at my insistence of paying cash though. Especially as there were a lot of crumpled dollar bills!

My original plans for Monday night fell through, so instead I headed to Canoe, a gorgeous fine dining Canadian restaurant, where the tasting menu included things like elk, pickled maple leaves, stinging nettle puree and coniferous cream. The chef makes a point of using local ingredients as well as bringing in his influences from Japan, with the desert of rice cake, green tea custard and red bean sherbert. I sat at the kitchen table and watched the chefs rush to meet the demand of a full restaurant, which was pretty good for a Monday evening. I absolutely adored this meal!

Canoe

Tuesday dawned foggy and damp but the sun quickly came out and the humidity went up. The first thing to do was sort out a phone sim for the week – despite the wifi ubiquity around and about, the F1 circuit won’t have that, so need to be able to connect there.

Toronto 3 June 2014

Then a walk round town before meeting Jeremy for lunch and catching up about the last 6 years or so since I saw him. More walking and another catch up, this time with Rick – it’s probably been 8 years since I last met him.

Great to spend the first few days of the hols just catching up with old friends, before heading off to Montreal to make new ones!

Toronto 3 June 2014

Jun 05

New York and New Jersey

It’s another holiday! This time to the continent of North America, with a combined trip to New York, West Milward (In New Jersey), Toronto and Montreal for the F1.

Emoisre state

An easy trip to Heathrow and all the way through the security ended with a slightly worrying beep of the machine as I went to board. Had my ESTA run out, what was the problem? It turned out to be a nice surprise instead as the computer had said yes and I was given a lovely upgrade to World Traveller Plus – bigger seats, small cabin, Yes, a good start!

Food done, sleep done, no issues with immigration, remembered how to use the subway and made my way to my hostel for the evening – where possible, I’m sleeping cheap and eating expensive! The Chelsea International is probably your typical hostel, standard welcome, rooms with lockers, basic functional place. But, clean, tidy, secure and works fine.

American Wagyu Carpaccio

A quick lie down and then out for my a meal, at Craft. I thought about the tasting menu but decided it was too much after a day of travelling so settled for American Wagyu Carpaccio, Monkfish and chard, finished with Banana Tartin with Peanut butter icecream. Enjoyed it and everything was well sourced and well excuted, but the nothing outstanding. Waiter was great but some of the servers not so much – my starter got delivered to wrong table..

Next morning, I jumped on a 90minute bus ride out to the wilds of New Jersey, to see a friend from my New York days. Breakfast at a 24/7 diner than out to the stables to see his horses and spend some time helping out building a fence for the stables, which is a rescue centre relying on volunteers to get things done. It was quite a change to be out in the sunshine doing physical work instead of sitting in an office all day.

US Day 1-2

We finished the day at a local sushi (local in these parts being a 20min drive away!). And at that point an early night to chase the jetlag away was needed.

Horses and fences