The Canadian Grand Prix Report

I am currently watching a recording of the second practice session.  At home.  On my couch.  But at least it’s a red couch.  (Red for Ferrari, get it?)

No, I am not attending the race this year.  I have the kids for the month which is awesome, but they are not big Formula One fans.  They would not have enjoyed spending a weekend in Montreal doing nothing but circumnavigating a race track.

So, you will not be getting live reports from me about the race, or about Alonso’s hotel (I know where it is by the way) or delicious delicious Canadian food.

I miss poutine.  Maybe I should try to figure out how to make it.  But that would involve deep frying the french fries, because I don’t think Ore-Ida would cut it in a plate of poutine.  And deep frying things scares me so I don’t do it.  It’s a shame you can’t get poutine anywhere around here.  I want some.

Of course on the plus side I won’t get rained on or protested on watching from the couch.  Yes, there are protesters this year.  I also won’t have to wait in the massive queues for the subway or the very glamorous port-a-potties.

So, I will blog from the couch.  I hope you won’t be too disappointed.

The (rest of the) Canadian Grand Prix Report

It's not raining yet...

Well, that was… interesting.  But before I can tell you about the race, I should tell you about Qualifying.

It was supposed to rain on Saturday.  So I made sure I had the rain ponchos and a towel in my backpack.  I also packed a spare sweatshirt because it was also supposed to be chilly.

When I arrived at the track it was actually sunny, and not that cold.  I settled in to watch the final practice session before qualifying.  I love this qualifying system.  It has been like this for a few years now, and it is tons of fun to watch.  First all 24 cars go out for 20 minutes.  At the end of the session, the 8 slowest cars are eliminated, and they take up the last eight spots on the grid.  Then we have a short break so we can all catch our breath and then the remaining cars go out again, for 15 minutes this time.  The six slowest cars are eliminated this time, leaving ten cars to go for pole in the last session.  It is very exciting.  I love it.

After practice the clouds started to roll in.  By the time qually started I was wearing a long sleeved shirt under my lucky Alonso t-shirt, a black hoodie, and another hoodie over all that.  I was actually warm enough, though my seatmate found my many layers amusing.  I also bought a t-shirt, and I will show you a picture of that later.

It didn’t rain and qualifying went well, and I am always surprised how much faster it all goes in person.  It’s like you blink and it’s over.  Vettel was on pole again, which is getting pretty boring, but Alonso was second so I was happy about that.  And they even showed the press conference on the Jumbo-trons.  I like that because they show the bit at the end that they never show on television where each of the top three drivers says a few words in his own language.  I can’t help it, I like to listen to Alonso speak Spanish.  Ooooh….

But I digress.  Saturday night I wandered around Boulevard. St. Laurent a little bit.  And I had dinner at a Mexican restaurant on Rue St. Arthur; this was the neighborhood we lived in last summer when we spent a month in Montreal, so I did a fair amount of tripping down memory lane.  It was fun.

Sunday morning it was grey and cold.  I put on three of my four layers of clothing and went back to the track.  It was rainy and cold and gross, and really the kind of racing conditions I hate.

I timed my arrival in the grandstands to be just before the driver’s parade.  I yelled hello to Alonso and waved, but he didn’t see me.  Oh well.

It started raining before the race and they decided to start behind the safety car.  I have never seen a safety car start before, at least not live and in person, so that was interesting, but it is not as exciting as the usual standing start.

Safety Car start - I've never seen this before

Conditions were pretty awful.  It did start to clear up a few laps after the safety car went in, and Alonso came in to change from the full wet tires to the inters, only to have the sky open up a lap later.  I spent the next few minutes holding my breath, hoping he would make it back around to the pits to get the appropriate tires.  He did.  Whew!  But then they red-flagged the race.  This is the equivalent of a rain delay.  It was cold, it was rainy, and I was not having a good time.

fellow race fans huddled braving the elements

At one point as I was sitting there huddled under my rain poncho my seatmate looked over and said “I think the red dye in your hat is running, I just saw a red drop run down your face”.  Oh great.  So I took the Ferrari hat off.  There were some red patches in my hair, but they didn’t last long in the rain, and on the plus side I finally feel like that hat is clean after the bus-sick incident of 2008.

So after an hour of sitting in the rain getting more and more soggy and shivering harder and harder, I made a very difficult decision.  I decided to bail.  I never thought I would do a think like that, but at that point, I was soaked to the skin and freezing.  And my seatmate said it would probably be at least another hour before they could start the race, even if it stopped raining right that minute, which it was not going to do.

I gave up.  I felt awful about it, but I was so cold, and I was not having fun.  And they stopped the race on lap 28, 7 laps before the halfway point.  I was kind of afraid I would sit there shivering for another hour just so they could all parade around the safety car for 7 laps so they could call the race official and stop it for good.

Of course that is not what happened, but I did manage to get back to my hotel, take a hot shower, change into dry clothes and crawl under the covers just in time to watch the restart on television.

Alonso had a crash, so he didn’t finish.  Hamilton had a crash so he didn’t finish (hah) and Jenson Button passed Sebastian Vettel on one of the final laps to win the race.  Pretty amazing considering he made six pit stops and at one point he was in 21st place.  Wow.

So, part of me regrets leaving early, but not a very big part of me. It was a great weekend in spite of the washout on Sunday, and who knows, maybe next year I will be going to the US Grand Prix in Austin, TX.  I hope so.

Forza Ferrari



Some final thoughts

Today we went back up Mount Royal.  This time it wasn’t cloudy and we could see.

We took a trail down instead of the paved road.  It was a little more nature than I had planned on.


The children have been weeping all night because they don’t want to leave.  These are the same children who did not under any circumstances want to come to Montreal in the first place.


It has been a full week, and the children are still argument free.


I love the fireworks setting on my camera.


Time to go home.

The last saturday

Wow, when was the last time you heard the theme from Star Wars played on an accordion?  We heard it this afternoon.  Jealous?  It’s amazing how the subway station acoustics can make anything sound good.

We also heard two buskers singing a mash up of Boulevard of Broken Dreams and Wonderwall while we were having ice cream in the Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montrael.  It sounded better than you might think.

This was our last Saturday in Montreal.  We started the day with lunch at Pizza Madona and then went to the Architecture archives where Tom has been spending his time all month.  They had a few small exhibits there.  One was drawings by a Greek composer and architect.  It was…interesting.  The C-Man looked at one drawing and said:

“It looks like tornados, and sliced ham.”

Personally, I didn’t see it, but he has always had a very unique view of the world.  I would show you the picture, but you were not allowed to take photographs in the exhibits and I want to play by the rules.

We had a short walk around Old Montreal and then came back to the apartment. We will go to the fireworks again tonight.  And then tomorrow:  packing.

Winding down

Today we went to the Art Museum again.  There were some exhibits we missed the first time, in fact we missed an entire building!  So off we went to see it again.  And the children even wanted to go.  We saw some contemporary art (hmmm) and the decorative arts gallery with a whole exhibit of studio glass.

This one was done by an artist from Des Moines.  Alright, Central Iowa represent!

“Look mom, this one looks like that cranberry sauce from a can”

That was Princess O’s critque of this one.  I have no idea what she’s talking aobut.  I never serve cranberry sauce from a can.  (yeah right).

We relaxed on the terrace.

Then we stopped at Tim Horton’s for a mid-afternoon donut.  I really like Tim Horton’s donuts.  They would be the perfect dessert after a big bowl of Poutine.

It’s hard to believe this is our last weekend in Montreal.  It’s time to dust off Big Orange and start rolling up the space bags.

I wonder if I can figure out how to make Poutine at home?

Summer in the city

You can tell that winters in this town must be really really awful.  How do I know this?  Because they take their summers seriously.

The pool in our apartment building is a perfect example.  There are a zillion and one deck chairs, and all of them are full, all the time. They have a swim up bar!  At the pool at the health club.  Think about that for a minute.

There is also a really great stretch of sidewalk cafes not far from our apartment.  The street is closed to traffic and every bar and restaurant has tables outside.  There are buskers, and flags fluttering in the breeze.  On bar had a big Ferrari flag flying today.  We weren’t sure if it was in honor of the upcoming race this weekend, or the fact that today is Fernando Alonso’s birthday.  (Happy Birthday Fernando).

There is a gelateria on that road that we have been trying to sample since we got here but it was chiuso every time we passed it.  Actually, since we are in Montreal, not Rome, it was not chiuso, it was fermé.  Anyway, since we don’t have much time left here, I said we would walk over there after dinner for dessert.

Wow.  It was really good.  You got three flavors in a small cup.  That’s a lot.  And they stack them, so you get stripes in your cup.  At all the Italian gelaterias they put the flavors side by side.  The advantage to that is you can get a bit of each flavor on your spoon for every bite.  The disadvantage to that is it is not nearly as pretty.

I had cappuccino, walnut and pistachio flavors.  It is hard to find walnut ice cream and I really love it.  For some reason it makes me think of dessert at my grandparent’s house in Michigan.  That must be the first place I ever had walnut ice cream. And their pistachio ice cream was almost, not quite, but almost as good as the pistachio ice cream at Fior di Luna.  That was our favorite gelateria in Rome and they had the best pistachio ice cream I have ever tasted.  If you ever go to Rome, I highly recommend it.

Princess O had nutella, chocolate and mint chip.  The C-Man had chocolate and mint chip.   That was a departure for him.  Usually he goes with chocolate chip.  He’s branching out.

Oh, and speaking of Princess O and the C-Man, they are still not arguing.  It has been four days now.

More about Poutine, and also swimming

Did you know you can get Poutine at the Burger King in Montreal?  You can.  But I didn’t have any so I can’t recommend it.  Of course, it’s Poutine from Burger King so eating it probably isn’t in your best interests.  Then again, eating Poutine at all is probably not in your best interests.

As you may have guessed, we went to Burger King for lunch.  We also went to Old Montreal and poked around a little bit.  I found a Christmas store (of course I did) and I made a super-secret purchase and bought an ornament for myself.  I always buy a Christmas ornament from the places we go on vacation.

From there we went to the pool one last time.  At least, I think it will be the last time.  We are leaving on Monday, so our trip is starting to wind down.  We have started doing the last things we wanted to do, and going back to hit our favorites a second time.

When we left the pool both children were crying because they will miss the pool when we go home.  This always happens.  They cry when we arrive because they want to go home, they cry when it’s time to go because they don’t want to leave.

I remember the C-man bursting into tears in the middle of downtown Sydney and declaring “I want to go home!”  The same child was weeping as we got into the cab back to the airport because he wanted to stay.

So this week will have its weepy moments.  Hopefully we will have some fun too.


See, I can hike too.  Today we went to the top of Mount Royal.  And I saw actual nature.

Look! Nature

Of course by hiking I mean walking up paved bicycle paths and up staircases.  But it was pretty on the way up.

But perhaps the weather was not terribly conducive to a day at the summit:

If you look closely you can see darker shapes at the bottom of this picture.  Those are buildings.  You might have to turn up the brightness on your monitor to see them.

The C-man was disappointed because the ice cream vendor was not camped out at the top like last time.  But he made the best of it.

Our next stop was a return to the Science Museum, because it is really cool, and the kids wanted to show it to Tom.

But first, we stopped at Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral, which looks like a mini St. Peters.

And tonight, fireworks.  Assuming it doesn’t rain.

Everybody get your pool geek on

Okay, it’s entirely possible that I am the only person in the world capable of getting a pool geek on. But I did.  Do you know why?  Because today The Children and I went swimming in the 1976 Olympic pool!  Squeee!

Olympic Park

To be fair, we were only swimming in the practice pool.  The competition pool is reserved for hard core swimmers only.  And I will not be joining them.  I watched them for a bit thinking maybe I would come back over the weekend and swim while Tom had charge of the Peskies but these swimmers are w-a-a-a-y too serious.  They were doing flip turns, and wearing full body swimsuits, and they all looked really badass.

The other reason why I cannot lap swim with the giants is my lap suit bit the dust.  Stupid cheap-ass lap suit.  Add a new swimsuit to the list of things to buy in West Des Moines the next time we go shopping.

The children of course jumped right into the practice pool and came up sputtering and saying things like “oh my gosh!” and “whoa!” so I could tell the water was not warm.  But when I asked how the water was they lied, lied right to my face and said it was fine.  I called them on it of course and tested it for myself.  Zut alors!  L’eau dans la piscine est tres froid.  Je ne l’aime pas. But after having a stern talk with myself I got in anyway.

I swam a couple of laps just to say I did it.  Then I got out again.

The Olympic complex is very…1976.  The interior has a lot of burn orange and goldenrod tile.  It’s rather unfortunate, but I am sure it was super fashion forward in 1976.  Let’s just say the place isn’t aging well and leave it at that.

Here are the water babies: