September 2nd, 2021

Phoenix

travel update

Been a while.

In the long ago golden age of "early June", it was possible to believe the world was going back to normal, and I reserved a really cheap Airbnb in San Francisco for July. Took Amtrak, meaning "bus to Bakersfield, train to Emeryville, bus to SF." Alas when I got to my intended home, a guest was still in occupancy, I don't know why, and with the host incommunicado, Airbnb gave me a full refund and a free week and cut me loose. Of course, everything else in the area was twice the price, which was why I went to SF in the first place... I sucked it up, mostly in Oakland, seeing some friends and enjoying the weather, Zachary's pizza, and a "Rice Triangles" shop making fresh big onigiri.

I stayed the longest in an old Oakland house, with a couple of nostalgia points: old locks on bedroom doors, like we had when I was a kid, except this place had the keys, which my host called "skeleton keys" for them. Also my room had a rainbow-and-unicorn decal stuck to the window, I'd swear identical to one I grew up with. Perhaps some friend in Berkeley sent it to my parents?

Right when I was thinking it was high time to flee the western US on account of wildfire smoke, Canada finally opened up to the US, despite having lower covid rates than us, and I slipped into Montreal, where I plan to be until it snows. I'm downtown-ish -- tall buildings, anyway -- near Guy and Sherbrooke. There's only one French-style bakery nearby, though it's practically around the corner, and I've been having morning croissants and baguettes. The baguette rustique is softer, and stays softer longer than,the baguette blanche. There's also a baguette levain -- sourdough -- for twice the price. A bit further is an Arab bakery, with spinach pies and za'atar stuff. On Saint-Catherine are a whole slew of things, including dim sum places, and a Japanese food shop staffed by actual Japanese people, or at least Asian people who know Japanese. I made the mistake of saying 'konbanwa' (good evening) and got "do you want a bag" in Japanese -- or so I infer from context, as I sure didn't understand them. But I got out with karaage, cold ramen, and chashu. There's also frozen beef at CAN$150/lb, I assume wagyu. Surprisingly, not locked up. I did not get any of that.

Indoor masking has been good if not perfect. There's supposed to be some new QR/vaccine passport system, though I wasn't dining in any restaurants anyway, just takeout. I would like to go to the gardens or Biodome, might be relevant then, hopefully someone will take my US evidence.

Los Angeles masking was deteriorating; my subway ride to Union Station had 50% masking and two people smoking. SF Muni seemed very good, I didn't see any noses. BART, decent rate, but I found myself on a car with three unmasked men, one emitting random sounds, and fled to another car.

My first Saturday in Montreal, I thought I heard some local cultural parade coming up the street, which police had blocked off, but it turned out to be a protest against vaccine passports. Someone was waving a TRUMP 2020 sign.

My T-Mobile roaming worked great until two days ago, when I stopped being able to make calls or texts. Oddly, data still works. I called, they got it fixed, then it broke again. I happened to have a second phone and a Canadian SIM from the airport, but *that* isn't giving me data despite doing the APN hoops.

Montreal does in fact have cheddar cheese. I'm not really surprised, but I hadn't noticed any on my 2018 visit, compared to a wide variety of brie. See the comment count unavailable DW comments at https://mindstalk.dreamwidth.org/582600.html#comments