Category: Angestaubte Anekdoten


My service is coming to an end, so it is time to admit a couple of things:

  • Altough my dandyish presence at golfing, I am still only into girls.
  • To be more precise, I am only into one girl: Lorena.
  • I wear long underwear combined with karate pants and jeans to fight the cold weather. Everything warmer than -13°C is for pussies, to be honest.
  • After a long phase of denial, I have to admit my addiction to maple syrup. In the last week it grew so extreme that I had a bottle standing in my room, constantly sipping out of it when entering or exiting my living space.

This addiction drove me to the conclusion that to get the full Quebec experience, I have to visit a cabane d’ sucre, or in simple English, a sugar shack.

Peter, undoubtedly one of my favorite roatrip friends, offers his car. I bring Stefan, Chris and Manel. We drive about an hour far outside of the city and park in front of a huge one-story wooden cottage. Many expensive cars are parked around us. It wouldn’t be a different picture if we would have driven to a cocaine farm – both maple syrup and the white powder are simply powerful drugs.

.


A great Band I met on the subway station – their violin-guitar sounds could be a movie soundtrack. Le Macadam Orkestra


The guy who runs the sugar farm. In the background long tables to get fat, colored in red-white. I am reminded of Austria.


Cooking the fat


Our 15$-each dinner… Vive la Canada!

.

The food is fatty. Really fatty. There are dark brown fries that look like cookies (I believe their original color was bright yellow before they were soaked with grease), sausages, omlettes, bread (which itself is not fatty, but its being served with a mashed fat cream) … and all of that stuff, of course, is subject to be put on a plate and bathed in maple syrup by the Canadian consumer. To that, you drink milk. Free of charge. 15$ for the eating orgy.
As we think about health issues, a perfectly rounded man of about 250kg rolls through the rows of benches. He seems to be a regular customer.

.

.

Back at home, we start the party. Peter gives me a package of Kangaroo Jerky as a goodbye present. If you know Beef jerky – well, Kangaroo looks a little lighter, has a similar consistence and tastes like beef. I am first disgusted by the thought of eating a Kangaroo, but my curiosity forces my appetite for those hopping animals, and many pieces of them hop down my throat. As the party gets started and people start rolling in, I take shelter in Michka’s room. It is one of these bonding moments where my roommates Yukkunn, Michka, his good friend Raphael and me end up talking about men stuff, listening and giving advice to each other. Amazing. Someone interrupts us, and as I look outside, the living room is filled with people. I return to the room, and when I come out half an hour later, everyone has their coats on and is leaving.
“What’s up?”, I ask.
“No alcohol left, we’re going to a bar.”
.


Real Australian Kangaroo Jerky.

.

No alcohol, no problem: I just come with them. I observe my colleague Chris giving women dating advice about men. “Men are so simple. They are like monkeys.” is my favorite. This man knows what he is talking about. At 4AM I fall asleep in a chaotic room, half packed, half empty. Only a couple of hours left.

A beautiful plan: Stefan and me would get into a rideshare, drive down to Quebec City and do four hours of Paraskiing. Paraskiing is like kitesurfing, but instead of a kiteboard you have skis or a snowboard, and instead of water you have snow…:

.

It’s about 80$ for four hours, so we figured that it was expensive but worth the price. An awesome site for ridesharing in Quebec (and partly down to the U.S.) is AmigoExpress. You pay six dollars to the site itself, and an little more than the gas expenses to the driver. That’s it.
So, instead of using a greyhound-like bus system and paying 50$ to get from Montreal to Quebec, you pay 18$.

So Stefan and me meet at 7AM at a gas station with our driver and begin the journey, really excited for the paraskiing. Stefan calls the organizers to confirm that we are coming. While I see majestic bridge pylons passing by outside, indicating that Quebec city is only a few minutes away, Stefans face shows concern instead of excitement.
“Cancelled? What? Why? … Is there a chance to do it any way? What, no, we are on our way, from Montreal! Yes … Is there anything … aha. Okay. Goodbye.”

Those lousy dudes at the paraskiing facility just decided that today was a snow storm and the paraskiing was cancelled. But we could come tomorrow. And they couldn’t inform us yesterday night or so.
I look outside again. Romantic little snowflakes dancing by in a nearly windless air. The pussiest snowstorm I’ve ever seen.
We get pretty mad and make up plans for redemption, which mainly include inappropriately dispensed body fluids, but soon figure out that this wouldnt make a lot of sense and decide otherwhise – to use the day as well as possible.
In Quebec City, you can go Snow Mobile driving, but it costs about a million dollars to rent them for an hour. A dog-pulled sled is even more expensive to rent. On our way to the tourist information in downtown, we encounter the beginning of an adventurous day: A 20m or so high hill made of snow.

.

After climbing up, we decide that we are the kings of the world and therefore should slide down the tallest part of the hill. Stefan goes first:


Quite a slide

I let my backpack including my camera slide down on its own, Stefan catches it. “Ok Toby, go!”
And I jump. And its gonna be a wonderful day. Snow is spraying in my face, my feet rattling through the compressed snow of the hill, braking my increasing sped only a little. I feel so alive. Full of action. Fuck Paraskiing, we got something better here. If those paraskiing guys wouldn’t have just cancelled that event without prior notice, then we wouldnt have found this awesome hill.
I can’t see where the bottom of the hill is tough, too much snow thrown at me from my flabbery feet.
CHRRUUCHHH!

Thats what I would have heard if I would have sat inside the muscle that wraps the ankle of my right leg. I just fell with speed gained over a steeper-than-45-degrees slope over a 2m-cliff right on a concrete parking lot. “Are you okay? The securities are coming!”

I feel like puking. My foot feels like being amputated. Great.
The securities take down our names and advise us to leave campus, since last year someone did the same and broke his foot. I was pretty close to breaking it, I guess, but thanks to Parkour and acrobatics it was the muscles which compensated the impact, not the bones.
The rest of the day basically consisted in complaining over my pain, thinking about life, getting thrown out of a subway (Sir, you are here since four hours, you are not my customer any more. Could you please put on socks.), drinking expensive coffee, reading a book and limping through the brownish slimy half-melt snow of Quebec City.

Fuck Paraskiing, seriously.

Our last day in Ottawa was quite touristy to a certain degree. The visit at the Parliament when goping to Ottawa is as mandatory as seeing the Stephansdom and all the Japanese tourists around it when visiting Vienna. So we did that. Unfortunately, the great tours supported by amateur actors, sponsored by the government, were closed and just a general visit to the center block was allowed – the line too long, too Canadian, so we didn’t set our feet inside.
Seriously. In Canada there are lines everywhere. And usually, they are too long.

But there’s maple syrup to sweeten the waiting time, so its all half that bad.

.


Our extremely comfy couches for 20$ per person at the Ottawa Backpackers Inn – again, this hostel is awesome.


A true Austrian without makeup. Stefan wants to remain anonymous.


The Canadian parliament. This is where Stephen Harper gave everybody a couple of weeks holidays to rescue his dictatorship.


Witch trials. Burn in hell, Austrians.


I took the bottom photo when I was in Ottawa during July 2008. I tried to get a similar perspective now during the winter… someone with a good eye may see the minor differences (hint: in the summer there are more clouds!)


Like blasphemy, but more about blasen (German for blowing)


Between the Center and the West block of the Ottawa Parliament, an old retiree, called the “cat man”, is feeding and caressing the cats that once protected the Parliament from the pest by eating mice and rats. A must-see for every starting adventurer.

.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, comes the most fascinating, least known attraction in Ottawa. We literally saw less than 20 people apart from us in this venue: The currency museum housed inside the headquarters of the Bank of Canada. Location
This glass building wraps seamlessly around a concrete building, which houses the currency museum – and inside the humongeous glass building is nothing but a gigantic jungle with a pool and the probably biggest currency ever: a milestone, two meters in diameter, that was used as a payment option in some far-away island culture.
The currency museum is free – and not just that, no, you also get free cookies, free coffee, free tea, and during the summer even free ice cream. Did I mention the impressive architecture with more empty space than I could fill with my amazement?


Bank of Canada lobby


Whoever the architect is, I feel quite aroused by that kind of building.


Chris and Stefan in front of the currency museum… money money MONEY!


Free tea, coffee, cookies .. everything you need for an awesome museum.


That’s how the currency museum looks from the inside


Germany has a really strong currency. For those who can’t speak the beautiful German language, the amounts are as following:
10 DM (German Marks, now replaced by the Euro)
100.000 DM
200.000.000 DM
10.000.000.000 DM


Businesses that were going out of business or could not pay their suppliers often gave out an own currency whis stated “Good For (…)” and let you purchase a product of the business. Why the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association features a Davids star on their coins will remain a miracle for us.


Inbetween foolish children’s drawings my genius future Canadian currency

.

I ask the lady at the front desk what the weirdest coin was she ever saw, and she meant it was one that said “Good for one shoe” – so unless you didnt do an adequate amount of work for this shoe manufacturer, they paid you with something that could buy you one shoe, not two…
Ottawa is basically a collection of foreign embassies, somewhere the Canadian Parliament and some other government buildings, some parking lots and … that’s it. So, on our way to the American fortress (embassy) we find this advertisement:


Some people didnt really like that campaign


If Canada would fall into a war, and there would be a nuclear attack to Ottawa, then the only thing surviving would be the cats on parliament hill (they have seven lives) and the American embassy, pictured above. That thing is seriously a copy of Fort Knox – and so welcoming… “Wanna come in to have a tea and we’ll ask you some questions?”


Next to the embassy, the Museum of Modern Art with its huge spider

The first and foremost reason we came to Ottawa is the free public ice skating rink that is installed every year on the Rideau Canal. Last evening some people in the TV room told us that the skating rink was closed due to thin ice, but chances were good it would be reopened.
So, today morning I look the official Ottawa page for the Rideau Canal up, and see this:

Perrrrfect! I borrowed Jeshia’s ice skates, Stefan borrowed those of his roommate, but Chris didn’t have any ice skates. Good that in our great backpackers inn hostel there was a cartboard box full of left over ice skates, that you can borrow for free. As we step in our rouge rental car, an I want to eat my breakfast, I realize that the Peaches were frozen. The water I washed them with the day before had accumulated to a thick ice coating. Good that we didn’t sleep in the car…


Already a running joke


The coke I left in the car was full of ice


Peaches on the rock

In the inner city we find a 5$-all-day-long parking construction and drive up to the rooftop. There seems to be no elevator, so in our foolishness we just run down 40.000 steps to reach street level. Ottawa is extremely walkable, so we make our way to the canal with the ice skates thrown over our shoulders. There is something weird about Canadian culture: People always make festivals and meet in large crowds. Maybe it is so weird because Canada has an amazingly low population density, or maybe because this gathering gene seems to not be influenced by temperature at all: Canadians always gather, regardless of ice or snow.


About a million steps


This is the weirdest way to protect pedestrians crossing the street: This van drives back and forth in his little fence to accompany the people across the street before stopping at the end and making space for cars to pass inbetween. Maybe it’s too cold for an ordinary traffic officer?


Addicted to gathering


A tower of plastic bottles – Canadians just know how it’s done.


Ice sculptor, sounding like a dentist while drilling a shape into this soon-to-be fire spitting dragon

And there we go: Compareable to the Vienna canal, a little river going somewhere from the far West Viennese suburbs of the 13th district into the inner city, the Rideau Canal goes all the way through Ottawa, too. As the winters get colder, it completely freezes and is open to the public. People even go to work with ice skates on this canal. Just another depiction of Canadian gathering culture, may some sarcastic minds say. Over the 4.5 mile long part that is open to public this time, I see about 10.000 people with ice skates, boots or sleds. There are tents, ovens, bars, restaurants and seating areas right on the ice. It is an amazing sight, and whoever goes to Ottawa during the winter, can’t miss that.

Again, adults are dragging their children behind in little plastic sleds, so be careful where to throw your ice skates when you “try to gain speed” – but you’ll lose the race against this five year old bastard with the helmet anyway.. it must be either because every Canadian child is taught how to ice skate before it is taught to walk, or because maple syrup contains steroids..


The Rideau Canal packed with all kinds of skating enthusiasts


With this nursing home device, children are learning to skate. Looking at my skating skills I should get one too… to the left, you can see a hole in the ice that was marked with spray paint.


Canadian military cooling its engines on the ice


Long cracks seem to bother nobody

After a 9 kilometer ride on ice skates, we are naturally exhausted and decide to watch a movie. “He’s just not that into you” is a very lovely love comedy movie that both men (without puking their intestines out as a reaction to too cheesy flirting scenes) and women (you’ll love it, darling) can watch. We feel a little awkward as a group of three chill dudes in the cinema, since everyone else in the theater is either a couple or a girl group.
Too bad we have to notice that the Emo culture got as far as Ottawa – little children in tight pants, heads gravitating towards the floor due to the heavy use of mascara .. ugh, and I thought, I could leave them behind in Europe – a misconception.


Very important to us Austrians: Getting drunk during the afternoon. Inside, we find Stiegl beer and some German classics. I am told not to take pictures inside, to protect the alcoholics or so.

When we try to get home by car, I discover the plastic bag that contained the peaches and the ice. I throw the ice out of the window, and when we stop at a red light, I want to throw the bag into a trash can on the street corner. I push open the door, just to see a bus approaching on the lane next to us and shutting it again.

On the second try I get out of the car, run around some cars and throw the bag gracefully into the trash.
“It’s half hanging outside”, Stefan notes upon my return. I run back, push the bag into the can, run back. Two red cars. Ours must be the latter one. I try to open the door, but it is locked. I look inside and see the outraged face of some 45-year old guy who obviously assumes that I tried to steal his car. I have to jump back as he jumps the car sharply into my direction, throws some hateful gestures towards me and takes off, leaving only some tyre rubber on the concrete.
My heart is getting a mental adrenaline injection, and I get into the right car. “What the fuck were you doing Toby?”, Stefan asks. I don’t know. Saving the environment?

.

We try to navigate back to the hostel, and accidentally end up on a freeway towards Montreal. Isn’t that weird: When we park our car randomly, we unknowingly park it right in front of the hostel, and when we try to find the hostel, we find ourselves on a random freeway that leads to the city we came from.

After waking up in our beautiful 40$-each beds (those are a whole different experience from 30$-beds, seriously!), we decided to stroll through the old downtown. We actually planned to visit the Quebec Ice Hotel, but got advised that it is 20$ to get in and have a drink – and a twenty just to see some frozen water was too expensive for us.


Those puppets are distracting from the fabulous clothes


Chateau Frontenac – this giant was built for the sole purpose of being a hotel


St. Lawrence River / St. Laurent River / St. Laurenz River / River of the Thousand Spellings


One of the great things in QC city: A ice sled race! You have to drag the heavy sleds up the hill, those seemingly sketchy constructions of wood and polished metal, sit down and SWOOOOSHHH down the ice lanes.


maple syrup, frozen, in little cones


Peter and me, sledding for 2$ each… a fucking fast sport


All the ice scukptures get cracks due to the warm weather. This one is made for looking through the hole and being an Inuit on the photo.


Roman architecture in QC city … something’s wrong here..


the large silos at the harbor

We witness a rudder boat race in the harbor area:


The start, on huge ice floes


…out of the harbor…


…and at least 500m across the ice cold river, full of miniature icebers and ice floes. Amazing what those guys do.

Once during the noon time I provoked Peter and Kevin to make a snowball fight with me on an ice-covered parking lot. They are both old men, so the team distribution is:

KEV&PETE VS. TOBY

Pretty fair, actually. A second chance arises at the harbor inmidst of some beautiful government buildings. I provoke them again, and hit Pete right in the face on my first attempt. It’s on, bitch … you got served.
And because they actually both want to serve me back, I land some other nice hits while they have troubvle balancing on the flat ice. Pete throws a ball right in my back – well done sir – but upon turning around, he slips, learns flying for a moment, and hits the ground hard with his chin.
The chin is bleeding, but his main pain is somewhere at the joint of jawbone and skull. A security guard comes running out of one of the government buildings, and is soon joined by pedestrians who turn out to be medicas at the Canadian Forces. They ask Pete something related to spine injury, I guess:

  • Did you lose consciousness?
  • Do your extremities – feet or hands – burn, is there pain?
  • Does your neck hurt?

All the questions were answered with a no, but another security guard comes the way with a jeep. When the medics tell Pete who is already wrapped in a warming blanket that he will have pain but is good to go, the security guard objects – he already called the ambulance.
Some legal formality; if you get hurt on government grounds, you need to sign a paper to a paramedic stating that you are fine and will not sue the government… or so.


Security guard, the skater without ice skates, and the military medic


Weee-weee … 25 min later six people with two cars came to help. The female paramedic was pretty hot.


Survived!

Quebec City is the capital of the Canadian Province Quebec and about three hours by car from Montreal. That’s pretty much everything factual I know about  QC city. The rest comes from my weekend trip there.

On my job search, many friends told me to create a profile on linkedin.com, the business equivalent of facebook. There is an option to search your email adress book and see if someone is registered on LinkedIn. I added everybody I knew, and got a message from some guy named Kevin. He said I met him in Italy on the VIEW conference, and I guess I did. I figured he lives in Montreal, and three days later we are sitting on a bus heading to Quebec city. I see people ice skating on a frozen part of St. Laurent river, right next to La Ronde. The bus is 50$ and a complete rip-off… for the double distance, to New York (a 6-hour-drive), I pay just 10$ more.

Getting from Montreal to Quebec City (or the other way round) for 18$:

A very nice guy with a beard named Marc offers a driving service every day Montreal->QC city and return. You can reach him here:
MONTREAL 514-815-3889
QUEBEC 418-262-3889

The transportation is comfortable and the eighteen dollars are a nice price.

.

Kevin and me arrive three hours later at a giantic river, crossing it on a large bridge. The whole river is white and seems motionless, frozen, covered in white snow. Quebec city is further north than Montreal and is located on the banks of St. Laurent river as well. The parks of the city seem to seamlessly merge with the underlying river.


Streets like in Europe

We are staying at the Hauberge International in a three-man-room for 40$ each. A bit luxurious, but after the 50$ bus ride, I don’t get freaked out that easily.

Quebec city is very walkable, so we just make our way through the town gates into old Quebec. It used to be a fortress-like inner city, and other than in Vienna, the city walls are still standing and offer a nice walkway on top. We spot an ice castle with a line of about 200 people, who all want to see what’s inside. Last year there was an outdoor dance club inside the ice castle, this year it is a kind of art exhibit. Quebecoir people are very artsy. Maybe it is because of all the cheese and wine.

Digging deeper into the Quebec culture, we discover:

  1. Even if it is Frencher than Paris here, people can still speak English, and a baguette temple has still not been built.
  2. Same as Montreal: Someone had the idea to build all the important buildings in the 70s and only use diarrhea-brown concrete for it. Ugh.
  3. Quebec city is composed by probably the most European/oldschool architecture I have seen so far in North America.

To our surprise, it is warmer here than it is in Montreal, and it even starts raining for a couple of minutes.


The main shopping and nightlife street with a huge hotel in the background, on top a rotating restaurant.


After the douchebags in the restaurant tell us they are closed and we cannot step to the window, we go one level down with the elevator and find a panoramic window. Screw those restaurantiers.

Quebec city has, apart from ugly diarrhea buildings, a variety of specialties with history that we can see from here:

  • The Silos
  • Chateau Frontenac: The Goliath of castle-like hotels that look like they were made for a king.
  • The burnt roof of the Quebec City Armoury: Like in a computer game, someone in 1884 had the good idea to build the armoury close to the soldier barracks. Too bad that the architect didn’t study fire precautions in the 1800s, and the whole thing burnt down in 2008, leaving only some walls.
  • Military Base Citadelle du Quebec: This used to be a military base in the good old days. Today’s use is the same, but this time the soldiers call themselves Canadian Forces, and not something like “New French Defense viva la Revolution”


Beautiful winter park. Let’s look closer:


inflateable sleds,liked together to huge chains, are dragged up the hill by snow mobiles, just to be ridden downhill by those people who paid 6$ to get in to the winter wonder land


Some freight ship inmidst ice floes. On the far right bottom a horse-dragged, sled that is at least 20m long.


Huiiii (right behind the ice castle, also made of ice)


Snow sculptures seem to be that what Doenerbuden are for Berlin – they are everywhere.


Ice skating in Quebec

And since I already spent 50$ on a bus and 40$ on a bed, why not 20$ on a dinner?
We meet a couple of other people that Kevin knows and eat in a bar while watching an ice hocket match, Toronto VS. Montreal. I like the violence.
Somewhen in the middle the Australian mate Pete comes in (I do roadtrips with him) – and tells us that his car made weird sounds and he thinks the suspension killed itself. He has to repair it on Monday – so no cheap ride back for us two. I eat one and a half Nacho with cheese portions (the cheapest food they have), but cannot finish.
We all get fairly full of food, beer and involuntary upgrades of cola to whiskey-cola … and go out. The first cheap thing: Entry fee of 5$, wardrobe for 2$, and I can even deposit the storyfoam box of nacho leftovers that I took with me from the bar.


Our cute nightclub “Maurice”. On the bottom in the green light is a bar made of ice.


While we are in the club, it rains outside, and then the temperature drops drastically. As soon as we get out, the whole city is covered in solid ice.

This happens at the end of the day. During the afternoon I was at Fete des Neiges.

One thing you will notice about Montreal, are the large subway stations, not just in the underground city. Far off anything that looks like downtown, there are subways stations that could be cathedrals. Every station is concepted by a different architect, and so you will find a wide variety of architectural designs through all the subway stations.


Subway station “Namur” in the Northwest of the subway system

The reason that I am so far out is a Film Group Meetup. The movie title is “Frozen River“, and the whole thing is organized as usual by David. The cinema is called “Dollar Cinema” and offers movie tickets for 2$. Including tax, that makes 2,30$. Add the 2,50$ that I paid for the frozen maple syrup, and you arrive at 4,80$ for a whole day of entertainment…


The shopping center. Enter, straight ahead, up the escalators/stairs, and all the way back and discover…


Dollar Cinema. Cheapest cinema ever, with huge screen.


The entry area of Dollar Cinema. Standing to the left, in red as always, David.

.

The movie is depressing by the way. It’s a true story – frozen river is about a mother whose husband left her, whose job cannot pay for the children – but smuggling immigrants over the American border seems to be lucrative…

Montreal is basically bombarded with snow. Last winter was one of the snow-richest ones, this year is one of the coldest winters in the last twenty years.
In good ol’ Vienna, they come with mediocre trucks and pile the minimal load of snow somewhere on the side of the street. Here, it is not uncommon to see huge exapmples of the Canadian hit show “Pimp my Excavator”.

These excavators, usually used to dig earth, are modified in that sense that to the huge arm there is a plow attached, transforming the engineering vehicle into a snow plow. Usually in the morning or the night, these roaring monsters of snow management go through major streets and push the fast falling snow aside. One may ask: Where do they push the snow?
Well, on the sidewalk there should be enough space to walk, and pushing the snow into parked cars is usually not a good idea either. The solution: Into trucks. Trucks filled with the precious white good, operating at times when people are snoring and don’t care what happens to the beautiful winter wonder land.

.

Naomi, Chris and me go to another high school presentation; this time, it is an all-jewish high school.

The school is in the North of Montreal, and as we arrive there, I see where the snow goes: To huge empty spaces that get gradually filled up. I witness trucks arriving every minute at this huge parking-lot like venue, which has two snow-plows/excavators pushing the freshly unloaded snow up a three-story high, 100m long, 30m deep hill. Maybe it was bigger. Every single minute a new truck loaded to the very top with brownish snow. It’s fascinating to watch the hill grow.

Back to the school: These kids are already well-informed about Holocaust and Second World War, so our main focus is on media influence in identity building. We show the kids disgusting pictures of female body builders and magazines propagating this is the way to be a fit, strong and sexy woman. We show them pictures from the Austrian National Day where the army presents itself in a glorious manner on the Viennese Heldenplatz. We show them podcasts offered by the United States Army. Weight loss magazines. And neonazi homepages.

At the end, we get interesting questions, I’ll list those I got in the recent past and stayed in my memories:

  • Were your grandparents involved / did they tell you about it?
  • Are you proud to be Austrian after everything that happened in your country?
  • What is being taught in Austrian schools / do they try to cover something up in education?
  • What made you go abroad and choose this kind of service?
  • Do you miss Austria? Do you like Canada / North America?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • I heard the following about Hitler: […] – is this true?
  • How is Austria like?
  • How about black people in the Holocaust?
  • How is the life of Jewish people in Austria/Germany nowadays?

These kids actually put a video camera in the room, so probably we will get a version of the take, and of course it will be available on this blog.

.


Tobias Deml and Chris Schauer documented with an iphone holding their Fact, Fiction, Propaganda presentation.

It’s cold as hell outside, but in the North American society you just have to take advantage of any kind of circumstance, so why not extremely cold weather. It is like a computer game, like an everyday adventure: Will I survive the next 24 hours? Will I be eaten by wolves, moose, or Sarah Palin? Will I dissolve in the acidy salt on the street, how about my designer shoes and designer jeans?

Well, Montrealais are notorious for being kind-of resistant against cold weather or simply making the best  out of it..:

  • Nearly every park in the city transforms into a charge-free ice skating ring – it is so cold that even parts of the rivers around Montreal freeze, so no wonder that the little ponds in the downtown green areas are frozen. The city flattens them to create skating rings, and I would like to note that again: charge free.
  • To avoid having petite girls collapse dead in the street, struck by the cold air and the weight of their shopping bags, there is a humongous downtown down-under underground city located a couple of meters under street level. A giantic web of interconnected shopping malls and subways stations… pretty damn impressive, and prepared for any fashion fetishist invasion.
  • The body warmth effect: When you are close to someone, you will feel warmer. The daily mass of people in the subways during the winter – not everybody wants to ruin his car with aggressive salt on the street – reminds me of group cuddeling (which I of course never took part in, eww).

And last but not least: The igloofest, which I saw this weekend from a photographic side. Last time when I was there, I needed to dance and would stay there for nearly four hours at minus 22 degrees. This time, I had to go warm myself up every 20 minutes and stayed for less than two hours – taking pictures is not physically active enough to keep you warm.


The warmup hall, somewhere at 15+ degrees feeling like an oven.


Downtown Montreal as seen from the docks


Those little LEDs could display any color – like a TV screen!


Hot Chocolate? Beer? Mon dieu!


Burning witches gives warmth to everyone – a wise saying from medieval times.


All that is ice, except for the lights. Who has ever seen an ice chandelier?

One thing I would take with me on a lonely island would be one of the tastiest Austrian specialties ever made: Speck. Speck is, to make a life-long fascination short, super awesome. Got that? Super awesome.

And because its so incredibly fantastic, outside of Austria its a rarity, findin speck abroad is like finding Osama bin Laden. The CIA couldn’t find him yet, but I am one step ahead:


Right next to the italian Speck: The M&M-package that will make you fat like a professional cheesecake tester. If not used for eating, you can use this m&m-pack as a prop for gang warfare.