Category: Things you really want to see in Montreal

Montreal is a city that wraps around a little mountain, and this mountain gives the city its name: Mont-Real. Pretty much right in front of downtown, on mid-height of the majestic skyscrapers you find a terrace offereing a stunning view. I’ve been up there once when I went nordic skiing with my roommate Michka, but this time I am there to take pictures.

It’s quite a sight; and Austrian with a bloodred lens on a semiprofessional camera limping like a retard up the mountain. You can choose to start at the Tam-Tam statue and work your way up a boring serpentine street covered in snow, or you take the little bolder approach and just walk straight to the stairs, which lead you directly up to the belvedere:



Arriving on the snowy top of Montreal is one of the best feelings in the world: The city lies beyond you in an eternal stillness, and yet at the same time you hear distant noise, wind blowing through the streets, cars howling in the night. Little lights are dancing along pearl chains, and the power of this stillness is overwhelming. If you happen to be in Montreal, this should be one of the first things you want to see.

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 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.

I’ve been to Ottawa during the summer. Now, during the winter, the icy Canadian government has not stopped to promote its capital with creative ideas how to make cold weather into a heck load of fun. Chris, Stefan and me, Gedenkdieners in Montreal, rent a car at enterprise – which is roundabout the cheapest place in the hood when it comes to renting cars in Canada.

While we are driving towards Ottawa, someone asks innocently “Sooo… where are we going to sleep?”, and as usual, as in every teenage roadtrip, nobody wanted the responsibility to look for a hostel and gave this task to someone else. We had no place to stay.
When arriving in Ottawa three hours later – Chris drives like a girl -, we take some wrong exit and finally arrive in downtown. The best way to find internet are usually Starbuckses or Second Cups, but in Ottawa, the funny coffe meetups for nursing home inhabitants end too early.
After a while, we pass an inhabited cafe and park our car on some random street. Not any parking style … Chris style.

So, we merge with the few people who populate Ottawa during a Friday night in downtown and go to the hot spot: Not a club, not a bar, but a Second Cup cafe. We find free internet, find a hostel, get the maps, take a piss and still don’t know if there are any beds left for us. Stefan draws a crooked sketch of the way, and we get back in the car that is resting its right back foot on the sidewalk “to prevent varicose veins”. Stefan holds his map.
“Ok Chris… turn right.”
“And now, mh, turn right.”
“And right..”
“and again right!”

We find ourselves in the same street where we randomly parked our car – and the hostel was just across the street. It is a family house made of wood, very American indeed. The guy who runs the hostel explains that they are booked, but upon offering that we would sleep anywhere, even on the floor, he reveals that there are two beds and one couch available. I get the couch – but instead of leading me in that room where a bunch of people sits around and watches TV, he leads me to the house next door and shows me an amazing, huge, white couch. I am astounded.

The Backpackers Inn Ottawa reception

Lots of backpackers..


It’s Friday night, and especially because politics in Canada are fueled with alcohol (who would suspend parliament just to reign a little longer?), we go out. Chris, Stefan and me end up in a really dirty rock bar, filled with loud little brats that are barely fourteen but somehow seduced the bouncer to let them pass. As Stefan drops a glass from the table, suddenly everyone around us starts applauding and jumps up. Seriously, how boring must Ottawa be, if there are thirty people applauding for a dropped glass?

Hot dog and poutine – that’s a little late night snack for us Canadians.

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:


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.


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, 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.

“Fete” is a French and German word for party. In Montreal, during the coldest winter times, people develop thick furs on their bodies which enables them to continue the party mania that they started in the summer. When I first arrived in Montreal, I had no idea what the city was like, and how people were. Now I am sure that the number one reason of choosing Montreal as a city to live in is the culturally embedded party culture.

While in Vienna, the city sometimes organizes festivals and shows in a quite lively climate zone, people in Montreal go out and party at temperatures where your breath crystallizes in mid-air. Stefan, man of the hour and Gedenkdiener at the MHMC, is my companion in exploring the wicked French party culture that settled this time on the Île Sainte-Hélène. That’s the island where the entertainment park La Ronde is located as well.

Shortly after arriving, my theories come true: The Montrealais actually DO grow a fur to survive the winter time:

This hairy man was playing ice hockey, the Canadian national sport. Everybody does it. If you don’t, shame on you.

After walking around a bit we encounter genius snow sculptures which mark the exit area of a mini-sledding hill. It seems to be common that there is no random sledding down a hill (like in Austria), but organized sledding lanes with a lift that brings you up the hill (for a ridiculous price of 8$ and a similarly ridiculous long line at minus 20 degrees). Great coincidence that I forgot my gloves at home on the warm radiator, so that I improvise and wrap the end of my sweater sleeves around my fists while taking photographs. Of course, we don’t pay so much money to go sledding.

Snow sculpures on the baby sledding hill. This one, surprisingly, has no lift and doesn’t cost 8$ to enter.

These scultures are all made of snow. Not the normal kind of snow, the hard-as-concrete one.

In the large crowds of French Canadians that seemingly never are too old or too young to party, we encounter little trash bags that a couple of people drag behind them. On the closer look, you see that it’s actually a stroller-sled mixture that contains a little child. “You see that everywhere on the sidewalks”, says Stefan. “They never clear the side walks, so people drag their kids in those little bags behind them”

If you think about joining law enforcement because you want to maintain a staus symbol, then join the Montreal police: They have quad bikes that are fast as shit and guarantee a penis enlargement up to 700%.


On the way to the waterfront, we find a barricade, guarded by some security. No way to get to the waterfront. “You have to rent ice skates to get to the river”, says the lady that appears to have indulged too much maple syrup. “Is there any other way, like to go around?”
“No. Pardon.”, she smiles and the maple syrup wobbles around her cheeks.
OF course there must be a way around. We find people in brown, red and yellow colored costumes made of rags, who all look like miniature Hagrids. They supervise a competition that appears to be taken from Mother-Daughter Father-Son camps: Adults pushing their chilrden in a wooden sled along parallel tracks, competing against each other. There is one couple that doesn’t really fit there: Stefan and me. Stefans fat ass is taking the sled to a stability test, and my shoes keep slipping in the snow. I lose against a woman.

Which brings us to the ultimate Canadian way of happiness: Maple syrup.
Maple syrup with pancakes.
Maple Syrup with moose meat.
Maple Syrup with toast.
With rice cakes, with chicken, ham, cheese, wine, baguette … or just plain maple syrup.

Or, if you are part of the so-called creme de la creme, then all you eat is frozen maple syrup.

Frozen maple syrup counter. The peeing stains are actually realy tasty – snow soaked with syrup d’ rable.

Stefan and Tobias Maplefreezus. 2.50$ each.

After 30 seconds of drooling a line of maple syrup in the snow, the syrup gets so cold that it becomes a sticky solid. Licking or sucking it creates great, long strings of syrup which dangle in the wind. I believe when mixing it with snow or water before pouring it into the snow would make it a clittle crispier and better – I will conduct some experiments on that.

All the people who work at Fete des Neiges are volunteers. There are fake native Canadians with Tipi tents, clowns, mascots in fury costumes, and oh, there is the ice skating course, with no guards and no barriers. Finally, we come to the riverside.
While I run closer to the shore, I recognize a Rotzglocke, “Snot bell” dangling down my nose. In German, we are quite inventive with naming our body fluids and the way of getting rid of them. There is a term called Bauernschneuzer, “Farmer’s nose blow”, where you press one side of your nose, bend forward, and blow the snot on the other side out. Sounds quite convenient, doesn’t it?

Well … it is, if performed professionally. I bend forward, blow, and while the snot is following my nasal acceleration, I see that there is something blocking the way between my nose and the ground: My camera. FLATCH. The snot lands on my camera and starts freezing on it. I nearly gag but manage to wipe the biggest portion of snot onto my pants instead of exposing the camera electronics to my nasal feces. Stefan laughs at me, and it must be a funny picture:
A young man with two hoodies on his head, wearing with sneakers in the knee deep snow, a fat piece of snot attached to his thigh, too chaotic to think about bringing gloves, and a camera with a misguidedly spray colored lens.

That is how snot on jeans looks like.

That’s the place where this one gay guy twisted my ears. Now there are pieces of ice swimming down the half-frozen river.

Montreal, in front the frozen St. Laurenz river

After twenty minutes, the snot has become solid ice, and i simply tear it off my pants, leaving nothing but a wet stain. We decide to go to the Montreal environment museum, the Biosphere. It is a gigantic geodesic dome, constructed by a futurist architect named Buckminister Fuller.

If you seriously think you’re better at cooking KRAFT dinner than me, I’ll challenge you to a swimming competition in there

Montreal Biospehere as seen from the distance

The Biosphere looks much bigger from the inside

A pretty futuristic water fountain which fountains only warm water.

The exhibit is more expensive than ten dollars (about 4kg of bread), so we decide to do something cheaper, There is a line of little children who want to get photographed for free in a canoeing surrounding. We get in line too.

Canoeing at minus twenty degrees.

There is a last thing to see on the next island, one more product of the Expo 67 (like the Biosphere): The Montreal Casino. The Mekka of all gambling addicts and architecture fetishists. The place where buses unload people with the distinct “DING, CLING” sound of hard metal dollars when they shatter down to release the jackpot. I see those people walking from the bus through the outside waiting area, warmed nicely by heating lamps, into the open mouth of the casino. Once swiped over the red carpet tongue of the monstrum, they are rushed down the golden shimmering throat, only to let their money being digested deep down in the intestines of this casino monstrum, between rumbling slot machines and swirling roulette wheels. It is so sad to see them enter this self-chosen hell with a smile of excitement, and to leave it with a frown of disgust.

Most of the people we see walking in are people who you usually never meet: They are in their fourties and fities, sometimes wearing expensive furs with cheap make up, people with not much of a past and not much of future expectations – people who want to either double or half their mid-life crisis. People, who gamble with their hard earned money.

The underground arrival area. One of the buses says “Only for employees”

Stefan and me are not even allowed inside. There is no dress code, but it is not allowed to take a camera or a coat inside. We wear both, so the fat security guard in his sixties ignores us. We actually just want to see the outside. After a couple of minutes of standing next to him and getting answers like “Nobody can see the outside, haha” “Not during the winter, it’s not possible”, we decide to let him fuck himself and find a staircase that leads us to the outside fassade.

Casino people are the happiest I’ve seen in a while. Photographing the inside is strictly prohibited, so I go to the window on the outside, adjust the aperature and exposure time by feeling, turn around, clash the lens against the glass, click, and run away before this young hipster of a security guard can go after me.

Whoever built that casino had some money left to place this beautiful sculpture next to it.

A revolting sight of an abused Mustang in front of the casino. Poor car.

A pimpy version of the common fan: a heating lamp! As soon as i pulled out the camera, the girl tried to run away, but realized that she was trapped behind the counter.

Looking for outdoor sports during the hard winters in Canada, I found this. Amazing.

If there is something we men are constantly craving for, then it is … naked women. Come on guys, confess.

And, so goes the story, somewhen in old Greece some clever guys had an idea how they could see more naked women: By declaring the act of drawing them an art form. Following this logic, every woman who attends a figure drawing is therefore a lesbian. And all the men are horny guys who cover their drives with the “artistic wish of nakedness”


Now that you’re all biased enough about figure drawing, I can confess…:

Montreal Figure Drawing group on
The room is pretty spacious, very bright, with a couch, a queen-sized bed that is missing blankets in the middle. There is one huge drawing table, and a dozen scaffolds are filling the space in the art studio. Our model is about 35. I did not bring a pencil with me and the instructor generously lends me all kinds of drawing coal. (see Lorena, I integrated the word “to lend” in my vocabulary!)



Drawing with coal is like picking your nose with your thumb: It’s faster and more efficient, but you are hardly able to manage the really tough buggers that need detail work. I love to pick my nose with my thumb (it’s less obvious most of the time, and I pick my nose pretty much non-stop). We are about ten people. The price for about 2.5 hours of drawing is 15$, which includes the following buffet:

  • Red Whine, white whine
  • Baguette, dark bread, white bread
  • Blackberries, blueberries
  • Three types of crackers
  • Tomatoes
  • Carrots
  • Cranberry juice
  • Red grapes and green grapes

Basically, with 15$ I could never buy the items on this list in the quantity that I indulged on the figure drawing course. YUMM, YUMM!



In the second break I want to help a guy who has complications with getting the proportions right. About two years ago, I faced the same problem, having huge insecurities about the proportions in my drawing. I opened an anatomy book and started to measure the different body parts and wrote them down – and I realized that the human body’s propprtions are nearly even numbers.
For painting and drawing those numbers really help, but please don’t use them if you are a surgeon.

I’m not sure if somone before me came up with that idea (but usually you’re never the first to figure something out) … here we go, for everyone who has problems with getting the proportions right:


Simplified Bone Structure of the Human Body. Proportion Study, Tobias Deml.

Probably it is the cold weather that makes brains numb and dysfunctional – the average Austrian would definately never have the idea to organize a four-weekend long outdoor festivals during a time of the year where your spit freezes in mid-air. Well, the Canadians do have ideas like that.

Igloofest is the name of this musical event that is basically like a huge poolparty. Instead of a pool next to the dancing crowd there is the frozen river tough, instead of bikinis hot girls wear fat winter jackets and woolen hats, instead of Coca Cola the nonalcoholics tend to drink hot chocolate, and instead of lampoons and garden torches huge ice sculptures and homeless-style barrels with raging fire coming out of them are placed inmidst the chillout-section.

For us mortal people, the time span for chillout is short – as soon as you take your gloves off, you are done, and as soon as you rest, you will get cold like the ice sculptures around you. I try cautiously to lick them and am now a bliever too that you will stick to it as if someone would have glued your tongue onto the frozen iglu-like objects.
The only way to keep yourself warm is by dancing fast, a lot, and in the tight wobbling of the crowd. Minus twenty-two degrees. I spit on one of the ice sculptures, the spit dangles down – and gets pretty stiff before it falls to the floor.

I am there with Chris, my colleague at the KFF, and Stefan, the Austrian who works at the Montreal Holocaust Museum. They buy beer, I get a  quite hot chocolate. After five minutes my little plastic cup is empty and I am as cold as I was before. Chris hints at me to drink from his beer. This time I don’t just feel bitter carbonated liquid rushing down my digestive tract – this time, solid pieces of frozen beer have joined.
Five minutes, and you beer freezes from within. Another time, I get a coke with ice cubes inside – and the coke gets so cold that instead of the icecubes melting, the coke around the ice cubes becomes cola ice – an extra bonus to lick off.


At some point everybody is dancing like crazy, I guess around 300 people (150 more are in a warm hall which is about 30 seconds from the outside dancefloor, and people start to surf the crowd. There is a guy with a sombrero, a guy with a pink afro-wig, some girl with an Austrian alpine rescue outfit … and then there’s some guy in a grey jacket, brown-blue jeans with ripped off bottom seams and once-been beautiful brown leather shoes thrown over the heads of the dancing herd.
I have no idea where I am flying, under me the warm breath and the body heat rising up, on top of me the icy air sinking down on us, in the middle, where the temperatures fight for domination, I get pushed and thrown. Crowdsurfing is awesome.
“Get that guy down!”, someone shouts, and I feel two hands grabbing my shoulders, pulling me over the bending bodies of a couple of people, and more or less softly, I hit the ground. Such a good feeling to crowdsurf, even if its so cold your pee freezes on the house wall where you painted it.

For the fine occasion, I of course dressed to impress:

  1. My fine pair of socks
  2. Another pair of socks
  3. Third pair of socks to keep the other two from stinking
  4. Boxers
  5. Karate pants, stuffed inside my socks
  6. Jeans
  7. T-Shirt
  8. Sweater
  9. Second sweater with hoodie (for gangster look if required)
  10. Fat snowboard jacket
  11. Ridiculously thin gloves