It’s midday and Croatia won semifinals. I can tell from screams of joy in the street as I was writing from the cafe. (Turns out France wanted Croatia to win because it means they have a chance at winning it even more.) I walked around the corner to investigate where the gathering of loud people were. I came across Crescent Street and was totally swept up in its charms. Pubs and restaurants and clubs in beautiful Euro-style architecture. This wasn’t even on the list of places my friends recommended to visit. If this didn’t even make the top 40 recommendations, I can’t wait to see what did.
I walk up the street and look back to see Leonard Cohen staring back at me. I’ve been hit in the face and I’m asking for more. (I have more to say about this, and Leonard, later.)
Then I walk around the corner and discover the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I have a feeling I could spend two days there. There’s an optical illusion pavement painted to look like the ground has been warped.
It’s beautiful and I’m in awe, but it’s running late into the afternoon, I’m running out of battery literally and figuratively, my feet are starting to hurt, I grab some food and head back to the hostel to recharge. Instead… I run into an outdoor piano. I play it. I sing along with strangers.
I meet a guy named Mitchell, the guy in the white shirt, who has been a musician in this city for 40, 50 years. I ask him about open mics with a piano. He can’t think of any. I only know of one, at Cafe Mariposa. I’ll be going to that one next Thursday.
Mitchell tells me last year he played 350 gigs. Mostly at old folks’ homes. He used to play drums nearly every night at clubs up and down Crescent Street and could earn a pretty good living. But kids these days, they don’t like live music, they just like DJs. Work dried up, so he taught himself the 12-string guitar. Now he plays Sinatra and Tin Pan Alley songs to small elderly audiences that are half the time asleep. He says it pays, he’s got no ego anymore. He gives me his contact information. It’s a phone number. I don’t think he uses text. What do I do with a phone number.
I head back to the hostel and feel like I need to not do much of anything for a bit. My back isn’t being nice and I have to be careful. I sign up for a pub quiz at the hostel. Met a guy from the UK, a girl from the Caribbean, and sisters from Ireland. The quiz is hard but the people are fun. One round was Game of Thrones themed, and to my surprise the majority of us have never seen an episode, including me. I thought I was the only one.