Let me just say, that I seem to function very well on 3 hours of sleep a night, but it makes mornings... HELL. Inertia is a b@#$!
Friday morning, Jo had to be to a panel before I did, so he went off in search of food before I even left the room. This left me to wander about a foreign city all my myself, for the first time ever.
I was delighted.
Underneath our hotel is a subterranean shopping mall. I ordered a bagel and coffee from one of the coffee shops in its food court, and behind me in line was the most distinctive human being I've ever seen. Imagine Lurch, from the addams family, and his facial features. Now, make him only 6 feet tall, and make his head twice the size it should be. Give him a very prounounced, angled jawline which makes his face very long, and shorten his legs. Hand him a cane, and you have this man.
I wanted to stare at him, and take in all of his features. He was beautiful, in a way that I can't really do justice to on my 5th day of 3 or fewer hours of sleep. He was unique, almost inhuman.
He and I chatted a bit, exchanging some pleasantries and laughs. Like everyone else here, he was very kind and warm. I walked away wanting very much to take a photo of him, but not willing to make him feel uncomfortable.
I had heard that you could get to the convention center from our hotel via underground tunnels, so I set out in search of them. The shopping mall had great signage, like everything else here, and I soon found myself in a network of exquisite tunnels. Unlike american tunnels, which are arrow-straight, usually have plain white tiled walls, stark ceilings and sometimes a mildly interesting floor, these tunnels were gentle S-curves. The walls were brick and stone in exquisite patterns, and the ceiling and floor were works of art too.
At the end of the tunnel, I found an escalator, but no signs to tell me what was at the top. As seems to be my wont while travelling, I hopped on and eagerly waited for what I'd see next.
And I loved it.
I stepped off into an outdoor street, indoors. High above me there was a glass roof, and the street around me looked like it had been plucked from the early 1800s, france, and transplanted into some futuristic museum. I literally expected to see flying cars outside the glass above me. The architecture was gorgeous - both the modern and the antique.
This city knows how to blend the old and the new harmoniously.
I took a photograph of a monument which is a slice of the berlin wall, like a cake someone has lifted onto the plate of this continent.
Panels were, again, amazing. Eoin Colfer failed to show for his signing, disappointing several children who waited in line, and my daughter, for whom I was FIRST in line. No cancellation, just disappearing Colfer. *frown* I hope he's uninjured, and if he's uninjured, I hope he's ashamed of himself.
Neil Gaiman was charming, kind and delightful. He paid special attention to the children who came to see him, and I thought that was fantastic. He drew me a tombstone.
Larry Niven was very kind, but he gave me a really long look I couldn't interpret.
George R. R. Martin might possibly be the warmest, gentlest person on the planet, from what I can tell. His eyes sparkle and he's got a very calming presence. I got to chat with him a bit at the Brit Party, and he invited us to his party tonight. He took the time to say goodbye to me before he left and very earnestly ask if we were going to join him. In my opinion, he's the star of the show so far. :D
I met a venerable old gentleman named Dave Kyle, while waiting for Colfer. Mr. Kyle is 90 years old, but doesn't look above his early seventies. He has been in the science fiction community since day one, and has met all of the greats. He talked to me for a little over an hour, telling me stories of his life and of Asimov, past world cons, etc. Mr. Kyle was kind enough to tell me I'm a good listener, but to be honest with you I could have sat and listened to him for days on end. I was instantly charmed by him.
I have learned that Montreal has a thriving social dance community. Every day, I've been invited out to one of the social dance spots. It seems to be primarily swing, of all sorts - and I'm hoping I'll get a chance to go at least once.
In the middle of the day, I was walking back to our hotel above ground. A gentleman stopped me and said something to me in French, to which I responded (in french) that I don't speak french and I was very sorry. He flagged down a passer-by to translate for me, and she said "He is telling you to have a wonderful day and keep that smile because it's beautiful." I stammered out a quick "merci, senor" and then collapsed into a giggle fest. Luckily, he spoke spanish and was highly amused as well.
There are more stories, but if I tell them all, I'll never make it to the awesome panel I want to make it to in 50 minutes. So I'm off to dress and head out for another day of Quebecois adventures.