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Decadence, or Breakfast in Hamilton

  • 5th Apr, 2006 at 2:03 PM

Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

I used to think that I was a simple man with simple wants. My university professors told me, "Simon, once you get out in the Real World, you won't want to come back to school." But I thought that this was silly.

But having disposable income makes me do increasingly erratic things. For instance, I had the most extravagant bunch this Sunday. It was not a particularly fancy meal, but the circumstances surrounding it were quite excessive.

It started with a simple trip to Toronto to see my folks. And a plan emerged: a completely ludicrous plan. I got up at dawn, got dressed, and failed to eat anything. Then I started Dad's gorgeous burgundy old-school Cadillac and drove downtown.

It was early Sunday morning, so Bathurst was clear of traffic and I just glided south. When I got to Graduate House, I just picked a convenient place to park. I arrived a little early, so I took a couple of photographs in that wonderful early light. University of Toronto's campus is really peaceful, sometimes. I started getting impatient, so I wondered if I could break into the building. As I was climbing inside, I noticed Neela walking out, so I abandoned my criminal activities, and met up with her.

Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

Neela is my oldest friend with whom I actually keep in touch. This is particularly ironic, because she has no telephone, no Internet, and doesn't even check her mailbox. She is, I'm afraid, completely unreachable. Which is why I had to show up on her doorstep.

I drove the car onto the QEW and we started cruising west. It's surprising how well I drive, since I almost never do. Also surprising is that I managed to find the freeway without getting lost. I'm sure that I'm just tempting fate by writing such things.

Along the way, Neela and I got caught up with each others' lives. We arrived in Hamilton in record time. There, we pulled up to Cindy's apartment building and we broke inside. We had to do this because she deemed her apartment too messy to take visitors, so she wouldn't let us up, but that's only because she was holding herself to absurdly high standards. We knocked on her door until she opened it and then gave her a birthday cake.

After it was put in the fridge, we went downstairs and got into Cindy's car. It's far cuter and smaller than a full-sized Cadillac, which really is more practical for driving about. We drove to a chain restaurant that specializes in breakfast and discovered that there was a twenty-minute wait. Unsatisfied, we walked across the street to a "Sports Bar and Family Restaurant."

It was surprisingly good. Plus, the service was charming and friendly. Neela and I made sure Cindy didn't pay.

After an hour of conversation, we went back to Cindy's place for a bit of cake. Then, she gave me a map and sent us on our way. Unfortunately for Cindy, she is brilliant, responsible, and a doctor. Which meant that she had to be in the emergency room for her Sunday shift.

Originally uploaded by sfllaw.

Driving to another city just for brunch? Decadent? You bet!

To justify travelling all this way, Neela and I did a bit of walking about the downtown. Hamilton is a sleepy city and a factory town. You can see the smokestacks lining the harbour-front. The factories are still there, just like the old days when shipping was how goods were… shipped. We passed a lot of closed shopfronts. Like many Ontarian cities, Hamilton just doesn't have the economy to keep its businesses running.

When we drove into the city, a huge building had caught our eye. Cindy suggested that we see Dundurn Castle, which was actually more a museum and slightly disappointing. However, we found that behind the cockpit was an interesting trail. It led down and down into a large ravine that was full of old tires and discarded beer bottles. When we got to the bottom, we saw a train yard behind a barbed wire fence. Being brilliant explorers, we soon found the hole that must have been there. We did a bit of climbing on the trains and were generally amused by the graffiti.

Soon, we were tired of this, and decided to go searching for the elegant building we saw before. It turned out to be a really massive cathedral. We tried to convince people to let us in, because we didn't have time to wait for evening service. Disappointed that we weren't able to see the stained glass, we nevertheless amused ourselves by admiring the architecture.

Then it was time to go.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
5th Apr, 2006 18:11 (UTC)
the exploration sounds delightful, it's been ages since I've done such a thing.

I would never consider doing it in this city, but drop me off anywhere in/around Toronto and i'd happily take off alone to play for hours.
5th Apr, 2006 18:14 (UTC)
What makes Montréal different from Toronto?
5th Apr, 2006 18:47 (UTC)
I think it would be shorter to list the similarities between the two...

truth is, I was raised there. I know the streets and corners and even if the store fronts change I still know exactly where I am. I have happy memories related to the places I am. I'm comfortable walking down the street and taking public transporation.
I cannot say the same of Montreal. Here, I've always struggled, always been lonely and always been uncomfortable on public transporation.

5th Apr, 2006 18:15 (UTC)
I grew up in Hamilton. My family tells me that the #1 employer these days is Canada Health.

Some pretty buildings left, though, I agree. And I will always have a soft spot for the view from the escarpment in the Fall.

5th Apr, 2006 18:51 (UTC)
Looking over the city from the escarpment was quite nice. If you imagined that you were in the nineteeth century, you could see the clouds of smoke billowing from smokestacks as a sign of hope and progress.
5th Apr, 2006 18:23 (UTC)
Sometimes, I bet it must be nice to be unavailable to the world. Is there a particular mentionable reason your friend Neela has made herself unreachable?
5th Apr, 2006 18:53 (UTC)
I think there are reasons. But for a large part of it, Neela is just a recluse.
(Deleted comment)
5th Apr, 2006 20:27 (UTC)
It's rather unwise to be decadent when you're still a student.

Let's say you're fifty and things are falling apart and you're burning your retirement money early. That's quite all right. You can afford to pour money down the drain, because you'll be senile by the time you're destitute.
5th Apr, 2006 22:03 (UTC)
I would say it's the opposite. If you are decadent as a student, you can graduate and then pay off your debts. If you are retired then you suffer because your earning potential is low.

Also: being senile and destitute is a really really bad combination. Senile folks may be able to think straight but they certainly feel pain and hunger and loneliness.
6th Apr, 2006 01:44 (UTC)
I think the end to most decadent lives, in the olden days at least, was to commit suicide. Or to lose a duel. It's far better than going to debtor's prison.
(Deleted comment)
6th Apr, 2006 03:06 (UTC)
And you claim to engage in moral self-decay!
5th Apr, 2006 22:09 (UTC)
Hamilton is a dirty, mismanaged city that unfairly annexed my hometown. I was born there, and went to a private school there up until grade six, but I do not consider myself as from there, although the amalgamation in 2001 means that technically I am.

Despite the general unpleseantness of the city, there are many spots in and around the escarpment that are still quite nice, and a few spots within the urban areas that are still worth exploring.

"Dundurn Castle" is about as much of a misnomer as "Hamilton Mountain"; to make an unfair generalization, the city is unsure of its real value and long ago resorted to such self-aggrandizing.

I'm being overly negative. Sorry. It's a knee-jerk reaction when people bring up Hamilton.
5th Apr, 2006 22:56 (UTC)
Travelling is fun :) I say "be decadent", I think we take the fact that there is a tomorrow for granted at times. If it's not going to cripple you from doing things down the road, it's a good idea to get out, live and enjoy yourself.
6th Apr, 2006 01:51 (UTC)
Travelling is fun!
5th Apr, 2006 23:15 (UTC)
We drove to a chain restaurant that specializes in breakfast and discovered that there was a twenty-minute wait.

Golden Griddle, perchance? *hopeful look*

I miss Canadian food.
6th Apr, 2006 01:45 (UTC)
Yes, a Golden Griddle.

You should come back! We miss you.

6th Apr, 2006 04:12 (UTC)
I'm curious to know how you do these posts with multiple Flickr photos in them. I've only recently started posting my Flickr photos to my LJ. As far as I can see, the Flickr "Blog This Photo" feature only lets you send a single photo per LJ entry. So, to have multiple photos, I have to post each photo separately to my LJ, then open each of those LJ entries in Edit mode, copy the raw code in each, paste the code into a new LJ entry, then delete the individual-photo posts.

Is this what you do? Or have you found an easier method?
6th Apr, 2006 11:11 (UTC)
I have found an "easier" method.

It consists of copy-pasting the tags that mean "insert a floating photograph here", editing the URLs so they point to the right place, and flipping the picture to the left or right side of the screen.

It's not particularly difficult but it is fiddly.
13th Apr, 2006 22:32 (UTC)
It looks good, though! :)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )