Montreal

When I left Montreal today, I was ready to go home to Cincinnati. It's not because I do not like Montreal because it's such a beautiful city. But, I never felt at home here. Maybe because I knew it was a solo vacation and I felt like a stranger in a sea of French-speaking Québécois.

Food & Sights

The trip was mostly driven by food. I would look for places to eat and hope that there's some touristy stuff do there. I think the only place that I really went out of the way was the Olympic Park where there's really nothing much to do but see a sliver of history. Two of the places were the gems of this food trip. The first was Le Robin Square, and the other was L'Avenue. Thank you Yelp for the recommendations! I also tried poutine in Poutineville but my low expectations held true. Potato dishes are not my thing. On my birthday, I almost panicked because my planned Italian place Amarone was closed for business. Boo Yelp! I tried 2 other places but they were either closed or too busy. Good thing I found one near my hostel in the Gay Village and I had linguine for dinner.

What I like about Montreal is that there are just really a few places to go to so the amount of time I spent in the city is just right. On Thursday, I walked a bit in downtown and Notre Dame until I settled at Le Robin Square. On Friday, I walked to L'Avenue for a brunch lunch. Then, I walked to Mount Royal and to the Museum of Fine Arts. I walked around downtown until I reached UQAM area for my pasta search but ended up deeper in the Gay Village. On Saturday, I had my poutine and then rode the metro to the Olympic Park area and then returned to Old Montreal. I just went out Friday and Saturday night in the Village. Friday was to check out Sky Dance Club and Saturday was just walking around St. Catherine with all the street performers! It was such a treat.

Hostel

It's my first time to stay at a hostel. Alexandrie was one of the more economical options I had in the Village. I procrastinated booking my place so I ended up here. It's not that terrible because I booked a private room where I share a bathroom. The good news is that the folks in the other room left Friday morning, and the next person in the room arrived Saturday night. So I had the place pretty much myself. My days were pretty packed so I did not really mingle much with the other hostel travelers. Would I book another stay in a hostel? If I can find a slightly more expensive hotel option, I'd go for the hotel. I'd pay extra for the comfort and security and do a proper vacation. But, it's not something I will say no to if I'm with group of friends. I think it's more fun with other people.

Solo Traveling

I have always had mixed feelings about traveling solo. I love the flexibility and being able to just control my schedule on my own, but it can also be very lonely because you cannot share the experience, or talk to someone. I'm introversion is such a pain at times because I just put on my earphones and walk around the city. I was averaging 22K steps a day so I did a ton of walking. Maybe next time, I will travel with someone.

Mental note: ask around who wants to travel with when planning vacations.

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I'm currently up in the air heading to Montreal via Toronto. It's my first time to Canada so I am pretty excited about this trip. I have not thoroughly planned my trip as well so I will take it one day at a time. I'll probably just have to figure out to get to my hostel there. Yup, first time to stay in a hostel too! Let's see how that goes.

This is officially my birthday trip. I'm 34 by tomorrow. Gosh, that sounds old. I had a nice dinner at Longhorn with Dave yesterday where we had some small discussion on getting older. I have mixed feelings about aging. A part of me feels inadequate. I was using my parents as my reference. When my parents were this age, they already had me and they had their own businesses. I look at that as a measure of achievement of sorts. On the flip side, I also feel blessed. I've done so much by this age that others have not experienced– even my parents. I know that comparing myself to life experiences and successes of other people is not a good basis, but subconsciously it just happens. I need to learn more that each and everyone of us define our definition of success in life and that should not be based on others.

I will probably put up more stuff during this long weekend. Hopefully, it's not all heavy stuff but light ones too! Let's start that… I just had Tim Horton for the first time! I like their coffee! Very smooth. It's also my first time in Toronto!

Feeling inutile

Do you get that feeling that if you disappear from the world, there will be no impact? I’ve been feeling really useless at work, and what I have been contributing to the world. The days of trying to making a dent in human history is over. I do not aspire to change the world anymore. That belonged to the idealistic Ryan during my college days. Now, I just want to amount to something even if it’s small. I want to be able to have some weight to someone/something that can be recognized, and have the semblance that I matter.

Foodie Break

Yesterday, I went to Indianapolis for the day just to escape from Cincy life and force myself to do something new / different. The objective was to try two food places – Milktooth and Kizuki.

I learned of Milktooth through a Conde Nast list of the best restaurants in the world. So being a foodie and the place being so near, I wanted to try it. My first attempt was a fail a year ago because the line was just too crazy. The article also just came out then so that might be a big factor. This time, I went around 12:30pm (so the brunch crowd should have left). Food was good and very creative. I tried the Glazed Bacon, Bread Waffle, Rasberry & Hazelnut Croissant and their Tres Leches Iced Latte. They were very good, but nothing that really made me say “wow” or “this is the best thing I’ve eaten”. So it’s not an Annabel’s, Bella Luna or Mama’s experience for me.

Kizuki is a recommendation of Brian during his usual travels to the area. I’ve always been searching for great ramen but it’s just a pain to find one in Cincinnati. The one near Dayton is probably one of the better ones here. I tried their Traditional Garlic Tonkotsu Ramen and it was very tasty and flavorful… maybe too flavorful. I will have to try the Low Sodium version next time I visit but it’s definitely ramen that I’ll want to try again.

Shake It Off

For the past few days, I have been feeling uninspired, and heavy. I do not feel motivated at all even to eat out or play volleyball. I am just pushing forward with my day-to-day activities because that’s how a high functioning individual should be. Usually, I get into these spells of depression where I just languish and feel dull. It’s been unshakable for the past few days since coming out of my Chicago trip.

This feeling is magnified when I play this new mobile game called Everwing weirdly. I do not know if the rise of cortisol due to the game is causing this but I am thinking of taking a break from my mobile apps over the weekend. If the weather is good, I might just drive somewhere and do a Mental Health day to clear my mind and hopefully it refreshes me with new spirit. I’m also hoping that my Montreal trip will do wonders with my mood. If this still does not work, maybe a trip to the doctor is warranted.

NAGVA nationals

  • NAGVA Nationals happened last weekend in Columbus. I got picked up by Interracial Sets, a west coast team. We seeded 23 out of 35 in the end and I think we did not okay considering that we just played together for the first time and we kept on adjusting.
  • One of the teachable moments was when two of our players overslept and did not show up in our first game during Day 2 of Pool Play. We were obliterated during the game because from DS, I had to play opposite/setter which I can probably wing, but I was not ready for it and the team was strong (Pop Tarts). My team mates were apologetic and personally, I was not invested enough to be cranky.
  • I realized that I just want to be competitive — meaning I do not want a recreational team. But, I do not want to be part of an ultra-competitive team as well. There’s just so much stress that is tied to that. And, my normal team is moving to that direction with the aggressive recruitment and discussions. Too much pressure! No thanks!
  • It’s already Wednesday but I still feel like there’s a cloud in my head. It just means that I am not yet fully recovered. Next NAGVA is going to be Chicago for 4th of July. I’m excited for that as well since I have not played in that league ever.

Updates

Before anything, Macron is projected to win the French elections by a very huge margin. I am pretty happy about this news because my political beliefs are more within the mainstream rather than LePen’s. I just hope we can all go back to sane government, and more inclusive policies.

Another thing I am happy about is that I have reached my 15% body fat goal! It is a milestone in my self-improvement plan. It has been such a challenge for me to lose all the weight I gained over the years that I could not shake off. What I need to work on next is building more strength and muscle which has been another struggle for me. Let’s see if I can get this done before summer starts.

Other small updates that I have:

  • Fun times yesterday! Played in LA Fitness volleyball with good players. I saw Max Holt and his brother, Sam played with us there. He’s super good! Then, I went to Columbus to watch NCAA Championships between Ohio State and BYU. Big win for the Buckeyes! Go O-H-I-O! (Yes, supporting Ohio State since I’m from Ohio)
  • I’ll be playing for NAGVA nationals as a DS for a California team, Interracial Sets. It’s gonna be the first time that I will play with complete strangers. I am excited and also anxious because I always felt inadequate socially.
  • After that, I am back to my original team in NAGVA. PokPoks for Chicago during 4th of July weekend.
  • Montreal trip has been booked from July 27-30. I still need to work on my hotels then I should be all set there.
  • Semi-work, I will be going to some off-site training and that means I can do a full weekend in New York! I have not been there since 2012 so I am pretty psyched about it. I still need to work on the my hotel so hopefully I get that sorted.
  • The ultimate travel this year might be my Philippine visit in September. No details yet but it’s currently being planned.
  • Finally, my last baking creation is a Mocha Chiffon Cake with Caramel Icing/Filling. Need to buy a turntable to decorate better. Might need some cake decoration lessons too!

PS: I might do bullet updates in the future. It seems easier and more me – Sporadic and brief.