Saturday, 14 June 2008

Montreal and the Canadian GP!

I've been excited for the last few months about my trip to the Canadian GP, which took place last weekend. It was my first trip to Canada and everyone I know who has been raves about the place. Second, I haven't done a road trip in America before. Third, I was a GP virgin and coming from the same home town as Williams F1 team I had to put this right! So what did I think?

Canada was lovely. Montreal has a very continental European feel and is the perfect antidote if you need a break from the US without having to go all the way back home.

Like Morocco, they have kept the best bits of French cuisine and have some excellent boulangerie and patisserie. Portion sizes were sensible and the food felt healthier than in the US. There are sins too and we had a plate of the local comfort food, poutine, which is chips with cheese and gravy. A bit of an odd combination like the take aways of Oxford meeting Hull!

My favourite meal was brunch on Saturday when we went to a great little restaurant, in the Holt Renfrew department store. I had a frittata, which was served on toasted sour dough with fresh tomatoes and a balsamic reduction. I thought that balsamic might be an odd combination, but it went perfectly.

The find of the weekend was a rooftop bar, opposite Notre-Dame Basillca in Place d'Armes. We enjoyed a couple of drinks from the top of a hotel as the sun set around us.

A bit of a strange habit, but I like going to supermarkets while I am on holiday as it gives you a feel for what the locals eat on a day to day basis. My impression of New York supermarkets is pretty bad, no wonder people eat out so much. The super marche around the corner from our hotel was great. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and they sold a good range of cheese (you'll think I'm bonkers if you are reading this from the UK, but you can't buy decent cheese at sensible price in NY!). We bought a pic nic to eat for lunch at the race.

The Grand Prix
The main focus of the weekend was the GP. We went to the Friday practice session, Saturday qualifying and the race on Sunday.

We had seats in a Grand Stand at the chicane on the back straight, and were treated to quite a lot of action. There was a big screen opposite us so that we could follow the race on the rest of the circuit.

During Friday practice we saw Timo Glock spin in front of us and his car had to be craned off. Mark Webber put is Red Bull in the gravel, but managed to get it out again. During quali Webber spun out again and wasn't able to take part in Q3. In the race we saw a Coultard, and the luckless Webber (again), spin and Alonso crashed out just after our corner. There was an over taking manouver, but I can't remember who was involved!

The mighty Nico Rosberg blew a great chance of a good result when he crashed into the back of Hamilton in the pit lane. From the replays I am not sure what he was up to as he seemed to have plenty of time to react.

A few people mentioned to me before I went about the need to take ear plugs and I was glad that I did!

For posterity I should mention that Robert Kubica took his, and BMW's, first win; much to the delight of the many Polish fans in our stand.

Road Trip
It wasn't really a proper road trip, more a charge for the border and back again. The roads were straight, drivers crazy, potholes many and the scenary of the Adirondacks beautiful. Being completely ignorant of geography I didn't realise that we would stay in the State of New York all the way to the border.

The border crossings caused the most excitment. Comically Clint gets a little bit nervous of immigration officials. On the way into Canada we got a bit of grilling from the border guard but once she established we were innocent tourists we were on our way. Coming back into the US, concerned about the fragility of the electric windows, Clint tried to avoid lowering them completely which raised a little bit of suspicion from the border guard about our objection to communicating!


  1. You can't beat a bit of gravy and chips action and I totally endorse the addition of cheese to this fine meal!

  2. I now need to photoshop a Renault symbol in there somewhere...

  3. That was awesome Richie, we just had the NASCAR and it rained for most of the race. F1 FTW!!!!