Life in progress


Daily Post – Surreality

The Daily Post today asks, “What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?”

It was October, 2005. I was in Hiroshima, in the restaurant on the top floor of a highrise hotel, having dinner. They sat me at a corner table, with a corner window that faced the night-lit city. Being that the hotel is on the water, the road stretched out, away from the hotel – I could see for miles.

My dinner companions, as they had been throughout my trip, were my pad and pen. I no longer have the pad, but I remember writing how I felt – the awe-inspiring enormity of being completely alone, thousands of miles away from everyone and everything I knew. Not a soul in the world who could recognize me and know my name knew where I was at that moment. When the waitress approached my table she bowed, placed a cushion on the floor and knelt to take my order. It was the same when she brought the food and cleared the table – bowing deeply before she knelt and when she stood. So so foreign.

Being completely alone, I discovered, is a surreal experience. With no responsibility to anyone but myself and the world – what felt like the entire world – stretched out before me, I was simultaneously a speck on the face of the earth and an entire universe in and of myself. I don’t remember if the fact that I looked out over a city that was once wiped out, turned to rubble, its innocent population murdered in a single explosion of proportions larger than any of us alive can imagine had anything to do with my perception of surreality that night, but I suspect it did.

But I was there. The place I’ve read of in the history books. Hiroshima, Japan. Anything could have happened there.


from the restaurant, Grand Prince Hotel, Hiroshima

From the restaurant, Grand Prince Hotel, Hiroshima

From the restaurant, Grand Prince Hotel, Hiroshima

From the restaurant, Grand Prince Hotel, Hiroshima


The A-Bomb Dome, 2005

The A-Bomb Dome, 2005

Sunrise, from my room

Sunrise, from my room


6/16 – Yesterday’s News – The Hotel Experience

My local newspaper – the one I deliver – isn’t published on Sundays, so I instead get the Toronto Sun. I had a hard time finding anything that inspired me until I came across an actual writing prompt, so I figured what the hell.

The prompt encourages people to enter onto the Sun’s facebook page the story of a memorable hotel stay. I couldn’t decide which one I should write about, so I’ll do them all. Considering how many rooms I’ve stayed in, there aren’t that many that are worth mentioning. After all, how memorable is one room over another in most cases?

There was my weekend with my ex – a rare ‘escape-the-kids’ weekend – when we got a theme room  at the Fireside Inn in Kingston, Ontario. The theme itself wasn’t the best part however. What really tickled my fancy was the shower for two, complete with two shower heads, each with its own temperature control. I wish I could say I need one of those at home, but alas… the ex is still an ex.

The only really bad experience I can remember was in Kurashiki, Japan. Since I was headed out to a concert the night I was there, I decided not to rent a lamp… So I went back to the room with my corner-store bought spaghetti dinner and ate in the dark. The next morning when I took a shower, I found the bathtub to be so creaky I hurried as fast as I could through my shower. It would have been a short but embarrassing trip from room 305 to room 205 in that state of undress.

At the Grand Prince Hotel in Hiroshima, on the other hand, I was quite impressed with the bathroom in my room. Not only was the ceramic floor heated, but there was some sort of heating system behind the mirror as well, so there was a spot at just my height (I’m short and stereotypically so are Japanese people) that stayed clear from the steam of the shower. Very impressive. The view from my room was also out of this world.

Sunrise, Hiroshima

Sunrise, Hiroshima

The last and second most impressive stay I’ve had in a hotel was at the Chateau Montebello in Montebello, Quebec. (Click the link.) It was really just up the street from where I lived at the time, and I needed a weekend away. My ex agreed to look after the kids so I took the cheapest room in the place, just for myself, for two nights. I was surprised to find a note from the management on the second day to say they’d made a mistake and double booked my room so they were moving me out. Paint a picture of yourself of an outraged, overworked mother, wearing the cheapest of clothing, carrying her luggage half in plastic shopping bags, standing at the front desk of a resort hotel that has entertained Prime Ministers and Presidents, (G-7 Summit) practically jumping up and down at the unfairness of it all. Got that? Okay. Now paint for yourself a picture of a woman luxuriating in the Pierre Elliot Trudeau suite (see the Deluxe River View Room) sitting back on a king sized bed gazing out the window at exquisitely manicured gardens, and beyond, a gorgeous view of the Ottawa River, and you’ve got my wonderful stay in a room for which I paid only a fraction of the price it was worth.

And the best place I’ve ever stayed? Has to be The Hochelaga Inn, in Kingston, Ontario.

So, there you have it. I encourage you to click the links. The only one I don’t have a link for is the one in Kurashiki – I don’t remember the name of the place, but I’m sure I’d recognize it if I ever go back. The town itself is beautiful, so I would encourage anyone to visit. Just check to make sure you don’t have to rent a lamp when you stay there and you should be safe.

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