My friend, Rupali and I decided to spend Thanksgiving weekend at the Kitchener Oktoberfest. Kitchener is about an hour's drive away from my home at Mississauga. The idea was for us to drive out there on Sunday afternoon and then watch the parade on Monday before heading out.
The drive there was beautiful, the Niagara escarpment was hot with the colors of fall - reds, golds, rusts, and yellows. I didn't push the drive - keeping to the speed limit while Rupali clicked away madly. Hopefully she got some good shots.
Kitchener turned out to be a small town with lots of tall buildings, and nestling between them old, old buildings with red brick exteriors catching the late afternoon sun. Parts of the roads had been closed off, as street food vendors occupied them offering all kinds of German (?) goodies - overwhelming us with the smell of grilling bratwurst and hot cotton candy, throw in some pretzels and sauerkraut and there you have it.
We were booked at the Walper Hotel – a heritage hotel with a long list of celebrity guests. Since check in was not until 2 pm we figured we might as well get lunch first. Crabby Joe's caught our eye. A bar/restaurant that served up a medley of a menu - Asian, German, you name it! It was good, though! Lunch over, we headed back to the hotel. The hotel was across the street, on the street corner, and one of the beautiful red brick buildings that we had seen earlier.
Checked in and feeling rather hot, we decided to go to our room and catch some shut-eye. The hotel was old, very old, and undergoing renovations. The elevator was ornate and creaked up the three floors. We stepped off the elevator into a hallway obviously undergoing renovation. White washed walls contrasted with heavy, dark wooden doors. Dark, wooden, ornate and obviously old furniture decorated the hallways. A huge empty frame on one wall indicated where a painting would have been. Large chandeliers above our heads lighted the empty corridors. We found our room and used the heavy brass keys to enter. The door did not creak, thankfully. Two double beds occupied one side, and on the other were a table and a TV. I took the bed towards the window, which was shaded with dark brown blinds. A ledge ran along the base of the wall, and terminated in an air-conditioning unit behind the TV.
We decided to crash for a bit. I played around with my iPad taking a picture of Rupali as she snored away. I also decided to check on the history of the Walper Hotel. Wikipedia offered the information that this hotel is reputedly haunted in the basement by a man in a coat. Hmmmm… it also named all the famous people who had stayed there, including Queen Elizabeth, Madonna and Lady Gaga. Go figure!
In the evening we decided to go for a walk. It’s a peaceful town, but kind of deserted. We decided to head to the Rum Runner’s pub for dinner. The Rum Runner’s pub also has a bit of colorful history. It’s located in the basement. During the prohibition, the walls of the pub were used to store casks containing – you guessed it – rum. The hotel was part of a long underground supplying alcohol to the United States. Today, it’s a beautiful pub decorated much like any other pub. One of the walls is covered with newsprints from the prohibition days as well as the picture of a man who possibly participated in the nefarious rum running activity.
Rupali and I ordered cocktails. The bar was nearly empty, with a few other tables occupied. The bartender and server had time to chat with us, and chat we did. I was sitting with my back towards the wall, facing the bar. Rupali sat facing me. All of a sudden, I felt someone looking at me from where the entrance was. I looked over but I could not see anyone there. The room to the right of me was empty just like the corridor. I was getting goose pimples and rubbed my arm. Rupali asked me what the matter was. I told her what I had been feeling. She was surprised at my answer. There really was no-one at the door. We finished an otherwise uneventful dinner and decided to head back upstairs. We wanted to be up early to watch the parade.
I need time to fall asleep – my unwinding time, I call it. I need to read a book or watch TV till I am asleep. My ipad had my downloaded reading material, so I continued to read for a while, while Rupali slept. At some point I glanced at the time. It was getting late, but I was not in the least bit sleepy. Figuring that I should probably try to fall asleep, I shut down my iPad, turned off the lights, and closed my eyes, but sleep was far away. I tossed, turned, got up, closed the blinds, and tried to sleep again. The digital readout of the clock told me that time was passing oh! So slowly. I could hear dogs barking in the distance. Sometimes, I heard the faint sounds of revelers as they returned from their revelry. At one point I heard a loud thump in the room next to mine. Weird! Sometime around three in the morning I fell asleep. I had the strangest dream. Something bad. Very bad, and very weird. I woke up to the vibration of my cell’s alarm.
Rupali was already up. I was feeling groggy with so little sleep. I told her I hadn’t been able to sleep until about 3 am. She looked at me strangely and said, “well, I was having these horrible nightmares and woke up around 3. Then I fell asleep again, and I had more nightmares till I woke up. I don’t normally have nightmares. I was surprised”. I told her I’d been seeing strange dreams, too.
The two of us couldn’t believe that we’d both had marginally weird experiences.
It was time to get ready and watch the Oktoberfest parade. We showered, changed and went to the coffee shop below. Crowds had gathered on the pavements with chairs, and blankets – it was a little chilly – and coffee. There was a long line at the coffee shop. I told Rupali to get the coffee while I marshaled the seat by the window. But it wasn’t enough for us. We had to go out and see the parade for ourselves. For two hours, we were treated to some very good, some funny, some good and some strange Oktoberfest floats, and marching bands, including a Chinese troupe and a Filipino band (viva la Oktoberfest! Who doesn’t love beer?) And of course, there were the usual Molson floats, and cowboys and big balloons and … more marching bands.
With the parade over, we headed back to the hotel. In our room, we picked up our bags and were headed out. I saw a hotel employee come out of the room next door. Evidently, she had been in there. I wondered if anyone had been staying there the previous night. It didn’t look like it! What WAS that bump? With all those questions, we headed down, checked out and finally got on our way back home to Mississauga.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad