Wednesday, 19 November 2014

L'expérience de la province Canadienne française

Yes, I am Canadian, and no I don't speak French. Yes I know, Canada is officially bilingual, but let's be honest here. It's really only important if you live in Quebec or hold a government job. Its definitely not that important for residents of BC, which is on the opposite side of the country. However, its really helpful to know the language if you happen to be a BC resident visiting the officially francophone province of Quebec. It was literally like entering a different country. I couldn't read any of the signage as I drove us through the very confusing (and frequently one-way) streets of Montreal.

It was vital to stop for poutine in Montreal, allegedly its place of origin.

Side note: For those who for some reason have never experienced the glory of poutine, let me explain. This delectable dish is arguably the best thing that has come of out of Montreal (I jest...I think). Start with a bed of hot, crisp, salty french fries, top with smooth, creamy cheese curds, and smother with gravy. It is glorious; a truly genius culinary creation that will tantalize your tastebuds, and send your brain to place of fat and sodium induced euphoria.
Of course, most gravies contain a significant amount of wheat to achieve a good consistency, so unfortunately I had to pass on the Montreal poutine experience. But I ate it vicariously, and this story has a happy ending which you will read about in a later post. 

I actually really enjoyed visiting Montreal, because it felt very European. Grand cathedrals, cobblestone streets, and great food. Unfortunately our time there was short, and it dumped rain the whole time. That didn't stop us from exploring the city on foot for an afternoon, though. 

It was neat to see some distinctly Canadian sights with a French-Canadian take, such as The Bay department store. 

My inner (sometimes well hidden) history nerd was dying to get my hands on a travel guide so I could look up the buildings we were seeing and read about the history behind them all. However, it was pouring rain, so it probably would have been ruined anyway. 

The amount of rain we endured was really quite ridiculous. It was like being attacked by a garden hose. I discovered that wearing a rain jacket is really not that helpful if you're not also wearing rainproof pants. All the rain just runs right off the coat onto the rest of you. I can't remember the last time I walked around downtown literally soaked to my skin. But that day, it happened. 

Fortunately, when we visited Old Quebec City we had really lovely weather. It was sunny, it was hot, and the tourists were out in full force. 

It was also one of those traveling days. When tempers are short, everyone is sleep-deprived, traffic is bad, and walking around historic buildings sounds like a lot of work, so all you really end up doing is eating at an over-priced (albeit still very tasty) eatery, snapping a couple obligatory photos because you have to prove you actually made it there, and then falling asleep on a park bench. No, but actually.

So my lasting memory of Quebec City was that it was cool to look at, but if I were to return to Quebec I would probably just head back to Montreal because it had way more personality. 

Quebec was also one of the two places that we did not have a host to stay with, so I really feel like we missed out on a bit of the authentic French Canadian experience. Oh well...maybe I'll go there again someday! 

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