After doing full day road trips in Hamilton and Tobermory, I wanted to end summer 2016 with a bang – skip mother nature and go deep into some good old fashioned urban exploring.
Montreal seemed like the perfect opportunity because it was close enough to get to yet far enough to make one feel like they were in unfamiliar territory entirely. This being my first time in Quebec just happened to serve as an incentive to make it the most memorable.
It’s strange how much power language has to change a culture and one’s perception of an environment – even in the same country. Every time I talked to someone local in Quebec, I regretted being the 12-year-old that made fun of the pronunciation of the term “fatigue” in Mr. Amiot’s French class. To be honest, French never floated my boat. Spanish caught my attention much more. Take it this way, while French is butter on a warm bun, Spanish is hot salsa on a toasted nacho. I happen to prefer the latter.
It served as an uneasy feeling being in my own country yet being unable to order my own food without pointing at the menu pictures. But this was nothing new, I’d felt it before, in Pakistan and in India, where cities and villages, not just provinces, have their own way of saying and doing. Just because there is a border, doesn’t mean everyone within the man-made lines is the same.
In four days we were able to explore both Montreal and Quebec and still enjoy spontaneous curveballs here and there. I got to pretend I was in Paris in the Old Port, eat without regrets, get drenched in the rain and then get lost wearing the most uncomfortable shoes, and meet some really cool people at the same time.
I don’t think I’ve ever planned a trip this much into detail and actually stuck to it to a great extent. This was also the first time I’d taken the Via Rail. Result: I paid extra just to sleep through the wi-fi. As compensation, we got a great deal on our rideshare back in one of those white vans your parents tell you to stay away from.
I’ve officially ticked all the cliche Canadian cities foreigners guess as Canada’s capital before getting it right.