TBT – Throwback Thursday has been around social media for awhile and it occurred to us that we have a lot of TBT worthy material from our previous travels that we could
exploit easily make a post from shamelessly repost ahem… share to our lovely followers and friends. Since we have enjoyed a bunch of “Slightly Loco Adventures” before and since coming to Mexico, we can hop on the social media bandwagon and post them here!
As we have been living and working here on the beautiful north shore, I have noticed recently the frequent and distinct sound of “la langue de la belle province du Québec” (the language of the beautiful province of Québec). My grandfather on my Dad’s side was Québécois and the rhythm and intonation is as distinct here in Mexico as it was growing up and visiting Rawdon, Québec as a young boy from Ontario. There are many Québécois and Québécoises who vacation and live here so it’s no surprise that when Teri and I thought about which of our adventures from the past to start TBT with, our trip with two of our 7 combined kids to Montreal and Québec City was first on our list.
A little background: when we lived in Canada, we still loved to adventure and whenever we could schedule time to travel we would, especially if we could get there in a day’s driving in our trusty VW Jetta, Tootsie, in a reasonable amount of time. From our home in London, Ontario, we had many options and so the approximately 7 hours driving to Montreal fell into that category. I love to drive, the kids usually sleep and Tootsie loves the highway so we adventured much in this fashion.
Hitting the main highway in Ontario, the 401 (pronounced four-oh-one by locals) we were on our way as the sun was waking up. It was March break so my youngest daughter Emily and Teri’s oldest son Lucas joined us for an extended weekend. The plan was to spend a few days in Montreal taking in the sites and at least one full day to visit Québéc City’s old town and nearby Montmorency Falls. Yes, those of you who are familiar with the area, we did have an ambitious schedule but that’s how we always travel and we love the fun we cram into a few days.
Approaching la belle province we are excited to see the signs changing to include both of Canada’s official languages and slowly converting to predominantly french. For those of you who don’t know, Quebec is Canada’s centre of French heritage, preserved by legislation beginning as early as 1774 with the Quebec Act. While Quebec French (also called Québécois) differs from it’s European origins today due to the adoption of First Nations language and names as well as being originally detached from Europe by sheer distance, it is French at its heart and as unique as Canada herself in the global community. As we travel along the highway the echoes of my childhood are ringing and the cantor of the language returning somewhat as we select a local radio station to listen in. (Sidebar: this is something that I was taught long ago that may not be as common now. When travelling, turn on the radio to local stations to hear the language and music. It is a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the culture! Just because your satellite receiver lets you listen to America’s Top 40 anywhere in the world, doesn’t mean you have to…) Once in Quebec we are focused on getting to our hotel, getting out to walk the neighbourhood and starting to take it all in.
Art. That is the first thing that strikes us as we finally get a chance to look around properly. It is everywhere. Creativity abounds and the walls and streets are covered in a delightful array of expression. Some of it official, some of it street art and some of it some very well done graffiti, it is a pleasure to be surrounded by colour and feel the freedom that is evident to let the creative impetus be loosed. Even the names of the stores and restaurants are clever, sparking discussion and bringing smiles as we walk by.
Maybe it is the chilly March air or maybe just the thought of a hearty meal after a long travel day I don’t recall, but whatever it was, we took the recommendation of our concierge and went to an Italian restaurant (Don’t worry we will get to the classic Quebec
cuisine soon) “Napoli Pizzeria“. The service was excellent and despite my struggling to reclaim the language of my heritage after decades, we ordered and enjoyed a great meal
on Rue St Denis in the heart of Montreal. It is the perfect end to a travel day and as we walk through the neighbourhood back to our hotel to the sounds of live music and sites of street performers and public art installations, we know that our efforts to journey to this fantastic place will be rewarded with an amazing adventure.
Tune in next week for Day 2 – The Biosphere, Museum of Fine Art, Notre Dame, City Hall, Poutine and more!