Unfortunately for you, because I know it can be quite entertaining, we had absolutely no pre-trip drama this time. Post-trip, yes. More on that later. We land without a hitch and go through Customs. These guys ask a lot of questions to which my guy and I seem to give simultaneous opposite answers. The Customs guy really stumped us when he asked where we were staying. Huh? We looked at each other and shook our heads. We honestly don’t know, we said. We exchanged our house with a family in Quebec and realized we had no idea where it was and didn’t have the address handy. Somehow our comedy routine got us through. We must seem more pathetic than threatening.
So here we are again among French speaking people. French speaking but France it is not. While there is an effort to offer similarly French things like bistros, patisseries, boulangeries, and foods like crepes, we are clearly in Canada, Eh. Canadians are happy, happy people. Not saying that the French are unhappy, just saying you really notice it here. There must be something in the water. Clearly there’s enough of it. I can’t for the life of me understand how you can live somewhere so cold and be so happy. Here it is July, and it feels like spring with peonies and lilacs just coming to the end of their bloom. The weather was beautiful, by the way, mid-70s, low humidity, cool nights, very refreshing. I think they get two or three months of nice weather before the chill sets in again. Doesn’t stop these people. They are hardy, outside rain or shine, warm or cold. Bikers and walkers everywhere. We were walking our fastest and being passed by people right and left, and sorry to admit, those older than us. One day in our neighborhood I saw two elderly women sitting and talking on the front porch, one having just pulled up on her bike in her helmet. Amen Sista’, that’s me I secretly vow…in, Oh gosh instant realization, sooner than I think!! It’s a good thing it’s illegal to drive and talk on the phone here, bikers rule the road. You have to be alert at all times. Such a wise rule. When I travel, I very often realize how common sense other countries are about things without making it a big issue. Like beer in McDonalds. Kidding.
You would think I have the language and customs down pat by now. Instead I’ve managed to offend at least one person or shop owner in every country. I had read about the bagels unique to the area, boiled in water and less doughy, and was in search of one. Logically we stopped in a patisserie, a French pastry shop, only because we saw breads in the window. Non, she says and dismisses us with a wave of the hand. Not here, or even in France will you find a bagel in a patisserie shop, she exclaims with a lift of the chin. If she could have swept us out onto the side walk I think she would have. Americans. I guess bagels are not a French food. And for you Southerners, you can’t get a biscuit in Canada. You have to settle for a croissant. Such a shame.
Unfortunately for France, after hundreds of years of occupation in the Canada, it lost its foothold to the English in a battle that lasted all of 20 minutes. It amazes me that the French culture and language has endured all these hundreds of years later. There is a similar pride in military service as we saw in Lyon during the World Wars. French speaking units fighting under the flag of Great Britain were called upon during World War II and fought with valor and distinction. The names of the soldiers who died
are read a loud each day at La Citadelle in Quebec. Guards watch 24/7 and change each day at 10 am, a ceremony of precision. Glad we took the time to visit here.
We were lucky enough to be in Quebec during the International Music Festival, Festival D-Ete’ de Quebec, a 10-day extravaganza of musical performances throughout the city on various stages all day and night. Each night big acts came to the main stage where sometimes hundreds of thousands of fans gathered. For $100 each we bought a general pass which gave us access to every show. Parking was a challenge, but we figured it out and hoofed it like everyone else. That’s when we realized how slow we apparently walk. I think I developed shin splints by the end of the week. Pink was there our first night who we missed having just arrived and not knowing the lay of the land. Nick Jonas and The Backstreet Boys, the next night. We watched and learned. People brought picnic blankets, packed dinners, layers of clothing, always kids in tow, some with headsets covering their delicate ears. Always prepared. Phased by nothing. We had none of that the first night, and were fortunate to join some young women on one of the few picnic benches on the grounds. They said, we have to warn you though, when The Backstreet Boys come on we will go crazy. I wondered about this since the group has had no new hits in quite awhile. The young woman said it was a coming of age thing for her. She asked me why I was there. Oh, me, I knew they would sing in English I said. Well you would have thought we were at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Every inch of available space covered. Swooning and screaming when The Boys came on stage, O Mon Dieu, O Mon Dieu (Oh My God, Oh My God). Even The Boys couldn’t believe how many people turned out for them. They credited Quebecers with knowing about them before anyone else which many of the other groups also said. Quebecers show their love. Every person sang every song. It was wild.
Kelsey Ballerini and Lady Antebellum the next night followed by The Who. To be able to witness the musicianship of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry, pioneers with so many firsts in the rock world, was a once -in -a -lifetime experience. When they play and sing, they are ageless and timeless. Living history. Thank you Quebec!
Up until then we thought the concerts were the most orderly and sedate we had ever been too. Coors Light and half bottles of wine for sale. No one drunk or out-of-control, very civil. Nice. The Who brought out a different element. If you can get high from pot smoke in the air, then I was definitely there. Even My Guy said he’s never been anywhere with that much pot smoke wafting. And it was all ages lighting up. No ageism here. I wondered about the legality of it. No one seemed to mind. We opted out of Metallica on the last night. After all we had to get back through Customs. I promise you officer, we did not inhale.
Speaking of Customs, my passport picture was taken in 2009. What a difference eight years make. And I’m not even the president. Both getting into Canada and back into the US, the Custom Officials looked at my passport, looked at me, looked back at the passport and back at me. It was a long time ago, I say. My Guy tries to make me feel better and says loudly, they look at all the pretty women that way. I smile weakly. No one would buy that. The young Newark Customs Guy, says, don’t worry about it, you still look the same. Oh bless you, young man. I make a note to get a new passport, and not wait for its expiration. Can’t imagine a 10-year difference. All that facial scrutiny is just too much.
We walked and ate our way through the old town, Vieux-Quebec, what we do best, sampling local fares like deer meat stew. Canadians like to offer local game in their foods, wild boar, bison, caribou. Lots of duck too. Of course I had to try the famous Poutine, gravy over some form of potatoes, usually fries, topped with cheese curds. Not sure what the fuss is about. Nothing that would make me want to order it again. Okay, confessional here…I got hooked on these ice cream cones dipped in chocolate sauce. This isn’t just any chocolate. This is like Belgium rich, dark delicious chocolate. Actually you could have your choice of about ten or more chocolate sauces in which to dip your soft-serve cone. You could also choose vanilla, chocolate or orange ice cream. You could select one of the super duper creations and add fudge or brownie pieces to the outside of your dipped cone which hardened into place. We ordered the Petite size the first time. Mistake. Petite is not so small. We learned to order the Mini which was plenty enough with the richness. Lines out the door at these Chocolats Favoris stores. My mouth is watering.
At night when we weren’t at concerts we tried to find English speaking TV Shows. We discovered a reality show, Dick and Angela about a couple from England who buys a run-down French Chateau and renovates it. We got completely involved in the story and hate not to know what happens next. We also discovered APTN, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, with programs made by and for Indigenous people infusing many different native languages and cultures in the story lines. What a novel idea!!! It was like watching old-fashioned westerns with a modern slant. By the way, the house we stayed in is like something out of Architectural Digest. the TV had such dimension you felt like it was being acted live in your living room. My Guy clicked on what he thought was a stereo in the bathroom and the news came on in the mirror. Twilight Zone.
We took side trips to Ile d’Orleans, The Basilica of Ste.-Anne de-Beaupre’, Chute-Montmorency (waterfall higher than Niagra) and Montreal. Orleans is where fresh produce is grown, famous cheeses are made and where you will find local vineyards. And it was strawberry season!! I have never tasted better strawberries in my life. So perfectly red, plump and beautiful. Too bad we could not bring those home with us. St. Anne’s is a pilgrimage site where miraculous healings have occurred. Crutches and other health-related objects left by those healed line two floor-to-ceiling columns when you enter the Basilica. You can feel the energy throughout the church which has 22 small chapels to various Saints off of the Nave. Chute-Montmorency is not as awe-inspiring as Niagra but for the brave at heart, you can zip-line cross. We walked the moving suspension bridge across. That was enough for me.
Montreal is like being in the big-city, trendy and also with a vibrant Vieux City. Chinatown, Little Italy, Latin Quarter are all represented here. Ste. Catherine’s Street shuts down at night so you can stroll and shop among its many stores. We did our best eating in Montreal. Within walking distance of our hotel (well everything is within supposed walking distance) we found this beyond delicious breakfast spot with yogurt so rich and creamy it tasted like it came from Greece. My plate included a yogurt breakfast bowl with homemade and fresh fruit toppings, plus two avocado toasts with eggs, and…..look, I’ll just include the photos here for you to get the idea.
Montreal is fun and quirky. We encountered pianos sitting at parks for anyone to play. Not sure how they stayed in tune. Weddings happening everywhere. A must I think with only a month or two of warm weather. Brides-to-be and bridesmaids in matching T-shirts with gaudy accessories bar-hopped in the old city as bachelorette parties. Roof-top bars and happy hours to watch the sun set. Fun vibe.
Then back to Quebec and home. Only we couldn’t get out of the country. Flights delayed and cancelled. Took us 36 hours to get home. I was thinking I might never see the States again. If I had only known I would have had just one more…. Chocolat Flavoris.
And the sun sets on another wonderful trip.
Until next time Loves.
Goodnight From Greenville (only I’m at the beach), Dyanne
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Dyanne is an inner wisdom coach, psychotherapist, writer, mind-body healer, Integrative Yoga Therapy teacher, certified “Journal-to-the SELF” instructor and creator of https://www.holywhollyholey.comhelping women heal and step into their power. She is the author of the ebook, “Holey Path to Holy Living: A Women’s Path to Healing and Freeing Sacred Feminine Power,” which can be found on Amazon and on her websitehttps://www.amazon.com/Holey-Path-Holy-Living-Feminine-ebook/dp/B01MUI0OOJ/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1486652110&sr=1-13&keywords=holy+path