13 January 2012

Maiden Memories of Montréal

Canada: Montréal, Quebec (July 2008, part I) 

Early in 2008, my Sister moved to a town just outside of Montréal. When family members decide that it’s time to leave the nest and explore new places, one can only hope that their adventure is within driving distance (or that there’s an airport nearby). Montréal is a convenient distance away (some ten hours or less by automobile), so even before her departure we were discussing the details of my arrival. … ROAD TRIP haha. I had heard of this sleepless cultural haven and would finally get my very own glimpse. 

First impressions: charming, traditional, modern, friendly, hospitable, open minded, cultural, exciting and quaint. I'm trying to think of things that this city isn't...(but I've got nothing). A window to history, an adult playground, the most romantic blend of old and new, even the streets politely whisper as you pass by ... en Français of course. It's exactly the kind of place that will open your eyes, keep you interested and content, leave you wanting more, yet fulfilled at the same time. Bienvenue a Montréal

This trip wasn't really about Montréal...well it was, but not really. It was more for spending time in Sister's company and maybe getting to see a few sights in between. I was excited about all of it. Since this was our summer season, or as we like to refer to it, our "camping season", choice of accommodations was easy. For enjoyment, cost savings and maximum quality time, we had decided to spend the weekend in a tent at Choisy Campground (conveniently located near Sister's place and Montréal city-centre), in Hudson...perfect. 

Bon Voyage! Early Friday, as the sun smacked down its July heat, our friend Doug and I departed, bound for Quebec in thankfully an air-conditioned ride. For the first few hours I drove, that's about all I'm good for. Well okay, I guess the first few hours of driving, and then I’m great at: vehicle temperature control, suggesting mandatory washroom breaks, endless chatting, chronic radio station searching, updating the digital photo library of the entire journey and maybe some map reading if it's required. Just as we entered into "Construction Country", also known as 'the Quebec highway', Doug took the wheel for the remaining 5-6 hours (thank you, thank you). 

Once you enter the province of Quebec, you’ll instantly observe certain things. Like for example, the majority of the highway is not twined, the speed limit is 90 km / hour and reduces rather often to 60 km / hour due to construction zones (which there are many, no matter the time of year) and all the road signs are in French, which is of no surprise since this is the official language. 

There are forested areas with so many trees they blur as you pass. The same blur that periodically pauses for you to catch glimpses of the lakes, rivers, small towns and wildlife it screens. On a clear day you might be lucky enough to follow (off in the distance) the beautiful mountain range (Appalachian Mountains I believe). 

Farmland upon farmland, you won’t have a far distance to travel before you see a silo, another silo and another. To remind you that you're passing by farm country, open fields will appear on your left and your right, you may get stuck behind a farm tractor moving along about 15 km / hour unable to pass because the highway lacks passing lanes and when the conditions are right, you may end up gagging over the wafting fresh scent of manure.  My only advice:  plug your nose and cautiously speed up :) and know that this too shall pass! haha.

L H Lafontaine Tunnel
Most people within Quebec can speak French and English (thankfully bilingual).  I always try to speak the official language of where I'm visiting, out of respect for their culture but I'm certain nothing could be funnier for them than listening to me try :)  Doug and I had stopped for petro just outside of Montréal (just before passing through the tunnel) and decided that we'd order take-out before hitting the road again.  I'm not sure who's French was worse (oh dear lol), and if it hadn't been for the ability to point at the menu who knows what we'd have left there with to eat. 

We arrived at Sister's residence shortly before dark. Near midnight, we were at the campground setting up our tent in front of the car's headlights. What an adventure this day had been. Not long after the sleeping bags were taken out of the trunk and tossed in, all eyes were closed and twitching as the state of dreaming rapidly swept over the three of us. It had been decided that tomorrow we'd venture back to Montréal ...no plan except to drive, park and explore. Bon nuit.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 
When we wake up in that cozy little tent of ours, I promise we'll go to Montréal's City Centre, just not today (remember each post can only be a 7 minute read, a little vicarious mini-vacation). I don't know about you, but I'm very excited to experience this romantic, historic, exotic, interesting City.

Part II is one only week awayMontréal's wishing you'd come play ... why wait?  I think visiting a place that chimes character and boasts diversity is just the get-away we need. Hope your bags are packed (oh, and wear good shoes, we'll be exploring Montréal on foot).

Weekly Survey Question:  what do you enjoy most about travelling?
Although we all enjoy planning, booking and counting down to our next adventure, 80% have said that getting there and doing is your number one favourite thing about travel.  Mine too :)

Share your comments, your stories, your travel advice etc.  in the section below (comments or reaction section) and give your answer to the weekly survey (top right of this blog page).  No sign up necessary, just a simple click :) A little shy?!  Why not EMAIL me?

~Holiday Heidi
(be sure to check out Your Adventure Map (at the top of this page) so you can read all previous adventure posts leading up to this one)  **And if you wish to drive through Montréal's L H Lafontaine Tunnel (photo shared above), you can follow this link I found on YouTube to experience it yourself Montreal Tunnel)

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