Day 54, 55 & 56 Going French in Montreal
Trip Start Jul 01, 2008
38Trip End Sep 27, 2008
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Thanks to a tip off from Phil, we enjoyed dinner at Burlington amongst a decidedly eclectic crowd before hitting the very basic border control at dusk. Asked if we were carrying any dangerous weapons or explosives, Matt replied 'just a rocket' which I thought was brazen, but he was just being incredibly honest... Daniel received a toy rocket that launches 100 ft into the air for his birthday.
Driving through Canada felt oddly comforting, despite being in near total darkness and the signs all being in French. Might be the connection with a fellow Commonwealth country, or more likely the surprise at seeing the temperature in Celsius and the speed limits & distances in kilometers. Once again we had used Hotwire to find a room in Montreal, these Saturday night bookings at late notice are killers! We ended up with the Holiday Inn at the airport, which was full to bursting, but able to accommodate a switch from Smoking to Non Smoking. Except we had to settle for a King and a rollaway bed, which makes sleeping arrangements a challenge with the three kids
We wandered around the Old Town of Montreal and were fortunate to find the city hosting an open air cultural market that is only scheduled once a year. There were numerous stalls offering food and wine samples, historical re-enactments with periodic gun-firing which alarmed the crowd and plenty of fun activities; the kids wrote their names with a quill pen and did their own tapestries (a very slow process with three beginners that ended with Matt and I doing 'speed-tapestry' which I'm sure goes against the very principles of tapestry)
Somewhere we had read of Montreal's sophisticated 'underground city' wrapping some 30 km around the city, so we headed out to explore, only to discover it was no more interesting than Pitt Street Mall coming out of Town Hall Station. But we were directed to the Latin Quarter for dinner, and being at the furthest point in our travels from Mexico, it felt right to enjoy fajitas & tacos. San Diego not really being a 'commuter' city - or at least where we live, the kids are still excited by Metro systems, so we treated them to a ride back to the hotel. Following on from our wanderings in the downtown area the day before, we headed out early for a 'french' breakfast of croissants, café au lait and ouefs. We noticed that although French is the first language of Montreal, there is no pressure for us to remember anything we learned in high-school, as the Montreal-eans are just as competent and willing to speak in English. So, none of those somewhat humiliating public demonstrations of charades that Matt and I remember from travelling through France. It wasn't much of a day in Montreal - the weather noticeably cooler than anything we've experienced so far - so we bought some new school books for the kids and did an hour of lessons, Canadian curriculum style. Driving out of Montreal we stopped first at Parc-Royale to enjoy the view over the city, and then got our bearings for our next point of interest: the Olympic Tower. A few snaps of the leaning tower and a stop off at a playground before loading up on groceries for the drive ahead.
The drive to Toronto was too long for us to want to do it in one hit, so we opted for a KOA campground about an hour and a half out of Toronto, but as it was just to be a sleeping spot, we didn't want to set the tent up, so we booked a Cabin.