28-31.05 Quebec City: Celebrating bilinguality and wars
Whilst buying my Can Railway Pass, I couldn’t help thinking back of my (mis)adventures on the Transiberian Express (link). I was signing myself up for another 5,000 km by rail…I was a little weary because the previous 9,500 had been hardhip and this time I had cut down on ‘luxury’ by eliminating the berth (= bed). I would have to trust my resourcefulness to get me through 9 nights on the trains. I just hoped it would result in some juicy input for the blog… a writer’s life is tough… although it was exactly this status that got me [upgraded] through the first night; I reached Quebec City as right as rain (in Dutch: fris en fruitig).
Canada seems to inspire travelers to converge. At Quebec station I met Anais, a young Frenchy We discovered to be in the same hostel so we walked up together and chatted basically when our ways parted in Montreal [our next destination].
Quebec [the province] is a strange duck in the Canadian pond. It is extremely proud of its French ancestry. It had for example to be physically conquered before it got included under the country’s governance and still strives to become independent [again] today. Yes, this is the QuebEx; Canada’s BritEx. And yes, Quebec had its referendum in 1995. It was rejected by 51-49%, so one may conclude that Quebec has 3% more sensible individuals than the UK. LOL! [however, which benefits beyond emotional satisfaction for one half of the people (and dismay for the other half) could result from sovereignty?].
All joking aside, I do admire this province and it is for its true bilinguality. I heard people switch languages back and forth, even within sentences. More importantly, they seemed not to mind to do so irrespective of their ‘English’ or ‘French’ lineage. I thus far only experienced the complexities of bilingual countries [for example Belgium, our neighbouring country]. It was cool to see a place where it actually works. Maybe Belgium could start exchange programs with Quebec.
Quebecian musea topped this ‘merry spirit’ in a pretty incredible way. They displayed their Seven Years War (or War of the Conquest or French and Indian War) in which the French and the English armies battled over Quebec (in 1759). Interestingly, the displays seemed to celebrate the victories of both sides and the French’s even a tat more. So, tell me again: who actually won the war??
Quebec claims to have a waterfall higher then the Niagara falls in Ontario. Their claim is valid; the Montmorency falls are high indeed. This caused a ‘petit probleme’ for Chris (from Moncton, who had driven up for a weekend getaway) because he suffers from acrophobia (fear of heights). When I got all excited about the gondola and zip line at the top, I got it crisp and clear that ‘I would be alone on that one, unless hell would freeze over’.
A steep, open stairways took us up to the top. My god, I felt like a rocket going up them stairs in comparison to Chris who had to go slooooowly to collect courage for every step up. He looked like he was going to die of shock when I ran enthusiastically onto the steel roster bridge to took shots into the depths at an 180 degree angle. I am now making fun of him but he went far outside his comfort zone that day and that defines a hero in my dictionary!
31.06: Montreal: The early night that turned into a late one
I didn’t have much time to visit Montreal due to my reservation on the Canadian Express in Toronto. Therefore, the city Montreal had to be seen in ‘Chinese style’; all in 1 day. Pas de probleme! I reached at noon (after a 5 AM departure, pfff), started my first walking tour at 1 PM and my second at 4 PM. By 7 PM I was dead beat tired and determined to go to the hostel and turn in early.
The ‘turn-in early plan’ would have worked out if only I hadn’t spotted this marvelous park opposite my hostel, if it hadn’t been such a sweet sulty summer evening and I hadn’t started conversation with some locals. I am pretty sure that I then probably would not have been kicked out of a bar after closing hours and that my next day [in Toronto] would have been a lot easier. Ah well, I can only blame myself and, heck, I really got the most out of my limited time in Montreal.