Yes, Feng, I’m sure—I’ve just checked the blog, and it’s more reliable than my memory.
Yes, Mark was just a few months old, can you believe he is almost 11 now?
Yes, coming back to Montreal was long overdue.
Why don’t we go to Montreal more often? It’s only a two-hour drive from Ottawa, after all. Well, maybe that’s the problem. It’s too long of a drive to relax in Montreal for a day every now and then but it’s too short of a drive to justify splurging on a hotel room or Airbnb.
Plus, let’s be honest, I never managed to fall in love with Montreal. It’s just me, really, there’s nothing wrong with Montreal—I’m in the minority here.
The thing is, unlike American tourists or English Canadians, I’m too French to pretend that going to Montreal is “just like going to France”. But at the same time, I’m too Canadian by now to seek an ersatz of French lifestyle in the New World—speaking my language and immersing myself in a culture that vaguely resonates with me could have been a relief when I first came to Canada and but by now, I’m used to English Canadian culture and Ontario finally makes sense.
In fact, Montreal is always a bit of a culture shock for me. It’s no secret in Canada that Quebec is a unique corner of the country. It’s not just the language, it’s… everything, from laws to norms to values. This explains why even though I can read and understand everything, I feel like I’m in a foreign land. What are these TV shows advertised on billboards? Is this a supermarket or a clothing shop? Why does everything close so early on Saturday? Do people in Quebec actually love bread as much as the French do or are all the numerous Paris-style bakeries run by French immigrants hoping to conquer the New World?
So many questions, and zero answers.
It didn’t matter. This was a last-minute trip, just Feng and I. We needed to escape. It’s been a stressful month, a stressful summer, a stressful year even. We didn’t plan anything and didn’t try to go see anything in particular.
Instead, we just wandered around, from the residential streets and the impossibly steep and twisty outdoor staircases–a deathtrap with winter weather conditions, right?–to the Vieux-Montreal, from the Old Port to the Jean-Talon Market on Sunday.
We got some take-out Chinese dumplings and sweet bread in Chinatown and brought our dinner back to the motel.
We walked, we talked, and walked some more before driving back to Ottawa. So not a classic Montreal tour but a nice break and a breath of fresh air.Share this article!