Ca-nada? Ca-todo

Okay so I’m really struggling to come up with a witty title but ‘nada’ means ‘nothing’ and ‘todo’ means ‘everything’. I realise those are translations in Spanish and actually I encountered the French language more while I was away but anywho.

Also, I realise I’ve been rather neglectful of my blog. That’s because I found it hard to word my Canadian trip without sounding boring, i.e. “We did this, then this and then saw this and ate this”. Subsequently, the relationship ended which made me even less keen to write about it. So here goes!

Canada. No one could have predicted that at the beginning of this year I would find myself there. But life threw me a cute French Canadian in a hostel in Salzburg so c’est la vie. It’s not that I never wanted to go to Canada – in fact I’d only heard amazing things about the place – it’s just very interesting how life can change when you least expect it.

Sunday: Arrival

I arrived in Montreal airport on the 10th July and Anthony picked me up. We headed straight to Victoriaville where I met the majority of Anthony’s close family. My French speaking? Absolutely worse than I remember, but I’m hella good at smiling and international signing so it wasn’t completely horrendous and embarrassing. Jetlag isn’t my favourite thing to wear but alas it hung on me.

Monday: Victoriaville

Got to see the place that Anthony has grown up in. Got a tour of the family business and a tour of the Victoriaville church completely in French.

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Laurie, Anthony’s sister, showed us around her workplace. A new cultural centre in the town which had amazing facilities. Being the arty, theatre-going, cultural person I am I was astounded by the place. Pretty envious of Laurie for having the opportunity to work in such an amazing venue. It did make me realise that the future plan is to work in a multi-arts venue, I think that would be awesome. It was really lovely of her to show us around!

Next, I tried my first ever poutine and oh. my. word. What kind of genius created this fine dish?

DSCN1611.JPGSlightly anxious of saying ‘poutine’ out loud the first time. The way I said it first time sounded more like ‘putain’ which is definitely not something to say you want to eat.

Poutine is a French-Canadian dish that consists of chips (fries), cheese curds and gravy. I had it with BBQ gravy and it was gorgeous. I had poutine twice more while I was in Canada. I’m now sat in the UK absolutely craving cheese curds though…

That afternoon Anthony and I canoed down a river in Victoriaville. I’m not familiar with canoeing generally but it was quite enjoyable to glide along the river on a gorgeous day.

 

Tuesday: To Montreal

dscn1619dscn1623dscn1622It took us about 2 hours to reach Montreal from Victoriaville. You get a glorious welcome for the city by crossing the bridge (which I have been told is falling apart!). Montreal was bloody hot that day though! The kind of heat that was painful to do anything in so what drove Anthony and I to have cheese fondu I’m not sure! We visited Marche Jean-Talon and had a wander around to cool down, lots of foods for sale and the perfect orange juice for hydrating.

Then, for the main event of the day! My Nan had put me in contact with her cousin, Dawn, who lives in Montreal. My Nan and Dawn have been communicating for years over phone and the occasional email from which Dawn sends in her local internet cafe. It seemed fitting that while I was in Montreal I should meet up with her.

Dawn was incredibly lovely to us and treated us to a feast for dinner. I always find it strange but warming to meet people for the first time while seeing other members of my family in them. Dawn definitely had glimpses of my Nan in her.

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Wednesday: To Toronto

It’s time for a road trip! The journey between Montreal and Toronto was about 5 hours and because I couldn’t drive the car, Anthony had to do all the driving (OH WELL). Our journey involved listening to his music playlist and learning the nato alphabet.

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With a tower like that, that sure is a fantastic welcoming to a city! THE CN TOWER. We settled into our Airbnb and then headed out on the town! Thankfully, the CN tower was still open late and so we headed up to the top. Well, not exactly the ‘top’ but that fat part of the tower. Still, it’s very high up.

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This is the view from the platform we reached. Toronto at night looked oddly like something from Minecraft or Sims, it just did not look real in the slightest.

Thursday: Niagara Falls

TODAY WAS THE DAY. So, before coming to Canada I tried to talk to Anthony about what we would do while I was there. His response was “Whatever you like”. When I found out that the Niagara Falls were kind-of-near-but-not-really-close-at-all I got fixated on it and asked incredibly nicely if we could go.

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Have you seen anything more spectacular? Well maybe you have but the Niagara Falls is nothing to be sniffed at. You can actually visit the falls for free but it pays to get the cruise into the horseshoe and I would highly recommend doing that.

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The queue was not long to get on the cruise and they gave everyone these brilliant pink ponchos. I can only describe the cruise as outstanding, ridiculous and hilarious. Outstanding because you’re actually heading towards a massive waterfall whilst witnessing the other falls nearby. Ridiculous for the reason that you’re heading to a waterfall and everyone is getting drenched and soon reaches a point that you can no longer see in front of you. Which leads me on to hilarious. It was as if the apocalypse had arrived, everyone on the cruise was screaming like it was Armageddon and that we were all about to die. I couldn’t help but laugh though. We’d all paid to experience this and I’m not sure anyone quite expected the mist of the falls to be that intense!

Recovering from the experience, Anthony and I headed into Niagara. This town is on the cusp of the border between Canada and the U.S. Take that and the fact that Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction then it results in a town with a certain kind of character. The kind of character you might find in Great Yarmouth or Skegness. That kind of seaside but slightly tacky vibe. Don’t get me wrong, it’s probably a lot of fun for some but it was just bizarre.

dscn1709Ordering food in a town on the border of the U.S. causes the meals to be enormous. I ordered spaghetti, ate spaghetti for 20 minutes only to stare down at my plate like I hadn’t eaten anything at all. What a day though. I got to see the Niagara Falls! I was over the moon.

Friday: towards Victoriaville

Friday was mostly a travelling day and so there’s not much to comment on really! That night we stayed at Anthony’s family’s ski lodge home in Bromont. It was gorgeous and I mean it’s not everyday you get to hang out in a ski lodge home in July..! Still, the evening was spent with more poutine, board games and Jurassic Park in French.

Saturday: To Quebec City

We touched into Victoriaville briefly before heading to Quebec City. Anthony’s Aunt and Uncle own a B&B in the city and they offered us to meet them for dinner. It was slightly out of the busyness of the city but right by the water. It was perfect. I was surprised by Anthony that we were going to see Red Hot Chili Peppers which made me extremely happy. They were playing as part of the Le Festival d’ete de Quebec. It’s unbelievable how cheap the festival was for what you got. $100 for a week!? In the UK they would charge at least 6 times that amount.

Although, I have no photos to offer on this occasion. As my phone was near useless in Canada and I left my purse in Victoriaville (doh!) it felt it a little unnecessary to have a bag on me. I regret not having a bag to carry a camera though (double doh!).

However, we didn’t end up staying for RHCP because the sound was not good. It was a shame but c’est la vie!

Sunday: Seeing Quebec City

Anthony’s sister joined us on a day of exploring the city. I must say that on first sight I knew I was going to enjoy the city. I’m fairly easy to please with travel spots if the place has cobbled ground.

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We did a little wondering around the shops and seeing the sights. Sights including seeing polar bears being sold in shops(!) and people blowing glass. A lot of conversations around me in French but by this point I was used to standing looking none the wiser. By the time I figured out one sentence three others had flown by. I was a useless mono-lingual Mol.

That evening I was treated to one more evening at the festival. Rammstein was headlining! I hadn’t heard any of their music but I knew they were a heavy metal band. I must say, they were incredible and put on such a show. They’re known for their use of pyrotechnics and they definitely showed that off in Quebec!

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What a spectacular show and I loved it! DU. DU HAST. DU HAST MICH.

Monday: To airport

Canada was gorgeous. It was beautiful and full of experiences I will never forget. Sure, I probably had no idea what was being said to me half the time but the people of Quebec are the most kind and friendly individuals you will meet.

It’s tricky writing this now. At the time I was pretty devastated about saying goodbye. Goodbyes are always difficult, even more with somebody you love. And more so when you’re not sure when you’ll see them again. I was pretty sure I was going to see him again and was happy to wait however long.

So it turns out that that goodbye was the real deal. It’s unlikely I’ll ever see him again and I will be forever grateful to Anthony for showing me around Canada and for accompanying me in a rainy Madrid, but that chapter is now over. I’m on to big things so stay tuned guys, life’s about to get very exciting!

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