Back from Montreal. We left at about 10 AM this morning, and husband was his usual grudge-you-a-potty-break self on the drive back. We got back to Bedminster at about 4:30, and then he went above and beyond the call of duty and hauled the three air conditioners out of the attic. After four sweltering days with no relief in Montreal, we need a little AC-lovin'.
On the way back, I was able to make use of my laptop and watch about 10 episodes of Bleach. Started to get very interesting by ep 19, so I'll have to download some more. When the laptop gave out, I read my husband's copy of Travels with Charley
by John Steinbeck. It was a more than appropriate book for a road trip, and by the time Steinbeck was wrapping up his narrative, we were wrapping up our trip.
One part of the book resonated particularly with me. At the end of the book, Steinbeck loses his taste for the trip and pushes on for home with no real interest in stopping. In his case, he had just seen some distasteful events in the South, but I identified with the feeling. No question that we had a blast in Montreal, but by this morning, I was more than ready to leave.
Part of it was the morning-after-Christmas feeling of the race and the party being over, and now it's back to business. Part of it was the annoyance of not knowing where to go for a meal. As tiggymalvern
has observed about French wines, so it goes for French food, even in Montreal - when it's good, it's great; when it's not, it's bad indeed, and there's not a reliable way of finding that out. All we had was our Fodor's guide, which tended to recommend very expensive restaurants that require reservations. Next year, we'll get a Zagat survey.
Part of it was the language barrier. Not to generalize about Canada too much, but it's very like America, except in Quebec. Most of the Quebecois speak some English, and I speak enough French to get myself in trouble, so there's a level of understanding, but it's very strange to find that island of French-Canadian with the juggernaut of the US to the south and English in all the surrounding Canadian provinces.
It wasn't just the language, though... hard for me to put a finger on it. I would have to say that on some level, I felt I was unwelcome
in Montreal, like the restaurants etc. were tolerating the tourists and the English for the Grand Prix weekend. This may well have been true, as it's a huge burden to host the Grand Prix, with its Chinese-scale crowds and litter and noise. Yet the Quebecois are also known for being proud and for considering themselves still a part of France, to the point where that secession referendum comes up every couple years. (Incidentally, most of the French I've talked to about Quebec look on the Quebecois as provincial and funny-talking, not a part of France at all.) Maybe that explains why I felt we got a much warmer reception in Paris than in Montreal, although again, that could have been a race weekend thing.
Either way, I feel like Steinbeck did on a smaller scale, happy to be home where I know the rules, where the waiter will bring me water without me having to ask, and it will be a big glass with ice in it. It's something of a relief also to not get my languages confused after a few days of immersion - once the French starts coming back, it's hard not to start speaking a patois
of French and English.
Anyway, that's all with my F1 fannishness until next year. :)