Montreal and Quebec City are hardly destinations during the winter, but they can be a unique experience during the summer months for overheated Americans. Using Canada as a summer retreat is a great idea if you live in a hot stifling area during these months. I drove up to Montreal to get a taste of French flavor during the hot summer months. I had heard that Montreal was the most French place on the planet outside of France and I was not disappointed.
When I arrived, I was awed by the size of the city and that it was a major shipping area. Apparently its position on a major river made it an ideal point for receiving goods by water. I never knew that. The landscape changed to a sub-arctic one, and we were surrounded by kettle lakes on our drive. They seemed like they were bunch of small ponds but the teacher I drove up with reminded me that they were carved out by retreating glaciers. These impressions were constantly being flooded and dried up by the seasons. Most of the year, they were occupied by fish and other aquatic species. The fish were deposited by the fish eggs that stick to the feet of ducks and other birds. These kettle lakes helped create a unique area for the game fisherman as they littered the landscape in every direction.
The city of Montreal seemed a maze in every direction. The signage of the city had a European flair and the buildings ranged from skyscrapers to underground shopping malls. Canada has the unique ability to put almost anything underground. Several major Canadian cities have complete underground living but Montreal and Toronto have the largest spaces.
The evening we arrived we settled into a quiet hotel and went out for some Hungarian food. Ever since I first had high quality Hungarian food in Haifa, Israel I wanted to get some more. Hungarian sausages are extremely delicious. The restaurant in Montreal was perfect. My only reservation was the line to wait for a table. The people who have tried Hungarian food fall in love and that creates in lines that simply too long. We waited an hour and a half for a table. My girlfriend was exhausted by the time we sat down but the food was worth it. At first she was mad at me for dragging her into this place but when the fresh bread melted in her mouth and the ultra fresh sausages were brought to the table, her angst went away. We enjoyed the night and looked forward to our tours in the morning.
The next day we went on tour in Montreal. We visited Mont Royal, Old Montreal and Quebec City, La Fontaine Park and the Museum of Fine Arts. Quebec City was the most interesting place on the tour and I enjoyed the 200 year old buildings and structures that dated back to the founding of our country. There was no other place I’d ever visited that was quite like it. The area was complete with horse and buggy tours and winding cobblestone streets. After all the rushing around and sightseeing, we had high tea at a castle the next day. We were served by women dressed as traditional French maids in the royal fashion. It capped off a marvelous visit. The cobblestone streets, lovely parks and landscape were all worth the 8 hour drive. The clean, crisp air was very welcome outside of the stifling air of Detroit. Montreal is a treat not to be missed when visiting Canada.
As we packed to drive home, we recounted the visit. We pledged to come back because Montreal and Quebec City are very unique destinations in the Western Hemisphere. It is truly a French city with old world charm in North America.