I guess I must tell you up front that this trip was taken in 2011. That was a time in the infancy of GPS map apps so that explains all the problems when we used Google Maps for guidance. Things have changed drastically since those early years.
Day 8 – Canada Agricultural Museum & On The Road To Montreal
Here I am sitting in our hotel room on a Sunday morning blogging again. Somewhere along my long life path I became a morning person; I do my best thinking then. It would be nice to read a paper, I mean the actual paper kind, that just seems to be more soothing for Sundays but since I could only discover the French version that isn’t happening. I’m looking out the window at a twelve lane road that goes Montreal, and it is hard to believe that it really is Sunday morning. Wait a minute I had better check on the date; yeah it is Sunday 😉
But first some morning thoughts about the only French Province in the western hemisphere. But, first I think we need a little geography lesson. As shown on the map above Ottawa is on the very tiny sliver of the Ontario Province. Up to now we have been almost a week in Ontario and things will change pretty drastically when we move just a few miles north this morning.
For one thing the French insist on French language signs everywhere in Canada but go into their Province and you will find few English signs there. They are kinda like the Republicans in the US. They want everything their way but don’t expect anything in return. Maybe I shouldn’t get political with my on-the-road reports, but the thought just hit me and I had to put it down.
Anyway I had better get moving now and get the beard shaved and shower taken so we can hit the road. Oh just one more difference we have discovered in Canada, they don’t offer free breakfasts here or anything else free for that matter.
Yesterday decided to go into Montreal today and do a dash-in, dash-out approach. But before we do that we want to see the Canada Agricultural Museum. We don’t want to spend our entire vacations in the big cities. The purpose of this trip was to travel along the St. Lawrence seaway and visit Nova Scotia; that is country stuff not city stuff.
They had the mandatory cows, pigs and chicken on display but what made the time so special was the creativity and uniqueness of the place. The first thing to greet us was a windmill like no other I have ever seen. Being an old farm boy I can’t say that the museum was very educational, but it was a nice place to visit and unwind from our more hectic experiences of the last few days.
Here is a small photo collection:
Jumping across into the Quebec Province
After leaving the museum I anticipated that since it was Sunday our quick trip through Montreal would be a leisurely one. I was so WRONG!! We did get to the two Montreal sites on our agenda today, but it took almost four hours, instead of the expected two hours driving to accomplish that! At first, I decided to try to navigate using just the atlas. I found Mont Royal on the map and after a few misdirected turns and about 45 minutes of bumper to bumper traffic we were at that location. The trouble was that it was not “Parc du” Mont Royal. So, after admitting I couldn’t get us there (it takes a lot of gumption for us guys to admit to something like that) we turned the task over to Google Maps. It ends up we only missed our destination by about eight miles.
We were then directed by Google maps through several streets and told to turn left which would have been the wrong way on a one-way street several times. After re-routing and taking about a half hour to go the required 8 miles we finally arrived. The view of the city was everything we thought it would be. There is a picture of it here. It was about a half mile walk from the parking lot to the site on this sunny 90 degree day. Yeah, I guess it gets up to 90 degrees F in Canada too.
After the Parc du Mont Royal we decided to try to see the Olympic complex here. That was the one for the 1976 Olympics, I think. My manhood was too fragile to take another serious hit, so we let OnStar take us there. As usual there were several misdirected turns and about an hour of driving, but we did get there. We turned into the visitor parking area and were told the parking would be $13. That seemed pretty high but since we had suffered all the near collisions with the crazy french drivers we paid the price. As usual there were no elevators there for us senior citizens, so it was up a few steep stairs and finally to the big pylon that hung over the complex. It was pretty neat, but it does show its 40 years of age. We planned to go up to the top but for that, they charged another $20 apiece, so we skipped that. We did get into the sports area without paying any extra. It was smaller than it looked on the outside.
Anyway after four hours of fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic we decided we had seen enough of Montreal and headed north. We are now in Trois -Rivieres just south of Quebec. If we can get some of our unsettled nerves calmed down we will try a short hop in to Quebec tomorrow and then it is on to the St. Lawrence seaway up to Nova Scotia. I don’t anticipate that there will be much of a traffic problem up there but since I was so wrong about Montreal who knows.
Day 9 – Quebec – Parlez vous français?
Here it is at the end of day nine, and we are now fully immersed into the providence of Quebec. It seems that everywhere we went in Ontario there was always an English sign followed by one in French. Now that we are in Quebec the English signs have all but disappeared? When we checked into the hotel for the night close to Montreal we did have English-speaking front desk person. That was a relief since we spent almost 4 hours going the 100 or so miles we drove today. Half of that time was trying to find a hotel for the night. 🙂
There are immediately several different things we have come across in the French speaking area. One is that the highway interchanges are much farther apart than we have yet encountered. If you want to get off at a major road you must plan well ahead or end up back tracking several miles as you accidentally pass it by. The other obvious difference is that Google Maps, which I use through my smartphone, is just not very accurate in this area. I found a Holiday Inn near Quebec City on the phone at the next interchange. When we got off, we followed the directions given on the active map and ended up by a concrete making establishment. No hotel in sight.
When we did finally get to where we are now staying we got off the highway and saw the hotel but couldn’t find a way to get there. Every road we tried ended up going someplace else! After four attempts we finally found the correct path and got checked in. Now on to the final obvious difference for today. When we got to the room it was fairly well equipped suite with a TV in two rooms. But both of the TVs had the closed captioning buttons diverted to go to the hotel information. The people there seemed oblivious to know what closed captioning was or what it was for. Since it was supposed to be a day for us to relax today we didn’t feel like doing that battle so I will settle down tonight with cruising the internet, blogging, and reading my Kindle books. It is probably better that way anyway.
With all the experiences of today we are thinking of just skipping Quebec City entirely and heading for the St. Lawrence seaway instead. Needless to say I am not too impressed with the only French speaking area of North America. But maybe that will change. I’ll let you know how that turns out tomorrow.