Oh Canada!

Eric and I just returned from a wonderfully relaxing and much needed vacation to......Canada! I know some of you voted for our vacation destination several months ago when we were debating between Peru, Greece, Canada, etc. In the end, there were no good airfare deals to any international destinations, so we loaded up the car, strapped on the bikes, grabbed our passports, and drove to visit our giant neighbor to the North. We figured this would be the closest thing we got to an international destination (and we did need the passports, although Rachel was too embarrassed to ask for a passport stamp from the Canadian border guards, so alas, an undocumented trip).

Now, for all of my years living along the Canadian border, I can't say I know much about this country. I have been to such exotic destinations as Windsor, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, and Niagara Falls, even Toronto, and have been underwhelmed. Canada more than made up for these previous lukewarm impressions though, when we crossed the border into Quebec. Only 10hrs from Ann Arbor, but when we entered Montreal, the signs were in French (traveux! means construction...we saw that one a lot), there were cobblestone streets, and boulangeries serving French baguettes abounded. Quebec was even better. There was a hotel called the Chateau Frontenac which, I kid you not, looked like a giant castle. Quebec is the only city in North America that has been labeled a UNESCO world heritage site, because it has city walls, which are about 300 years old.

We stayed at a cute little B&B, where the second morning over breakfast we had a hysterical conversation with two middle aged Quebec women. Despite the fact that they had lived in Canada their entire lives, they couldn't speak more than a handful of English words. Amazing. Sacre bleu! Of course, most of Eric's and my French words come from Disney movies (Les Poissouts? Remember the chef from Little Mermaid?), so we're not really ones to talk.

But just to prove that Americans are woefully ignorant of Canadian happenings, I was going to mention the Canadian Prime Minister in this blog. And I realized I didn't know his name. So I looked it up on wikipedia, and then promptly forgot it again. So I looked it up again: Stephen Harper. Now you know. The other thing that I didn't realize until just before we entered Canada is that for the first time ever, the Canadian dollar is just as strong as the American dollar, with an exchange rate of almost exactly 1:1. This didn't exactly make for a bargain vacation, but as a later post on the Maine portion of our trip will reveal, the cheap lobster we ate later made up for it.

Adieu, my friends! Je me souviens!