un, deux, trois, quatre, cinq, six, sept… québec!

I’m currently back in sunny NorCal, but I’ve amassed the notes that I made during my whirlwind journey to Francophone Canada and am sharing them with you.

Brasil!
I hung out with a fair amount of Brazilians in Canada. It’s really hard to get an American visa if you’re from Brazil, so they’re now immigrating to Australia and Canada. In Québec I went to the Festival d’été with a girl named Laïs (who despite her braces and being younger-looking and skinnier than I am, is actually 30 and a lawyer in Brazil), a ridiculously outgoing person, and she practiced her French with everyone we met. It was great for me, since I usually need a week or so to grow balls and actually try the language I’m learning with a local.

Weather
I didn’t bring an umbrella. This was a huge mistake.

Poutine
The only poutine I had in Quebec was in a fast food chain called Chez Ashton. It might’ve been ‘coz I went in the middle of the summer (it’s more of a winter thing), but even when Laïs and I asked someone in one of the shops nearby if they had recommendations, they pointed us there and said that they hated poutine. Wtf? It’s delicious!

Ice… everything
The province of Québec is known for ice cider. The province of Ontario is known for ice wine. Get it right.

Maple everything
There’s a shop on the rue Saint-Jean called “Délices de l’érable” (Maple Delights) and it’s got maple syrup, maple sugar, maple butter, maple mustard, maple ice cream, everything. There’s a tasting counter, just talk to the staff at the front counter (the one with the ice cream counter). The guy who helped us with the tastings was the first Québecois whose French I could sort of understand. Go me!

Cussing
Nobody curses in Québec City. Seriously. I never heard the word “Tabernac!” (or any other phrases that involve God, basically – they’re sacrilege here) muttered in the same way Parisians mutter “putain ce bordel de merde”. So polite. (Montréal is a slightly different story.)

Politesse
People “tutoyer” (using the familiar “tu” and “toi” to say “you”) here a lot more than in Paris, but when in doubt, err on the side of “vousvoyer” (using the more polite “vous”). (Although I did get “Madame”d once and felt pretty old and fug the rest of the night.)

Following the dots
During my search for the Château Frontenac one day, I happened to come across a bunch of green dots on the sidewalk

and decided to follow them. I was taken through some really cool places, so if you see orange, yellow or green dotted lines on a sidewalk, follow them and you’ll get taken through some of the best sights in the city. For free! (I came across the château about two hours later, though. Turns out it was two minutes away from my hostel.)

Tours of the interior of Château Frontenac
If you ask about them, people will point you to the tourist desk on the ground floor, but the real guides to Frontenac’s interior are offered one floor below, at the bottom of the staircase at the far end from the revolving doors. They’re in either English or French, and the guides are in costume and in character as chambermaids and bellhops from the 1890s. It’s pretty incredible. ($8.50)

A whole lotta ugly coming from a neverending parade of stupid
I overheard a kid who was yammering on in English to his tourist parents and he was like, “My dad let me drive on his lap before we parked. I’m practicing using my left hand now, so I can drive in Paris!”

The accompanying adults praised him. It took about two minutes for one of them to ask, “Wait, don’t you mean England?”

Best mispronunciation of an American place name by a Frenchman EVER
Missy-pissy. By our hostel’s tour guide, Christophe, who is from Lyon and really, really sucked at English. XD

Okay, that’s about it. I’m off to dinner, but I think I’m finally gonna upload some pictures from the past year onto my Flickr account later.

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What?

This is a blog of things place-related, by a cash-strapped Stanford grad who's lived in various places and writes about life. She's currently looking for a job in Manhattan or the Bay Area.

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