I am in love.
Think of a place with the hills and downright cool of Seattle, but everyone speaks French. Even the Starbucks (see right) is obliged to make a sign that says "Café Starbucks Coffee." Sheesh, they aren't even that picky in France.
Yes, they are as crazy as I am about the French language. They speak it with - not with a twang exactly, more like a singsong....twing. I love it -when I can understand it, that is. There was that very eager gentleman with bead earrings and a walking staff was volunteering directions to the Vieux-Port, and I got about a third of what he said.
Think of a place that somehow thought it would be a good idea to make fresh french fries, add cheese curds and additional meats and toppings, all drenched in rich gravy. The infamous poutine. Imagine me thinking that was a good idea for an early supper after inadvertently skipping both breakfast and lunch. Yes, tummyache. But nothing a long walk and short nap in the park couldn't fix.
Think of a place where music and dance never stops. I stumbled upon Nuits d'Afrique /African Nights near the hotel where my conference had a wine reception for the participants. Sitting in the green grass and gazing in wonder at the lively spectacle onstage, I was promptly stung by a bee. When a woman sitting nearby noticed, she offered a compress and we started to chat. She was busy corralling her two darling children and cheering for her husband, the guitar player. This festival has been going on for ten days, all day long, she explains. Plus, this is one festival of many during the summer. People of all ages, shapes, and colors, moving to the beat in the late afternoon sun. By the end of our conversation, this woman was inviting me to her house for coffee later this week and offered me her card. So friendly.
Think of a place that keeps reminding you of Europe one minute and Brooklyn the next, winding cobblestone streets on one side of town and neat, orderly lines of well-kept rowhouses on the other. I am staying in an old, pleasantly grubby hostel in one of the rowhouses (with more very friendly people). Mont Royal looms behind my head and keeps enticing me to a trail run or two. I will have to fit that in, somewhere between all of the conference session...there's still so much to explore!