A Surprise Holiday to Quebec, Canada

They say, marry the one who sees your true potential and pushes you to achieve it.

I say, marry the one who surprises you – with holidays.

Anyone who knows me knows that it’s super hard to surprise me. I am the most curiousest cat ever. If I get the slightest wind of something, I will dig and dig until I know. The husband almost never comes home with flowers or chocolates or a bottle of wine, so when he springs a surprise, it’s really a surprise. Just when I am all set to hiss and spit at him for not having a single romantic bone in his body, he whisks me off on a long weekend trip to the Quebec Province of Canada.  Montreal and Quebec City.  It could very well be because he wants to ski and our slopes are not ready yet, but I’ll give him the benefit of doubt. He makes it so hard to stay mad at him.

I couldn’t believe this was happening even as I got ready to step out of the house. At 6:30 am I got out of the shower and confirmed,” Are we really going or should I wear my  night clothes get back into bed?” Long story short, we are on our way to Montreal.

after rolling in the chips at the casino

Quebec is a francophone province of Canada, with distinctive traditions, mannerisms and laws. It gets its name from a spot on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, that the Aboriginals called Kébec  The look and feel of this place is so different from the rest of North America and so similar to Europe that Hollywood regularly uses it as a pretend France. For almost 12,000 years this land was inhabited only by Native Americans, now known as the First Nations in Canada and the Inuit. Jacques Cartier arrived in 1534 and claimed the land in the name of the Francis I, King of France. The French lost the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759 and four years later, the King of France ceded to the British crown “Canada and all its dependencies.” Although Quebec has been a part of Anglophone Canada since Canada became Canada, it has had  French as its sole official language since 1969. Quebec sovereignty has been hotly debated over the years.   Parti Québécois governments has held referendums  in 1980 and 1995; both times majority voted no. Quebec has a kind of independence-lite, its own laws and  even controls its own immigration. In 2006, the House of Commons of Canada passed a symbolic motion recognizing the “Québécois” as a nation within a united Canada. I am not sure what that means, but make what you will of it.

trying to make sense of the menu at Les 3 Brasseurs

trying to make sense of the menu at Les 3 Brasseurs

We reached Montreal at around 5:30 in the evening. It was dark and freezing, but nothing could beat the warm fuzzy feeling inside me. We had learnt our lessons from our Toronto trip. The first thing we did once we checked in was change currency. We wanted to do it at the border, but that exchange was closed when we got there. We got a pretty good rate at a money changer on Rue St. Catherine. There are plenty of shops that facilitate currency exchange on this street. We were staying at Hotel Espresso which is walking distance from Rue St. Catherine. The hotel was clean and comfortable and the staff were courteous. They have free wifi, which helped us plan our days. Honestly, that’s all we needed. Maybe free breakfast would have been good. That and free parking.

We grabbed dinner at Les 3 Brasseurs (The 3 Brewers), a microbrewery on Rue St. Catherine. Decent food, decent beer, but the poutine simply does not match up to what we ate in Toronto.

growing icicles

Growing Icicles

It’s -9 degrees Celsius and we can feel icicles forming in our hearts. We decide the Casino would be a great place to stay warm. This is not Vegas, but it is to be seen.  Six floors; live music; restaurants; bars.  There are no skimpily clad waitresses bringing you drinks, but you can help yourself to free soft drinks, coffee and juices on every floor. Also, I think this is a non-smoking casino. This place is a slot machine mecca. They have  two entire floors dedicated to slot machines and more slot machines on every floor. This is where slot machine addicts go when they die. Since the blackjack tables were too expensive, I decided to play roulette. I love roulette. I can play roulette all night. I found a low minimum bet table. In what seemed like a very short while later, I had made 10 times what I put in. For the first time ever, the husband and I decided to cash out while we were still winning, and walk away.

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