An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Third time's the charm... almost

What with all the changes in schedules that have been going on around here recently*, we decided to get out of Dodge for a few days. Somewhere not to far, preferably with something interesting to do. We thought about going back to Ottawa, but we were there last summer. The idea of pubs and British-ness held sway though, and we ended up in Kingston. And yes, I was just there last month. And in January as well. But neither of those trips count, because the one in January was to move my sister out of storage, and the other was as a chaperone. So it was like I had never really been after all.

So we booked a place to sleep, hopped in the car, and drove to Canada's first capital city. We ended up in a lovely little B&B near Queen's University, not far from the waterfront.

We ended up spending our first evening in a walk-in clinic. Nothing serious, and I found it excessively funny that somehow I always end up doing something similar whenever I visit Kingston. I swear I've spent more time in the Shoppers Drug Mart there than anywhere else in Kingston.

We had a very relaxed mini-vacation: we spent the morning touring Fort Henry, and the afternoon touring used bookstores and local pubs**.

The next day we were back home again. Short and sweet.

* Me heading off to distant corners of the globe mostly.
** Katie -- you were right. The Toucan really is the best pub in town.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

quatre flashers

Every day, I am amazed by the new driving skills that I have acquired by living in Québec. When we first got our car, I was criticized for driving "too safely". I was a danger to those around me. Crazy moves like coming to a complete stop at a stop sign, shoulder checking, using my turn signals, obeying the speed limit, and leaving 2 seconds of space between myself and the cars in front of me -- all of these caused no end of trouble for the drivers around me.

But experience on Québec roads has taught me the error of my ways. Besides learning the correct way to drive (eliminating all those pesky old bad habits) I've also learned the correct way to park. And I certainly don't mean parallel parking. Maybe people do that in Montréal*, where space is at a premium, thanks to all those scary foreigners with their strange ways and customs. And food**.

No, here in la région, it's much easier to just stop your car wherever you are and turn on your quatre flashers. The four-way flashers. Hazard lights. Need to stop in the middle of a busy street? No problem. Quatre flashers. Double parked? No problem -- quatre flashers. Just stopping for a minute and don't feel like feeding the parking meter? You guessed it -- quatre flashers.

Based on a highly scientific study of parking habits in downtown T-R, conducted from our balcony, people in these parts have serious problems with parking. The spaces may be big enough to accomodate a tank, but it's still problematic. And that's not even counting having to figure out how to use the parking meter... True story: we were once stopped by a young woman who had apparently NEVER SEEN A PARKING METER and asked us how to use it. Not a question of what are the hours or something similar, but she actually wanted to know HOW to work the machine. So apparently, it's not just me who is learning things about how to drive in Québec.

* Where it is illegal to turn right on a red light.

** I'm dying for restaurant options that don't include bad Italian (overcooked spaghetti) or pub grub (variations on burgers, fries, poutine, and club sandwiches). Hello Indian? Thai? Chinese???