Return to the Real World


I looked forward to this trip for over a month, and now it’s over. I have returned from the frozen tundra of Montreal to the soggy streets of Arlington. The trip didn’t go off exactly the way I anticipated; my friend Amy got horribly sick during the day Friday, so it was just Allie and me. We got into town around 11:00, checked into our hotel, and drifted off to dream sweet Canadian dreams. On Saturday, I slept later than I can remember sleeping in the past 17 months. I dragged myself from bed at 10:30 in the morning.

The weekend was a great time: a cute cafe for lunch, shopping at the RESO underground, a new pair of red shoes, fireworks over the St. Lawrence, a search for good Christmas decorations, and a terrible and expensive buffet dinner at the hotel. But this morning? This morning I wanted to get home and see my little boy (and Justin, too). I wanted to hug him and cuddle him. Allie and I left around 11:30 because the snow was coming down pretty heavy in Montreal. Incidentally, they do not have excellent snow removal in Montreal. The streets were HORRIBLE. Luckily, we were able to get home safely in about 5.5 hours.

Here are the things I have learned from my trip to Canada:
1. Border patrol employees do not have senses of humor. When they ask why you are going to Montreal, the correct answer is not, “To escape my husband and child.” When they ask if you bought anything, they don’t appreciate seeing the McDonald’s bag you just procured.
2. Canadians have highway signs for spas. They are stick figures giving a massage. The do not, however, have signs for gas stations. This is particularly problematic when your “low fuel” light comes on and the GPS only shows gas stations that are 15 miles the other way.
3. Canadians tend to walk in packs of four or six and take up the entire sidewalk. It is difficult to get around them because Canadians driving down narrow roads often pull up onto the sidewalk. Speaking of sidewalks, it is important to note that sometimes there are deep puddles of melted snow. For a lesson on how to avoid these, please ask Allie. She was not able to avoid them.
4. Canadians are extremely friendly and willing to speak English. We tried our best with the French, which I think was appreciated. However, we did find that the English-speaking was limited to Montreal. When we finally found the evasive gas station, we stopped for lunch. We were barely able to communicate enough to order an Extra Value Meal… Thank goodness I knew the word for “bag” (sac, in case you’re traveling to Quebec soon). Otherwise we would have had to carry our food out to the car piece by piece.
5. Red shoes at 50% off and the Canadian dollar are a terrific buy. I’m very excited to wear them tomorrow. I paid $20 Canadian. And Allie found a white wool peacoat for only $50. I probably could have done some more damage, but… You have to know when to call it quits.
6. When it sounds like fireworks, run quickly in the direction everyone else is going. You don’t want to miss the show! We didn’t know there were going to be fireworks, but the show over the St. Lawrence was pretty fabulous!
7. Sometimes, when you think about an Orange Julius, one will show up (that actually happened in Old Montreal; I mentioned that one would have been great while shopping, and there was an Orange Julius stand).
8. Canadian soft serve is different from American soft serve. It is much denser, and the chocolate has a lemony taste. This is where the Orange Julius came up; that seemed like better mall food than dense soft serve.
9. If you get caught making a right turn on red in Montreal, it will cost you $135 Canadian (so, approximately $134 US).
10. There are no Santa Clauses to be found in Montreal. And we looked. Maybe they just keep them above ground. There were none in the underground shopping, but there was a four-story Christmas tree.
11. There’s nothing like returning home. Unless it’s returning home to a baby who is thrilled to see you and comes running to you with a big hug. I’d imagine that would be nice. And maybe it’ll happen next time. This time, Robbie just wanted to rifle through my purse.


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