A few weeks ago I spent a weekend in Québec for my brother’s bachelor party weekend with him and the other 2 groomsmen. We kept describing it as going to Montreal, but we were really only in Montreal for half a day. It was a pretty fun weekend and I feel like I’ll be going back again at some point after I improve my French a little more.
The actual town we stayed in was called Île-aux-Noix, though the street signs we saw had many different variations of it with different names in front of it depending on where we were. It’s South and a little East of Montreal. One of the first things we noticed was how flat the area is. I grew up in a valley so I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so flat.
We got there an hour earlier than we needed to so we couldn’t check into the AirBnB yet. While looking for a way to waste time we saw a sign for a safari and decided to check it out. We got there and after the mile-long driveway, we ended up not even going in. It was described to us as a 4-hour experience, which was more time than we wanted to spend because it was already 2:00 and we had already planned out what we needed to do before night-time.
The final straw and reason we didn’t stay was that the signs we had been following to get there had all had koalas on them and when we asked if they had any they said they didn’t. We made a quick stop at a store to waste a little more time and get some Kinder Bueno and other small snacks then went to the AirBnB. We got there right about the time we needed to but had to wait a few minutes for someone to finish cleaning it.
It was a nice little cottage. The basement was finished and had 2 bunk beds and the upstairs had 2 bedrooms so we each got our own beds. There was a back patio with a couple picnic tables, a nice sized yard, and a deck out on the Richelieu River. It seemed like a great place to bring a medium-sized family for a vacation.
After we got settled in we drove around a little bit to get some firewood and look for a liquor store. It was extremely difficult to find one but eventually, after walking around in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu we found one and headed back for the night. One thing I really liked about the town was, not only did they have nice sized bike lanes, but in some spots the bikes even had their own roads on the other side of the sidewalk.
Unfortunately, in our search for alcohol, we forgot something extremely important. We hadn’t eaten any real food all day, and we forgot to buy any real food for dinner. We only had snacks and alcohol. Needless to say, this really put a damper on the evening. That combined with none of us sleeping the night before, we ended up just watching Austin Powers: Goldmember in French and calling it a night around 9:30.
Wandering The City
The next morning we had breakfast in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu. The wait staff at the diner we went to was great. The waitress who first came to us, when I asked if she spoke English responded, “No, but I will try.” And she did a fine job. There was another waiter who spent most of the time with us after that because he was a little more fluent but they were both fine. The only issue was when a third person came to ask us something about our meals. He went to the one who knew the least French out of all of us to ask him about his eggs. When I asked if he spoke English he said no and tried asking me. I didn’t know what was ordered but I think the guy was asking the wrong table. We gave him an answer but then when we got our food I noticed none of us had ordered eggs. But it all tasted great.
Then we went into Montreal. It was nice to see a hill when we got there after all the flat land on the way there. I’m also glad I wasn’t driving in the city. I hate city driving. This wasn’t as bad as New York City, where there are lines painted but they don’t really matter because everyone drives where they want, but it was close. There were lines but they were all but completely faded so we couldn’t tell when there was one lane or two because everyone kept changing their minds.
The main plan for the day was to go to an escape room. We parked a couple blocks away and then walked around to see what kind of stores there were and waste some time. We stopped by a park in front of a church which had a nice fountain with foam in it and we looked over a map to see if there was anything interesting. I don’t remember what it was we decided to try and find but it was only a few blocks away so we set off. We didn’t find whatever it was we were looking for but it was fun walking around. And we saw a store which was selling a shirt that had Nirvana written on it with a picture of Hanson. The only reason I don’t own the shirt now is that the store was closed.
It finally got to the time we had reserved for the escape room. We got off to a slow start because we were split into 2 groups and had to talk to each other through a wall to get past the first puzzle. We managed to escape with just a couple minutes remaining. After that, we went to a place that had been described to us as having the best poutine in Montreal. I wasn’t very impressed. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world but the proportions were off for me. There was too much gravy for the amount of fries I had so I couldn’t taste anything else.
Then we went to a casino just a few minutes away. None of us really expected to win anything and we all only brought money we could afford to lose. We only stayed for about an hour and a half and I ended up being down only $120 when we left.
We stopped in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu again to get some food and snacks at a Super C then got ice cream before heading back to the cottage. When we got back I made a fire in the fire pit while my brother cooked steaks for us. We had some trouble lighting the grill because the long lighter which we found for it was empty. I ended up grabbing a stick from the fire to light it. The steak was amazing, which was no surprise to any of us. Unfortunately, while we were eating the steaks it started raining so we had to run everything inside and the fire went out.
After the rain stopped I went out and made sure all the embers were out and we stayed in the rest of the night. At different points, we each saw another one of us move out of the corner of our eye and thought it was a cat moving because we’re used to cats climbing on things at home. We were joking about how we should have brought our cats with us for the weekend.
The next morning we had breakfast at a nice chain restaurant. I had a crêpe covered in tons of different fruits. It was amazing. I feel like it was the perfect cap to the time in that town.
There were two more things that really stuck out to me on the trip home. The first thing was a camel. Someone had it fenced in like a horse and it was just hanging out. It’s not exactly the most common thing to see in the North East of North America. The second was a glass storm. We were driving on the highway and suddenly there was a cloud of glass a couple cars in front of us. I don’t know exactly what happened but somebody’s back window shattered. It looked like it had fallen out first because there was so much on the ground when we drove past. They kept driving, though they had a shocked look on their face when we passed them.
Overall I really enjoyed the trip. If I had the chance to go with the same guys again I wouldn’t hesitate. It was a great weekend. If I ever had the chance to move to Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu it seems like the kind of place I would enjoy.
I just need to work a little more on my French. I haven’t used it since I was in college so there was still a clear barrier. I’m pretty sure I spent the whole time asking if they spoke English wrong. I think I’m supposed to pronounce the “s” in “vous” because it’s followed by an “a” but I didn’t. But most people seemed to know by looking at us that I was the one who had a better grasp on French which worked out pretty well for us.