Our dirt bikes bring all the boys to the yard. Damn right, they're better than yours.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

J'aime les discotheques francais!

... and by "tonight," I clearly meant "tomorrow afternoon."

Anyway, I just got back from Île d'Orléans, which was actually quite interesting despite the fact that it's been pouring all day, but more on that later. First, I'll tell you about our trip to the traditional cabane a sucre on Thursday. On the one hand, I wasn't expecting much, as these things are always kind of touristy and staged. On the other, I was expecting it to at least be somewhat worthwhile, as, believe it or not, I've never really done any of that traditional maple syrup-related stuff every Canadian kid gets to experience at some point.

Well, I guess I wasn't missing much, because if that's how incredibly shitty this kind of thing is in Québec—the land of maple syrup!—I can't imagine what it must be like in the rest of Canada. Okay, so here's how the night unfolded: first, we had a "traditional Québecois" dinner, which consisted of pea soup, Wonder Bread, fried pork rinds, hash browns, some really gross, watery egg thing, beans with more pork, and microwaveable tortiere, with deep-fried crepes for dessert (not nearly as good as they sound). It could have been worse though; I could be a vegetarian, like my friend Joanna. See, when she paid her $20 (!) to go to this thing, she mentioned that she doesn't eat meat, and they gave her a sheet to put her name on. When she got there, she discovered that not only had they not bothered telling the people at the cabane that there were vegetarians coming, but that they weren't really willing to do anything about it once we got there (this is entirely the fault of the idiots running this thing, by the way, not the people at the cabane). Eventually, they gave in and made her whatever they had left in the kitchen, which consisted of macaroni with tomato soup on it (I'm not kidding).

After dinner, some guy wearing a fur hat and a flannel shirt (I think he was supposed to be a lumberjack or something) came out and played French folk music (which apparently includes that chicken dance song) for a while, while everyone—except for a few of us cynics who are way too cool to enjoy that kind of thing—performed this dance that involved holding hands and running around in a circle, mixed in with everyone running into the middle together while going "WooooooooooOOOOOOOO!" (and still holding hands). Then they brought out the maple syrup on ice for us to eat, which was okay, if sickeningly sweet. Then, THEN, we got to go on a "traditional" hay ride, except that there was more French folk music being piped into the wagon, and instead of horses there was a tractor. Oh, and did I mention that there were cardboard deer and moose bolted to the trees along the road so we could pretend we were seeing wildlife? Yeah. It was CRAZY.

Right. So that was Thursday. Last night, after much sitting around trying to make a decision about what we were going to do (I like it here—it's just like being at home), we decided to go check out this discotheque downtown. I know it doesn't really sound like my kind of thing, but it was the kind of place that just doesn't exist at home (it was really more like being at a rave than anything), and therefore it seemed like a worthwhile to see, if only as a tourist attraction. So we danced to terrible techno and drank expensive bottles of Molson Dry until 2:30 in the morning (clubs here are open LATE), and then realized that we had to get up in five hours to go to Île d'Orléans, so we went home.

Before I get on to today, I just want to reiterate to everyone how much Edmonton sucks. Québec is a much, much smaller city than Edmonton, and yet there is SO much more going on. Even at 2:30 in the morning, there are still huge crowds on the street, and you just get a sense that interesting stuff is happening constantly (there's a big music festival on right now, including the likes of ZZ Top, the Black Eyed Peas, Billy Talent, and Simple Plan—shitty bands, yes, but when's the last time any of them played in Edmonton?). This isn't like Whyte Ave at 2:30am, either—first of all, there are people out on more than one street, and, more importantly, while there are lots of drunk idiots, there are also lots of people just hanging out and enjoying the nightlife. When's the last time you walked down Whyte late at night and saw middle-aged couples sitting on benches just enjoying the action? So, in conclusion, Québec - Laval = awesome.

So anyway, after very little sleep we got up this morning and headed down to Île d'Orléans, which was the site of one of the first French settlements in North America and is still known today for the traditional lifestyle of its inhabitants (very few of them speak English). We saw a restored 18th-century manor, which was probably interesting, except the tour was given in incredibly fast French, so I didn't get much out of it; the first church built on the island (in 1680); the Parc de la Chute Montmorency (basically, a giant waterfall—this would have been much more interesting if it wasn't pouring and I had brought an umbrella); and, best of all, this Belgian apple orchard where they make all kinds of cider, jellies, preserves, mustards, and vinegars. This made me feel like I was getting something worthwhile for my money for once, as we got to sample everything, and then got a free lunch of salad, bread, and paté made from the cute little ducks we saw swimming in the pond on the way in. Delicious. We also got another glass of cider. (This may not sound that exciting, but compare it to my account of the cabane a sucre.) All of this got me so excited that I ended up spending $75 on cider, vinegar, and jam to take home (it probably isn't nearly as good as I thought, but keep in mind this was also the first decent food I've eaten since I got here).

So, all in all, it's been a decent day. I'm going to take a nap, and then go find out what crazy dance club we're going to make asses out of ourselves at tonight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey kris,

well its nice to hear that the trip isn't as terrible as you had imagined, although the food sounds like garbage. try to not become too much of a snooty french lady, or we won't let you back in the city.


12:00 PM

Anonymous Kasia said...

bonjour kristine!

and you thought no one was reading this! clearly, i have too much time on my hands (the boss is on vacation)

I am quite jealous of your learning vacation. sounds like much more fun than edmonton!

i was hoping you would say, i love edmonton so much, and people who have to live in edmonton for at least three more years, like Kasia, for instance, shouldn't feel terribly depressed about it because edmonton is so awesome.

anyways...for your info, i just gave my notice at my job,and after two more awful weeks, i am out of this shit hole! So when you get back we can hang! Bliss!

Have fun!

I will keep reading, so keep posting!

Love and other indoor sports


12:02 PM

Anonymous iain said...

I remember one of the participants on my rural Québec exchange program complaining about how all their host family ever ate was some variation of ketchup on Wonder Bread and thin chicken bone broth. I guess they spent most of their cash on their cartons of cigarettes, and sort of forgot about the whole, you know, eating thing (not like you'd be able to taste the difference between eating a loaf of Wonder Bread and, say, a light bulb after smoking several packs a day for most of your life).

Plus, until I actually lived in Québec, I never would have believed that poutine would be considered a legitimate dinner option. It was, and I enjoyed it. I also gained many pounds.

Oh, and don't forget to ask about sugar pie, or "Tarte au Sucre" in French. It's basically just brown sugar and whipping cream baked in a pie shell. It's calorietastic!

4:44 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kristine,

Interesting stuff. Your friend Kris told me to check out your site. I did the program at Laval last year. I agree that Edmonton seems to suck compared to Quebec. However, you shouldn't say that Quebec is much, much smaller than Edmonton. They're actually numbers 7 and 6 respectively on the list of Canadian cities by population. You can learn more here: http://www.citypopulation.de/Canada.html#i2801
Smaller, yes, but much, much smaller, no. Had to mention that! Enjoy Le Pub!


8:24 AM


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