(Or, rather Bienvenue à Montréal. I don’t know how to get the accent marks into the title.)
I neglected to mention in my last post that we hit what I would consider a major Canadian milestone in our first day in the country–our first Tim Hortons donut. We started to see the franchise in parts of Ohio and Michigan, before we entered the country, but once here, those suckers are everywhere. There’s one at every rest stop, every exit, nearly every block when you’re in the city. There’s no escaping them. Which is super tempting to someone who loves a good donut as much as I do.
Sunday was day 5 of driving, and we still had quite a drive ahead of us before reaching our destination. So we were less than thrilled to discover we had a flat tire with at least 200 km to go. (This was the same tire, by the way, that had been patched in Kansas on our last road trip, when we were assured the patch would hold until the tire was worn out. Right.) And, being a Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t easy to find a tire shop that was open. Thank goodness for Canadian Tire. They were supposed to close at four, but the manager was so nice, she asked the mechanic to stay a little longer to change it for us. It was another added expense (they’ve been racking up quickly) but we felt a lot better leaving there with a brand new tire.
Finally, we crossed into Québec. And the change was immediate. Every sign was now in French–which I was expecting. What I didn’t expect is that there were no secondary signs in English. Nothing. Total French immersion.
The good news is that we didn’t have any problem communicating with people in English. When we stopped at a rest stop for a pre-dinner Tim Hortons donut (that would be donut number 2), we ordered in English, even though all the flavors were labeled in French. When we made it to the city at last, Hubby had no problem going into a hotel to ask for rates and whether or not they charged extra for the cats. Pas de problème!
We’ve been staying in hotels ever since, which is a problem, because we haven’t found an apartment yet. And without an apartment, we can’t take care of any of the other little details that require us to have an address, like getting new phones (we’re currently using a prepaid flip phone) or applying for provincial health insurance.
Monday morning, we woke up to snow flurries. And wind. And just plain cold. It’s fuh-reaking cold here. We’ve been looking at apartments for the past two days and will continue tomorrow (which deserved its own post). Hubby is also going in to sign all the paperwork for his new job tomorrow, which at least gets us one step closer to getting settled.
But it’s difficult. We feel like tourists (which, at this point, we basically are), and I don’t think that’s going to change until we have a place to call our own. I hope that happens by March 1.
Driving has also been a challenge. For Hubby, since he’s been doing all of it. Again, all the signs are in French, parking is a nightmare, and we finally figured out what it means when green lights flash. I’ve been doing my best to navigate, but there have been a lot of missteps along the way. We also got our first parking ticket tonight. Who knew you still had to feed the meter after 6 pm?
I’m trying my hardest to see all of this as an adventure, but it’s not easy. Today was another super pregnant day, and we’re nowhere near being able to take a rest. But we’re getting there, I hope.
I really, really hope so.