Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Here be dragons!

Let's be honest. I have (barely) survival-level French. By which I mean, I can manage, with the aid of a lot of gesturing & sound effects (skills well-honed from years of teaching English!) I can do all the important things: not get (too) lost; order a coffee; find a bathroom. (Not necessarily in that order!) I can't have much of a conversation, beyond discussing whether a grapefruit is on, or possibly under, the table (or was that in your mother's shoes?). But I can find an exit or figure out a menu, and understand why the name of the candy store up the road (Sucre Bleu) is pretty funny.

So while I was planning this trip, and on the train up - even when I got to the hotel, then went out for dinner on Monday, I had this idea that "How very charmant! Everything is in French!"

Then I got up Tuesday morning, left my comfy hotel room, and realized: "Holy shit! Everything's in French!" So I called Mr.Q with a minor melt-down, certain that I wasn't going to get any breakfast...He steadied my nerves, and sent me out into the city to have an adventure. (And I did get breakfast: some lovely crepes, with mixed berries.)

And the French thing hasn't been a problem, because every time I try, whomever I'm talking to kind of gives me this little smile, shakes their head, and switches to English. The first person I tried to talk to in French was a very nice homeless guy, who barely spoke any English, but between us we managed, and it was quite a confidence boost. Until I ordered a coffee from a Chinese woman at a cafe, and she switched to English...oy!

I started out with a quick walk around Vieux Montreal - I'm going to have to go back, because it was all so overwhelming that I barely managed to take in a fraction of it. I went to the Pointe-a-Calliere Museum of Archaeology and saw some really old stuff.

(I also realized I'm not so good with museums, as I don't have a lot of patience to look at all the details and displays - I just like to look at the cool stuff.) It was cool - and old! Maybe not for someone in Italy, but being from Vancouver, it was practically ancient! The foundations (literally!) of the country and all that. As I said, cool!

A little more wandering, and I headed back to the hotel for a rest. Then off to the Botanical Gardens, where there was a lantern exhibit in the Chinese garden. (Also, an Insectarium with lots of cool (dead) beatles and butterflies...though disturbingly, some very large spiders as well! I'd been hoping, not being insects, they'd be excluded. Apparently French Canadians have different ideas of whath constitutes an insect!)

Below: some pics of places aroung Vieux Montreal (I have no idea of what - I just liked them!) The ones from a higher perspective were taken from the look-out at the top of the museum. The lanterns, obviously, were from the gardens - the exhibit was called "The Magic of Lanterns" and it really was magical!


pdxknitterati/MicheleLB said...

Sounds like you're managing just fine!

I have a little schoolgirl French, too. We went to Paris in 2003, and oddly enough, it was the museums that helped me. I read through some exhibits, taking care to read the French rather than English, and eventually my brain "clicked" and I didn't know I wasn't reading English any more until DH wanted to know why I'd want to buy a book in French to give to the kids. Whoops!

The hardest part? You spend 5 minutes figuring out what you want to say, and have it down perfectly. You say it, and the answer comes back so fast, in French, that you can't understand it!

have fun!

Anonymous said...

I hope the insectarium had beetles and not "beatles" lol