Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My GPS is not bilingual

So it appears that thinking about blogging doesn't get a blog post down any more than thinking about exercising makes my butt any smaller. Plus, just as I started this, Eve asked if she was Catholic, and when I explained that she's baptized but no, not really, she said "what does it mean when you're baptized?" Oy.

I continued my trend of starting the week off running - dentist, gym, groceries, piano, fairly involved dinner, some work on an assignment and BAM it was 8:30 (as opposed to doing a bunch of coughing, unloading the dishwasher and calling it a day). Of course, then I feel like curling up and reading zombie literature for the rest of the week, but it's a start.

Let's go back to March Break. We decided on a whim to go to Montreal. My husband called it the first step in cracking our Montreal Phobia. We live in Ottawa, so Quebec is very close geographically, but to me it still feels like an alien land. They speak a whole other language there. The stoplights are sideways instead of vertical. I feel like at any moment I could be snatched off the street, locked away, force-fed poutine and compelled to conjugate French verbs until I admit that Quebec is a distinct society. When I first started driving in downtown Ottawa I learned very quickly that if you zig instead of zag you can suddenly find yourself travelling over a bridge to Quebec with no clear idea of how to get back to Ontario - and my French is not bad, but I'm not entirely clear on how to say "oh fuck, I did it again" properly.

But Montreal! It's beautiful! It's charming! It's closer than Toronto! So we packed up the kids and programmed the GPS. Listening to our GPS's accent épouvantable was among the most enjoyable aspects of the trip. Boulevard Viau was abbreviated to Boul. Viau on the GPS, which you might think would be pronounced Bool Vee Oh. But no -- "In 600 metres, turn right on Bowel Vee Ow. Turn right on Bowel Vee Ow." She sounded like a sick cat; I hope she wasn't offended by the fact that we were all helpless with laughter by the time we finally turned.



We visited the Biodome. I got so caught up in telling the kids how cool it was going to be to see the penguins that I actually didn't realize until we were at the penguins that I've NEVER SEEN REAL PENGUINS before. Also, PENGUINS are FREAKING COOL. They walk so carefully with their wings poked out behind them. The crested penguins look just like the penguin in Surf's Up! When they swim by their feathers look like a wet suit! It's like they're uniquely suited to live in the Antarctic or something! Eve and I were about to settle in for the afternoon, but Angus made us leave. Dumb penguin-non-appreciator.





We stayed at a hotel with a nice pool. Eve met a friend in the pool and they played pool frisbee.

It had a nice front desk too. Angus made a friend at the front desk.



At one point we got ready to go down to the pool and then we all looked at Matt. He was wearing bright red bathing trunks and a burgundy t-shirt. It was the worst colour combination in the history of colour combinations. It made your brain hurt. It made your eyes scream 'look away, look away!' He thought we were just going to laugh a little and then let him proceed down to the pool. Fat freaking chance -- we made him change. You don't wear burgundy and red in Montreal. I think.

We walked through old Montreal to find a place for dinner. I ordered veal piccata and fettucine alfredo. The pasta was great, the veal wasn't. I wasn't going to say anything, but then when the waiter came I thought about how I'm always so gutless and I really should say something, so I said the veal was overly chewy and not lemony at all, and the waiter looked so stricken that I felt horrible and wished profoundly that I'd just shut the hell up. He brought us free tiramisu, which the kids fell on like starving dogs until they got to the booze part, whereupon Matt swooped in, which made the kids laugh their asses off.

Back at the hotel, Angus insisted on wearing his Montreal Canadiens t-shirt with his Quebec Nordiques cap, even though Matt said this meant his head was at war with his stomach.



And Eve (who also got a hat for a souvenir), after mocking Matt's bathing suit/t-shirt combo, sported this cutting-edge ensemble all night:



We had a blast, no one laughed openly at our butchering of their cherished language, and we didn't get asked to leave and never return (mostly because Matt wouldn't let me steal a penguin). I call it a win. Oh, and one last picture for Pam, who has an inexplicable love of duck bums:

14 comments:

Nan | WrathOfMom said...

Bowel Vee Ow! HA!

Driving w/ a GPS is so much fun! We had a GPS in a rental car (in LA) and I programmed it to have an English accent. It was like driving w/ Remington Steele.

I'm horrible at French. I learned it in elementary school in Alberta at the same time I was learning to quash my Newfoundland accent. My pronunciations are all over the (Canadian) map.

the queen said...

Tell Eve that "baptised but not really Catholic" means if she wants to marry a Catholic boy someday she will sneak in right under the wire. No conversion needed. Worked for me.

Sandra said...

I love this post. I'm from Montreal originally (base brat, I lived all over Canada, but spent my childhood in Brossard on the south shore). So reading about the Biodome and Boul. Viau, I suddenly feel this need to go for a little trip. I won't because I'm poor.
Glad the penguins delighted you. I think there is a new penguin film coming out, maybe you'll get a little thrill from that too :)

Marilyn (A Lot of Loves) said...

I'm so jealous that you live so close to Quebec. I've never been but I don't think I'd mind being force-fed poutine for a day or two. My ex-boyfriend's family was all from Quebec and they used to ship in cheese curds just to make poutine because BC cheese curds just don't cut it apparently. However, I admit, their poutine was freaking awesome.

Lynn said...

Oh my God with the streetlights. I have NIGHTMARES. I cannot handle these kinds of small changes that scream at me, "YOU ARE NOT AT HOME." AAAAHHHH!!

I think your GPS is hilarious. She should get her own blog.

Julie said...

montreal phobia? ok woman, we need a day trip. it'll cure you of montreal phobia. i'd even kill the gluten free diet for one day so that we can attack some schwartz's smoke meat! just tell me when i need to call in sick to work. and we'll drag lynn with us and cure her too. though i think i would like to bring the gps just to hear the butchering of boul. viau!

Pam said...

First of all, duck butts are adorable and make me giggle when they are sticking OUT of the water.
2. Penguins are adorable anytime and I totally would have supported you bringing one home.
3. OMG! Bowel Vee Ow! LMAO!
4. Love the pic of Angus making a friend and all pics of Eve. She rocks.
5. I'm crashing the road trip with the GPS with Julie and Lynn to do all things Awesome in Montreal.

Nicole said...

That looks so fun. I have always wanted to go to Montreal, it looks beautiful. Plus, penguins, marvellous penguins! I love them.

This whole post was just awesome and cheered me up, so thanks. Also, here in Calgary the stoplights are horizontal. We're like a whole other universe out here. Actually, in July, it IS another universe (Stampede).

Kelly said...

I've never seen duck bums before. I think I'm in love!

(And this is the best line ever: "The stoplights are sideways instead of vertical. I feel like at any moment I could be snatched off the street, locked away, force-fed poutine and compelled to conjugate French verbs until I admit that Quebec is a distinct society.")

the mombshell said...

Holy shit I wish someone would force feed me poutine! Also always remember Mme. Vandertamp with french verbs, they're so needy always wanting to be conjugated. And duck bums are adorable.

Gwen said...

I have issues with Quebec, too. This is amplified by the fact that I have lived (for FOUR years) in Quebec. I live 6km from the Ottawa border, but oh what a difference that 6km makes! And I get lost here ALL THE TIME because I haven't really ventured too far from the bridge. I tell people that "I reside in Quebec, but I LIVE in Ottawa". You're very brave to go to Montreal!!!

Mom of the Perpetually Grounded said...

Oh God I wish I had GPS so I could make fun of it. "Turn right on Bowel Vee Ow" that is hysterical!
And Eve's hat is Awesome!

SuziCate said...

Enjoy seeing Canada through your eyes...would love to see for myself someday!

Amber said...

Yes, yes, penguins ARE uniquely suited to Antarctica. Which is why they don't belong in North Pole-themed Christmas displays alongside polar bears. But if you say that on Facebook, you'll get a shitstorm thrown your way, so best not to mention it. ;)