When visiting different places, travel “experts” tell us to visit museums, tour historic buildings, and generally behave like obedient fourth graders on a field trip. Our Long Long Honeymoon approach, for better or for worse, has always been a little different…
Yes, when traveling we tackle our share of activities we’re “supposed” to pursue. We hit historic sites and museums. We gaze upon ancient statues and flowing fountains. We even check out empty orange juice boxes that are masquerading as modern art. (If you don’t believe me, visit the Buenos Aires MALBA – Museum of Latin American Art. You’ll leave wondering how much they actually PAID for those juice boxes!)
But the stuff that sticks with me — the encounters that I really enjoy and remember — usually occur far outside the local museum of modern art. Often magic happens in the most mundane of locations — in a grocery store or a gas station or a sidewalk cafe.
In addition to the obvious change in scenery, a key reason we travel is to experience different cultures. There’s no better way to do so than to tackle an ordinary, everyday activity in which the ground rules have been changed. You may walk away shaking your head and muttering, “Why on earth do they do it that way?” But that’s what makes it fun.
This is why I so enjoyed the Canadian Province of Quebec. First and foremost, what impresses about Quebec is the cultural experience. Of course, language comes to mind. French is the official language. Everywhere you look in Quebec, you see French. Walk into a store, and you hear French. You’re confronted with French everywhere you turn. Personally, I find this refreshing — it sets Quebec apart as a distinctive travel destination.
At the moment there’s tension between the Province of Quebec and the rest of Canada. The situation is certainly bizarre. Quebecers recently voted on a referendum to secede from Canada; the motion failed by a razor thin margin of 49% to 51%. When visiting Quebec, you’ll see more Quebec flags than Canadian flags. While I can understand that this ongoing political unrest would cause angst amongst Canadian citizens, for this visitor the dynamics were fascinating.
I won’t wade into the politics of the situation any further. As the saying goes, I don’t have a dog in this fight. But from a cultural standpoint, I’ve visited most of Western, Central, and Eastern Europe. Being in Quebec reminded me of being overseas. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and am perhaps a little shocked that such a cultural opportunity exists so close to home.
If you have an RV, get a passport and check out Quebec. If you’ve never been to Europe, this is as close as you’ll find on this side of the Atlantic.
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