We looked at each other but didn’t say a word. We didn’t have to. We knew what each other was thinking. With our young family of three children we were on a one way ticket to the other side of the world. As the plane bumped and jolted while it descended through the clouds, our window now presented an entirely different view. No longer was there a brilliant blue sky. Nor the sunshine nor the inviting beaches of 24 hours earlier. We could feel our hearts sinking as we peered through the uninviting frosty cold window. Instead, greeting us was a dull gray sky spreading a long dark shadow over the subzero freezing snow blanketed landscape below us. “What have we done” we thought.
Montreal, Canada. Our home for three years. But now twenty five years later, I’m returning once more to remember one of the best times of our family life. Experiencing life in not just a different climate, but a different culture. Where temperatures can plummet into the minus thirties in winter and peak well into the tropical thirties of summer. And when summer does arrive, you make the most of it. You’ve only got two months.
And it’s not just the extremities of the climate experience. It’s the uniqueness of the culture. The French speaking province of Quebec. To discover the language police whose role is to ensure the appropriate proportion of French language standards such as signage, are maintained. But in reflection, it’s a positive move. Go to any major shopping mall in any city of the world, with all their global brands, they all look the same.
But to hear the Quebec cultural experience with every rich word of spoken French, to see the French influenced villages and buildings such as the winter wonderland in Saint Sauveur, to spend a day skiing down the nearby slopes, experiencing a few days in a snow covered country cottage cosying up against the warm fireplace, or simply strolling around the quaint Montreal old town (even though it was minus twenty) is indeed a unique experience to be cherished. The bonus is, do all the same in summer and experience a totally different, yet still unique landscape. Then top that off with the welcoming hospitality of our old Quebecois friends, made this visit just as much a treasured highlight as it was twenty five years ago.
Now if you want to see what a Montreal basement and a South Australian McLaren Vale vineyard on the other side of the world have in common, check out this video….