Monday, August 1, 2011


(Leon Joseph Voirin, La Terresa du Cafe du Glacier, Place Stanislas a Nancy, 1882,

I'm gonna be honest.

There wasn't a whole lot of excitement in the air when the Bobster and I finally did reach Canada.

It was pretty much a yawn fest.

I don't know why, but I was expecting a big line-up of cars waiting to enter this massive country.

There were at least a million people waiting to get into Switzerland when we were there with Gretch and Seth a few moons ago.

Maybe it had something to do with that.

But it was just us and two other vehicles who pulled up to the toll-like booths at the Canadian border.

The officer said "Hello" as he quickly scanned our passport photos and then our faces.

"How long will you be visiting Canada?" he asked pleasantly.

"Seven or eight days," Bob replied.

"Will you be visiting family while you're here?" the officer continued.

"No," Bob answered, "we'll be visiting all of your art museums."

I shot Bob a nasty look that said: "Was that really necessary?"

The Bobster didn't flinch an inch.

Seconds later, the officer handed Bob our passports and said, "Have an enjoyable time while you're here."

He pushed a button in his booth and the guard rail began to rise as he waved us through..

Just like that - we became instant - if temporary - Canadians.


I've always heard that the heart of Quebec City is just like Paris.

It is!!!

As we drive into the oldest part of the city, Basse-Ville, I am thrilled with every sight I see.

The sunlit street cafes, busy with late lunch patrons, line the Grand Allee for blocks and blocks.

We pass the Assemblee Nationale, home to the city's provincial parliament, which conducts its debates almost entirely in French.

Quebec's governing body meets behind the ornate 19th century facade of the grandiose Hotel du Parliament.

This gorgeous building looks as if it's just been transplanted from somewhere in the middle of Paris.


But there's one little glitch in my grand obsession with Quebec.

Tess Tudhope is along for the ride.

Need I say more?

Honestly, I've been so busy reminding myself that I'm NOT in Paris, I've managed to forget about Tess for at least a good 30 minutes.

But just like clock work, Tess pipes up from her windshield haunt.


"What did she say?" I ask Bob.

"She said to turn right onto the Avenue Bourlamaque," he tells me.

"Oh, no, she didn't!" I hastily add.

"She said to turn right onto the Avenue Booollamicck," I quickly retort.

"You know what?" I ask Bob.

"While we were sleeping like babies last night, Tess Tudhope must have been out bar hopping 'cause it sure sounds like she's tipsy to me!"

Bob can't help himself.

He's about as close to a laugh as he ever gets.

"Well, la-de-da," I crow to Bob, "I've finally found a chink in Miss Tess's suit of armour.

Happy with my discovery, I lean back against the passenger headrest and say, "Tipsy Tess isn't so perfect after all!"

Bob keeps his eyes glued to the Avenue George VI which is taking us to the National Museum of Fine Arts.

Tess manages to pronounce "Avenue George VI" correctly.

This does not make me happy.

I begin to study the Quebec City map with the persistence of a dog in heat.

Suddenly, Tess says:


"A-ha!!!" I shout at Bob, "this girl can NOT hold her liquor!"

"The street we're on is called "Rue Sainte-Vallier - not Rue Sainte-Wwaalliaaa."

Bob throws me a quick glance and says, "Maybe she just needs to brush up on her French."

"Maybe she needs to get sober and stop slurring every other word in the French language," I sweetly correct him.

"OK," he replies, "you may have a point."

"Oh, I definitely have a point," I say to myself.

As the day wears on, Tess manages to botch the French pronunciation of  nearly every city street in Quebec.

Not that I'm gloating, you understand.

That's just not my style.

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