We visited the UK in May 2016. To put this in perspective, that was before the Brexit vote, before the 2016 US Presidential election, before facts had become alternative. Our British friends knew that they would not leave the E.U. and we knew that, no matter what, America would elect one of the candidates with political experience. Whoo-whee! Wrong on both sides of the Atlantic.
In May of this year, we traveled to Quebec, Canada. There seems little likelihood that any political or societal upheaval will ensue between our two nations after this trip, but hold onto your hats because we are 0 for 1 so far.
Quebec, as you know, is both a Province and a city within that Province.
We traveled by rail for the most part: Amtrak to Montreal, ViaRail Canada to Quebec City, and then we got our hire car just up the street and one of a hell-of-a-climb from the rail station at Gare-de-Palais.
Quebec, Montreal, and all of Quebec Province is French. Most Quebecoise are bi-lingual, thankfully, as we are not. Sharon is attempting to learn conversational French while I’m still struggling with English. (It’s only been 72 years, I’ll get it.) Streets, hotels, and restaurants all have French names. The standard greeting is “Bonjour.” Everyone is very forgiving of us Americans and our poor-to-non-existent French.
Our return was the reverse of the trip out. ViaRail to Montreal, Amtrak to New York, and then home. Each direction we stayed a night in Montreal.
Coming home, our Montreal hotel had a nice restaurant next door but it seemed to be of the seriously white tablecloth, real silver, linen napkin variety and we travel in jeans, boots, and utilitarian jackets. Not a good fit for an upscale dining experience.
Only a block and a half away was exactly what we were looking for and we knew it as soon as we spotted the Guinness sign out front. We happily found ourselves at Le Vieux Dublin, a loud, busy Irish pub in the relatively classy part of a very French city. While the music (60s rock to late 70s metal) was loud for my old ears, it fitted the clientele and quickly seemed only another part of the atmosphere.
Of the food offerings, there were several different curries and we each ordered one; Sharon’s was extra spicy vegetable curry and mine, fish curry, was also extra spicy. We thought they were great. Curry as good as I’ve ever had.
The publican stopped at our booth and took time to sit and have a conversation with us. This fellow was exactly what a publican should be: outgoing, friendly, conversational, interesting, and interested. He’s half French, half Persian, and shared a few stories about himself and his family.
So, when you’re in Montreal, find your way to Le Vieux Dublin, have a Guinness, and introduce yourself to Mr. Kamran Farahi. You’ll like the curry, enjoy the stories, and, maybe, like me, wish that every city you visit had a pub that would provide so much international atmosphere without any election surprises.