Introduction. Since 1997 was the first full year after my retirement that Jane and I weren't taking a trip overseas, we decided to drive up to Quebec Province and pretend we were visiting France. Neither of us had been there before. Then on the way back, we'd make a short stop in Lewis County, NY, where my Peck ancestors had lived for most of the first half of the 19th century.
Friday - Sunday, September 5 - 7: We left home in mid-morning Friday for the six hour drive to the home of our son Larry in Glen Ridge, NJ. We spent the weekend visiting with his family.
Monday, September 8: We left Larry's at 9:20 and drove north to Canada. At the border we bought Canadian money. The rate was a very favorable 1,34$ Canadian for $1.00 U.S. After losing 30 or 40 minutes due to a couple of wrong turns and one way streets, we arrived at our hotel in Montreal at 4:45.
The hotel was the Jardin d'Antoine at 2024 rue St. Dennis in the heart of the Latin Quarter. On arrival, we found the loading zone in from of the hotel parked full of cars. I double parked and ran in. Jane was impressed with the patience of the Montreal drivers as they found our car blocking one of the two lanes on this busy thoroughfare. No one blew a horn or made rude gestures. They just waited to merge into the other lane and go on their way. I was back in a few minutes and carried our things into the lobby. Then I took the car to a parking lot right around the corner. It was 5$ a day, and we could come and go as we pleased.
Our room was small, but very quaint. We had direct access to the room from the outdoors on a long patio-like walk with wrought iron furniture and hanging plants. The location was excellent, right in the center of everything we planned to see. The rate included a full breakfast. After unpacking, we had the desk clerk make arrangements for a city tour the next morning. Then we walked down rue St. Dennis soaking up the atmosphere while also looking for a nice place to eat. The weather was still sunny and mild. Most of the restaurants were ethnic, with the Italian ones the most prevalent. Surprisingly, almost none advertised French cuisine. The Latin Quarter stretched for about three or four blocks to the south, somewhat smaller than we expected. (We found out later that it continued even further in the opposite direction, north from our hotel.)
We decided to try the Maharaja, an Indian restaurant directly across the street from our hotel. After a short rest, we went there at 7:00 p.m. It was elaborately decorated inside. We ordered a delicious tourist menu for two. They served a flavorful, thin, crisp bread, chicken tandori, lamb curry, vegetable curry, rice, and for dessert something like a fat donut in honey sauce. Coffee (me) and tea (Jane) were also included. We finished about 8:45.
In paying the bill, we began to get some appreciation of the relationship between Canadian and U.S. dollars. As a quick rule of thumb, we just subtracted 25% from Canadian prices to estimate what the cost was in U.S. dollars. However, that was misleading because almost everything was subject to provincial and federal sales taxes totaling almost 14%. Then in restaurants, by the time we added a 15% tip, it was nearly a wash.
On returning to the hotel, we talked half an hour with the night clerk, asking about restaurants, Old Montreal, and other points of interest. All the Quebec TV channels were in French, but we found a Vermont channel and watched the news for a while before retiring.