Day Four: Friday, August 9th
Sand Banks to Montreal (400 km)
Another rainy night and drizzling rain in the morning. Luckily for us, we 'developed' a logical system to pack everything in the Flex's practical 1,223-litre cargo area behind the second row. From wet shoes to the coffee cup, from lighter to the tent, everything has it's particular spot, which makes it easier and quicker to load/unload. A last view of lake Ontario at Amherstview before hitting the 401 to the East.
Not completely awake, we decide to go for breakfast at Tim Hortons. Bernice was looking so forward to eat finally North American donuts, so the expectations were huge! We order one plain and one chocolate, together with some cookies. Accompanied by a cappuccino and a hot chocolate with milk. The latter tastes like pure coffee with a small flavour of chocolate and the donuts taste sugar-added cupboard. Thanks to the cookies, Tim Horton's isn't completely doomed by Esmée, but Bernice doesn't want any more from the coffee shop. (A pity for her, wherever we go in Canada, Tim is always somewhere around.)
The rain stops and sun is coming out, so sunglasses and air conditioning come out too as we embark “en route vers la province de Québec.” While driving, I see a nice postcard shot with a red tractor, red house and a red pick-up truck. It takes a while to get my camera ready, a suspicious red-clad cowboy comes toward us to know what we're planning to do.
After explaining to him about the postcard-scenery, he's no longer suspicious (although he still doesn't understand what I 'see'). He starts telling us about life in the Eastern provinces and his private life (he has also two daughters plus four more kids, of which some are adopted Chinese children). He's married to a Dutch woman and works from November until April in Labrador (“up north”). Bernice doesn't understand English, but with open mouth, she hangs on his every word. Once back in the car, I have to translate every single word...
Being on the road is great, and Canadians are so friendly!
As we approach the downtown Montreal, we turn on the navigation system for the first time. I was forewarned, and must confess the GPS system is a little slow, which makes me a little (unnecessarily) stressed.
Thanks to Shaun's sister Kelly, who has offered to put us weary travelers up for a few nights, the stress is all of the sudden completely forgotten. Although she's not there when we arrive, she has prepared everything for our announced arrival: personalized (our names on it) sweet corn, nice books and guides make us feel right away at home. It seems almost unreal, but we have a nice, safe parking spot right next to the house! “Flexie” (my kids are so fond about the Ford Flex they have given it a name) seems to enjoy it just fine.
We meet Kelly's neighbours François and Lizzy, and are right away invited for a party at night. A bunch of friends come around, everybody has brought something to drink and/or to eat. It's quite strange to be talking in Quebec French, but we're getting quickly used to it. Slowly we inhale the atmosphere of Montreal.