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Quebec, travel

On trips in your own backyard

Simply put, I believe I have travelled somewhat. Born in Tanzania, passing through Brazil, growing up in Canada and having studied in Europe for three years, I have experienced adventure travel, romantic travel, culinary travel, chilling in Tuscany with ten drunk Danes type of travel, military travel, sailing trips, and the like.

On manoeuvers, North Atlantic, Royal Canadian Navy

The view from the back of my place in Lambarene, Gabon, where Albert Schweitzer had his hospital.

Sailing in the Firth of Clyde, Scotland , on a X-Yacht

And I’m quite sure that some readers will also identify with such adventures. Maybe it is a generational thing, but people around me in the 20-30 age group have also been travelling like mad. Regarding my own city Montreal, the multicultural aspect of the place, along with the cold, also tends to favour travel, to visit family spread out all around the world, or to get a natural tan once in a while.

While I understand that sipping wine in Tuscany or oogling girls in Ipanema are quite interesting experiences, I have slowly learnt to really appreciate the beauty of my home province of Quebec. I haven’t been in the same place for more than a year since 2004 so maybe it comes with maturity ( probably not), or simply the slow (dreadful?) urge to calmly settle down.

We often never really appreciate what is in front of us.

Last weekend I had one of these interesting experiences that solidified my love for this place.

It was a get-together between friends in a chalet up north in the Laurentian mountains, around 1:30 from Montréal, on a lake called Lac Carré (Square Lake).

It might sound lame, but escaping the city and breathing that crisp fresh air does wonders to my frame of mind. It also helps put perspective in one’s life.

The beautiful snow-covered mountains, all lit up for night skiing, are also a wonderful sight. While they clearly aren’t the Alps, skiing here is a fun, down to earth experience. Although spending a day at one of the nice mountains here ( Mont-Tremblant, 3 000 feet) does cost an astronomical 52$ compared to 68$ for Chamonix-Mont Blanc in France, 15 000 feet)…

The Quebec Mont-Blanc, a typical mountain in the Laurentians which with its 1000 vertical feet, is not excactly the tallest peak in North America

The "real" Mont-Blanc seems a little bigger, and it is...14 000 feet higher than its Quebec counterpart to be precise. But why settle down for a big mountain when a lift on a small one can swoop you up in less time that it takes to say "criss".

It is the feeling of being with friends, of taking care of the fireplace because everybody else is too lazy, making sure the beer outside doesn’t freeze ( for those who are curious, beer typically freezes between -2 and -7 Celsius), and some playing weird drinking games.

Of dancing on beats as various as Brazilian samba to dubstep (awful isn’t it?), eating macaroni and cheese at 5 am, and making weird drinks because there is nothing to mix liquor with.

Breakfast with part of the gang

It is going to bed before the others so you can actually sleep in a bed (or bunk-bed), and not in the kitchen.

And it is waking up and chatting with friends, or wondering how they actually slept in such places (in the storage room?)…

And it’s also going to eat breakfast at the local joint, and enjoying that wonderful poutine.

I'm always at the receiving end of snowballs for some reason...

Lastly, it is also cleaning up and heading out back to Montreal, knowing that you had a simple, good time with no complications.

People often go seek happiness, but it is right here surrounding us.

Once again I turn to Albert Schweitzer who states: “in the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet”.

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