I know that I’m lucky to have traveled as much as I already have in my life. The thing of it is though, once you’ve had a taste, the need to see new places, savor new food and view the world from 38,000 feet suctions on to your brain like an octopus on a large, delicious mollusk—and it doesn’t let go.
So, when I crunched the numbers and it became apparent that a trip abroad was just not in the cards this year, I wept openly. I look forward to my yearly sojourns with the utmost fervor; I scout landmarks, read hundreds of reviews and march around parroting key facts about the destination with a teacher’s pet level of enthusiasm. Trust me, you’d want to punch me in the face if I wasn’t so pitifully wide eyed with child-like wonder about the whole thing. Traditionally, my bags are neatly packed by the door approximately 27 days before departure. I get excited. I wish I was exaggerating.
I spent a week or so gloomily fondling the contents of my pre-organized, just-in-case-I-win-the-lottery travel bag (wearing my neck pillow and eye-mask around the house), before I regrouped and came up with a new tactic. Even if I couldn’t jet set to Europe or yacht to the Caribbean, I’d be a fresh Maine lobster’s uncle before I sat dejected on the couch for my week of vacation. Then the answer hit me: Quebec City.
Practically France in my own backyard, ye olde Quebec was the perfect solution. There are plenty of cathedrals and cobblestones, they speak French, and they hate Americans! I could practice my “je voudrais un croissant, s’il vous plait” and my ever popular “voulez-vous coucher avec moi, c’est soir?” It would be just like real travel!
I packed my wheelie bag and drove north. I may have even masterminded a TSA approved Ziploc for my toiletries (so border patrol would think I was worldly). Canada was just how I imagined; prickly hotel receptionists that wouldn’t speak English, even though the shrewd glint in their eye told me they knew how, enchanting old architecture, and in every café, enough mouthwatering poutine to fill a Jacuzzi.
If you have never sat down to a steaming plate of poutine, you probably aren’t from Canada (or a sad pointy state in the northeast surrounded by Canada), and I therefore feel bad for you. This dish of gravy slathered French fries and ever-so-gently melted cheese curds made the trip worth every penny I had to put on the credit card because I couldn’t afford a vacation in the first place. And I ate my weight in it. All four days I was there. And I was satisfied.
Until next year….
About the Writer
Noella Schink is a travel writer from Portland, Maine. She lives for trips, whether it’s camping in New England, hostelling in New Zealand or living the high life in a luxury hotel in Paris. Even if it’s a night in a motel on Old Orchard Beach, she’ll take it (if you are from New England, you know how desperate this makes her).