Okay before I start the article proper, there are one or two things I have to clear up.

  1. Maple syrup.   That shit is like liquid gold, seriously. I take back every last joke I made about maple syrup being catnip to Canadians.   It was childish and immature of me, I see the error of my ways and I apologise profusely for that now.   I mean yeah, you put it on anything but holy shit after tasting it, who in their right mind wouldn’t.   All we need now are cars that run on it and right there is the solution to all of man’s problems.
  2. Hockey.   I saw none of it during my whole time in Quebec.   Not cool Canada, not cool.   The closest I came was a visit to “Tim Horton’s.”   Apparently he was some kind of hockey player before discovering his true calling as a purveyor of breakfast goods.
  3. The whole “Aboot” thing.   South Park lied to me, and I feel cheated.

Okay so that last one is more Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s fault but still I hold you, as a nation, 33% responsible for that or individually 0.00000096%.   And yes I did work that out.

However, to return to the task at hand, I visited Canada for the first time recently.   It was amazing.   Or it was after I managed to get through immigration.   That wasn’t because the custom officials have been taking lessons from paranoid Americans, no, all the issues my entirely my fault.   Generally I think we can all agree when asked questions from a border guard, responses that include “I don’t know really, just thought I’d bum about for a bit” are not a good idea.   But yes, after quite a long conversation convincing a series of officials that I wasn’t in fact an asshole I was able to leave and discover what I loved.   The country, the people and the incredibly low prices of everything.   I mean I could buy a coffee for $3 and it was delicious, okay delicious might be a stretch but still, I’d pay at least double that in Scotland and I’d be wondering just how long they had left the milk unrefrigerated.   Actually I can’t really judge people for that right now, my own fridge has broke and I’m now hanging my groceries out of my bedroom window.   You would be amazed at what one can do with a basket and duct tape.   Well not really, it’s just a basket duct taped to a wall.   It impressed me though.   I have low expectations in life.

Visit Scotland: We offer an exciting breakfast choice

A difference I wish to highlight between our two countries is breakfast.   First off, in Scotland breakfast will be a bowl of porridge (or “oatmeal” I believe it is affectionately referred to there) and maybe if you are feeling particularly decadent that morning you may add a pinch of salt to.   Just a pinch though.   Any more would just cause unbearable feelings of guilt and shame.   You cool cats on the other hand have baked goods of happiness, possibly with that maple syrup we mentioned earlier.   It’s incredible.   I quite frankly don’t understand how anyone could be grumpy or upset in the mornings.   This was merely the start of my day, and already my signature scowl and jaded world view was fading away.   Purged from my system through a foodstuff that wasn’t purely nutritional but also enjoyable to eat.   There had to be a catch, no restaurant is this genuinely pleasant to customers.   There was one in my home city but it shut down rather quickly after it was discovered to be a money laundering operation.   Shame really, they had a great tiramisu they called “The Godfather.”

Anyway, the catch.   It is not that I’m naturally untrusting; sour, dour faced and misanthropic, but not untrusting.  It’s a minor source of pride I have.   Nevertheless, there had to be something, taken outside and beaten with sticks in homage to Finnish saunas or perhaps plunged into a frozen sea like the May Day celebrations in the North East of Scotland.    Taking the final bite of my meal, savouring its almighty flavour as this was my first foray into maple syrup, I prepared myself for the inevitable onslaught.

There wasn’t one.   To say I was disappointed would be a slight exaggeration, all the same I felt there had to be some balance.   Perhaps we’d all have to sacrifice a goat in thanks to the restaurateurs.   Extreme, maybe but in my defence this was my first day, I was still trying to get a handle on the currency exchange rate.

 

Now, given the proportion of this article given over to disseminating breakfast, one could mistakenly believe that was all I experienced.   Whilst normally I’d be quite happy with that, a full stomach tends to make me quite an amenable fellow, I was blessed to discover more.

One of the first things my gluttonous form noticed was the bilingual nature of Montreal, in not only speech but also a great deal of the signs.   We have something similar in Scotland with road and railway signs offered both in English and in Gaelic.   Of course this is only in Glasgow and Edinburgh, two Scottish cities notable for never having spoken Gaelic.   The few places that still speak Gaelic in Scotland tend to be the small islands that time forgot.   The Isle of Lewis for example, with a population of almost 20,000 but only two surnames.

However, to veer away from offending the few islanders with internet access and possible libel, The Old Port in Montreal was shown to me.   Beforehand I was asked if I even wanted to see old buildings, given their prevalence back home.   While that is true, we do have many, the vast majority of Glasgow was built in the 18th and 19th century with some buildings dating back to as far as the 13th century, a lot of these buildings are still in use as residences and consequently have aged worse than Mickey Rourke.

I made that joke, at Mickey Rourke’s expense not because it’s particularly funny, it’s a cheap shot, but purely because of the relative anonymity of the internet.   A place where I can strut my feigned bravado in absolute safety from any real consequences.   Or in other words, be an asshole.   It’s an attitude I’m familiar with, accustomed to even and it is an attitude that seemed completely absent in my whole time in your thoroughly awesome country.

So thank you guys, I had an experience of a lifetime.

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