Despite what some might assume, an international traveler, I am not. I actually despise travel. Season one, episode four, Parts Unknown 2013, Anthony Bourdain travels to Quebec. Unbeknownst to me, these few moments will play an enormous role in changing the course of my life and my narrative. After ice fishing, Bourdain and his 2 Montreal cheffie friends hunker down in this tiny “cabin” on the ice and proceed to have a multi-course meal cooked over an open fire with lots of Canadian wine. So gluttonous and cozy.
Me, I was just living in Seattle, having moved there from the Boston area. When we lived on the East coast, Jon would often nudge me trying to get me to go to Montreal. I always hesitated – I don’t know French, I’m not Canadian, I’ve never been to CANADA, and that just looks scary and uncomfortable. Besides, I’ve seen how people travel before. They make these ambitious, exhausting itineraries where they see all the sights, do all the walking and go to all the cities. I imagined these travel days as waking up full of anticipation only to be worn down, hangry, and wobbling by the end of the day. Not interested. Not then, not now.
But, oh, Quebec. Now that looks cool. Starting on season 1, episode 1 of No Reservations (Paris!) – Bourdain made me *start* to think that travel didn’t have to look the way I had always seen it done. At the very beginning of his Paris episode, he hits up a local Tabac and eats a croissant and reads the newspaper. That sounds more like it. But I will never make it to Quebec. It’s far. Who flies for 9 hours to stay some where for less than a week? And I can’t possibly stay more than a week – who gets that kind of vacation? This all seems like a lot of trouble and not worth it. I will just live through my travel man for now.
Fast forward 2 years later. My friend is planning her winter wedding in Quebec City and I’m invited! Of course I’m going – not to travel of course, but for a wedding. It takes me a month to realize this is the same Quebec I lusted for not long ago. For whatever reason, it now it all seems ok that I can travel for 9 hours all the way across the country for my friends wedding. Again, this isn’t travel, this is business. We don’t even plan anything. Nothing. Nada. We are here for a wedding. Because I don’t travel. And I certainly don’t do international travel.
After warnings from a local bar attendant that the Quebecois insist that you speak French, it is with much intrepidation that we arrive. Literally, bonjour is the only French word I know. As it turns out, we have a dazzling, magical time. We sleep, in the most luxurious king-sized hotel bed, sometimes until noon. We lazily stroll around the city. Stopping to eat when and where we want. We visit a local brewery, taste some wine and ride the ferry across the river. We have no agenda and all the time. If this is travel, I’m down. As you all know, the story ends with a trip to Paris and an international move. Anthony Bourdain and Quebec, I will be forever grateful that you changed my life.