So - Montreal. To be fair, we didn't exactly see it at its best - ie. apart from the day I left, it was gray, cold and rainy. It's also typical of many cold North American cities in that a lot of fun activities such as boat tours, al fresco dining and street fairs only happen in the summer months, which will probably be about 3-4 weeks there. I'm sure that when it's bursting with summer events the experience will be totally different.
And indeed, like riding a bicycle, I quickly re-mastered long, boozy lunches, (inevitably followed by a two hour nap in preparation for the evening's festivities.) Since I have stopped drinking red wine (bad hangovers), don't drink Chardonnay (migraines) and have never been one for the harder stuff (yuch), I managed to imbibe Pinot Grigio as if on an intra-venous drip, with no major side effects. My GP and liver would probably beg to differ.
Also like riding a bicycly (albeit with training wheels) my ancient A level French came flooding back. Actually it was more like an intermittent trickle at first if I'm honest. As with many decently educated Brits, my written French used to be excellent and is still fairly good, my spoken French was very smooth and is still passable, if now more limited. However, it all goes to hell in a hand basket (quaint American term) when someone replies. It was bad enough in France, when they just spoke twice as fast as my French teacher and injected the odd bit of dialect. Canadian French is just as fast but seems to have a different accent, as you'd expect I suppose. Ever the linguistic coward, I just spoke as little French as I could in case someone thought my accent sounded good and tried to initiate a conversation. Fortunately, not only are the Montrealians (is that correct?) all bi-lingual, but they are able to spot English speakers from about 300 yards and begin speaking English to them before anyone (ie. me) makes a fool of themselves.
Come to think of it, the only time I've ever had a post A level French conversation feeling remotely confident was with a Morrocan taxi driver in Marrakesh, and that's probably because we were both as awful as each other. My boyfriend (now ball and chain) was very impressed though, especially as he was under the distinct impression that we were about to be driven to the nearest souk and sold into the white slave trade.
Anyway, the Montreal folk were incredibly friendly, pleasant and unloud. No wonder they get pissed off when you take them for Americans. And of course, it was excellent to hang with the girlfriends. Next year we are looking at either Miami or Bermuda - at least I think that's what we decided!!!