My favorite city visit was when we went to Montreal on our tenth anniversary in 2009. We had planned to go to Hawaii but when I was laid off in late 2008, we didn’t feel we could justify spending that kind of money on a vacation when funds were going to be tight. Instead, we decided to get our passport cards and drive to Montreal for a few days. I wasn’t sure what to expect since I’d only been to Canada once before; my high school band went to Toronto when I was a junior and it didn’t impress me all that much. I thought Toronto was a colder, rainy-er version of Richmond, so I didn’t even feel like I’d been out of the country. My expectation was that at least in Montreal, with French being the official language, I’d feel like I’d been somewhere, and I was right. I felt like a fraud for saying I could read the French when everything was also posted in English, so Bill grabbed a French newspaper at breakfast one morning and asked me to read the article about Rafael Nadal. It was about how he sprained his knee and had to withdraw from Wimbledon, so I was surprised I remembered as much French as I did when it had been thirteen years since my last college class. I did well enough, though, to convince a woman selling tickets at the Biodome that I was a native (she offered me the resident rate), although how she missed my southern American accent is beyond me. We took a funicular to the top of the Montreal Tower observatory, which is 540 feet tall with a 45 degree incline, which makes it the world’s steepest inclined tower (according to Google). It was a little nervewracking riding up the curved outside of a building in a glass elevator since I don’t do well with heights, but I made it and was rewarded with an amazing view. I also had the perfect coffee at a small café – hazelnut with milk no sugar is a very French café-au-lait experience, after all. I remember Bill got a little peeved at first that it took so long to have breakfast, but once I explained that the French dining aesthetic is to take your time, read the paper, talk to each other over the course of a morning meal, he warmed to it. I returned home with a new appreciation for Canadian culture and memories from an incredible trip shared with my husband. Sometimes, you don’t have to go thousands of miles away to experience something new – sometimes wonder and excitement are right in your own backyard.