This what I’ve seen of Canada so far:
– a few miles of the Toronto Pearson International Airport as we were led down hall after hall heading towards customs. Even if you entered Canada here as a fat American, you’d enter their country a pants size lighter.
– the Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport , of which I currently have no recollection even though I arrived just 10 hours ago. I seem to suffer from some form of Traveler’s Memory Loss. The symptoms are that I totally forget every airport I arrive in and it seems all new again when I return.
– the inside of the car that brought me to the airport, where the driver was very friendly and informative. I am kinda shy – not really a great quality for a journalist – and don’t always enlist taxi or limo drivers in conversation. Although you learn some great stuff that way. My driver, who is from Montreal, talked with great pride about his city. He particularly pointed out that Montreal is becoming a great food town, where you can find “wonderful table.” He said chefs are coming here for three reasons: “The cost of living is very good, the quality of life is excellent and the crime rate is low.” Sounds good to me.
He also told me that the entire huge country of Canada has only 34 million people. That’s not far from the number of people who crowd the highways in Atlanta every day. No wonder they seem more relaxed – there are hundreds of millions fewer people to irritate them.
– the beautiful InterContinental Montreal hotel where I’m staying. My room is gorgeous and the breakfast buffet was delicious – fresh fruit, frittata, potatoes. Of course I had to have a croissant and some brie.
Today we head out for a morning of sightseeing, followed by circus performances as I am in town for Montreal’s first circus festival. My driver last night also told me some stories about Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, last night. He is a very generous man who really looks after his people. I always like to hear stories of rich people being kind. (He owns 95% of the $1.2 billion industry that is Cirque du Soleil.)
Maybe at the end of the day I can hit the bar. And try a glass of that absinthe.