After a decent breakfast buffet at the hotel (I myself crafted an egg, cheese, and sausage breakfast sandwich on an english muffin out of the available fixings), we once again loaded the bus
for our continued journey to the land north. A couple more hours of bus fun (heads up is quickly becoming a bus favorite, although the ensuing shrieks of laughter are a little less popular with our poor bus driver) and we reached the Canadian border.
Somehow, it doesn’t matter that I know we are completely legal, crossing the border always makes me nervous, regardless of what country I’m in. Something about the way the agents looks at me makes me think that surely I’ve done something wrong, I might just not know about it yet! Luckily, we passed the inspection and cleared the border quite quickly.
This put us in Laval a little earlier than planned, so we took advantage of the extra time by moving our lunch stop to one of the largest malls in Quebec, located near our hotel. In addition to what was truly one of the greatest food courts I’ve ever seen, there were a plethora of delightful shops to temp our girls into spending the first of their Canadian per diem. The Canadian money, by the way, has been quite the hit so far. Between the fancy colors, the see-through panel, and the fact that it’s waterproof, I had a hard time convincing some of the girls to spend their lunch money, rather than saving it for (I can only presume) an art piece of some sort or another.
It was then time to meet our Canadian guide, Marie, who will be with us for the rest of our time in Canada. It’s a good thing
too, because my French is VERY rusty! After checking into our hotel (completely with indoor balconies of some of the rooms – talk about fancy!), we headed out to a chicken place for dinner. The regular menu options offered a choice of chicken strips, chicken salad, chicken breast/leg, or “Hot Chicken,” which is apparently a VERY popular dish here in Canada. It’s a sandwich with chucks of chicken, then smothered in “hot sauce,” which we soon learned was gravy (apparently they meant hot as opposed to cold, not spicy), with peas on top. Basically, envision Thanksgiving dinner in a sandwich. Although not quite what was expected, those who tried it seemed to really like it. Sounds like poutine might be quite popular with this crowd.
The highlight of our day, however, was definitely our time at CAMMAC, and summer music camp near a lake outside of Montreal
. The scenery was gorgeous, and the adult amateur musicians we met with were truly delightful! We had the opportunity to listen to a rehearsal of the orchestra,sit-in on a choir rehearsal where they were
sight-reading some complicated 8-part music, and explore the grounds a bit, before coming together for our first concert of the tour. The space was lovely to sing in, and the audience couldn’t have been more receptive to our program. They even demanded an encore, which took the form of Rossini’s Cat Duet. We then had the chance to hear performances by several members of the camp’s staff. While we all loved one particularly upbeat violin and cello duet, the highlight of the evening for us was definitely the amazing whistled solo performance of the Queen of the Night aria from Magic Flute by one of the male teachers on staff. He’s basically a rock star in the minds of our girls now. Really. They were lining up to take pictures afterward!
Now it’s late, and other than the bus driver and I, everyone is asleep or resting on the bus. We’ll be pulling into the hotel shortly for another well deserved night’s rest and a (luckily) late morning departure for Montreal. Until tomorrow…