Anglo Adventure

Travel with a sense of humor


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I Would Like to Thank…

This album is dedicated to all the people who told me I’d never amount to nothin’ –Notorious

The 2013 guide to Montreal and Quebec that I helped author for Fodor’s Travel comes out in March and is available for pre-sale right now.

Some write fake Oscar speeches; I fantasize about crafting clever book dedications. I plan to dedicate future novel to my enormous family for well…everything, the Husband for his patience and encouragement and the Dog who keeps my feet warm as I write. And to my Grandma, for her endless advice.

Unfortunately, I don’t get to *actually* dedicate or thank anyone in the travel book because that would be unfair to the other writers, editors, and photographers who worked on it. Besides, I am a writing phantom taking the form of Eugene Fodor, a fascinating Hungarian wayfarer.

Miss Misery

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This is one of the first paintings I ever connected to. I always thought it was icebergs, but it’s clouds. -Art Institute, Chicago

Should I ever write a novel, I would be tempted to throw it into the faces of those who spurned me early on when I was just a kid. I probably wouldn’t do it, because bitter ain’t the right shade for me, but it’s fun to think about.

One of my favorite writer bloggers  recently wrote an eloquent piece about a teacher who helped influence his writing career. I have a few of those too – wonderful people, who pulled me aside and told me that despite my horrific spelling, I had a knack with words.

I’ve also had the opposite. Miss Bruner, my 7th grade art teacher deserves a failing grade. A teacher should encourage, not manage expectations. Let kids’ dreams bounce above their heads like big red balloons. When the time comes, they’ll clutch some and let others fly. Give them that choice.

Miss Bruner hobbled up and down classroom aisles with a cane. She’d pull your drawing out from your hands, exam it from behind little glasses that sat at the end of her nose and snicker. When we had to sketch George Washington (impossible!), I erased entirely through his eye. I am no Manet. Did Miss Bruner encourage me to learn from this mistake and be more careful next time? No.  She put my rendition of George Washington over her own face and peeped through the hole as if it were a mask.

Ok, so maybe I screwed up the portrait. Maybe she was joking, maybe the George Washington incident was part of her teacher schtick.

But later that semester, when I expressed an interest in going to Venice to view art, she barked:

“How are YOU going to go to Venice? It costs a lot of MONEY, Am-an-da.”  Continue reading


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The Art of Saying Goodbye

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Elwood wondering about the next time he’ll see his friends from Quebec

Goodbye is part of life, especially for travel writers and expats. I said goodbye to a very good group of people recently. As someone who has made three big moves in six years, I should be accustomed to this.

I am not. Especially because I know I probably won’t see these people again.

The Very Good People I speak of are a refugee family from Libya (originally Somalia) who I helped transition here. I showed them bus routes and where to find jobs and taught them simple English phrases. They cooked dinner every Sunday. Heaping piles of rice and pasta with sides of bananas and salads. Never a question if I would stay and eat. They assumed and set up a plate and ushered me to the kitchen.

I worked with the family for a few months. As I watched them pack, (offering to help, but not knowing what to do), I noticed they still didn’t switch their clocks over for daylight savings. I should have explained daylight savings to them. I should have showed them where to buy rain boots and jackets. I could have done a better job as their appointed American mentor. Continue reading


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Quebec Language War Caught on Tape


This video makes me laugh. I like that the francophone is wearing a duster and a fedora. Total villan garb.

I don’t think people should ever get in someone’s face and scream at them for not speaking their language. If that happened here to an immigrant, I would punch someone. Learning a language takes years so be patient with those who are learning.

If you’re traveling to the Belle Province, don’t worry about running into a gang of fedora-duster-clad francophones. Unless you’re hanging out in bars at 3:00 am. The most that has ever happened to me was a dismissive wave in a bar.

My husband, however, was yelled at in the street by a tough-as-nails 8-year-old girl who demanded “Pourquoi Anglais?” He laughed it off. Quebec City isn’t like Montreal in that it’s very francophone, by very I mean 98%.

Yes, language is an issue. Most Quebeckers welcomed me when they realized I was American, not Western Canadian. I had an excuse for my horrible French.

And by the way, I immediately enrolled in a language school upon my arrival. I tried and am still trying. They like it when you try, so don’t go there thinking you’re the SH$T and demanding they speak English to you. Learn a few phrases if you’re visiting, learn the language if you’re living there.

I think this could have been solved if the guy spoke a little French. Bonjour?! C’est facile. I think he tried further infuriating the francophone once he realized he was being recorded. Duster guy is kind of an asshole, but by no means represents the rest of the province.

He also has a point, however agressive it’s portrayed. You live in Montreal, you should probably learn a little bit of French.