Why Not Canada?
Trip Start Sep 06, 1999
18Trip End Sep 23, 1999
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Shortly after I arrived back from England in 1998, my friends with whom I'd visit were reassigned back to the States. While their reassignment was not unexpected, it was still a sad occasion for all of us. We'd had such fun touring Great Britain with them that the thought of going back there without them just didn't seem right (plus the lack of the free accomodations they provided us was discouraging).
While Great Britain was off the list of places to visit, the impressions I had gathered on my trips there had a strong influence over where I wanted to go in 1999. The primary criteria for this trip was that the location had to have a European flavor to it. Given that criteria, three potential candidates emerged. The first was a Portugal/Spain/France trip that I'd originally considered in 1998. This potential trip involved one big "triangle" starting in Lisbon, travelling north along the Iberian peninsula to Santiago de Compostela, traveling east along Spain's north coast to Bilbao, ducking into the Pyranees for a short time, and then making our way back to Lisbon via Zaragoza and Madrid. However, this option quickly disappeared under the same logistic issues that had scuttled it the year before.
Another option was to visit our friends that use to live in England. Having moved to Pensacola, Florida, they had a rather ambitious plan of visiting New Orleans and then travelling to a couple of islands in the Caribbean within a two and a half-week period. This option had appeal to me because I've always wanted to visit Barbados. Additionally, I had visited New Orleans in 1996 and thought it was great. The trip would allow me to spend time with these friends, as well as satisfy the "European flavor" factor. Ultimately though, this plan fell through. The main reason why it fell apart was that my friends began schooling assignments that would limit the amount of time which they could devote to travel. But, the other reason why the trip fell through was that the time when we were planning to take it fell during hurricane season. Considering my luck at being present when events happen (Atlanta during the Olympic bombing in 1996, England during the mourning for Princess Diana in 1997, Northern Ireland just before the Omagh bombing in 1998), I didn't want to press my luck and be in a place where a hurricane could hit.
The final option was to go to Montreal and Quebec City. I've been wanting to visit these places for some time; but, have always had other options to explore. This time, though, it seemed like the perfect place to visit. The French quality of Quebec would satisfy the "European flavor" criteria. Plus, the American dollar was very strong against the Canadian dollar, meaning the trip would be relatively cheap. Finally, the trip would afford me the chance to see ice hockey, which had become a passion of mine. As I said before, it seemed like a perfect fit. Once I had decided, I got plane tickets for Tom Marihart (my usual traveling companion) and myself. After a bit of schedule adjusting and the requisite guidebook purchases, we were ready to go.