Archive for the ‘What Lonely Planet says is…’ Category


The classic issue of tipping

March 31, 2008

Photo by: Aubreyarenas

In Denmark I would only tip if I had eaten in a restaurant more fancy than a café and if the service was worth paying for. Perhaps that makes me cheap, but it also makes me pretty typical Danish. I read an article about an investigation of how tourists from different countries were looked upon – the Danes were, sadly enough, some of the tourists that behaved worstly.

Thanks to my travel guide – Lonely Planet Montreal I knew before coming that tipping is custom here in Montreal. So in every restaurant I go to people might wonder why I’m sitting with a strange look on my face, when I get the bill; I’m just trying to figure out how much 15 percent of the amount is. I will be embarrassed, if I do not to give enough and I’m living on a student’s “salary” so I can’t afford to give too much.

The tipping can still sometimes make me feel uncomfortable, because, as I wrote earlier, I’m from a country, where tipping is given only for the good service and there are no rules about the amount. Here I find it difficult to tell by the expression of the waiter’s face when he or she takes the money, if I tipped ok. An example could be if I should pay 21 dollars including the 15 percent tip, but I just round the bill up to 20 dollars because it’s easy, should I then really break a 10-dollar note to get the last dollar for the tip?

I heard somewhere that the reason why tipping is customary here is because the salaries for waiters, bartenders etc. are very low and the tip is a big part of their earnings. I tried to find out what the average salary of waiter in Montreal is, but I had no luck. The average monthly salary for a waiter in Denmark is 4,529 dollars (remember we pay around 50 percent in taxes of the amount) I wonder how big a difference that is to the salary of a waiter in Montreal?


Just a little one about the kissing

March 27, 2008

Photo by: B Tal

Being a Dane use to firm handshaking and slightly loose hugs (only with your good friends), it was kind of a surprise for my cheeks coming over here and being spoiled with all those kisses. Not a bad surprise. I know it is obvious when you are in Quebec, a French province you will be greeted the French way. My cheeks and I just came a little unprepared. And most of the kisses came mostly from other exchange students…

In Lonely Planet – Montreal it says this about cheek kissing:
“As in France, it’s customary among French Quebecers who know each other to exchange bises (kisses) as a greeting (men do this occasionally, too) While two to three kisses on each cheek are typical in France, the usual ritual in Quebec is one glancing peck on each cheek. Any more will get you weird looks.” (Page 29)

As an exchange student I find it interesting how all the exchange students has picked up on this cheek kissing; even if they are not from a country where this is the normal way of greeting.

It is not that I don’t like it, as I have said before “when in Montreal do as the Montrealers”, but it makes me wonder, if “real” Montrealers look at us, the international students, kissing like crazy on each other’s cheeks with the weird look that Lonely Planet is talking about.

I guess I’m just not sure how big the cheek kissing really is in this city. Is it really something everybody does? Or is it just the wannabe Montrealers?

I would love to get some comments on this from some cheek kissing or non-cheek kissing Montrealers!


Is it a ”don’t” to talk about Quebec separatism with a minus 40?

March 4, 2008

“Don’t address the topic of Quebec separatism with anyone under 40 the first time you meet them – unless you want to be seen as hopelessly square. Whether you’re speaking to a separatist or a federalist, the subject these days is deemed tired to the extreme and an unforgivable bore on social occasions.” (Page 29, Lonely Planet – Montreal & Quebec City).

This was one of the first things I read about Quebec separatism, and I must say that it didn’t encourage me to look deeper into the topic. I find these national issues (can you call it a national issue?) very interesting, and I am one of those persons who grab the chance and ask Montrealers about their view on the separatism the first time I have the chance.

Actually I did. He is a Québécois Québécois, he explained to me. We had a nice talk about it, and I don’t think he found me extremely and unforgivable boring. Writing this blogpost I asked him, what he thought about the Lonely Planet-statement. His answer made me think about how great a power a book as Lonely Planet can have, if you just blindly believe what it says.

He said: “You shouldn’t listen to that weird travel guide if you are a curious person. For me this subject is never boring. I think nationhood is the status that all nation states must achieve, be it in Kosovo, Tibet, Timor Leste or Québec. It is very important to talk about that issue, since it is our future we are talking about. I think anyone who is bored by that debate is obtuse.”

I wondered if this perhaps would be an obvious answer from a Québécois Québécois, so I also asked an Anglophone. She was amazed and surprised when I told her about the words from Lonely Planet. It was interesting to see her reaction; you would imagine that Montrealers themselves could recognize their city in a book about their city.

In her eyes the topic is might said to be boring, but once you ask Montrealers about it they always have something to say. And they will always be ready to have the discussion.

These two persons are of course not representative of the whole population of Montreal. But their views reminded me not to believe everything I read, but when you are new in a city, a travel guide is sometimes your first lifeline to the city. I just find it problematic, because a book like that is affecting the way newcomers behave in this city. And to me it seems like the topic of Quebec separatism is not “extreme and an unforgivable bore” just yet, no matter what I know that I am going to keep on asking questions about the topic.


If you google Montreal in Danish…

February 6, 2008

A bit nerve racking. My first blogpost, my first point of view about Montreal is about to be born. I hope you like seeing Montreal through my eyes.

When I was younger traveling in France, I met Charles and Valerie from Quebec. I don’t remember where they were from in Quebec, but I remember thinking, “wow those people seem so non-prejudiced, so liberal and so happy about life.” I think you would call it ‘joie de vivre’ in French (that’s what my Lonely Planet – Montreal calls it). I never thought I would be experiencing it. Living in Denmark, Quebec and Montreal were very far away. Read the rest of this entry ?