We spent 3 pretty wonderful days in Quebec City. This is a magical place–established in the early 1600’s by Champlain, and the birthplace of French settlement in the New World. We moored in and spent most of our time in or near the walled Old City. This city is so picturesque it hurts. Wherever you look, you see buildings entirely constructed of stone, whitewashed to make it weatherproof (hence one of the names of Quebec–the White City) still being lived in and worked out of as they have for hundreds of years.
Photo of one of the white buildings taken from the plaza in front of it–it hurt my eyes to look at!
We meandered through cobbled streets full of people, and shops and restaurants and apartments. Yes there were a lot of tourists, but no more than when you travel to Rome or Paris during tourist season, and the beauty definitely rivaled those cities, but on a smaller scale. In general, the whole city was very European in flavor. On our first full day here, we went out to breakfast, then spent two hours on a walking tour. I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous Hotel Frontenac, where many many historic events have occurred.
For example, this is where the recent G-7 conference was held, and where Churchill, Roosevelt, and the Prime Minister met to discuss the logistics of D-Day. You can tell by the snow that I stole this picture off the internet. Sue me.
Also saw a mural depicting the people important to Quebec over time. The mural also included a cat that hung around so much while it was being painted that the artists immortalized it within the mural. See if you can find it.
The next day we had lunch with, then said goodbye to, Bill who took the train back to Montreal, stayed overnight there, and then Uber’ed back to Chambly to pick up his car. Did I mention that the logistics of traveling with us are not easy?
That afternoon David and I wandered around the city on our own until it began to pour which necessitated my buying a new umbrella (I brought one with me on Golden, but it blew off the dock in Chambly and immediately sank). We took it easy for a couple of hours, then walked into the city again for dinner. Just as we left the boat, we were assaulted by the sight of one of the most spectacular sunsets we had ever seen:
I promise that this is an un-edited photo!
The location of the restaurant where we ate was absolutely charming–located up a few stairs in an old stone building, large windows running along the entire wall facing the cobblestone street a few feet below, all opened wide so that those seated right next to them (like us) could feel as if we were eating outside yet stay comfortable and dry.
Unfortunately we were not as impressed by the food. I’d expected to find a marked French influence in the cuisine of Quebec, but was disappointed to find that not to be true. Like any big city, there were a multitude of types of restaurants, and French was definitely not the most prominent type. The best, and most popular, restaurant we found was known for its hamburgers! (To be fair, they were excellent–I had a hot tofu/wild mushroom sandwich there which was the best “vegetarian burger” I’ve ever tasted). Here’s a picture of the place I took when Bill was still there (I hope Bill was happier than he appears here):
Expecting Quebec to be like France, I had been looking forward to crusty croissants and baguettes, but found only the typical supermarket/chain bakery offerings. What Quebec IS known for supposedly is rabbit dishes, but David and Bill wouldn’t humor me by taking me to one restaurant that specialized in it. Men are so emotional.
Next day, the 19th, David and I put our bikes together, and took off on one of the myriad of separated bike trails meandering throughout the city and beyond. Besides having a lot of bike trails, Quebec turned out to be a safe haven for pedestrians and cyclists for other reasons as well. The province is unusual in that they don’t allow any vehicles to turn right on red–ever. Also, when the walk signal is on, it’s on for all the streets in the intersection, not just one, and all vehicular traffic in all directions has red lights. This means that as long as the walk sign is lit, pedestrians and bikes can safely cross any of the streets at an intersection, not just one. David and I felt much safer as pedestrians, once we figured out the system. I admit that at home we often jaywalk, since it actually can be safer for reasons I won’t go into, but this system gave us a huge incentive to just patiently wait for the light along with everyone else.
We ended up riding 10 miles or so north to view the Montmorency Falls.
It was a perfect day for cycling–high 70’s, and cool breeze. On the way, we passed a group playing croquet on a public grass court.
Yesterday, our last evening, we walked to a nearby grocery store to re-stock our provisions, then returned to make dinner consisting of black beans, homemade cornbread, and a quasi-Caesar salad (homemade Caesar dressing over greens/tomatoes/avocado instead of romaine) a simple meal which we agreed tasted better than most of those eaten in the last few restaurants.
We are now re-tracing our voyage downriver from where we entered the St Lawrence. Remember when I showed you how fast we sailed down to Quebec? Well, we’re making up for it now—not only is it rather dark and occasionally spattering rain, we are fighting a current of 2-5 knots, heading into the wind, and dodging freighters and rapids–we are looking forward to today’s end.
We hope to make it to Trois-Rivières again tonight (the one with the mile long walk to the bathroom), not only because it’s where the tidal flow ends, but mainly because we forgot to return the keys they charged us a $50 deposit for when we last stayed there.