Sunday 26 April 2015

Quebec City

After the terrors of a very cold and snowy Montreal, we came up with a cunning plan. The only plan that tourists in a cold city can come up with. When walking around town, one must stop constantly for food. It's expensive, and hard on the waistline, but it's pretty much the only way you can linger indoors in warm places (art galleries and museums excepted - though they're not always warm). So I came up with a walking tour of Quebec City which included multiple coffee/ hot chocolate/ snack stops. Luckily, though it was still cold as a frozen-over version of hell, it was sunny in Quebec City when we were there too. I always think everything is easier to cope with when the sun is out, even the cold. Another advantage Quebec City has over Montreal is that Quebec Old Town is quite compact and easy to walk around, and most of what we wanted to see was in Quebec Old Town. Easy.

We wandered around Quebec Old Town just generally admiring the old-towny-ness of it all. We saw a house where Queen Victoria's father (Prince Edward, Duke of Kent) shacked up with his mistress before he married Queen Victoria's mother. Charming. It's now named Maison Kent. I won't point out the double standard of what might have happened should Queen Victoria's mother behaved the same way. Oh hang on, I just did. Let's just say I don't think we'd be fondly naming any houses after her. Mostly because she wouldn't have become Queen Victoria's mother... anyway... We saw Chateau Frontenac - the most photographed hotel in the world (on a side note, how does anyone ever know what the 'world's most photographed -insert random noun here-' is? Does someone stand at all the likely prospects and count the number of photographs that are being taken and then they all compare notes?) where they were setting up a huge wooden toboggan ride in preparation for Quebec Carnivale which looked like heaps of fun - I believe the world's first roller coaster was actually a huge wooden toboggan ride (the things you learn from your student's grade 4 curiosity projects). You also have to take an elevator (or stairs if you're a traditionalist. In winter, I am not) up to the old town, so we had a lovely view from the Chateau out over the river.

Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens. Yummy and historical!
We had lunch (food stop when we got cold, see?) at a restaurant called Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens which is in a house built in 1675. That sort of thing just blows my mind. It serves traditional Quebec food. Traditional Quebec food does not consist of salads and vegetables. Yummy though. We went to some pretty churches and the old town hall. Look, we just generally wandered okay? I can't be expected to remember the names of every church! Wandering around also means we found all the random public sculpture around the place, which was very cool. We found a harlequin squeezed between two buildings, some kind of ode to industrial-working-man between two other buildings, a woman's face and an angel's wing outside the town hall and a cupped hand outside a church. If nothing else, this trip has revealed to me the true depths of my obsession with good sculpture. I just love it. There were also lots of ice sculptures around as part of Carnivale and so they were fun to spot too, it was very cool (geddit?)

Montmorency Falls

The view from the bridge over Montmorency Falls

The following day we took our car and got out of there (for the day anyway). Well, first we had breakfast at the cafe downstairs from our flat, Brulerie St-Roch, which I'd better mention since it actually had good coffee, which Will wildly appreciated. I appreciated the French-style pastries. We went to Montmorency Falls, a short drive from Quebec City. I think mostly we were both just curious as to what waterfalls would look like when frozen. The answer - pretty bloody odd actually, as you'll see from the photos. They build up this 'sugar-loaf mountain' type pile of snow at the bottom. It is however extremely cool to be able to walk right up to the base of a waterfall on the frozen river beneath it. We also walked as far as we could around the top, across the bridge which had a spectacular view out over the falls but also down into the ice-floes that were formed on top of the waterfall with the water spitting out of the front. We struggled through some thigh-deep snow for a while on the other side of the bridge only to discover that the staircase down on that side was closed for the winter and so we went back the way we came. I never know how to end these blog posts except to say ... photos!

It was cold. I was wearing all my clothes. And some of Will's.

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