When I last wrote I was bound for Quebec City. Once I finally got there, it was lovely. Having said that, I can’t complain about the hotel Air Canada put me up in as a result of missing my connecting flight. It was pretty luxurious.
So, Quebec City. It’s like a little slice of Europe in North America. Within the walls of the old city, one wanders through cobble-stoned lane ways filled with gorgeous shops, galleries, eateries and more. When I got there I met with my Swiss friend Michele, who I first encountered in my hostel in Vancouver. She was in Quebec at the same time as me, and staying at the very same hostel. It was great to have someone to explore with – especially someone French-speaking!
The first thing we did was go down to the port, which had some great markets to peruse. Plenty of fresh produce, along with clothing, leather goods, home wares, and more. The weather was hot, but ideal.
After an hour or two making our way through the streets of the old city, we proceeded to the Citadel, which is the main tourist attraction in the old city. There we had a history-packed tour of what is now a military training base. The Citadel is shaped like a star, and from one point, you have a brilliant view across Quebec City. This may have appealed to me a little more than the onslaught of military history…
The city sparkles at night, especially the Chateau Frontenac, the Castle-like hotel which is a centre piece of the city. We enjoyed a nice dinner and took in the character around every corner. After that, we watched some of the Olympics in the TV room back at our hostel. I was a little dismayed that I was effectively going to miss the Olympics. But the rare chances I’ve had to catch some of the coverage have been fun; it’s interesting to watch alongside travelers barracking for their own countries. As I discovered in London, you tend to feel far more nationalistic when abroad.
The following day we went back to the Citadel to see the changing of the guard ceremony. It wasn’t quite Buckingham Palace, but what got me was that they have a goat which is a mascot of the procession. I’m not sure how he fits into the official scheme of things, but he has gold horns and wears a royal uniform. He is something like the 11th in line of his family.
After the ceremony, we decided to take a tour of the governor general’s second residence, which is located within the citadel. He wasn’t there at the time, unfortunately. We weren’t allowed to take photos but it was very impressive inside. Our knowledgeable tour guide gave us lots of interesting information about Canada’s political system and its place in the Commonwealth.
From there, we followed the advice of a lady on the tour and went up an observation tower in the city. It was similar to the one in Vancouver, providing amazing 360 degree views of the entire city.
Back in the old city, we visited the Notre Dame church. Again, this was reminiscent of some of the churches I’ve seen in Europe. It was decorated intricately inside; really breathtaking to look at, as you can gather from the photo.
That afternoon, I took the bus to Montreal. It was so exciting to see Sabrina, a very good friend of mine from my semester in London. Over the weekend she was a wonderful tour guide for me. On Saturday we started with the old port and made our way downtown. I really like Montreal; it’s a cool city. Not weather-wise though; it’s boiling hot!
On Saturday night we met a friend of Sabrina’s in what I am told is a traditional Francophone bar. It was lots of fun, and we followed it up with poutine, the traditional food of Quebec. It’s effectively hot chips topped with gravy and cheese. Sounds healthy, hey? I must say, it’s pretty great – especially after a couple of drinks. After the long-awaited poutine, Sabrina and her friend had the idea of taking me up Mont Royal. It’s a hill which boasts incredible views of the city. It was particularly spectacular at night.
On Sunday we visited Montreal’s Notre Dame, which was – again – spectacular inside. It was equally exciting for Sabrina because she had never been in the church before. I think it’s a bit like that – you haven’t seen the main attractions of your own city because they’re always there. That certainly applies to me and Melbourne. I’ll spare you the descriptions, partly because I’m short on time and partly because my words can’t quite do it justice. Here is one of many pictures, though.
Unfortunately the weather wasn’t kind to us in the afternoon. Sabrina attempted to show me the Jewish area of the city, Mile End, but we barely had time to grab a bagel before we were completely drenched.
I very much enjoyed a weekend of home comforts at Sabrina’s place. Sabrina and her mum cooked for me, did my washing and just generally made sure I was well looked after. I look forward to returning the favour when she eventually makes it to Australia.
On Sunday night we took an overnight bus to to Toronto. Despite exhaustion from lack of sleep we spent yesterday exploring the city, before getting on another bus late in the afternoon to Niagara Falls. That’s where we are now.
I’m going to leave the descriptions of the falls until the next post, because I think I’ve packed enough into this one. Suffice to say it’s AMAZING. And next time I write, I’ll be in the US. The trip has been unreal so far but there’s still loads to look forward to.