Friday, August 6, 2010

7/18/2010: First full day in Quebec

(n.b. I'm posting these from various Starbucks in the vicinity of Stanford, but I wanted the blog to be more complete, and our internet access in Quebec was spotty)

We awoke to a nice, pleasant sunny day. The days are really long up here; it starts getting light about 4am, and doesn't fade until 10pm.   We got a nicer look at the lock that we passed into the marina that keeps them from having to worry about the 18ft. tidal range.
Locking into the Marino

Jon and I had so-so cafe and chocolat chaud @ Cafe Soleil on Rue Saint Pierre which was really just about the first street along the waterfront. We didn't realize the REAL cafes or tourist traps as Jon called them were further up the hill.

We started walking steep uphill, the only choice, and reached the Ramparts, the top of part of the old wall lining the city. Cannons line this road and we had a nice view of Anomaly back down in the Marina. We continued uphill through touristy but very European looking Old Quebec. English is readily spoken here, but many of the historical placques are French only. We learned that Quebec, originally spelled Kebeka, means "narrowing of the river". It was considered of strategic importance as the gateway to the huges watersystem that feeds down through the great lakes and as far as New Orleans. Who knew that St. Louis, Missouri was a French Canadienne town. We've all studies the Louisiana Purchase, but I guess I never thought about it that way before.
Jon is ready to defend the city!

It was impossible not to end up at the huge, imposing Frech Chateau Frontenac, now a jewel in the Fairmont hotel chain. And guess what, Jon finds a Starbucks, hardly open just 2 weeks! I'm so sorry that I didn't think of this sooner, but I'm starting a Jon at Starbucks album. No matter what lovely, remote location we are visiting, Jon manges to end up at Starbucks. This is mostly because Europeans love sugar, and Canadians are no exception. It is virtually impossible to find unsweatened ice tea anywhere in Canada EXCEPT Starbucks. So here he is:

Jon at Starbucks in Vieux Montreal

Jon at Starbucks Chateau Frontenac, Vieux Quebec

Can you see Jon?

We then walked the 310 steps along the Governors Promenade with beautiful views of the St. Lawrence.  This brought us to the Plains of Abraham which, as Mark Ellis informed, is not well marked, most likely because it was the site of the decisive French defeat which ended the dream of New France in the new world.  We did find the Maison de la Decovert des Plains d'Abraham (discovery museum) which had an really nicely done "odyssee" or 3 part movie all about the founding of Quebec, the historic military battles, and really the formation of what finally became Canada.  This isa big deal for the Canadians, but I'm bit embarasssed to admit we Americans were oblivious to the significance of the area.

We worked up quite an appetite absorbing all that information, so wandered back to the old city and happened upon what became our favorite restaurant, L'Omelette. The omelettes were delicious and they even had unsweatened ice tea.  AND they could cook french fries without making them soggy, which is another thing you can't find in Canada (more on that later)
Our window and hostess at L'Omelette
The place really started heating up with all kinds of street performers- magicians, musicians, break-dancers, acrobats.  We also passed many hundreds of young and not-so-young people in black concert T-shirts.  They weren't any particular group, but you had to wear black.  It's the end of the Summer Music Festial, and we could hear the concert that evening on the Plains of Abraham all the way back on our boat in the marina. 

No comments:

Post a Comment