New England 2009: Quebec


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Tuesday, November 24, 2009: Bienvenue a Québec!
We drove through rural Quebec ...
... travelling nord et ouest toward Montréal.
And after a couple of hours of driving, here is Montréal.
She's a beautiful city ...
... with lots of modern architecture and touches.
But she is filled with beautiful older architecture too, ...
with towers and turrets everywhere.
Montreal features a grand old rail station ...
... and an equally grand Molson brewery.
Our only Maersk sighting of the trip was here.
Prudence! We couldn't read the French words, but we got the idea. Be careful about Bambi!
These marshes were filled with beaver lodges.
After more driving, we arrived in Trois Rivières, the city with many excellent spiral staircases on the outside of duplexes.
We visited the brand-spanking-new waterfront, recently developed with upscale restaurants and nice parks.
Squirrel! We've only ever seen black squirrels in Kent, Ohio. Who would've guessed their cousins live in French Canada? Not us.
We conquered our fear of the French language at this little cafe, where the wait staff was very kind to us and spoke English, including offering us homemade mayonnaise for our pommes frites. Non, merci! Baguettes, oui!
The next leg of our journey took us on Baby Jesus Road.
We started spotting these temporary carports/snow blocks everywhere.
Eventually, we arrived at our next point of interest - the Ice Hotel Canada! The official name is Hôtel du Glace in that fancy French language. There was no ice or snow anywhere, so it's a good thing that the hotel isn't scheduled to open until January.
This was the only undeveloped area of the resort, so it must be where they put the ice buildings, but we had a hard time visualizing where the hotel would actually appear.
Here are some of the forms used to build the rooms of the hotel. We know this because we've been to the Ice Hotel in Sweden and watched about a million documentaries on them.
One of the hotel vans gives the only hint about what it will look like when it is done.
Tucked toward the back of the resort, behind the many all-weather buildings, is this gorgeous view of a lake.
From the Hôtel du Glace, it was less than an hour to Quebec City. This is the entrance to the walled old town.
We checked in to the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, the iconic hotel that towers over the city. We got a room on the 17th floor, which is coincidentally, the highest number on this elevator panel. Sweet!
Yeah, baby, top floor. Well, not really, there was a top secret elevator on the 17th floor that went up one or two more floors, but this was the top floor for mere mortals.
Here's our view of the St. Lawrence River.
There's another part of the hotel below us.
Here's the room ...
... and here is the very fancy bathroom.
Tom had to get a waypoint, of course.
The view from the end of the hallway was also quite nice.
Oh, my, that's a long way down.
We bundled up and went out to do some sightseeing, but turned back to look at the hotel to verify which one was our room.
You can get from the upper level of Old Town to the lower level quickly and easily by using the funicular ($1.75/person). We never had to wait more than 15 - 30 seconds to use one. Here's one coming right now to get us.
Here's the funicular as viewed from the street below. That's the hotel towering over the walls of the city.
The lower level is called Quarter Petit Champlain.
There are cafes and shops in the quarter, including this Lush store that closed one minute before we arrived. But don't worry, dear reader, because it opened again the next morning.
It was a chilly night made festive by all of the Christmas lights.
We headed out to the banks of the St. Lawrence River to get a picture of the hotel, and met a nice local man who recommended some sights to see.
Here's a little square in the quarter ...
... that featured these markings embedded in the street, with a light shining down highlighting it exactly. Tom the engineer had to study how they did it and nearly burned out his retinas.
More charming streets in the quarter.
Back up on the upper level, we took a look back down before taking the nice man's advice ...
... and hiking the 310 steps up to the Governors' Promenade.
Mercifully, the steps are broken into groups of 40 or so, with platforms and stretches of walkway in between. The steps and path winds around the hillside with views of the river below the entire way.
Here's Debbie posing for a photo -- or perhaps just resting.
Here's one of the cool walkways. Nice lighting, huh?
At the end of the walk, we reached the Plains of Abraham, an incredibly large park.
It was dark and we were hungry, so we studied the map for the quickest route back to the old town.
Pretty government building!
When we returned to the old town, several of the restaurants were closed for the season, but ...
... we found this restaurant, Le Cavour, with delicious seafood on their menu.
First, we'll start with a seafood crêpe. This is French Canada, after all, so a crêpe is mandatory.
Next up: beef Wellington and veal.
Don't forget the Christmas ambiance.
It was just two more blocks to our hotel, festively lit up in Christmas colors ...
... all the way up the building.
The nice man we met had told us about the silos shown here in the distance. This long row of silos turns into 1,968 foot long projection area, projecting movies and images in the summer, and a Northern Lights display in the winter. The green and white lights faded in and out just like the real thing. Thanks, nice Quebec man!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009: The next morning, we headed back to the little funicular station ...
... passing the historical displays showing the various stages of the walled city.
Here it comes!
First, we went back to the dock to get a daytime photo of our hotel.
To the left is a portion of the stairs we travelled the night before.
We shopped our way through the streets, picking up some ornaments, a Claire keychain, and some maple candy.
Then, finally, it was 10:00 AM and we knew where we had to be ...
... the Lush store! Debbie was so happy to be there, she just opened her travel wallet and left it open. We just needed enough Canadian money leftover to get back up the funicular and score some Tim Hortons food later.
We got a nice closeup of the hotel back up on the upper level. Our room was directly behind the right blue flag in this photo. Sweet, huh?
Here's a shot of the inner courtyard, taken while we waited for the valet. We have no idea where they actually stored the cars.
Back out into the normal downtown area ...
... and across the bridge to see Île d'Orléans, a large island in the St. Lawrence River known for its farming.
This is looking from the island across farmland back to the mainland. At the end of the bridge on the mainland, you can just make out the white shape of the small waterfall that stands near ...
... this big one, Montmorency falls. We would have gotten a better shot, but it cost $9 CND to get in to the visitor area and we only had $10 left.
That's $10 we needed to spend on a sandwich and donuts at Tim Hortons because we were starving.
We drove out of town ...
... and through the beautiful Quebec countryside.
Relax, ...
... and enjoy ...
... the lovely scenery ...
... while you can, because the story is going to turn dark here. Well, actually foggy first. When we were within a half mile of the US border, we spotted the fog.

Once at the border, the fog was this thick and spooky. A warning sign, perhaps?

Maine >

New England 2009: [Rhode Island] [Connecticut] [Vermont] [Quebec] [Maine] [New Hampshire] [Massachusetts]
New England 2009: [Rhode Island] [Connecticut] [Vermont] [Quebec] [Maine] [New Hampshire] [Massachusetts]

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