Quebec City and Montreal Wrap Up

Let’s see if I can get this story wrapped up because a new one is starting tomorrow.

We had a day planned for laundry and there was a place very close to our apartment except after wandering around in circles and using the “smart” phone we finally realized: it was gone, demolished for a new hospital that was being built.

There was only one way Bob could deal with a setback like this and that was food. He remembered a breakfast spot close by (because of course he did) so we went and fortified him with some sort of huge egg poutine thing with meat and cheese, and pancakes on the side. I got a fruit plate that was an actual fruit plate. There were at least 10 different kinds of fruit. I want that fruit plate to be served to me forever when I order a fruit plate.

We later found a different laundromat and in the process discovered another delightful neighborhood area that we wished we had more time to explore.

I guess it was the next day that we took the train to Quebec City. There is the mother of all food courts in the main train station in Montreal. I am not a big sandwich person and I couldn’t believe there were so many sandwiches I wanted to try, all collected under one roof. You can imagine how Bob felt.

The train ride was lovely and relaxing and went by too quick. We especially loved the safety routine which involved the train conductor pointing to a tiny red hammer next to the window at the front of the car and telling us, in case of emergency, to rap that in the corner of window and then kick the window out — but not onto active tracks. Then hand the hammer to the next people. He also asked for a volunteer to show the override on the door between the cars. We thought it was hilarious.

When we got to QC it was raining like crazy and we hauled our bags up the hill into Old Quebec which I didn’t realize was such a major tourist trap. Mobs of people everywhere, lots of pricey mediocre food. Our hotel was funky and overpriced but terrifically located. Due to the weather we didn’t wander around much but we found a dinner spot and I had MAPLE SYRUP PIE! It was like pecan pie only with maple syrup and no pecans. It hurt my teeth but I loved it.

The next day we got an early start but already the tour buses were disgorging their umbrella toting masses. We started off at the Plains of Abraham which was a battlefield site and then walked along a small portion of the riverside trail park. Gorgeous and peaceful.

Sadly, my notes at this point are pretty sketchy and also confusing but since you weren’t there and wouldn’t know the difference I’ll just make stuff up to fill in the skanty bits.

The first museum we hit was the Musee de la civilisation which turned out to be our favorite museum of the trip.

OH NO! While looking up stuff about this museum, I just learned this museum suffered a terrible fire. The article makes it sounds like the loses were minimal. I don’t have time to do more research but even the tiniest bit of damage is a shame.

There were amazing Fine Arts works, Canadian artists and amazing First Nations works. We had another terrific tour guide who took us through a historical tour and at the end someone asked her for her opinions on the secessionist movement and she gave a very diplomatic answer and then the person said: no, I wanted to know *your* opinion. And she was very careful but candid and loved that we were so interested.

At this point we had been moving for most of the day and I was drooping in a big way. There was a tiny cafe – more like a food counter and we had one of our best meals of QC: carrot & orange soup and a sandwich with goat cheese and vegetables. I had about 3 bites and Bob said: Are you feeling better? I said: After a snack and 5 minutes?

But I rallied and we went to at least 2 more museums that day. My notes say things like “old pottery” and “starting to get repetitive.”

Our last day we had a big chunk of time to kill between when we checked out of our hotel and when the train left. We went to the last museum on our museum card: Musée de l’Amérique francophone which is about the development of Francophone culture in North America. We don’t use the world Francophone enough. It’s such a great word.

From there we found a nice outdoor market and took turns sitting in the sunshine with the luggage or looking for fun snacks.

At one point two men were looking for a place to sit and of course our ugly American luggage was all over the place so I invited them to sit down as I moved all our stuff out of the way. They didn’t speak English and gave me a funny look but when they saw what I was doing they smiled and sat down. When they walked away one of the men turned around and waved and said very carefully: Good Bye.

That was another one of my favorite trip moments. It’s really weird to be in a place with English and French spoken side-by-side but finding pockets of one or the other where there isn’t crossover. We didn’t run into too many language problems and we tried to speak a few words of French here and there.

It was still a bit early for the train but there were some ominous clouds in the distance and I suggested we hustle our booties to the station. And about 15 minutes after we sat down there was one of those rain storms where you look outside and can’t believe how hard it’s raining. Lucky we weren’t caught in that.

We had a quiet trip on the train and got a little bit lost finding our last hotel. It was a funny place that was total low budget but very lovingly done. It was an old building that was once a nunnery and then a post office. The guy who was telling us this said: And who knows what next, maybe a prison. We had one more day in Montreal before we went home and we went to the Biodome which the Internet tells me represents the 4 major ecosystems of the Americas and the site was the velodrome for the 1976 Olympics.

It was one of the few really crowded sights of the trip and there were approximately 100 million children there so we got through pretty quick. It was really cool though. There were birds and penguins and we saw a capybara. We walked around another park and saw a fox. We did some more walking around Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood and by this time we were both getting fried.

We bought some food at a outdoor market by the train station and had a picnic at our room and back to the PACNW the next day.

These outdoor stairs are a Montreal thing. There’s a heritage article here and a history lesson here. We saw a snippet about them in one of the travel videos we watched.

Right before we left we chatted with the host of our funny hotel and I asked him about the stairs: Aren’t they dangerous in winter?

He shrugged and said: Everything is dangerous in winter.

On that note, I’m signing off. If all goes smoothly next time you hear from me I’ll be in Belgium.

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