Yes. The earth has rotated around the sun many times since I last blasted my ponderings onto the world wide web. It’s just that sometimes, when people go through change, it’s best to be silent. And for awhile there, I thought perhaps I’d be silent forever. But in the last while that little seed of creativity has been brooding. So. I think I shall return to writing again after all.
Now.. skipping right to the meat of this post, what I want to write about is my trip last month to Quebec. Because I think more people should think about, and go, to Quebec. So, consider this a little bug in your ear. 🙂
Quebec: The Europe you can drive to.
Language: French and English. Don’t be afraid to speak English, btw. They really aren’t as snobby about it as everyone likes to make it seem. But also, don’t be afraid to speak French, if you can! Aren’t languages so beautiful, how they connect us across cultures and worlds?
History: In short, Quebec lost the war with England, making it part of Canada, but England decided to let them stay ‘French’ so they wouldn’t revolt like the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Esther says it better with more words and facts, if you want to read that here.
Planning: My friends and I decided to go over our Spring break, because that’s when we were all available to go. However, spring in Quebec, I think, is pretty hit or miss. We hit it. And it was phenomenal. But there were still mounds of snow on the ground. Not enough snow for the toboggan run in Quebec City to be open though. So, if you want winter, go in winter. And if you want summer, go then. If you want an adventure, go anytime!
What we did: We started with plans to drive from PA to Quebec City (~ 10 hrs), and realized that about 7 hours into our trip we would be passing Montreal. So, we added an overnight pit stop. In general we tooled around town, as the expression goes, looking for the best views and foods.
What not to miss:
Montreal Locations and Food:
Crew Collective & Cafe. Used to be a bank. Now it’s a coffee shop.
The Notre-Dame Basilica.
Maison Christain Faure. Has one of the top pastry chef’s in the world. We could tell! YUM!
La Banquise. Known for it’s varieties of poutine (Canada’s heart attack meal of gravy and cheese curds over fries).
Quebec City Locations and Food:
Chocolat Favoris. Hand dipped chocolate cones. Need I say more??
The Morin Center. An English library that used to be a prison! Cool, but smaller than we expected.
Feu Sacre. We chose from the limited preset lunch menu options and were surprised to discover our most relaxed, enjoyable, affordable meal of the trip. (Two hours of slow, fine dining for about $13!)
Château Frontenac. Built for customers of the Canadian Railroad and most photographed hotel in the world. Our walking tour guide told us we had to take at least 35 photos to do our part. We happily obliged.
Montmorency Falls and Il’ d’Orleans. Higher falls than Niagara’s and narrower too; island with beautiful views. Both about a 20 minute drive out of the city.
Things to keep in mind:
Foods. Be sure to try all the French foods (including French onion soup, macaroons, and eggs Benedict). My happiest discovery on this trip was a whole new group of foods to love!
Many parts of Montreal and Quebec City (especially in their respective Old Towns) offer free wifi. This is especially helpful in downloading maps if you are driving without a Canadian GPS.
Google translate is a great app. You can download a language ahead of time and then use your phone camera, holding it over the foreign language, and it will translate it on your screen without you having to type it. So helpful in reading parking signs and menus!
Parking. Probably my least favorite part of the trip. Words of wisdom: read the signs (and avoid parking tickets!). Also, feeding the meter is a pain. What helps, 1. downloading the app so you can pay remotely, 2. remembering your space number so you can pay at any meter (and not have to return to the one by your car), 3. having an accurate guess of how long you will be in an area. Adding $$ every few hours, on the hour, is annoying (have I mentioned that yet?).
Money. We mostly paid for everything on credit cards. But one of us did exchange cash at a bank, so, whenever cash was needed, she paid. We used the app “Cost Split” to enter all of who paid what. The app splits all the bills and calculates it so everyone only has to pay one person at the end. Easy peasy.
Airbnb. Just consider it!
Oh, and, obviously, go with friends. It’s always the best way to travel!