*EMBARRASSING UPDATE* 08/29/2016
So I just fired my blog back up after a year and I didn’t even realize I forgot to finish it! I’m posting it as is with a brief write up on how the trip ended.
Early in February, my husband and I found out that we’re expecting our first child. After a rough couple weeks of all day sickness, no sleep, a long cold winter, and work driving us crazy, I suggested taking a vacation. Ideally, relaxing on the warm white sand beaches of Cuba was where I wanted to be. But for some strange reason my husband had no desire to take a trip south. After some thought, I suggested Quebec City.
The last time I visited Quebec City I was about 13 years old, and it was for our grade 8 graduation trip. Nick had been there a couple days for work, but didn’t have enough time to appreciate what the city had to offer. Over the last 10 years we had talked about going one day, and now seemed like the perfect opportunity.
With train tickets costing a fair amount, we opted to drive. Making stops as we felt necessary. But we would split up the drive over two days. It’s a long haul to try and do in one day. So Saturday March 21st, we packed up the car and left Kitchener.
We made pretty good time getting through Toronto. By some miracle there wasn’t any traffic hindering our pace. But that’s not to say there wasn’t a lot of volume on the highway. It always blows my mind just how many cars on on the road when driving through the GTA.
Having made good time, our first long stop was in Kingston. I’ve always loved this city. I had visited it a few times before when my grandparents lived in Bath. We took about an hour to walk the streets, and stopped into a pub for a drink.
From here we pushed on another couple of hours to Cornwall and decided it was a good a place as any to spend the night. We looked up hotels online, and got a sweet last minute deal on a room at the Super 8.
We had our continental breakfast and hit the road. In a short time we’d be crossing the Provincal border into Quebec.
“In 1970 a fire destroyed St Raphael’s roof, its 1830’s tower and all of its interior decorations. Fortunately the outer walls were spared..” It was quite cold when we arrived. It didn’t take long for our hands to freeze. So we did a quick lap around the ruins, taking photos as we went.
From here we pushed on, and a short time later we crossed into Quebec.
We made a pit stop to grab a bite to eat, and had a pleasant experience with the young woman working at Tim Hortons. I tried to order in French, and she used what little English she knew. We laughed our way through it.
I got a good laugh afterward when I went to use the washroom. I checked messages while doing my thing and tucked my phone in my pocket. As I was about to open the door, I heard the faint sound of goats bleating. It took me a couple seconds to realize that I hadn’t locked my screen and had accidentally opened the Vine app on my phone hahaha! I bet the person in the stall next to me was wondering what I was doing!
Our next stop was in Trois-Rivières. The attraction this time was an old prison.
We didn’t call ahead to book the tour in English, so we tagged along on the French tour. Didn’t understand a single word of what was said, but I still enjoyed the 90 minutes I got to spend in the old jail. Though I wish I did understand the guide because I believe he was a former inmate, and it seemed like he had a lot to say.
Part of the tour took us down into the belly of the jail and into what I can only assume based on the stone work, the oldest part of the jail. It was pitch black, low ceilings with a dirt floor. Our group was huddled into one small room that had an old chain and cuff fixed to the wall.
As the group filed out, I said to Nick, “I want to be the last one out.” “Of course you do” he said. I felt like a kid in a candy store. The ghost hunter in me wanted nothing more than to spend the night in this old jail seeing if I could experience anything paranormal.
We left the jail and continued on the Kings Route toward Quebec City. I enjoyed this route much better than the main highway. We drove through old towns and it was quite scenic.
We reached Quebec City at around dinner time, and got checked into our hotel.
Our home for the next 5 days was the Hotel Acadia on Rue Ste Ursule. The photos on the hotel website didn’t do the room justice. We walked in and I found it very charming! The beds were so comfortable, I was ready to move in.
The evening was spend getting ourselves settled in and trying to decide where we wanted to go for dinner. Browsing online we found that many places were quite expensive, or were too fancy for my ‘refined taste’. So we decided on The Three Brewers. We would end up eating here 4 out of the 5 nights we were in the city because the food was SO good, and very reasonably priced.
Today I wished I’d brought a winter coat. It was very cold and very windy. Spring had already come to Ontario, so I’d forgotten what -15C felt like.
We started off with a (primarily outdoor) tour of the citadel. We were the only ‘locals’ on the tour. There was a couple from Ohio, a few people from Florida, and a couple from Seattle who, when I said where I was from they asked me, “You get winter right?”
I didn’t take any photos at the citadel. It’s just not that photogenic. I just snapped a couple of city views from the top.
After the tour we went back to the hotel to bundle up. I’d brought a thin down jacket that I decided to wear under my fall coat for extra warmth, with a thermal top for good measure. Add a scarf and toque and I was nice and toasty for our walk about the rest of the afternoon.
From here I enjoyed watching the ice flow down the St. Lawrence
After another great dinner at Three Brewers we caught the sun setting on the Chateau Frontenac.
We decided to climb up top the old wall to get a picture of the sunset over the city.
The long term forecast was calling for rain, so we decided today was the best day to visit Jacques-Cartier National Park. We couldn’t have chosen a better day to go. It was warm and sunny. We had brought our snow shoes but were told that the trail was well travelled so they wouldn’t be required.
We had some trouble finding the trail head, but we found a kiddie tube run so I made a couple passes before we sought out the trail.
We eventually found the trail and set off.
We hiked for about an hour before stopping for lunch. I thought it would be a great idea to go off trail to sit under a tree to eat my sandwhich. I took one step off the packed trail, and my 6 foot tall frame immediately sank to my thighs in snow!
The website for the park said that the winter season received 355cm of snow, almost 12 feet!
We continued on uphill to this spectacular look out!
It was a beautiful hike. The sun shined on us, the birds sang and we didn’t encounter another soul!
The hike was concluded with a trip to the gift shop where I continued the tradition of buying fridge magnets and a t-shirt. On our way out of the park we stopped to photograph the ice formations clinging to the rocks on the road side.
Today got off to a rather interesting start. After breakfast we came back to the room so I could lay down for a bit. Not long after we heard fire trucks coming up the street. I joking said to Nick, “is the neighbourhood on fire?” He got up up to look. “I’m not sure, but there’s three fire trucks in front of the hotel.” I got up to look and soon we saw smoke pouring out of the alley way three doors down on the opposite side of the street.
Turns out there was a dumpster fire in the alley by the underground parking…less than 50 feet from where our car was currently parked. Thankfully the car was undamaged, and we were able to make our short drive to Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
We had visited here on my 8th grade trip, but a mass was taking place and we weren’t able to see the main chapel. But this time I was able to explore it, and it was absolutely beautiful. There were a few people there saying their prayers, so I tried to be discreet and respectful when taking my photos.
From here it was a short drive over to Montmorency Falls. Which was still very frozen over. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s actually 30 meters taller than Niagara Falls.
To get to the base of the falls, we had to walk across an old railway bridge. Which I hate. Then we had to cross the resovuoir which was under about 3 feet of melting ice and snow. My feet occasionally sinking up to the ankle. That didn’t go easy on the nerves. In addition to that, the giant hill to our right produced the occasional minor rock slide.
I remember now! We went back to the 3 Brewers for dinner. There was some protesting going on and on our way back we got caught up in it. The road back to the hotel was blocked by an armed officer so we had to detour to get back. Police, RCMP and the army. Everywhere. We found out the next day that about a half hour after we left the restaurant they tear gassed the crowd.
The next day we drove home. Spent the night in Gananoque. We went to the casino because that was the only thing to do there that time of year. I think I won like, $100 which was pretty awesome!