Thursday, July 23, 2015

Quebec City, Quebec

On Saturday, July 18 we arrived at Marina du Port de Quebec from Portneuf.  It was a short 37 mile run in the rain and we arrived early at around 10:30.  To enter the  marina, we had to go through one more lock - another easy floating lock.  The marina was situated in a perfect setting in the lower town, the site of the original settlement of Quebec City.   We had a fantastic view of the famous Hotel Chateau Frontenac which was located just inside the city walls.

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We were welcomed by Duane and Di from Diva Di who were the only other couple we knew who are also doing the Down East Loop.  Later in the week we met a second couple from Vancouver who will also be traveling that way, so we feel a little safer knowing that others will be following a similar path this summer.

Quebec City is an amazing place to visit.  It has over 400 years of history enveloping its cobblestoned streets, turreted medieval-looking buildings, stone facades and copper roofs.  It is truly stunning.  Quebec City is the largest  UNESCO World Heritage  urban site in North America.   It is also the  oldest walled city in North America north of Mexico. Quebec City is very French and has a true European flair.  Even the rainy streets remind one of Paris!

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We had four days to spend here so we took our time exploring.  Having been here before, there were a few “must see again” sites as as well as plenty of time to explore other parts we hadn’t seen.  And we had the pleasure of introducing the city to  Cathy and Steve as it was there first time being here.

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We spent Sunday exploring the city on foot.  After breakfasting and walking through the Lower Town, we proceeded up, up, up the hill to the Upper Town.  There we continued up to the Citadel and the Plains of Abraham – the site of a number of battles with the French, the British, and yet another one involving Benedict Arnold.  Of course, each day we had to periodically stop for coffee and pastries at the inviting patisseries located everywhere.  The city is very hilly so we certainly got our walking exercise while we were there!

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That night we met our friend Gilles and his buddy Daniel who came to the boat for drinks.  They live in Quebec and Gilles travels regularly to Florida where we have hosted him at our house in Ponte Vedra Beach.  They brought us to a fun restaurant in the old town that specialized in all kinds of pork dishes – delicious!  Afterwards, we walked through Port Royal which is  the oldest, most historic part of the city.  Over the years it had become very run down but extensive investment has resulted in its being rebuilt in a manner that honors its historic past.  They have done such a great job that the neighborhood is often used as a film set for movies set in the 16th century.

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A lucky event occurred that day.  We had gone to a wine store to replenish our stock and when we returned to the boat Jonny realized that he had lost his phone.  The clerk at the wine store clerk found the phone, saw that Jonny had recently called Gilles and Stephanie and he texted both of them.  Of course, we saw Gilles that night and Jon was able to contact the wine store and retrieve his phone the next day.   A little drama to spice up our day – but fortunately the problem was resolved!

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On Monday, Jonny spent the morning buying a Canadian phone – we’ve been struggling with phone issues since we’ve been in Canada.  The highlight of the day was a three hour walking tour that was excellent.  Our guide provided a lot of historical and political insight into how Quebec developed as a city from the time of the lndians to the present and he elaborated on the influence of the French, British, Canadians and Americans on the architecture, religion and economics of the province.  Of course we visited some of the beautiful churches and cathedrals – both Catholic and Protestant.

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We also saw some great art installations that were scattered in different parts of the city.

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That evening we had dinner on board and cooked flank steak on the grill – only to discover that we have yet another new item to buy when the grill gave out in the middle of cooking the steak!  Fortunately we were able to save the dinner and we now have a new item on our West Marine shopping list. Too bad there’s no West Marine in Canada!

On our last day in Quebec, we did some re-provisioning as we would be traveling in much more remote areas for awhile.  Steve and Cathy finalized their plans for their remaining days in Quebec City and Montreal  since we were abandoning them to continue our travels.  (We have to be very conscious of the swift currents over the next few days because if we do not time our departures to coincide with them we will be cruising against them and moving at ridiculously slow rates of speed.)

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We celebrated our last full day together by yet another walk through this gorgeous city. We even took the Funiculaire to avoid one more traipse up the steep hills. We had drinks at the very British Hotel Clarendon and the very noteworthy Hotel Chateau Frontenac.  If you haven’t been to Quebec City, you should strongly consider putting it on your bucket list!

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