Walking around in a snow globe.

Trip Start Jan 16, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed

Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Friday, December 9, 2011

Well yet again it seems like ages since I've written something here, so it's good to be back as the saying goes, and hopefully I'll be updating this on a much more frequent basis for the next few weeks as our Canadian/USA trip begins in earnest.

I cannot possibly begin however without acknowledging our time in Halifax which has now come to an end after almost ten months for me and eight for Amanda. Obviously it's hard saying farewell to the friends and colleagues we've met along the way, which is unfortunately the most difficult part about travelling but something that must be done. Personally it's been a great pleasure to have worked at the HI Hostel in Halifax and I've been very lucky to have had colleagues that I can also call friends and I'm very grateful for my time there. On another note, I can personally guarantee a fantastic place to stay for anyone reading this and planning a trip to the Nova Scotian capital. However, in the wise words of our good friend Giorgio: "A farewell to one place is always a welcome to another"

Which leads me nicely to our arrival in Quebec City.....

A nineteen hour train trip to travel what was essentially only a couple of inches on a map gave us another reminder of the sheer massive size of the land mass that Canada possesses on this great green earth. 

It's fair to say that we were both a little anxious at the thought of being on a train for such a long period, however I can be only full of praise for the VIA Rail experience. Comfortable, helpful staff and a great way of seeing some of the country.

Arriving at 6am the following morning and despite being more than a little groggy, we were delighted to arrive at the hostel and crawl into the bed in our elegant and cosy private room to catch up on some much needed sleep.

When we awoke and stepped out into the rainy Quebecois capital, I don't think either of us had really expected what was about to greet us. It's an almost ridiculously beautiful city full of majestic charm and jaw dropping scenery. There's an obvious European feel that extends far beyond it's French speaking inhabitants which is impossible not to fall in love with, even despite the constant rain. 

There's no doubt that it's a winer and diner's delight as the streets are peppered with all forms of wine bars, cafés, restaurants and ice creameries, all of which look so cosy and appealing that it's almost impossible to walk past them, especially in cold weather. It would be very easy to blow a budget here by simply dining out as the prices are a little bit higher than usual, which probably reflects the increase in the overall dining experience.

The city has been very tastefully maintained and updated so that the signs of the modern financial based lifestyle are few and far between, so much so that the majority of banks and skyscraper style buildings are outside the ancient walls of the old city. There are however, two buildings that are impossible to ignore on the city's skyline.

One is the beautifully Art Deco styled Edifice Price, which despite being only 18 floors high and being very cleverly lit at night time, it makes you feel like you are back in the decade of it's construction in the early 1930's. A stunning piece of architecture that is really striking on it's first view.

The other building, L'Chateau Frontenac, has the honor of the being the most photographed hotel in the world, and despite not knowing exactly who gave it such a prestigious award, I certainly cannot argue with the claim. To say it is stunning is an understatement. Looking like a castle from a children's novel with it's fairytale style turrets and peaked roofs it's hard not to just stand and stare at it endlessly.

Just when we thought it was impossible to be any more beautiful, we woke up one morning to see the city had been covered in a think layer of fresh powdery snow and coupling that with the gorgeous Christmas lights and decorations that had been on display, it felt like we were walking around in a snow globe

In each of the four days we spent there, we kept coming across a new street, or corner or walkway that seemed more charming than the last, and for the record, if anyone is thinking of coming to the city, I can recommend the following places:

Casse Crêpe Breton,1136 Rue St.John for delicious savoury and sweet crepes, and our personal favourite, a Café Maison, which is a generous bowl of coffee, hot chocolate and ice-cream all blended into one...perfect for those cold snowy days.

Bistro l'Accent, 810 avenue Honoré-Mercier for a hearty Baltic Rosti or a Cowboy Brunch.
Or finally L'Oncle Antoine, 29 Rue Saint Pierre for body warming hot wine in an almost cave like cellar bar which dates back to 1754. Despite the bar girl mixing up the sugar and salt jars and giving our drinks a very unique, and eye watering taste, she very quickly rectified the error, much to her embarrassment and our humour. 

I cannot possible say enough good things about the city itself so obviously I'd highly recommend a trip here if you're in the neighbourhood. We'd heard lots of stories about it being difficult to get by in the city who's first language is French but the locals were all more than helpful and polite once we'd made an effort to parles un peu in our own mix of French and English, as is referred to by my French brother in law, as Fran-glais. 

The only piece of advise I would give is to be careful of taxi drivers charging very inflated prices. On the two occasions we had to had to get a cab, both of the drivers managed to get a few extra quid from us, even despite a meter being on. However, this is a very small complaint to make and one which occurs in almost every large city throughout the world and certainly didn't cloud our judgement one little bit.

At the moment we are en-route to Montreal, once again by VIA Rail which is only 3 hours away so we are getting to see some more of the beautiful snow covered landscapes along the way. For now though, it's au revoir and merci Quebec City. It's been a pleasure.     



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kimrobinson on

I loved Quebec too ... but looks like you picked a truly magical time to visit. Miss you both.

Whilst you enjoy the snow I find myself sat on a beach in Oz. Madness!

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