Getting the Lay of the Land

Trip Start Aug 10, 2012
Trip End Aug 16, 2012

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Where I stayed
Hotel Chateau Laurier Quebec City
Read my review - 4/5 stars

Flag of Canada  , Quebec,
Sunday, August 12, 2012

We slept in a little, but considering the three-hour time difference, we didn't do too bad. Of course, our first stop was to have breakfast at Starbucks right across the street. I ordered my usual black iced tea (no water, light ice, 2 Splendas). I started my order in French, but realized I didn't know how to complete the order that way. Thank goodness it's a bilingual country.

I was surprised when the barista asked me if I wanted lemonade in it. "No." Why would I want lemonade in my iced tea? I didn't ask for an Arnold Palmer. I found out every day thereafter that that must be the norm. Strange.

Just a few steps from our hotel toward Vieux Quebec stands the Parliament Building. It's very beautiful. They're currently cleaning the facade, and we could see a huge difference between the clean "white" stones and the "dirty" dark stones. In front of the building is a gorgeous fountain, La Fontaine de Tourny. It looks like it should be in France.

We then walked down the street into Vieux Quebec. I was very excited to see it. DD served as our guide since she had been combing the city for three weeks. She had also given DH a tour the day before since he had arrived earlier. It was all very charming with lots of horse-drawn carriages and the Saint-Louis Gate, a beautiful old, stone gate to walk through.

On the other side of the gate is a monument with busts of FDR and Churchill which commemorates the conferences in 1943 and 1944 where they discussed some of the turning points in WWII.

Past the gate, the street becomes Rue Saint-Louis. There are a lot of restaurants and souvenir shops. DD also pointed out a tree whose roots had surrounded a cannonball. There are two stories about how this happened. One says that the cannonball was lodged into the tree during the war in 1759 between the French and the British. The other says that the cannonball was placed there to keep carriages from hitting the tree. Either way, it's pretty cool.

We strolled to the end of the street where Chateau Frontenac is located. For a little while, we watched a street performer who was quite entertaining; he had gathered quite a crowd.

The Hotel Chateau Frontenac was very impressive. It overlooks the St. Lawrence river. There is a nice boardwalk promenade, Terrasse Dufferin, to enjoy the views. We walked back through the hotel, which was crazy busy, to get a glimpse of the interior. On our way out, we saw an interesting stone, La Pierre de la Croix de Malte (The Maltese Cross Stone) embedded in one of the exterior walls over the carriage entrance. It was originally placed in the Chateau Saint Louis there in 1647.

We then continued into another part of the old city, walking down Rue Saint-Jean. I noticed the stop signs all said, "Arret." I found it amusing that in North America they use the French word, but in France, all the signs say, "Stop." Why is that?

We made our way to the basilica (Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Quebec). It's quite pretty inside. In the back were these huge costumes used for the Fete de La Nouvelle France.

We then ate lunch at Au Petit Coin Breton where we had some yummy crepes. I had an egg and spinach crepe, DD had a boar crepe, and DS and DH shared a three-course meal with French onion soup, salad and a strawberry crepe. I loved the white lace caps of the servers that are part of Brittany culture.

After lunch, we walked around some more and came across St. Mathew's old Anglican protestant church located in the Saint-Jean-Baptiste quarter. The architecture is in a British, non-Gothic style. In 1979-1980, the church was repurposed into a library. That's my kind of church!

We went back to the hotel. DH called the airline to find out about our bags. They were supposed to arrive yesterday. First they had to locate them, then nobody seemed to know what to do. They told us that they would be sent to the hotel the next day though. Since we didn't have some necessities, we went downstairs to a connecting Tabagerie (convenience store) and bought toiletries, etc. I was very unhappy that I was going to have to wear the same clothes I'd been in since Friday to go to our dinner. :(

We walked about a block down the street to the Loews Hotel Le Concorde to have dinner at L'Astral. We got there a little early, so we walked behind the hotel through a beautiful park for a little bit before going back to the restaurant. The park is part of the huge Battlefields Park which includes the Plains of Abraham. The part we were in was the Joan of Arc Garden which was quite pretty.

The restaurant is at the top of the hotel and rotates completely in about an hour and a half. We were a little shocked at the prices--a bit more than we have paid at similar restaurants. Our dinners were around $55 CAN. DS just opted for the buffet at $35 CAN. Our meals included the buffet which was comprised of salads, appetizers, and desserts. We all agreed that the buffet was worth it. If we were to do it again, we would just order the buffet and not the entrees. The shrimp were amazing, and we all liked our salads (not boring at all). We had great fun with the desserts. I really enjoyed the maple torte and macarons. The view was nice, the service excellent.

It was a good day. I have to admit, the stress of our crazy flights and missing luggage had taken its toll though. It did put a little bit of a damper on things.
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