Being that I only have a couple of hours to do Quebec City by foot, I decided that I wanted to get drop off in front of the Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame-de-Quebec after my train ride/short cab drive.
My problem is that I am direction-challenged. I usually get the hang of it in a day or two, but new places always present a bit of pressure for me to get accustom to. Thus, instead of trying to figure it out, I needed the initial assist available to orient me (thus the cab ride).
I was taken up a hill and got drop off in front of the Basilique. According to my lonely planet guidebook, "this basilica, which began life as a humble church in 1647, was gradually enlarged over the years (and repaired following damages during British-French warfare) until reaching its present glory in 1925."
Although I am spritual, but not religious, I do like going into churches to check out their architecture and local history. Being influenced by my Chinese/Vietnamese-French/Italian godparents, I also light a candle for my dad who passed away years ago and his ashes scattered in the sea. So whenever I travel anywhere, he is always with me, so to speak. I also spoke a prayer for my grandmama and my boyfriend's dad who also passed away years ago.
Getting back to the topic on hand. One of the most famous things about Quebec city is that it's one of the oldest European settlements in Northern America that is considered to be a permanent settlement, and not a trade outpost. According to wikipedia, the name "Canada" derived from this settlement. Also, the remaining fortifiled walls (from the Battle of Quebec) that still exists here is a UNESCO "World Heritage Site".
Chateau Fortenac (runs by Fairmont group) is a hotel that dominates this city's skyline. Everywhere you look up, you will see the impressive view of the Chateau and it's majestic walls.
Not to be outdone, the Old Town also have a lot of historic sites. From houses of famous generals or people (most of them now turned into hotels), you feel like you are in a time capsule walking down the cobblestone street. Gorgeous to look at and great for photographing.
However, if you look carefully, there are lots of tacky, touristy shops everywhere. I only went into two to check things out, but really did not buy much because it reminded me about all the touristy spots in San Francisco that I avoid.
I did stop into a fondue house (le petite chateau), but the service is very bad (rushed and a bit rude). So I only ordered a glass of cider (local) to try and it was very yummy. And a ham & gravy crepe (a local quebecois special). It was okay, but I really like the lovely cider. Astonishingly expensive too given the bad service left a bad taste in my mouth. If I had waited, I could have gone to Aux Anciens Canadiens which is housed in the historic Jacquet House that dates back to 1676 that specializes in quebecois specialities. I would have rather spent my money there. Grrr... Anyway, I know where to go next time I visit Quebec properly (meaning more than one day).
Anyway, after walking around, I saw the ghost tour, but could not join as they start at 8 p.m. and I have to back at the train station by 5:30 p.m. bummer. So I consoled myself by walking toward the La Citadelle. The citadelle is star-shaped and one of the most strategic points in Quebec City. Very impressive.
After 2 more hours, I was again very famished (a crepe is not a lot of food but does have lots of butter), I took a detour and ate at a place call, Patisserie au Palet D'Or. This is what I would imagine a french cafe would be. Great baguettes, great chocolate pastries, and round out with a cuppa tea...ohhh...i wish I have dined here first instead of the other place. I was so happy and satisfied after this lovely meal. And it costs less than $10 (yes, the special was: Chevre & pesto baguette w/ beverage + dessert for $7.50 + tax. Take that rude fondue restaurant. The ladies that serve me are lovely as well. Very gracious and tre magnifique. I tip them well here because they really do deserve it. Merci beaucoup.
After walking around some more, I was confident that I could find my way back to the train station unassisted. So I went back to the Basilica and retraced my steps from the cab ride and walked back to the train station. Took me 15 mins very leisurely walking down hill. I guess it was good that I took cab uphill because the walking uphill could be somewhat difficult although not a bad thing to do if you can manage.
I wait about 30 mins for the train. After I boarded the train, I look out the window and saw a big chimney stuck out like a sore thumb in the Quebec skyline. What the heck is that? Then I noticed the water and the signage on the building and realized that it is a paper mill. Although I am a city girl, I do know a thing about mills. If not treated properly, the waste that paper mills produced can be unfriendly to the environment. It felt somewhat ironic that after my trip to an environmental musee yesterday that I found myself witnessing this.
But I think when we travel, we often see things that are paradoxical, don't you think?
My ride back to Montreal was uneventful and the night descended on us rather quickly, so that all view outside was blanketed in darkness.
More later. I am preparing to explore some more sights of Montreal today.
Oh, almost forgot... I spoke with smokey last night & he told me that the SF Giants won and we are going to the World Series Game! He didn't shave for a week and let his beard grew. Love it. Go black & orange!