Category Archives: Travel

Home again, home again

All good things come to an end, and so did our trip to Vieux-Québec. It will feel good to be back home again and sleeping in our bed, but the break was an excellent chance to see the beautiful city and recharge our batteries.

The plan was to have an early breakfast at the hotel then get on the road. Things didn’t turn out quite that way. Between busloads of students and the Pee Wee hockey tournament, the hotel’s restaurant was full and people were lined up down the stairs and into the lobby to get a table.

Off to Cosmos, we went. We’d eaten there before, and their breakfast was good. The bonus was the lack of line up for food. Things changed quickly though after we arrived. People who were tired of waiting at the hotel joined us.

I had my phone with me, so after we finished eating, I took on the ice slide outside the restaurant. By now there was a lot of sandy snow on its surface which made it difficult to get moving. But as you can see, I did.

I even struck a pose afterwards.

We got Buddy all settled into his place in the backseat where he can look out the window, and we were off.

The stats for today weren’t worth getting excited over. I beat my daily step goal but compared to the previous days; I couldn’t consider myself an over-achiever.

 

 

Carnaval ~ Everyone is doing it

At breakfast, we decided to get a picture of our room from outside the hotel. We knew we were behind the one bank of elevators and at the end of the corridor between them was a window. We left the curtains open unevenly so the window would be easier to spot from the ground.

Carnaval

As always, we seem to migrate directly to Dufferin Terrace. This one bench was the most exposed of all of them. Getting down was one thing. Getting back up, was something completely different. I was like my friend in Scotland said once “you’re like a buck-it yowe.” Something to do with a ewe that is unable to get up.

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My little Wienerschnitzel, Buddy, is turning into quite a little ham.

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We watched the folks who were brave (crazy) enough to do the toboggan run. Hubby wanted to do it. Refer to the word in brackets above. With there being three lanes and a substantial barrier between each, you have to keep your feet tucked up into the person’s in front of your lap, or be the driver and have “vos pieds” under the curved front.

This man and his dogs (Mona & Lisa) were there every day. He’s meant to be a fur trapper. As you can see, hubby is wearing a coonskin over his head. The dogs have lovely fur beds to sit or lie down on, as well as booties to keep their feet warm and the road salt off.

Carnaval

I envision the streets and sidewalks in my book, It Happened on Dufferin Terrace, looking like this. I know Serenity wasn’t in Vieux-Québec during the winter carnival, but still, it’s white and crisp and beautiful as it was in my book.

Carnaval

We worked our way back to Rue du Petit Champlain and the park where the Smurf house and other ice sculptures were located. And yes, the wee ham is at it again. This one was too slippery for him, so he needed a bit of assistance.

Carnaval

Remember the ice slide I mentioned in an earlier post? Well, here I am. Not video but it will do. Even with a long down-filled coat, it was still chilly on the butt.

Carnaval

Back uphill and we met up with the Mad Hatter again. This time with three of her friends. By the time this photo was taken, the third one had gone off to talk to someone else.

Carnaval

After another fun visit with the Mad Hatter and her friends, we carried on up the street to the Pub Saint Alexandre where we enjoyed a few drinks before returning to Simons where I bought three bottle lights. I already had a clear one so this time I got them in grey, yellow and rose. I wanted another spoon rest like the ones I bought there previously, but they didn’t have any.

Back to the hotel with these purchases (no sense carting things around if you don’t have to).

After a fuel stop at the hotel and having the other bottle of champagne we brought with us, we headed back inside the wall to the pub (we told the girls we’d be back). I looked up the manual for my camera and re-learned how to shoot video with it. This time it worked!

I have two clips of hubby on the slide in front of Cosmos, but a little girl is in the other one waiting for her turn. I opted not to use that one because of that.

I’ve really created a monster. Now the little Wienerschnitzel is taking selfies. I think he best stick to having others take his photo. His poor legs are too short to get the camera a decent distance away from himself.

Carnaval

This was our last night in Vieux-Québec so we wanted to make the most of it, despite the fact we turned into pumpkins around 9:00 (sometimes earlier) each night. But with the fresh air and all the walking, it’s no wonder we were tired.

Feb 14 (and this was a travel day)
13,167 steps
5.24 miles
22 floors

Feb 15
17,150 steps
6.82 miles
33 floors

Feb 16
20,675 steps
8.22 miles
33 floors

Feb 17
23,830 steps
9.48 miles
59 floors

 

Sunny Saturday

Well, after a few flurries early in the morning, the day turned out to be gorgeous. With sunny days in the winter, the temperatures are colder, but we were well prepared.

After breakfast at the hotel, we were off. Our first stop was the slide outside Cosmos. Hubby took Buddy down it. Too bad I didn’t remember how to shoot video (a function I might use once a year at the most with my Canon). With my murky – no completely absent memory – all I got was this shot when he stood up at the bottom. Not what I planned on at all. However; he received accolades and high-fives from folks on the sidewalk afterwards. 😄

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Despite my inept video shoot, they do look like they had fun, don’t they?

Further down the street outside the ice castle, there was a sculpture of a VIA train engine. What guy can’t resist pretending he’s driving a train?

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Or a girl and her dog for that matter, even if he is a stuffed one?

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There is so much snow on Dufferin Terrace that most of the benches are buried under it. Said snow crunched under our feet as we walked.

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My favourite street in all of Vieux-Québec, Rue Sous-le-Cap, is once again open from one end to the other. This narrow street at the base of the cliff was closed for some time because of a rock slide.

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It might be open, but it wasn’t all that easy to traverse with only tire tracks to walk in and slip and slide as one struggled for traction.

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At the other end, the cars had been buried under blown snow (either by wind or mechanical means). I wonder if the one who left the bumper imprint was cleaned off entirely when it departed?

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We don’t usually walk with canes, but when you’re on ice and snow, it’s nice to have a little extra support. Ice-picks affixed to the tip work well. Although we walked up the hill a few times, we took advantage of the funiculaire to ride to the top on this occasion.

By riding up the hill, we arrived in time to watch this performance. A freighter going upriver and the ferries leaving the ports of Québec and Lévis at the same time. It’s quite the water ballet.

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The plan was to visit Simons after this display of navigational coordination. Who did we run into on our way there? The Mad Hatter! One can’t visit Carnaval and not take the time to speak with someone this famous (or should I say infamous). There were other people in costume in the area but they were otherwise occupied talking with other folks.

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We did get to Simons and this time wasn’t out of necessity, but luxury. I love the quality of their wool socks so I stocked up.

It was later in the afternoon so we decided to have a few drinks and an early supper before returning to our room. Between the time we left the store and got to the Pub Saint Alexandre, a young man (not dressed for the weather) asked hubby if he could take a picture with him. We both think the lad thought “homeless” the way hubby carried the Simons bag on his cane over his shoulder.

The girls working behind the bar loved Buddy. I mean what’s not to love? Look at that face.

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He’s welcome there anytime because he was so well behaved.

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A few drinks and fish supper later, we headed back to our hotel after a stop at the Mary’s Popcorn outlet up the street. The small bag of chocolate popcorn we bought previously tasted like more.

A beautiful moon made the walk back to our accommodations even more romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Red sky in morning …

The adage “red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky in morning, sailor’s warning” summed up Friday, the 15th perfectly. Look at the beautiful sunrise in the first two pictures. Gorgeous, isn’t it?
red sky

red sky

How about now? This picture is of the same view as when we arrived, but the snow was so heavy, practically the entire vista vanished. The tower on the Parliament Building is barely visible!

red sky

After breakfast, we girded our loins and headed off to the Metro supermarket on Avenue Cartier for more French’s Sweet Onion Mustard, which is no longer available in Ontario. 😒

Some of the restaurants along Grande-Allée had ice sculptures in their patio areas, but the best ones were in Lower Town. These are just a few.

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Yogi Bear and Booboo
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one of the smurfs

Created from ice, and it’s a slide! Okay, there’s some bare plywood showing. Remember this picture.

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ice slide

Back to the sculptures.

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Shaun the Sheep
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Three little pigs

When we reached this spot, we were asked to take a photo of a group of people with Bonhomme. The young lady taking the picture wanted to be included, so handed me her phone and I snapped some pictures for her. In return, she captured this one of us. If you look closely, you can see Buddy’s nose sticking out of the ‘book’ bag between Bonhomme and me.

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with Bonhomme

And still more sculptures.

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Snoopy and Charlie Brown
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Bambi

So much snow already on the ground, and now with today’s dumping, folks were removing the snow and icicles from their roofs and eaves. This wet stuff was perfect snowman making snow, and with too much weight, a roof could collapse.

red sky

After riding the funiculaire to the top of the cliff, we trundled off to Pub Saint Alexandre for a well-deserved drink and a chance to dry out. While there, we bought official Carnaval tuques. Our stuff was so wet; I didn’t think it would be dry by morning and wandering about in the cold in damp clothing does not bode well for one’s health.

This arch was outside Cosmos where we had supper. Just out of the picture on the left is another ice slide.

red sky

Tomorrow is Saturday, and they say it will be a fine day. We’ll see if they’re right.

 

 

Love is in the air … and adventures, too

It’s going to be a year of adventures for us, but for now, I’m concentrating on our recent trip to Quebec City, Vieux-Québec in particular.

What better time to arrive in this beautiful old city than Valentine’s Day?

On this trip, we stayed in a different hotel than on previous occasions. Our usual hostelry had no rooms available for the duration of our stay. However, its sister hotel around the corner fit the bill quite nicely.

I love older hotels or bed and breakfasts because of their character, but they lack some amenities – like elevators.

Hôtel Le Concorde not only provided us with a stunning room on the topmost floor (26th) with a fantastic view down the Grande Allée but underground valet parking, too.

adventures

I said the view was fantastic.

After settling in and enjoying one of the bottles of champagne we brought with us, we set out. I had to get my Simons fix, although this time it was a necessity rather than a luxury. It seems in the course of packing and rearranging; I left my tuque and scarf behind. Winter and not having those, especially when a snowstorm was in the forecast for the next day, not a good idea.

Suitably attired, we wandered down to the Lower Town where we stopped at Sapristi‘s Petit Champlain location, which we discovered on our trip in November, for our supper, followed by The Fudgerie to stock up on our chocolate, and finally the last stop before returning to our room was Mary’s Popcorn.

Suitably fortified with sweets and snacks for the rest of our time in Vieux-Québec, we headed back to our hotel.

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Vacation Begin!

After breakfast at Cosmos and gathering our various accoutrements, we started towards the wall and the old part of the city. On a good day, it would take five minutes tops. It was still snowing, and the sidewalks hadn’t been cleared yet. But, we’re on vacation so have no deadlines. We get there when we get there.

vacation

Despite the snow, the sun tried to shine. You can see it peeking through the cloud cover over the drill hall. In 2008, this grand building caught fire. You can read about it here. I’m really pleased they restored the building. Being a UNESCO world heritage site, it was a no-brainer, although if it were in the city I live in, it would be pulled down before there was a chance to even think of saving it.

When we arrived inside the walls of the old city, we walked through the Christmas Market, which wouldn’t open until the following day.

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Because of the snow covering the roofs of the buildings, it didn’t look like the section behind City Hall was filled.

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It was nice to be able to wander through and not be jostled by people. A few vendors were getting their huts ready, but other than that and the occasional pedestrian like us, the place was deserted.

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The building in the background with the green trim at the top and around the windows is Simons. I love that store! No trip to the old city is complete without a stop there. Today was no different.

Back in the summer, I bought some slate coasters and a funky stainless steel spoon rest. Well, I wanted at least one more of the latter so when one was in the dishwasher, I had another. They only had one left, so I snagged it. I also bought a battery operated set of LED lights inside a bottle.

There was one thing lacking on this trip to the store, and it wasn’t until a bit later, it hit me. They still didn’t have their large, green wreath hung on the exterior of the building. The window displays were all done up, but not the outside. Somehow, it didn’t feel like Christmas without it there.

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From there it was over to Dufferin Terrace. Between the falling snow and the overcast conditions, you could barely see across the river.

After some time spent here, we gingerly (I gingerly) worked my way down the steps behind the post office to the street below and eventually onto Rue du Petit Champlain.

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It probably would have been easier to come down via the Funiculaire, but the downhill bit isn’t as difficult as the trip back up the slope. The steps from one street to the other are the killers – especially on my knees.

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The arbour here in Parc Félix-Leclerc was festively decorated. This year, instead of the huge ‘Santa’ chair being out in the open, it was sheltered under a hut (see the left of the picture). On the right was a small building. I’m not sure if you could enter it or not. In front of it were the Muskoka chairs arranged in a circle around a fire.

The arrangement this year was a bit different from when Serenity and Roger passed by in It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

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Construction made it difficult to get decent photos when we were in Place Royale. To the right of the Christmas tree above were lengths of fence and an enormous hole in the ground in front of Geomania.

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By now the snow had stopped. The ambient light was at the perfect level for the Christmas lights to show.

Tomorrow the Christmas market opens! I’m looking forward to that and spending more time here in lower town.

BREAKING NEWS via Able Cane

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Able Cane here with some breaking news from Vieux-Québec. World Famous Author, Melanie Robertson-King, is once again in the old city. I’m waiting outside her hotel hoping to catch her coming or going.

My cohort, Roxie Rebel, and I followed her down to Dufferin Terrace, the place where Roger and Serenity first meet in Melanie’s Christmas novella; It Happened on Dufferin Terrace.

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Roxie captured her trying to catch snowflakes here before she disappeared down the Frontenac Stairs. I tell you, she’s a brave woman tackling the steep slope of Côte de la Montagne in these snowy conditions.

breaking news

I couldn’t resist taking a moment to capture the magical street, Rue du Petit Champlain.

They don’t call these Breakneck Stairs for nothing. I almost wiped out in my haste to get ahead of Melanie so I could get a picture of her gingerly making her way down them.

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That’s all for now. Able Cane and Roxie Rebel signing off.

 

 

 

Day Four of the “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” tour

Day Four

Compared to the previous few days, this one is tame. After our last breakfast at JA JA, we checked out of the hotel to begin our final day in this beautiful, and friendly area we know and love.

Since I first spotted this gothic mansion in 1993 when I was a parent chaperone on my son’s year-end school trip, it niggled at me. The house looked like this in 2004.
Day Four of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

And with some photoshopping, it looked like this.

Under the watchful eye of a neighbour, we walked around the perimeter, never venturing onto the actual property. I think that would have created a call to the local constabulary. I know I have photos between then and now, but of course, when I want them, they’re hiding elsewhere.

Aside from a few public conveniences stops on the trip home, our final stop was on Île d’Orléans and the Chocolaterie de I’lle Orleans. And before you ask, no it wasn’t for chocolate. We discovered honey here that we love. So, brought back the empty jar to ensure we got the right one. The girls working in the shop got a kick out of us bringing back a used container but understood when we told them we loved this blend and wanted to ensure we got the same.

I didn’t bother recording my Fitbit stats today. They were awful. Only about 4500 steps.

 

 

Day Three of the “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” tour

Day Three

Today, we’re doing the crypt tour at Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica. At some point in our travels, the previous day, we found out we weren’t too late in the season for the tour, but a day early. They don’t start until Wednesday.

Day Three of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

Here we were all excited to go on the tour only to find out we were a couple of hours early. I poked around and took this photo of the interior. Isn’t that beautiful?

Day Three of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

After that, I got my simons fix, and we took the purchases back to the hotel. Again, no sense dragging a bag around with you that you don’t need.

Still plenty of time to kill before the 1:00 pm start. For some reason, I got it in my head the first tour was at 10:00 in the morning. Yeesh. Across the street to La Boutique de Nöel Quebec. I don’t get all gooey over Christmas anymore, but I love this shop. Summer or winter, it’s beautiful. I took this photo from the mezzanine area at the back of the store.

I was tempted to buy a jigsaw puzzle while I was in there but resisted the temptation. It would only lead to purchasing something else to assemble and store it on, then a place to put that, a place to work on the said puzzle where there is good light.

Day Three of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

We decided to go over to the Pub D’Orsay for a drink and to wait for the crypt tour. In the meantime, it started to rain so inside the bar was the best place to be. Comfortable, dry and inviting. Before we left, we said we’d be back later … and we were.

After I took a couple of photos in the crypt, I found out you weren’t supposed to. I assumed because you could take as many as you wanted upstairs (without flash), it was the same down here. I got these two. And basically, this is the entire crypt.

Day Three of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

Day Three of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour
Disappointed? You bet. When we found out about the tour last November, the fellow at the tourist information office made it sound like it was the end all, be all. I didn’t figure it would be like the catacombs in Paris but thought there was more to it.

As promised at the Pub D’Orsay, we went back. This time we had a bowl of their French Onion Soup. It’s the best I’ve tasted this side of Paris.

We puttered our way back to the hotel and opened the last bottle of champagne we brought with us. It had been in the fridge since Monday when we arrived, so it was good and cold.

When supper rolled around, it was chucking down with rain, so we went St Hubert in the Château Laurier just down the street from us.

Buddy even joined us for supper.

Day Three of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

Today’s Fitbit stats:

22312 steps
47 flights of stairs
8.87 miles

Tomorrow is a travel day as we have to go home and the ‘real’ world. But we’ll be back here two more times this year.

 

Day Two of the “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” tour

Day Two

After breakfast this morning, our mission was to go to Metro for French’s Sweet Onion Mustard. We love it, and it’s no longer available where we live. How rude!

As luck would have it, the closest Metro is on Avenue Cartier, which is a street we wanted to visit because of the funky street lights which are year-round installations.
Day Two of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

When we reached the intersection with Rue Fraser, we came across this bike. It has a USB port so you can pedal your way to charging your phone or other devices.
Day Two of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour
Mustard purchased and taken back to the hotel (who wants to drag around six squeeze bottles all day?), we went to fulfill our other mission which we couldn’t do last November. The gates of the old cemetery are locked by November 1st and not opened again until spring.

The most direct route from our hotel is to head a bit further away from the wall along Grande Allée then turn down Rue de Claire-Fontaine.

Looks steep going down, doesn’t it? Well, that’s nothing. When you reach the last block, there are steps on the sidewalk rather than the slope. And a handrail!

We prowled through here. It’s just something I have to do when I go somewhere. Find an old cemetery and take wander through it. This one, although small and not a huge number of stones remaining, didn’t disappoint. Roxie Rebel trailed me here, and you probably saw pictures of me in here already.

Two things off the “Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt” bucket list for this trip. Next up benjo. And to get there, you guessed it – another steep hill going down followed by more stairs.

This place is huge! Amazing! Toy heaven for all kids big and small.
Day Two of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

From what I can tell from the size of the sign in the photograph, this train runs around the store on Saturdays and Sundays at scheduled times. Wouldn’t that be fun?

Day Two of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

Number 5 is alive! They didn’t disassemble him. The gentleman working at this counter led the robot through a demonstration for us because we expressed an interest.

Day Two of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

And a tower of the stuffies from the movie, The Secret Life of Pets. Buddy clones! Don’t tell. They’ll all want to come home with him. I’ve never seen the movie, but my Buddy (purchased in Vieux-Québec last November at La Boutique de Nöel de Québec) has brought me as much enjoyment as a real dog.

Day Two of the "Been there, done that, bought the T-shirt" tour

After all this walking, it was time for some liquid refreshment. Replace the fluids we sweated out. Off to the Pub Saint Alexandre. On our way there we spotted this beauty. How would you like to drive to and from work in it?

Revived and refreshed after a couple of drinks, we decided to do the open-top, hop on-hop off bus tour. And sit up top, naturally. It was a good thing we had our umbrellas with us because we did get rained on a couple of times up there. While others sought shelter below, we toughed it out under our brolley.

This photo of the Price Building and the Château Frontenac are from almost the same vantage point as the one taken our first night. Before and after this picture was taken, it rained.

A wander along Rue des Remparts up through Artillery Park, we found ourselves back at the pub where we had an early supper before going back to the hotel.

Fitbit stats for today:

19278 steps
49 flights of stairs
7.67 miles