Category Archives: Canada

#Scotland 2015 Day 18 – Fly Home

#Scotland 2015 – Sept 28, 2015

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Checked out of the hotel, we were in Terminal 2 before the Air Transat counter even opened. Flying Option Plus gave us priority check-in, boarding and luggage handling so we would be looked after before the minions. And speaking of minions, one of them (and his wife) stood where the line would begin until they were told to go sit down because it would be another half an hour or so before check-in would be open. So what did they do then? They left their luggage carts (hers with all the luggage – his with his golf clubs only) behind saving their places so that they would be at the head of the queue. That didn’t last long. Someone came along and told them if they didn’t move the bags, they would be considered unattended luggage and destroyed. And wouldn’t you know, they moved the bags… drat.

One thing I’d not seen in the airport was a clock. Neither one of us wears a watch. Both my phones (unlocked iPhone and Blackberry) were in our soon-to-be checked in large bags, and hubby’s Blackberry was turned off because it needed to be charged at the first opportunity.

There was a girl at the Air Transat information desk so he walked over there to find out what time it was. While there, he asked if there were any seats remaining in Club Class. It was supposed to be a surprise but since I had the tickets and our passports in my bought-in-Edinburgh handbag, the surprise was no more. Rather than leave our stuff unattended, I loaded up and wheeled our large bags over. Thankfully, it wasn’t far.

Two seats were left in Club but they weren’t together. But with only six seats up there, we wouldn’t be far apart. Upgrade paid for (this morning hubby’s MasterCard wouldn’t work – mine hadn’t worked the entire trip) on a different credit card, the young lady from here walked over to check-in with us. And we did get two seats together!

Checked in, and through security, we stopped at Beardmore for breakfast. We’ve eaten here in the past and it’s good food and good value for the money.

When we reached the departure lounge at gate 29, there were electrical outlets on the wall by the end of the row of seats. Adapter pulled out of the CPAP machine bag, charger cable out of hubby’s computer backpack, his Blackberry was plugged in. It wouldn’t get a full charge but at least it would have enough to be able to phone/text my cousin when we landed and when we got to the post outside where she would meet us.

I took a few pictures of planes taking off through the window directly in front of our seats before hubby took the camera and said ‘pretend you’re sad’. I didn’t have to pretend. I was but pulled a face and he snapped the picture.

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Me pulling an exaggerated sad face in the terminal because we were leaving

An Air Transat plane landed and we assumed it was ours. I followed it to the other side of the departure lounge and got photos of it approaching the gate.

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Our plane taxiing after landing
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Our plane approaching the gate

We had decided to leave the Blackberry charging for as long as possible – even if it meant carrying it, cable and adapter plug in hand when we were called to board.

Gradually, the lounge filled up and Mr and Mrs Minion arrived. When the call was made to board, they rushed over even though at that point it was only people travelling with young children under the age of 5 or people who needed assistance. Club and Option Plus were next. Our seats were in the front row of Club Class between the two aisles of the plane.

The look on Mr Minion’s face was priceless when he and the missus boarded. We were long since seated and were sipping champagne when they finally got on.

Our flight director was wonderful. She teased hubby (after telling him he couldn’t use his headphones until we were in the air but he could still hold my hand). He’s not a good flyer.

Once everyone was seated, the safety video started, we taxied out to the runway for takeoff. Well, that was the plan. We accelerated and were just about the point of leaving the ground when the pilot braked hard and put the engines in reverse to stop us. Even though I was firmly strapped into my seat belt, I felt myself slide forward in the seat so put my foot against the bulkhead to keep from going any further forward.

The pilot came on the intercom and told us a warning light had gone off so he aborted the takeoff. We sat on a taxi way while fire engines rushed out to where we sat. We were informed this was standard procedure and we weren’t on fire but they had to check the landing gear and the brakes before they’d let us return to a gate.

The guy who had a window seat on the left side of the plane pulled his phone out and took pictures of the fire engine parked out there.

I turned hubby’s phone back on and texted my cousin telling her our flight was delayed but not the reason behind it and that we would check back with them when we could before turning the phone back off. I didn’t want her to worry needlessly and I didn’t want to run out the bit of charge we’d given the battery.

When we got back to the gate, the flight crew opened the doors on the plane to let in fresh air and to cool things down a bit then brought around water and plastic glasses for anyone who wanted it. Trying to make light of the situation, all I could think of saying was “Honey, I’m home!” and so I did.

One of the employees who we’d met at check-in but wasn’t one of our flight crew boarded during the repairs. Hubby had teased her earlier about being the ‘boss’ because she was at a counter by herself. He asked her if this was the same plane we had flown over on back on 11th September. She wouldn’t say yay or nay, but did say she’d tell him the next time we came over.

About an hour later, we were ready to try the takeoff again. This time it was without incident. The plane landed just before 5:00 pm and by 5:45, we had cleared customs got our bags off the carousel and were waiting by post 42. I don’t think anyone from our flight was pulled into secondary. I figure they thought we were all too traumatized by the aborted takeoff. I know the guy in the baggage hall was freaked out when we told him how our flight started.

After a long and eventful day, we finally arrived home at 10:30 and didn’t even bother to unpack. De-briefed with our son who had looked after the house and dog while we were gone, texted my cousin to say we had arrived safely, spent some time paying attention to the dog before going to bed.

And poor me has to get up to go to work tomorrow morning!

Quebec City ~ Romantic Destination in Nouvelle France and fudge!

Day 4

June 25, 2015

Our last full day in Quebec City. What to do? Visit La Citadelle, of course. This fort is a working military base being home to the Royal 22nd Regiment known as the Van Doos so there were places we couldn’t go and we couldn’t take photos inside the buildings. The changing of the guard ceremony started at 10:00 so we had plenty of time to get there. Things worked out well for us as we had time to do the guided tour which ended back at the parade square in time for the ceremony to begin.

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Entrance to La Citadelle
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Sherman Tank
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Walking to the highest point

Do you see what I see towards the left of this picture?

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View from the highest point

Well, here’s a closer look. It’s the Price Building!

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Skyline from La Citadelle

As promised our tour ended just in time for the ceremony to begin, although we didn’t have time to get to the far side of the parade grounds (where the flags are in this picture) which was the best vantage point to watch from… supposedly. I think we had a pretty good spot right where we were, except standing on the asphalt did get hard on the feet after a while.

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Changing of the guard ceremony
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The mascot
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Inspection
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Guard in front of the left side of the entrance
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Guard on the right side of the entrance

We bought some coasters and a guidebook on La Citadelle so rather than cart them around with us all day since the hotel was so close, we took them back there.

I had spied from our room earlier in the morning that most of the temporary fencing on the Plains of Abraham for the festival had been removed. The sun was shining so after breakfast we would take one last walk on the boardwalk. It’s much easier from this direction because 99% of the steps on it are all going down. I can do down but climbing is another story altogether.

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Cruise ship docking

After watching the cruise ship approach and dock it was time for some liquid refreshment so we went to our other favourite pub in Quebec City – Pub Saint Alexandre pausing by La Maison de la littérature for a photo.

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La maison de la littérature

A pint of Guinness and a shot of 18-year old Glenlivet has great restorative properties. Or was it just sitting down for a while and resting the weary feet?

A plate of fish and chips was brought out from the kitchen and the barmaid told us theirs were the best. After being somewhat disillusioned with our meal the night before, we said we’d come back later to eat.

Refreshed, thirst quenched and tiredness temporarily banished, we set out again.

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Soeurs Augustines de la Miséricorde de Jésus
rue Couillard
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Home of Pierre Émond on rue Hébert
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Historic plaque on the Pierre Émond house
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Stone house on rue Monseignor-de-Laval

By this juncture in time, any excuse to have a wee sit down, we took advantage.

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Don on the wall on rue des Remparts
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Me on the wall at the same location

If you look on Trip Advisor at the visitors pictures from the ghost tour we did, a tunnel similar to the one below is included. There’s a lot of work going on at the Museum of Civilization so perhaps that’s why we didn’t get a chance to go through here but with there being commercial space on the other side of the street, I’m pretty sure that this is the right tunnel.

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Above ground tunnel off rue Saint-Pierre behind the Museum of Civilization

Another chance for a sit down. We rested on a bench and looked at the cruise ship and watch the people walking by and the other happenings on the river.

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The cruise ship C.T.M.A Vacancier

At this rate we wouldn’t get to La Fudgerie before it closed so we dragged ourselves to a standing position – trust me, it was hard and headed back to rue du Cul de Sac.

This little guy stands outside the shop next to our sweet-tooth fix. I think his growl is worse than his bite. What do you think? You can take pictures of yourself with him but the watchful eye of the staff are on you.

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Stuffed bear in front of Bilodeau Boutique

This bear family is adorable. Even my 5′ tall bear isn’t as large as the biggest one here. I would say he’s about the size of the one in front wearing the apron. I have plenty the size of the ‘baby’ snuggled under the arm of the big guy. You’re not allowed to touch them but you can photograph them.

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The teddy bear family at La Fudgerie

But here we are. Chocolate, assorted bark, and most importantly, fudge! The shop smells heavenly. I don’t know how the staff can work in such an environment without being the size of… well, I won’t go there.

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La Fudgerie

We encountered this busker on rue Notre-Dame. He was good. Spoons, fiddle, singing and great toe-tapping music.

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Busker on rue Notre-Dame

The last thing we saw while in Vieux-Quebec was this oil tanker heading up river. We discovered once we got up to the promenade at the Chateau Frontenac that it was destined for the port at Levis.

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Euronav oil tanker going up river

After taking the Funiculaire up to the promenade and finding a place to sit yet again, we saw this ship heading down river.

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Container ship going down river.

And this one going up river. Guess we were in the wrong places at all the right times.

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Freighter going up river

Supper! We went back to Pub Saint Alexandre and each had the fish and chips. Homemade tartar sauce, an enormous piece of fish plus salad and chips. I can’t imagine anyone getting a large order with two big honking pieces of fish like we got. Supper was washed down with the ‘brewed for them’ blonde ale. Our table was right in front of the fireplace but I’m willing to bet that in the winter our table and the one next to it aren’t there. I don’t remember from November because we were either sat in front of the big windows or in a booth.

I promise this is the last time but here’s the Price Building!

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The Price Building
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Fountain at Hôtel de Ville de Québec

We made one more stop at the small grocery/SAQ agency store for a bottle of champagne on rue de Jardins but they didn’t have any… sniff… 🙁

No trip to Quebec City would be complete without a picture of the cannonball in the tree roots on rue Saint-Louis. It’s been here forever (well almost) and gradually comes up a bit more as the tree grows.

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Cannonball in the tree roots on rue Saint-Louis

There isn’t much to say about the next day other than we checked out and drove home.

J’adore Québec City and I can’t wait until I get back there again.

 

Quebec City ~ Romantic Destination in Nouvelle France and a ghost or two, too

Day 3

June 24, 2015

After yesterday’s rain, we were thrilled to wake to blue skies and sunshine. It would be a great day for trekking around the city and even better for our ghost walk tonight.

Our first stop was on rue d’Auteuil in front of number 91 BIS.

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The text on the plaque translates to:

Rene Levesque
1922-1987

Prime Minister of Quebec
(1976-1985)

I remember

In this house lived Prime Minister Mr Rene Levesque of Quebec from 1977 to 1985

Rene-Levesque Foundation
December 1995

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91 BIS – Rene Levesque’s house with the plaque beside the door

When we were here in November the white frame house on the right was undergoing restoration.  I do believe it’s all done now. At least the destructive part of the process. I say that because the dumpster is gone.

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Avenue St Denis

When we got down to the promenade by the Chateau Frontenac there were hardly any people out at all. The lighting was just right to capture the bridge to Île d’Orléans. Even with the picture at this smaller size (original dimensions were 5184×3456) you can see it.

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Early morning on the promenade. The bridge shows up really well this morning.

On our first day here we saw people (mostly younger ones) ‘riding’ the cannons. So when in Quebec… do as the others do and have a ride. You’ve got to be silly once in a while.

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Don ‘riding’ the cannon
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Me ‘riding’ the cannon

I’m not sure if it was just my imagination but to say it’s summer, I didn’t think there were a lot of freighters going up or down river. Maybe we weren’t in the right place at the right time on this trip?

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Freighter going down river with the pilot boat alongside

We made our way down into Vieux-Quebec where we stopped in at Geomania (unfortunately, they don’t have their own website that I could find) where I got some gorgeous “bling” – a Lapis-Lazuli pendant and an Ammolite one. Pictures to follow on another blog post.

Before the end of our trip, the Funiculaire in the background would become our best friend.

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rue Sous-le-Fort with the funiculaire in the background

Passage de la Batterie leads to a courtyard in behind. It looked somewhat like a restaurant patio but there was a way back to the street from there if you turned right at the other end of the tunnel.

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Passage de la Batterie

The streets down here are lined with shops and sidewalk patios with plenty of things to see.

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rue du Cul de Sac

Like this beaver outside Queues de Castor.

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Beaver at Queues de Castor

We stopped in at the Ghost Walk office to ensure we were booked on the tour for that night and to find out exactly where we were to meet. While there chatting with the young lady who was working, through the course of our conversation she suggested we take the shuttle bus out to Montmorency Falls. It sounded like a great idea to us so we headed back to “upper town” and the tourist information office.

But there was one place I had to go first. I love this place!Yesterday, I posted a photo of the rooftops taken from rue des Remparts. Well, here’s the real deal.

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rue Sous-le-Cap

I believe the house in the photo below is the one with the rooftop terrace in yesterday’s photo. Not that it’s a huge deal. But can you see why I love this little, narrow street so much?

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rue Sous-le-Cap

When we arrived at the tourist information office to purchase our tickets to the falls, we discovered the bus would be there in about ten minutes. I’d say our little ‘detour’ paid huge dividends.

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Bridge to Île d’Orléans from Montmorency Falls

We could have climbed up all 487 steps to the stop but having been there, done that in 1998 we opted for the round trip cable car ride. I mean we had to save some of legs for the ghost walk.

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The 487 steps to the top of Montmorency Falls
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Footbridge over Montmorency Falls

At the left of the cliff in the distance is La Citadelle. The first bump in the horizon to the right of it is the Chateau Frontenac and the next little nub (almost in the middle of the picture) is the Price Building. Sorry but I had to get that in there.

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Quebec City from Montmorency Falls
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Montmorency Falls from the top of the steps
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Montmorency Falls from the boardwalk

On our return to the city, we took our purchases back to the hotel and relaxed with a beer and a bit of telly before going to the Pub St-Patrick. We sat downstairs again but not in the fireplace room.

There were a few ‘new to us’ streets that I wanted to take a wander on, especially since our bus ride out to the falls, so we set out again.

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Celtic Cross and house on rue McMahon
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Cannon in Parc de l’Artillerie
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Centre building is very similar to one mentioned in Tim’s Magic Christmas
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Fountain at Place de la Gare in front of the VIA train station
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Hotel le Saint-Paul

We had to save our legs for the ghost tour so we walked to the meeting place and plopped our behinds in the lovely adirondack chairs to wait.

Ghost walk time!

We met our guide near where rue de la Petit Champlain and Boulevard Champlain meet.

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Our ghost walk guide

Remember the red door and courtyard? That was one of our stops. We heard the story of Jean Rattier and his unfortunate wife Marie Rivière, the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, the chilling story of la Corriveau among others. The tour ended at The Cathedral of the Holy Trinity which is haunted by one or two ghosts, one being the mother of an illegitimate child she murdered and buried near the organ. Even the Queen has seen something ‘ghostly’ inside the church from the royal pew in the balcony which faces the organ.

By the time we got back to our hotel room, we were completely done in.

 

Quebec City ~ Romantic Destination in Nouvelle France even in the rain

Day 2

June 23, 2015

What do you do when you’re on vacation in Quebec City and it rains? Grab your umbrella and go out walking anyway. Possibly the rain makes it even more romantic, if that’s possible.

Since the Plains of Abraham and the boardwalk were pretty much closed because of the Fête nationale du Québec taking place later that evening, we decided over breakfast that we’d walk to the Porte-Saint-Louis and walk the top of the wall as far as we could. Besides, who wants to go walking through the wet grass?

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Cannons on the wall at Porte Saint-Louis

It was only spitting rain when we left the hotel, but looking at the sky it would only be a matter of time before it came down harder.

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The top of the wall at Parc de l’Esplanades
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Quebec Parliament Buildings from Parc de l’Esplanades

The horse-drawn carriages have a parking area in Parc de l’Esplanades. This was the first to turn up – number 14. All of the carriages are numbered and the horse wears a tag on his bridle with the corresponding number. Oh, and look – there’s the Price Building in the background.

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Horse drawn carriage at Parc de l’Esplanades

Porte Kent is at the head of rue Dauphine. Under normal circumstances, you could go through the gate and carry on but the doorway was boarded over so we had to go down to street level.

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Porte Kent

The Maison Dauphine is a shelter for street youth from the ages of 12 to 24. You can read more about the work they do here. It’s a beautiful building and yes, that’s another steep hill.

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La Maison Dauphine

Porte Saint-Jean is the last of the remaining gates in the wall around the city. You can see that some of the stones have been turned green from the copper roof.

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Porte Saint-Jean

This is rue Saint-Jean outside the wall at Place D’Youville. In the winter there is a skating rink set up on the extreme left of this photo. This time it was marquis type tents set up for the comedy festival and other things happening in the city.

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Rue Saint-Jean outside the wall

At street level in the red brick building on the left of the photo is the Pub Saint-Alexandre one of our favourite haunts but since we’ve not been there yet, I’ll save it for now. But look – there’s the Price Building.

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Rue Saint-Jean inside the wall

We walked through Parc de l’Artillerie when we were here in November and thought it would be fun to do it in more favourable weather. And look at what’s peeking over the roof of the white building – you guessed it. It’s the Price Building.

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Parc de l-Artillerie

This walkway was closed off in November but was open this time of year. Since we couldn’t walk through here then, we did on this occasion. It’s a shame that the buildings have been vandalized by tagging.

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Parc de l’Artillerie

After exiting the park, we continued along rue des Remparts. The narrow streets leading off this one are filled with colourful houses. And yup, there’s the Price Building again.

Remember this house on the left of the photo. The one with the stone front and brick side.

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Looking up rue Saint-Flavien from rue des Remparts

Rue Sous-le-Cap is a lovely narrow street in Vieux-Quebec. We first experienced it in November when Philippe took us through there on our carriage ride. One of the houses in this photo even has a rooftop terrace!

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rue Sous-le-Cap from rue des Remparts

This is about where rue des Remparts becomes rue Port-Dauphin. There are a number of cannons along here as you can see in this photo taken last November.

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Cannons along rue des Remparts in November 2014. It’s in this area where the street name changes to rue Port-Dauphin

And the steps at the back for the soldiers to climb up to load them makes a perfect spot for a gal to have a wee rest, don’t you think?

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Sitting on a cannon on rue des Remparts

Down below you can see rue Notre-Dame and the Parc de la Cetière. The were doing some construction between two of the houses. I have no idea what it will be but there’s a round-top opening on one side and where within the next few days, where the plywood is cut on the angle, there’s another piece there to make it triangular. Looks like a return trip to find out just what the purpose of all that was.

To the right of the picture you can see a stone wall with a red door in it that leads to a courtyard.

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rue Notre-Dame from rue des Remparts

We walked over this bridge and took the remaining stairs up to Place D’Armes located in front of the Chateau Frontenac. If you look to the right of there is another flight of stairs that takes you down to street level on Côte de la Montagne.

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Bridge over Côte de la Montagne from Parc-Montmorency

It wasn’t much longer and the skies really opened up but it didn’t last long. Basically long enough to get everything soaking wet.

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rue Saint-Louis in the rain

We circled around to rue du Trésor where we boarded this carriage for a ride around the city (at least the places we could go that weren’t blocked off because of festivals and the like). We chose this carriage because it looked more romantic than the others. White with the red interior and the heart-shaped window at the back.

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In our horse-drawn carriage
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Major, Don, and our driver Andre

While we were out, Andre took us by this house (remember it from an earlier picture?). He told us that it is supposedly the most haunted house in Quebec City. After hearing that, I had to go back and get a better photo of it. With the peeling paint and shutters hanging at crazy angles, not to mention the trees taking over in front of the two lower windows, it’s not hard to see how it got it’s reputation.

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Reputedly the most haunted house in Quebec City

After our full day in the rain, we went back to the hotel and opened the second bottle of champagne we had brought with us.

When we were ready to go out for supper, the rain was coming down harder than it had all day so we chose a restaurant closer to our hotel.

I mean, why get drenched if you don’t have to?

 

Quebec City ~ Romantic Destination in Nouvelle France

Day 1

June 22, 2015

After spending a week in Canada’s “city of lights”, Quebec City, in November 2014, we decided to go back this year as our destination 40th anniversary trip.

We loved the hotel we stayed in last November so booked in again at The Grande-Allée Hotel and Suites. Upon check-in, we discovered that our room was next to the one we stayed in last year. The only drawback to this room was the fact that access to the heating/air-conditioning system was in our foyer.

The restored brick wall adds a charming rustic look to the room and the electric fireplace makes for a romantic mood-setter. We even had an ice bucket and wine glasses on the mantle!

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Our room showing the restored brick wall

The room behind the mirrored French door to the left was our bathroom. The solid door was the access to the heating/air-conditioning system. Thankfully, everything worked as it should so no workman needed access through our hotel room.

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The foyer

Once we were settled, the beverages in the fridge (cleverly hidden in the wardrobe) except for one bottle of champagne which we popped the cork on and toasted our 40 years, we set out across the Plains of Abraham to the boardwalk that leads to the promenade below at the Chateau Frontenac.

To the naked eye, the lighting was perfect to see the bridge from the mainland to Île d’Orléans and make out the distances of the various mountains in the distance. Unfortunately, the camera doesn’t do the scene justice.

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St Lawrence River from the Promenade

Believe it or not, even from its prominent location, there are places in the city where you don’t see the Chateau Frontenac. Our hotel was on the same street (it changed names from Grande Allée to rue Saint-Louis inside the wall). So if we decided to walk this way, we were only a short walk away.

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Chateau Frontenac hotel

The charming architecture of the buildings in Vieux-Quebec with their brightly coloured roofs from the promenade.  Getting to this part of the city is easy – it’s all downhill – getting  back to “upper town” not quite so much.

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Looking down into Vieux-Quebec

Rue du Petit-Champlain is lined with all sorts of wonderful shops and restaurants. It’s also where you can go to access the Funiculaire to ride to the top of the hill!

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Rue du Petit-Champlain

Where rue Notre-Dame and rue de la Place meet, lies Place-Royale. The cobblestoned square is filled with interesting eateries and shops and the  Église-Notre-Dame-des-Victoires.

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Place-Royale
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Place-Royale
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Église-Notre-Dame-des-Victoires in Place-Royale

Near the end of rue Notre Dame in Parc de la Cetière is the Quebec City mural. All four seasons are depicted in it as well as different periods in history with famous and not so famous people included.

It’s difficult to get an unobstructed view of the mural from the park with the number of people wanting to photograph it along with a tree in full leaf. This picture was taken from Côte de la Montagne a short way up the hill and beyond the tree.

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Quebec City Mural

Speaking of Côte de la Montagne, this is the hill you have to walk up. It’s steep and there are handrails next to some of the storefronts if you need to grab on and pull yourself along.

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Côte de la Montagne

After all this walking, it was time for liquid refreshment and a meal so we stopped in at Pub St-Patrick. We headed to the fireplace room with its vaulted ceiling. The smell of the wood fires over the years lingered in the air. A little too warm for the fire to be lit on this trip but we experienced it last year.

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Wood-burning fireplace at the Pub St-Patrick

The Price Building looks much like the Empire State Building in New York City. My husband and I have a bit of a standing joke about it. When we went on our horse and carriage ride last November, after giving us the history of it, our driver Philippe pointed and said “there’s the Price Building” every time it came into view. So after that (even though it got irritating at the time), one of us would look and point and say “there’s the Price Building”.

This is another tall building in Quebec City that isn’t visible from everywhere but when it is, if you think you’re lost just walk towards it.

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The Price Building

Homeward bound… well at least to our hotel room. Once we reached the wall, we were only about five minutes at the most from our hotel room.

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Porte Saint-Louis

It’s an all uphill walk but at least it isn’t steep… just long.