Catch Me If You Can


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North America » Canada » Alberta » Calgary
June 8th 2011
Published: September 30th 2017
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The Most Photographed Hotel in the World ...The Most Photographed Hotel in the World ...The Most Photographed Hotel in the World ...

... is in Quebec City, or so they say. The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac - a nice place, but overrated!
Geo: 51.0451, -114.063

Two years ago, plans to attend the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours were dashed when the race was canceled. A back-up plan to hit up the British Grand Prix at Silverstone were also wrecked when the economy crashed and nobody else wanted to go. Boooooo-urns!!!

But Montreal - it's always been on the radar as a destination in its own right, with the added allure of the Canadian Grand Prix being the icing on the cake. Or perhaps a better analogy is that it's like the cheese curds and gravy on top of the fries, in this land of the eminently unhealthy but sinfully luscious poutine, the mother of all French Canadian junk food!

Having never traveled to Quebec before, a short visit to Quebec City is also in order, to take proper advantage of this Montreal trip. Since there don't seem to be any direct Calgary-Quebec City flights, this meant getting up at the ungodly time of 5:15 to ensure making it to the airport in time. I can't think of many things worth waking up this early for ... and in fact, there is only one - travel!

It's been HOT out east these past few days,
Sbarro's ... Sbarro's ... Sbarro's ...

... no other decent food choices at the Ottawa airport left me with this sad slice of meat lovers pizza.
in sharp contrast to Calgary's recent dreary and drizzly weather ... stepping off the plane onto the tarmac at Ottawa's airport, there was a sharp blast of hot, humid air - 31 C?!?!?? It felt more like I was disembarking from a plane in Brazil, not one in Canada!

Ottawa's airport is bright and modern, exactly the type of terminal you expect to see in the capital of one of the World's greatest countries - but I do have one complaint, and it's the dearth of decent places to have a bite to eat. A Booster Juice, a Harvey's, a Sbarro's, and a Tim Hortons ... sad ... how could this be, Oh Canada? How could you forsake your proud citizens, abandoning them to this desert of culinary crap, in the political centre of this great country? Not even some Chinese food? Or sushi? Not even an Edo? For shame ...

Even the proudest of Canadian institutions, the ubiquitous Tim Hortons, the most Canadian of Canadian fast food chains, one with a cult-like following, was sorely lacking ... the coffee was decent as always, but the donut ... if you can even call it a donut, it was so dry and tasteless ... Stephen Harper, I implore you - fix the food court in Ottawa's airport! How would you feel, if a Canadian citizen on his way to Montreal to cross something off his bucket list by attending the Canadian Grand Prix, one of Canada's most internationally-renowned events, were to choke and die on this dry, horrid, sorry excuse for a chocolate-glazed donut in your capital's airport? We've finally given you a majority government - do some good with this new found power! PLEASE!!!!!!!!

Quebec City had reached a high of 31 C today, with high humidity - luckily for me, the temperature had dropped significantly by the time the plane landed, making for a delightfully refreshing evening. BTW - boo on the Quebec airport, the only cheap transport running from the airport is a bus that only runs a handful of times each day to the city's outlying neighbourhoods, meaning you're stuck paying over $35 for a taxi. Boo-urns!

As you approach the city from the airport, the unmistakable smell of Quebec permeates the air - the smell of grease, which I can only imagine is the scent of thousands of deep-fryers bubbling with oil and fries to make poutine.
A Little Acai to Kickstart the Day ...A Little Acai to Kickstart the Day ...A Little Acai to Kickstart the Day ...

... a bit gritty, just like I remember from Brazil! Not a bad little breakfast wrap to go with it - eggs, salsa, cheese, and of course, BACON!!!
Mmmm ....

The forecast called for thundershowers this evening and though the skies constantly threatened, they never delivered any significant rainfall, only the odd drizzle ... perfect weather for a stroll around the old town. Quebec's old town does have some of that French flavour to it - anyone can see the similarities. It's actually frequently used for movie shoots, as a stand-in for France - a scene from Leonardo DiCaprio's "Catch Me If You Can" was shot here, where he burst out of a church.

Though a tad too touristy in many areas, it's definitely charming and cute, but a lot quieter than the typical town in France. Perhaps this will be different tomorrow, when I have a chance to wander away from the old town, which is largely geared towards tourists. Hopefully it's a bit less Disney there!



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Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec ...Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec ...
Basilique Cathedrale Notre Dame de Quebec ...

... off in the distance. Check out the Mac's sign - not called Mac's here, but "Couche Tard", perhaps because of the laws in Quebec requiring signs to be in French? Also not your typical Mac's from Western Canada - about half the space inside was occupied by a cappuccino bar.
Creepy ...Creepy ...
Creepy ...

... coming down the street, I was startled as I came across this armless boy. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was a mannequin - perhaps having to wake up at 5 AM and getting only 3 hours of sleep had something to do with this confusion ...
Rue Sous-le-Cap ...Rue Sous-le-Cap ...
Rue Sous-le-Cap ...

... more like a back alley, but it's considered the narrowest street in the city. It's also the former red light district.
Asian Night of Love ...Asian Night of Love ...
Asian Night of Love ...

... the world's first pornographic entree! Who comes up with these names? Because if you walk into Chinatown asking for an Asian Night of Love, they'll be sending you down the street to the massage parlour!
Catch Me If You Can ...Catch Me If You Can ...
Catch Me If You Can ...

Instead of Leonardo DiCaprio out front, it's one of many groups on a walking tour - I counted at least five walking through the old town within a 10 minute span.
Rue du Petit-Champlain ...Rue du Petit-Champlain ...
Rue du Petit-Champlain ...

... very touristic, but cute little street packed with shops and restaurants, in the heart of the lower old town.
Cheval Blanc Beer ...Cheval Blanc Beer ...
Cheval Blanc Beer ...

... produced by a local brew pub, I believe. Good stuff, light and refreshing.
Dinner at Chez Temporel ...Dinner at Chez Temporel ...
Dinner at Chez Temporel ...

... a slightly rubbery quiche lorraine, served with a simple salad and a dressing that tasted like nothing more than mustard mixed with some mayonnaise. Not exactly gourmet, but a cheap and relatively light dinner.
Dessert at Chez Ashton - Poutine!!!Dessert at Chez Ashton - Poutine!!!
Dessert at Chez Ashton - Poutine!!!

Good thing I had a light dinner, which left lots of room for dessert. I noticed an ice cream shop earlier in the day, but it was closed by the time I made my way back - a little poutine made a nice alternative. So this is the real poutine - the biggest difference from what I've had in western Canada was the use of squeaky cheese curds, as opposed to the plain cheese most places used. The curds are a bit like Lebanese Halloumi, like yummy little bits of rubber. Smothered in delicious, rich gravy, they hardly melt at all. Possibly the best poutine I've ever had, I still can't say it was significantly better than the less-authentic versions back home. Eating real poutine in Quebec ... another item crossed off the bucket list!


13th June 2011

Hi there! Great post - always interesting to read insights on new cities and experiences :)

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