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Published: September 21st 2019
Day 3: Bonjour!
Up at 6am as we are going to Quebec City, a three hour drive east, down the St. Lawrence River. Our Gray Line shuttle picks us up at the hotel at 7:25 and it is full except for 2 seats in the back. We squish in the back. I'm next to two men from Germany. The ladies next to Cope in the seats in front of me, are from England and we hear Spanish someplace around the driver. This shuttle will take us to the "real" bus for our 3 hour ride to Quebec City. When we get to the Gray Line Station in downtown Montreal we are told that our internet printed tickets are not really tickets so we have to go wait in line and get real tickets. Okay ;-) When we get to the bus it is full with only one set of two seats left at the back of the bus. We settle in.
Our driver, Andre was born in Montreal and has been driving for Gray Line for 20 years. Guess he knows the way. He tells us that we will stop in 1 1/2 hours for a snack and restroom,
this is good news. Then we will continue to Quebec City for a walking tour of Old Town, get back on the bus and head for Chute-Montmorency Falls then, back to Old Town where we will have 3 hours on our own. Sounds good to us. As promised 1 1/2 hours later after passing farms, farms and more farms we stop at an ESSO station. A convenience store, tiny restaurant and restrooms. Back on the bus we pass farms, farms and more farms. Beautiful, green and flat. Across the fields to our right are the Appalachian Mountains and New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine ;-) Finally our destination, Quebec City comes into view as we cross the bridge on the St. Lawrence River. Katya our walking tour guide comes on board. She is Mexican and French. Helpful to those Spanish speakers on our bus. Katya is full of historical information about Quebec City (which we learn is pronounced Keh-beck) Old Quebec City is walled with 300' cliffs on the edge of the city by the St. Laurence River. It reminds us a little of Gibraltar at the Pillars of Hercules. Narrow streets, stone buildings, flowers everywhere and of course
cute, beautiful tourist shops and restaurants.
We learn that King Louis XIIII, sponsored educated, young women of virtue to immigrate to New France between 1663 and 1673. Private interests gave priority to bringing over male workers, and the French government and religious communities wanted to grow their colonies. The men were interested in the women but not that interested in getting married soooo, King Louis decreed that the men had to marry within 2 weeks of the women arriving or they would have their fur trapping permit revoked. And... they would have to have a minimum of 10 children or their free land would be taken away. Hummmm... pretty good incentives! Also because France owned all of the territory along the Mississippi (Think later on...the Louisiana purchase), he wanted to grow Quebec City so it could be the capital of the entire Louisiana territory. The history is fascinating and how it is all inter-connected to American history... can't wait to get a book.
As to more current interesting facts, Canada has so much hydroelectric power that they sell the excess to Vermont, New York and New Jersey and some as far away as South Carolina.
on and see the funicular that was put in to transport people up the 300' cliff from Old Town to Upper Town, a beautiful 3D mural covering the entire side of a building and it has historical people as well as modern people all in the same mural, working and visiting together. Then we see a Piggy looking in a cafe window. Something just struck us about this pig. We loved him/her?
We finish our walking tour and jump back on the bus to head out to Chute-Montmorency falls. It is as tall as Niagara but not as wide and tiny in comparison. Still and all a nice falls and people are walking across a swinging bridge at the top, hiking, biking and zip lining. It would be a nice family day trip. If you've been to Niagara or Yosemite well... you could pass on this ;-)
We head back to Quebec City for a tour of the parks, public buildings and neighborhoods. All beautiful. There's nothing to dislike about this city. Nice people, beautiful places and lots to do....EXCEPT it can get to....drum roll.....ta ta ta ta... MINUS 36 degrees during 6 months of winter and wind!
We find a place in Old Town for lunch. We sit outside under umbrellas, it is a beautiful sunny day and we have fresh, homemade mushroom soup and a flatbread with scallops and shrimp with a side salad. We are thrilled that the restaurant uses paper straws. When we mention this to our server, Monique, she says she's happy about it too and next year they are also outlawing plastic bags. Yes! We finally convince ourselves to do a little more walking and reading of historical plaques before heading to a bench to await our ride back to Montreal. By 8:15pm we are back in Montreal. We are dropped off about 8 blocks from our hotel so we get to see Notre Dame Basilica all lit up with lots of street musicians and people visiting in the square in front of the church.
Tomorrow: Cruise on the St. Lawrence River
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