01 August 2007

Quebec City

Let me tell ya'll about one of the craziest things me and my hubby have ever done. We drove nine hours up, on the 22 of July, to Canada for the day and then drove back. (I promised this tale earlier but life got in my way of posting it...) So now, here is the story.

Tim and I have this thing we do with listening to Harry Potter on audio first. We started it many summers ago in college, when we would road-trip from Atlanta to Fort Worth, Texas (to see Tim's family). Basically, we did this every summer. We would look forward to Harry Potter book releases for these road trips. So it makes sense that we would want to take another for the seventh and final book, ehh? Well, we thought so. And so, we needed a destination that wouldn't be too crazy far away (and we needed something somewhat exotic because we're both a little burnt out).

How much more exotic can you get than a French speaking place in the middle of North America?!? (Yes, I know that in NY people speak ALL SORTS of different languages - but that's so not what we were going for.)
Anyway, we booked a place to stay the night at, grabbed our passports (so cool), left our place around 10:30am Saturday morning and just drove. I mentioned before that customs was not too pleased, but Canada always welcomes tourists whatever the case, so they left us pass without too much hassle. We got to Quebec City around sevenish - dinner time. So yeah, I totally had to eat in a French bistro and have French food! What could be more French than French Fries?!? Heh.

Quebec City is absolutely GORGEOUS. I was awed by how clean and just European it was! To be honest, I was a bit angry that we could only stay overnight - we both had to be back to work on Monday morning. But we definitely plan on going back someday. Since we had limited amounts of time, we spend most all of it in Vieux-Quebec (Old Quebec), the walled part of the city. We even stayed in Old Quebec. It was just like being in Paris or something again. Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America and it is the only fortified city, north of Mexico, whose walls still exist.

Anyway, we stayed out late because things didn't start winding down there until around 11pm. We saw all the shops and street performers and it was just incredible. The next morning, we woke up and got an early start - we wanted to see as much as we could before we had to hit the road again. We walked all over town, stopping only for a seriously memorable French breakfast. I had a strawberry crepe (with Nutella) while sitting in a lovely little outdoor garden restaurant, overlooking the Chateau Frontenac, with birds chirping everywhere and a waitress that spoke to us in French. At that moment, it was not a wonder to me that French is called the language of love!

We had to check out at 11am, so that was when we left Quebec City. I don't think it has ever been so hard for me to leave a place before! (It is a good thing I had listening to Harry Potter to look forward to, otherwise I'd still be in Quebec.) But I will always carry fond memories of that beautiful walled-in city, swathed in window boxes full of flowers, with the sweet smells of bakeries and bistros and the sounds of horse-hooves on the cobbled streets, with everyone smiling and speaking to you in French - and the bliss and sweet frustration of figuring out what in the world they are saying to you! Ahh, Quebec.

Right before we left the area and began our trek homeward, we visited Parc Chute de la Chaudiere, a waterfall near Quebec City. It was incredibly beautiful to see, just the extra cream on the already sweetened visit. (If I had done my research before our drive, I would have made Tim also take me to Montmorency Falls, which is 100 feet taller than Niagara. Next time, perhaps.) Chaudiere was a beautiful spot, right off the highway. We walked along the base of it and also climbed across the suspension bridge. It was lovely.

But before we left the province, we HAD to eat some poutine. I demanded it. Luckily, on our way in, I remembered seeing this wacky French truck stop place with fiberglass dinosaurs and monster trucks and whatnot. We stopped there for lunch. It was intensely bizarre. But the poutine was great. And of course, there were photo ops.

And thus began the trip home - nine hours in the car (plus two and a half on top of that, because the American customs people were total asses and could not fathom why anyone except drug dealers and jewelry smugglers would drive for so long just to spend one night). We didn't get home till around oneish. And then we had to go to work the next day. Yikes. But worth totally it. Want to see more pictures? Go here.


Jennifer said...

Ooooohhh, it sounds like an AWESOME trip!! I wish hubby and I had traveled a little more pre-kids...we don't get to do it now :( I will have to live vicariously through you!! :) Your pictures are so cute, and you tell the story so well!! THanks for sharing! :)

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