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Canada, French style

CANADA | Monday, 18 April 2011 | Views [930] | Comments [1]

Quebec City skyline view from the ferry

Quebec City skyline view from the ferry

There has been a lot happening since we last posted - we left Whistler, travelled east to Quebec City and Montreal, visited some family in Portland, Maine and then hit up New York City, before heading in to Mexico. To keep the blogs a reasonable length, I'll split these up with separate entries for the different countries.

Leaving Whistler

Our last couple of weeks were pretty hectic - we had to prepare for the next leg of travel, send some gear home and our riding gear to Santiago, Chile for future adventures. There was some more snow up high, but warmer temperatures were pretty quickly melting the snow down towards the village. We even got a powder day for our last day riding on the mountain, and finally gotround to making a snowman.

So on our second last day out, we finally made a snow man. He was awesome and anatomically present, if not correct.

A few days before we left, we had some leaving drinks at Merlins, which was really good fun. Emma and JoJo conspired to make us up a bunch of badges as a leaving gift, including a cool little 'I Clocked Whistler-Blackcomb' badge for me, and a delightful picture of JoJo touching her nose, to make sure we didn't forget our special housemate or her abandonment issues. Lots of fun, and it was really sad leaving all of our Whistler comrades - special thanks to our housemates Jo and Gramps, and to Ness, Emma and everyone else who made Whistler as good as it was.

Quebec

For those not completely across Canadian geography, Quebec is on the east coast of Canada, and is the area dominated by French Canadians. We started off by flying from Vancouver to Quebec City, the smaller and more picturesque city within Quebec. We flew via Toronto, and got some really nice views of the Great Lakes from the air.

In Whistler, a couple of friends from Montreal and Quebec gave us a list of places to visit, eat and drink. We arrived in Quebec in the evening, and decided to tick off the first on our list - the St Alexandre Pub. They served a delicious steak, and we had a range of Quebec beers, and they were damn fine too. After dinner had settled, we went to Chez AshTon, which is supposed to have the best poutine in Quebec City.

Next morning was site-seeing around town. There were a few real highlights - the Chateau Fairmont, which towers over the city; viewing the city from the ferry; the awesome old French-style buildings; and seeing icebergs in the river. There is an impressive fort there also, built to defend against the United States in and around the War of 1812.

After 2 nights in Quebec City (this is enough really - its a pretty city, but there's not a huge amount that goes on in town) we caught the train down to Montreal. Montreal is a great city - not as pretty as Quebec, but vibrant and active, and with an excellent pub scene. It is famous for its smoked meat, poutine and its nightlife (also hockey). In Montreal, we were couch-surfing with a group of students from one of the local universities, in a huge terrace home. They were all very socially active and aware, and were fun to hang out with.

In the afternoon we arrived, it was a gorgeous warm, sunny day. Unfortunately this trend didn't continue for the first couple of days. We had heard that there was a Chinese Terracotta Warrior exhibition on at the Museum of Fine Arts, and decided to walk to museum (around 7 or 8km away) to check that out. About half way there it started bucketing with rain, and by the time we arrived we were soaking wet and freezing cold. To add insult to injury, we discovered the museum didn't open on Mondays. Instead we made our way down to the old town, which was nice, but still wet and cold, so we spent most of the day hiding from the weather in cafes and bars. Happily, we saw the exhibition the next day, and it was pretty cool.

Definitely our highlights in Montreal were after the sun went down - we caught up with some friends of friends for dinner one night, and they made a delicious dinner and gave us a can of maple syrup from the farm she works on and incredible cheese curds she'd make earlier that day (thanks Jess!) We had a pretty incredible night catching up with some friends we had met in the Yukon. Bron and I started off in an awesome cocktail bar that had been recommended on our Whistler friends list and also one of the guys worked at (La Distillerie). There'd been a miscommunication so they were running real late, and we got chatting to the barman, who made top-draw cocktails. He even gave us an experimental martini with apple liquer, vodka and merangue on top, which tasted exactly like apple pie. Bron and I left there about midnight and went to La Banquise, which probably has the best poutine in the world. We met the boys there and went to a different pub, which specialised in a very wide range of handcrafted beers, and also had a folk music jam on, which unfortunately was just finishing up when we arrived. We stayed until close, and went and checked out a local park before the boys bundled us into a car. We started driving along and went up Mont Royal, and they told us to close our eyes. After a few minutes the car stopped, and we opened our eyes, and we were at the lookout with an incredible view over the Montreal skyline. Also, there were raccoons there! After about 5 minutes a policeman came, and took our IDs, and went back into his car for about 5 minutes - we were worried for a bit he was going to leave without them. Fortunately he came back, and even shared a joke with the boys (if they were from Toronto, I'd fine you all, but they're from Australia so its ok). After that we got dropped home - it was sad saying bye to the Frenchies, such good guys - thanks Fred and Joel!

We tried the smoked meat from Schwartz's as well; damned fine.

In fairness, we probably came to Montreal at about the worst time of year possible - the shoulder between winter and summer. But that not withstanding, it was a really fun place. I'd definitely love to come back in the summer or fall, and check it out.

Beer in Montreal!

Tags: canada, montreal, quebec

 

Comments

1

Well sounds like you are having a great time Cuz. Good read and look forward to the nxt entry :-)

  Dean Apr 26, 2011 11:25 PM

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