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Round the World Journey

Quebec and the corridor

CANADA | Sunday, 13 August 2017 | Views [169]

The 18 hour train journey from Halifax to Quebec was wearing and I didnt get much sleep overnight. At least Canada Rail have decent wifi so the internet kept me occupied for half the time.  The trains are actually pretty comfortable and the catering car decent value but without a sleeping compartment sleep is fitful at best.

I arrived in Quebec Central at around 7am, left my bags and started to expore. It is a fair walk up a steep hill to find landmark sites such as the celebrated Chateau Frontenac where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin made plans for the liberation of Europte.  The views from the ramparts of the citys fortifications offer great views over the Gulf of St Lawrence which is a massive stretch of freshwater starting in the great lakes. I am glad I took a boat ride down to a large waterfaill that is apparenty higher even than the Niagra Falls.

The real charm of Quebec though is the French cafe and restaurant cutlure. There is a marked difference between the upper city enclsoed within the walls and downtown by the river but both are charming. The day was helped by it being a festival of French culture. Quebec is reknown of course for being a proud bastion of French culture notwithstanding defeat by General Wolfe back in the 18th century. THe generally tolerant attitude of wise British governors helped to preserve Canadas integreity faced with US adventurism and offers of liberation.  

My accomodation is another univeristy complex but this one is over an hour away by bus. Cheap but basic. 

The accomodation in Montreal was similar but didn't even have directions or an address which was irritating when lugging a heavy bag on public transoport. I eventually found the right building on campus.  

Montreal is a bigger metropolitan city but has a subway which helps getting around. It was hot and my foot has been playing up so after a day's wondering around I was quite tired. Walking was painful so having made a hash of my first attemp to explore the park which overlooks the city, it took a determined effort to climb the 400 or so steps up to the look out but the views were worth it.  Most people speak French but the city has a more Anglophile feel. It was gratifying to see monuments to Nelsons victory over the French and Spanish.

The old town goes back to the 18th century but most buildings are from the Victorian or later eras. There are some notable early 20th century buildings with prototype (8 story) skyscrapers. The old town is packed with art galleries and eateries which makes for a pleasant stroll. I also made it up to the large and impressive botantical gardens although the tropical houses reminded me lock, stock and barrel of Kew.  It was a nice surprise too to find a decent Japanese Garden with authentic if modern house and best of all some stunning pictures of Japanese nature. 

A day and half feels like long enough in Montreal so I am leaving for Ottawa a bit earlier than planned.

My accomodation in Ottawa was another univeristy block. This one was pretty central and easy to get too. The room was fairly basic but ok and the only distraction was being awakened by some girls playing softball in the corridor right outside my room...

Ottawa itself is a pleasant enough modern city, home to the country's parliament and other civic buidlings including a number of world class museums.  The Parliament building looks strikingly similar to Westminster although the main tower is centrally located rather than at the end of the building.  It is situated next to the canal tha opened up canada's internal market and a river so a pleasant enough spot. My favourite museums were the stunning national gallery with a great and eclectic range of works, and the natural history museum which has a great collection of dinasaur skeletons in particular.  The Natiaonal Galley also houses a reconstructed historic convenet chapel which pipes out gregorian style chant and which makes a surreal and very spiritual port of call. An inspired idea.

My foot has been playing me up - too much wearning of trainers perhaps - so I did less walking and exploring than normal.  It is actually quiote nice to chill and pick up a few books rather than rushing around for a change. 



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