Quebec City

After a nice drive from Montreal and a stop on the way at a Sugar Shack where maple syrup is made, we arrived in Quebec and here we are comfortably ensconced in Le Chateau Frontenac at the edge of the St Lawrence River inside the wall of this beautiful city. What a magnificent place this is. It reminds me a little of Lyon and Avignon actually as I sit here looking to the window across to the other side of the river. Last evening we had walk after dinner and it was like being in the heart of France with musicians, singers, people dancing, circus performers doing their thing in the little park areas and lots of people enjoying a quiet meal at the hundreds of cafes. Magnifique!
This morning the boss and I (actually I am the tour leader but I let him demonstrate his skills today – as you say Shane, he is the apprentice!) went on a walk to get a good look at this older part of the city. We went down, down, down from Le Chateau Frontenac, which is at ze top of ze ‘ill, right to ze bottom by ze river. This was a good idea until it came to coming back up ze blimmin ‘ill and we decided to get the Funicular. This afternoon we did a gastronomic walking food tour. Now zis was interesting. We went to seven little restaurants and we had different types of wine, organic and otherwise, we had refreshing cool cider, we had the local drink of Caribou. 

Now that was an experience actually because Caribou is whiskey, port and maple syrup and yesterday we had it chilled and it was nice. Today it wasn’t chilled and it was just like ordinary port. We had a local delicacy called Poutin which is twice fried potatoes, gravy and cheese; maple syrup + maple syrup fudge + maple syrup tea; buckwheat pancakes stuffed with ham and cheese and lastly chocolat – save the best for last they say! Then we waddled back up to ze ‘Otel and went to the gorgeous bar overlooking the St Lawrence River and ze boss ‘ad a cool beer and I ‘ad a cool Pinot Grigio and very nice it was.

Now I am going to finish off by NOT commenting on ze bathroom other than to say that last night we ‘ad a flood in ze bathroom. Deary me – I turned off ze water, pulled back ze curtain and voila – blimmin water all over ze entire floor of ze bathroom. C’est la vie!

That was the gospel according to TL………..Tour Leader………aka Shannon.   Now for some observations according to the Apprentice….aka Vern.

Canadian drivers are so courteous they put Kiwi drivers to shame…….yes, that includes all of you too!!!!  Don’t jay walk here, cross the road at the intersections.  But you can step onto the road at the intersections and the drivers have already figured that you were going to cross and have stopped 50 metres before. Where you are.   In Kiwiland you would now be dead, but here, they just give you a wave!!!!   Our guides tell us that it is the same all over Canada.

Drink driving is taken very seriously here…… totally zero tolerance.  No ifs, no buts, no maybes.   Any sign of alcohol and its $3000 instant fine and 18 month loss of licence, and no option to appeal.  Road toll has dropped dramatically as a result.
Why do 998 Canadian pedestrians walk towards you on the footpath on your LHS and 2 Kiwis walk towards them on the LHS……….. Because they drive on the RHS of the road and walk on the RHS of the footpath.    It takes a bit of getting used to for a geriatric Kiwi I can tell you!!!

They are bilingual here…….French first and English second.  Interesting to watch them start speaking to you in French then realise you are not Canadian and continue in English……smart buggers these Canadians but a bit confusing for a dumb apprentice.

Have been a bit upside down since arriving and wake up not long after midnight to spend the rest of the nite looking at the ceiling in the dark and listening to all the sounds a hotel makes during the nite……….don’t laugh… would be really surprised what you can hear…………what goes on on tour stays on tour though!!!   But today I was very fortunate to wake much later at 5am.   Thanks to my brother Shane who lent me the book Wild Boy, the story of nineteen year old Brando Yellavich walking around the coastline of NZ, I decided to read this book whilst I waited for the breakfast hour to arrive.  It is a fascinating book about the life story of an ADHD child.   Couldn’t help feeling emotional about the difference of the two worlds.  Sumptuous meals versus possums, or goats, or seagulls.   Read it if you are interested in adventure and pushing limits.  Quite humbling when you are privileged like we are at present.  Thanks Bro.  Really enjoying the story.

Fascinated when we went to the bar tonight to enjoy a beer at the end of a hot day……32 degrees.   Asked for a Canadian beer, and in response asked if I would like a Stellar………..Oh that would be good….nice Canadian beer, eh!!!   Also great to see Kiwi wines in hotels here, Kim Crawford in Montreal, and others here in Quebec.

Montreal could teach us Aucklanders a lot about opening up the waterfront (riverfront in their case) to the people and move the port out of town.   Done a great job here and the riverfront is a great hive of activity.

And in case any of you think I am not  doing my training whilst I am away……..I am pleased to report that there are many many cyclists riding on the roads and cycle paths here and I watch them all the time,, so training is going well!!!

Hope all is going well for all back home.   See you some time in the spring!!!!

The Apprentice

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