Tuesday, April 26, 2011

honeymoon in Quebec (part i)

By the time we actually got away from the wedding, it was after four in the afternoon. We had planned on taking as much time as we liked with family and friends, and now that timeline was going to get us in at 10pm. Not a problem. The roads were clear all the way to Montreal. We had blown through the first four hours, where I happily announced we were passing the farthest east I'd ever been (I'm such a nerd).

From here it was all unknown territory, and we were excited. As we left the island of Montreal, we came upon a surreal Blade Runner type landscape, the refineries and fuel storage tanks on the east island, complete with the fire burning on the top of a long stack, bathing everything in an orange glow. A light snow was beginning to fall, and it gave an otherworld quality to the landscape, all warm yellows and reds, and oranges. It felt like a great adventure. It's been so long since I traveled.

We figured on making good time from there. The towns in the St. Lawrence valley were mainly bypassed by the highway, and it seemed to be smooth sailing without much in our way to Quebec city.

We were wrong. Just outside Montreal the snow got heavier. Jenn went for a smoke outside a gas station, and the wind whipped her as the snow turned from rain to slush to snow again. The attendant (if my newly dusted off French was accurate) at the gas station said it would be an hour and a half drive. 11:30pm, not bad for an estimate of 10pm.

The roads worsened, and worsened, and drivers slowed right down. At one point, with the four wheel drive, and traveling at 40Km/h we were passed at high speed by a cube van, who fifteen minutes later was in the ditch. Cars were in the ditches with regularity now, and coming into Trois Rivieres, we needed a break. We accidentally got turned around with snowed over roadsigns, and took the bridge to the south shore, having to wind our way through inches of snow to the onramp for the bridge the other way, and the nice people in the Tim Horton's in Trois Rivieres helped us back on the 40. I was tired.

Another stretch of sleepy, paranoid highway, and we rolled into Quebec city about 3am. There was not much for us but bed, and luckily it was nice and quiet. I slept like a rock.

In the morning we surveyed the hotel, the Hotel de Vieux Quebec on St. Jean street.

The Continental breakfast that hung on a basket on the door in the morning seemed to show off how these types of thing should be done. It was two very fresh croissants (oh, how I love and miss real french pastry), two very fresh chocolate croissants, two little pots of jam, two ripe pears, two yogourt cups, and two orange juice. Jenn wasn't up yet when I started into the pastry and I wanted to eat the whole thing myself.

Internet, sitting area, gorgeous bathroom, and downstairs was a common room with couches, computers, a gas fireplace, and all the wooden beam and limestone charm you'd expect from a nearly 400 year old city. 

We spent the first day walking around and looking at things. I swear, nobody does coffee like they do in Quebec, and the same goes for the pastries. We ate each morning in a little patisserie in the same building as the St. Patrick's pub. The picture is overexposed, but it would be there on the left. In the back was a fireplace built in 1720, and row upon row of fresh melt-in-your-mouth pastry. I came away with the impression that I could live there for the rest of my days.

We didn't catch much of the night life, but there were really only a few reasons we were there, none of which entailed drinking our faces off or dancing. We wanted to have good food, historical things to learn, and spend time together. Quebec was perfect for all three.

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