Clip clip of horse hooves outside our hostel window made it sound like we were thrown back 150 years ago, perhaps just before the Confederation of Canada. I believe the section of the hostel we are staying in is quite old. (I later found out perhaps less than 100 years) I wonder what inhabitants of QC thought about the future of Quebec, if they gave it any thought at all. There had already been so many major changes since the French and British arrived.
We again had a full day ahead of us that started at the Plains of Abraham Museum. I had already abandoned my GS to his pillow earlier to get a decent cup of coffee at Starbucks. Who would have thought I would know where two of these are in QC. Fortified with breakfast, coffee and adventure we were ready to explore. My first stop was a revisit from the previous day to take some photos of a church and nunnery that are closed, behind bars and in a state of destruction that is up the road from our hostel. The Missionnaires Du Sacre-Coeur looked miserable with its naked windows, stairs stripped away and walls bared. The church next door has a massive hole dug out in the forefront, pipes exposed. The doors shut out the beautiful stain glass (found photos from 2014) that I hope will be salvaged. I could not find what is planned for either structure. The little information I gleaned from the hostel reception was that, as the numbers of nuns decrease, nunneries and the chapels they connected with become obsolete.
On to the museum. Either I am really thick or the museum is very small. It is in a large building, next door to the burned out armoury, which had me thinking we would be spending at least a couple of hours there. However, other than a basement reception area, a small interpretive and display section, and a student display that would not open until July 1st, there was very little to see. I was quite disappointed. No apparent directions to lead us to other floors, besides where we had entered and been directed down, we left through the back doors then headed to the Citadel.
Once again it took some persuasion to convince my GS it would be interesting to pay the fee for a guided tour – the only way to see what is inside the walls of this working fortress. His father is in the military but it sounded like they had never actually gone beyond finding a free space to park. One of the perks of being military. We arrived just as a tour with the goat was finishing and within minutes for ours to begin. However, we missed the changing of guards. Our ticket did give us the opportunity to return the next morning for just that one activity.
La Citadelle de Quebec was very interesting. Home to the Royal 22nd Regiment and still a working garrison, the current citadel was built between 1820 – 1850 but the history of the site dates back to the late 1600s; we saw structures from 1693, 1750 and 1842 plus several more. The Governor General’s residence is within the walls – we could have had a tour of the house rather than the citadel.
The now 105-year-long Royal 22e Régiment, the Canadian Forces’ sole French-language regular force infantry regiment, has been at the garrison since 1920. Their mascot is a goat named Batisse, I believe the current goat is Batisse 15th. A direct descendent of Batisse 1st, a gift from King George V after WWll. We saw Batisse having photos taken at the tail end of the changing of the guards. Although we missed that spectacle we did get to see and hear the noon cannon fire. Deafening.
By that time we were ready for lunch and probably a nap. The nap had to wait, we were meeting a former student of mine who now lives in New York, and her husband. I had not seen her since she was only a little older than my grandson! That was in Nanning, China. Although not the original plan we met up for lunch after we both said we were starving after a full morning exploring. Some awkward minutes for those who had not met, then a very nice meal at Chez Jules (I am quite sure I ate here on my 2014 trip!). I had the quiche, lovely. Good conversation – even my GS – and then a couple of hours spent seeing even more sights, discussing history, academics and religion. My GS and I took them to the lower section to visit the smaller cathedral, enjoy the long allee window shopping and people watching, two murals and ride the funicular. We finished the afternoon at the Fairmont le Chateau Frontenac in the lovely lower lobby outside Starbucks. Yay, iced coffee! It had been a very hot day.
I have no recollection if we rested at the hostel after. During our pre dinner wandering I did take notice of my GS noticing some young women walk in and past our direction. I refrained from saying anything. Oh my poor daughter!
We eventually sought some dinner. To my surprise my GS did not choose Fondue or Crepes – both having been on his list my must do. After passing a couple of places a few times, one does tend to go in circles within circles in QC, checking out a few menus and discussing pros and cons we finally chose Cafe de Paris a restaurant next door to l’Omelette – the place I was not smitten with. Rather than embarrass my GS by leaving after I discovered both are owned by the same person I decided to give it a chance. Excellent service, (after I was convinced my GS they were not being snooty) great ambience, somewhat crowded with everyone seated in the front section to appear busy (popular) and very good food. I had traditional Boeuf bourguignon, my first bite of meat was melt in your mouth perfection. My GS had a very cheesy pizza. I did have to laugh when our napkins were settled on our laps with great flourish to only have my GS place his on the table. Another lesson in etiquette. We had an enjoyable evening….until I ordered coffee. What is it with the lousy coffee in QC? I have no recollection of a problem on my previous visits. This time I said something. My GS is firmly convinced I am too fussy and like to complain. I explained that if I am paying for something, especially when the price is inflated to beyond Starbucks, I want it to be good. I was willing to forego excellent by this time. The coffee was deducted.
I cannot believe we then went out for another walk! This was our last night, it was a lovely evening so off to the old city wall for a view of the lights of the city below.
5.70 coffee SB; 22.00 citadel; Funicular 12.00 (4 ppl); 4.00 ice coffee; 60.00 dinner inc tip; my former student and her husband kindly paid for our lunch; 18,000 steps