Our journey begins with a two night Special Stay at the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac.
The fable goes, “Some 40,000 years ago, nomadic groups from the north of Asia crossed over the Bering Strait and settled down in the greener lands they discovered in North America. Hunter-gatherers, they even ventured ever further eastwards in pursuit of mammoth and bison, their preferred prey.”
And so our tour begins.
Wood and water, trees and lakes intricately mingle: Quebec brings to mind the wide, untamed spaces of an American promised land. You can’t escape from the thought that you may be the first person to tread somewhere in this empty, lonely landscape.
Quebec is said to be the most beautiful city in North America. Quebec is very much a French city and takes pride in its “old France” architecture. Built on a human scale, its stone houses recollecting those of Saint-Malo in Brittany, the city with its cobbled streets, winding flights of steps, ramparts and the extravagant silhouette of Chateau Frontenac has become the leading tourist destination in La Belle Province.
Our day begins “real early” Quebec time; lots of waking moments, and hours, waiting for day break to peak over the horizon. At 5:30am we decided to take on the elevated boardwalk along the shore of the St Lawrence River, and up the couple of hundred steps towards the Citadel of Quebec. Known also as La Citadelle it is an active military installation and official residence of both the Canadian monarch of the day, and the Governor General of Canada. It is located on top of Cap Diamond, adjoining the Plains of Abraham. The citadel is the oldest military building in Canada, and forms part of the fortifications of Quebec City, which is one of only two cities in North America still surrounded by fortifications, the other being Campeche, Mexico. There were a few other ‘exercise freaks’ up at that time but walking in the early morning air in shorts and tee-shirts, was quite a change from the coldness of the Yarra Valley.
From our walk, we became the first breakfast hunters on our return and had a great view for the meal looking out over the St Lawrence River. Many of you know, we have had a ‘lifestyle change’ recently, but this morning was a “pig-out” time at breakfast. One hour 45 minutes later we exited after 4 or 5 courses from the elaborate “Scenic” breakfast bar.
The jet lag came upon us and a morning nap was the next destination before sitting out in the 23 degrees sunshine for another couple of hours before our days shopping look-around of the tourist spot nearby. The ms Rotterdam was berthed close by and wandering tourists were all over the cobble stoned streets of this old town. The souvenir shops were very busy selling handcrafts, stickers (patches – my travelling vest is worth a lot of money if you add the patches and the airfares and travelling expenses together), cards, and well ‘Made in China’ clothing. We found a very busy Christmas Shop with very new, to us, hangings and christmasy stuff and lights to buy.
Just outside our magnificently located hotel, is a small grandstand area used by travelling buskers. The show we watched was performed by a humours Mexican who did some excellent tricks using a large ‘hole-hoop’ and a pole.
We met up with a couple from our group to spend the time of the evening meal together and then off to bed to try to get some more sleep.
Tomorrow, we meet up with our Scenic Tour Director and enjoy the first Welcome Dinner of the tour.