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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Big Ride - Day7 part2

Scene along the Place Royale
Food, glorious food....and lots of photos

After lunch at Le Buffet de L'Antiquaire, we ambled back to the core of Lower Town. In keeping with the supposed oldness of everything, several souvenir shops still sported their Kodak Film displays, which in the age of digital and the end of Kodak Film, looked oddly at home within the restored 18th century surroundings.

Several of the buildings had very well executed Trompe L'oeil murals on their sides, depicting various imagined scenes from Quebec City's past, and I admit these were clever ways to dress up the otherwise drab end-buildings of an old city block.
Approaching Place Royal from Cote de la Montagne
Near this particular mural, heading back to Place Royal, was the exposed ruins of 17th and 18th century foundations of shops at this end of Rue du Notre Dame, near the corner of Cote de la Montagne. Its historically known who occupied each shop or house and when, in this particular section. Signage (remember dynamitage?) identified which edifice would have been inhabited by whom, and it was really neat to just stop and reflect that those people stood here too, a couple hundred years ago, living, loving, fearing, and hoping, running their shops, bartering for material, and just doing what people do on a daily basis. The world was such a different place then, but people themselves are pretty much the same throughout history. Except that we now live in a time practically devoid of the siege mentality that pervades most of human history.
Foundations and basements of old dwellings in Lower Town

Kiosk identifying the shops and dwellings, and who lived where

From the walled cities in Italy and around the world, to the round-towers I saw recently in Ireland, evidence shows that humans have mostly lived either in constant fear of having their lives and possessions taken by others, or were constantly involved in the pillaging and violence of others, often alternating between being either pillager or victim as needs, seasons and politics shifted.
Soon, we were back at our old friend the funicular, its $2 fee saving us from hauling our recently consumed three-meat pie, fish and chips and ales back up "breakneck stairs", although in this century they may more aptly be renamed the "heart-attack stairs".
Across from Notre Dame des Victoires, at Place Royale

Approaching our friend against gravity, the Funicular

Back up top in the Upper Town and out on the Terrasse Dufferin, we could get a grand view of where we had just been below, and out onto the St. Lawrence. As we'd just had a heavy lunch, and eschewed the stairs for the funicular, we thought we'd go all-out and get an ice cream to top it all off with, as it was very hot in the sun, and the several ice cream and gelato stands on the Terrasse were doing a brisk business, and it just seemed the thing to do out on the Terrasse this time of day.
Looking east down the Terrasse

Looking West

The little striped roof booth to the right is the entrance for the Funicular

Looking down on Lower Town, Notre Dame des Victoires and the center of Place Royale
is at the steeple at the center, just beneath the cruise ship.

A ferry runs to a town, Levis, on the other side regularly

A closer view of the rooftops below

Dad and Bro, with the Lower Town below

Defensive cannon are all along the Terrasee. La Citadelle begins at
the upper left, just left of the houses.

The massive Chateau Frontenac dominates both the skyline,
and views from the Terrasse

One of many porticos along the Terrasse offering a shady spot to sit.
The one just over the man in the baseball cap houses an ice cream parlor too.

Enjoying frozen treats atop an ice cream shop on the Terrasse.
You can see the portico in the background that the photo just above this was taken from

With all the walking, heavy food, ice cream, and heat, it was all we could do to sleep-walk back to our nice, cool, dark room and crash for an hour or so. After all, we had to get our strength up for dinner.
We originally thought about staying at the Chateau Frontenac, as its the most famous and dominant structure on the Quecbec City skyline, but we decided the $1,000 plus pricetag for 2 nights would just about pay for the rest of the trip. So we opted to stay at the Sainte-Anne hotel instead, a short block from the Chateau, within sight of the Terrasse, and a very easy walk to everything. Not only did we not pull the bikes out since arriving, we've not had to use any other means of transport other than walking since we got here. And for roughly only $200 a night. Much better.
These tiny12 passenger electric buses allowed easy transport around the Old City for 
only a dollar. We never had to use one, everything being so close made for easy walking.
Photo ©BeyondDC from Flikr

But we still thought we wanted to experience the opulence of the Chateau Frontenac hotel, so I reserved a table at one of its three dining venues. The Chateau has a dress code for dinner, which varies depending on the venue. We originally opted for dinner at the "Cafe de la Terrasse" in the Chateau, as its dress code allowed neat informal wear, and Bro and Dad could wear their better jeans. I was going to wear my business casual attire at any rate, so I was all set wherever we went.
After about 1,800 miles in the bike, however, my duds were looking quite crushed and creased, and it took some ironing (on the floor, as our room seemed short one ironing board and I didn't feel like calling down for one) to get them passably acceptable, even though I still looked more like Oscar Madison than Felix Unger when done (if you're young, look it up).
Yeah, never really worked, this. Still lookin' for the cement pond tho'
When we arrived, just a few minutes early, at the Chateau's Cafe, it appeared pretty deserted. Indeed, even the formal dining room next door looked empty. Not wanting to be the first seated, we self-consciously wandered around to see what else might be going on around the hotel. We wandered into the "Le St Laurent bar and lounge" upstairs at the Frontenac, and it was clear this was where all the people were, as a Jazz duo was expected to start a two hour set soon. We scored a table outside on the veranda overlooking the Terrasse from about a story up. It was a great place to savour drinks, and again watch people stroll by. We even found Waldo.
Inner courtyard of the Chateau Frontenac hotel

Lovely view from the St Laurent bar terrace

Our waitress doing a great job of explaining the french menu to us

Appetizers, beer, great view, great weather - perfect.
Some had a different idea of the dress code than we did, not that we complained.
We leisurely enjoyed the nuances of our meal as evening fell. As it's the day after my wedding anniversary, and Mrs. Shutterpilot was back home well over a thousand miles away, it was difficult to watch all the couples enjoying a stroll in the cooling evening along the Terrasse in such a romantic city.
My excellent "saumon en lentilles noires beluga"
or, Salmon on beluga black lentils

Dusk in Quebec. Where's Waldo?

Looking East towards the Laurentian Mtns

It was nice to just sit and watch evening fall after a great meal.
A special treat, as we were finally leaving, was hearing someone playing the grand piano in the hotel. It was the most awe inspiring piano music and playing I had ever heard (which doesn't say much 'cause I ain't heard much, but I am in a choir, so I've heard "some"). I didn't recognize the piece, but went upstairs to investigate. Turns out it was a hotel guest, not a payed musician, playing while his beautiful woman looked on romantically. Not wanting to break their spell, I didn't make a photo of them, but it was a beautiful moment to remember. This young man must have been something akin to a Julliard grad or student, as his playing was truly phenomenal. Along with a growing gathering of others, we stayed and listened quietly beneath the staircase for awhile. This is the first I realize that I'll be happy to be headed toward home tomorrow, as lovely and fun as this trip has been so far.
Bro enjoying the impromtu music

The pianist was at the top of this lovely staircase

Main lobby of the Chateau
Out into the night air, we strolled down to the far edge of the fortifications, about as far northeast from the Frontenac on the opposite corner of the wall to see what that might be like. Going through the "St Jean" gate here, we could get a good look at the fortified walls from the outside.
Street performers near our hotel, the trombonist was especially entertaining

The defensive walls outside the St jean Gate

Another view of the exterior of the city walls looking south

The St Jean gate, looking back into the Old City.
A street party was just breaking up, so we mingled with a varied set of all kinds of people as we took the long way back to our hotel. As it was quite late, Dad opted for turning in, while Bro and I had one last set of drinks at the sidewalk bistro of the Auberge De Tressor next door. Before turning in myself, I swapped out maps and made plans for how to get out of the city the next morning, planning on heading into Vermont, and finding a Harley Dealer in Barre, VT that might be able to solve Dad's intermittent dead-throttle problem.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome ride report & photos! Really enjoying it!