Compared to Montreal, Quebec City is teensy but gorgeous. I arrived just at dusk in a parking lot for the night just downriver from the ferry to the city in the suburb of Levis. In the morning I had a nice breakfast picnic on a damp log by the riverside in a small beachy area in the park, and moments later was joined by a family complete with grandparents who were having a family photo shoot. Grandma, grandpa, mom, and both girls wore put together outfits with color coordinated accessories. Dad… had poorly fitting jeans and a grey sweatshirt and a camo hat. Someone needs to get dad out of his usual Sunday morning getup and get with the program.
Anyway, had a nice walk to the ferry terminal about 20 min down the path and discovered it was a lucky day! The ferry across the St. Lawrence was free due to construction. I managed to lose an earring along the way, but was disembarking into Quebec City within 30 minutes.
Old Quebec City is like Disney’s version of France in Epcot. Very clean, street artists, music ranging from the Cats soundtrack to classic accordion tunes coming from somewhere unidentifiable, even a giant snow globe! You know every adorable shop is a tourist trap waiting to lure you in to get overpriced snacks or a t-shirt that for no reason has a picture of the Millennium Falcon that says Quebec. But the bright colors, happy people looking astonished to encounter yet another enchanting shopping street at every turn, and interesting (and in one case creepy as hell- see below) street art are too fun not to get swept away along with everyone else.
The older section of the city lies close to the riverside, and as you climb the hill you reach the more modern sections of local government, shops, the city walls and fortifications from British and French governance. There are only a few remaining gates into the city walls, with the Citadel anchoring one side along with the expansive Battlefield Park along the cliffs and river above the old city. The center of the skyline is a giant chalet-style hotel at the top of a funicular, which I chose not to take in favor of walking up along the ramparts and cannons along the hill.
I wandered the park, through the Joan of Arc garden, which was decorated for Halloween (side note: there was a fake cemetery display and it took me a minute to remember that these were Canadian heroes when I saw Benedict Arnold in there. Adjusting mindset to a different historical slant is for real!), and through the Plains of Abraham where a decisive battle was won by the British in the French & Indian War. It was full of families enjoying the sunny day, and very much enjoyed walking around with my bag of Quebec style popcorn from the wonderfully named Mary’s Boutique popcorn shop (Quebec mix: white cheddar, orange cheddar, and maple, which is like a subtle caramel corn. Yum) and playing Acadian Driftwood by the Band in my head on repeat.
On this lovely sunny day, I encountered two separate public singing performances (one channeling Sister Act complete with spangled robes) and left a happy car to take my space in the now full parking lot. Not far outside the city I stopped off at a waterfall. The Parc de la Chute-Montmorency has a whole tourist ecosystem planned out. From the main parking area there is a gondola ride down to a viewing area at the base of the falls, which costs a bundle but probably gives a good view. I would not know because I am cheap. In season they also have a zip line course which takes you super close over the falls. Yikes.
I opted for the bridge over the falls, and then walked down a wooden stairway to the base of the falls where I felt the cool spray of the 272′ falls (taller than Niagara, so they advertise) on my face, which was much needed for the harder than it should have been walk back up the stairway. Crazy people were running up and down the stairs giving zero cares about the view and just training, lapping me in the process and shaking the whole structure. Who are these running cult crazies, and why do they always decide that places like these are the best place to train? I will never understand some things. Anyway, that was beautiful.
That night I got my first below freezing sleeping adventure- not bad going to bed, but a chilly wake up call. I did get up in the night to put on socks and my knit headband, but haven’t had to pull out the sleeping bag for reinforcement yet. It was out of Quebec and into New Brunswick next on my way to meet up with family friends in Nova Scotia, and along the way the highway sign gods were good to me and I stumbled upon the world’s longest covered bridge. The world’s longest!!! I have a special place in my heart for a good covered bridge, with the covered bridge tour near my college town, and a long and finally fruitful search for one we could drive across still on a past road trip. So, I may have been overexcited. There’s a video I took while crossing. It was great. Yet again, fall colors on point all along the way.
Stayed the night by the beach on the Bay of Fundy just outside St. John’s, and was treated to a beautiful sunset, and woke up early for an equally magical sunrise. I could see evidence of the massive tidal change on the beach, but hit a lower tide for both sunrise and sunset and slept through high tide, though I swear I could hear the change in the night sea sounds. Next, on to Nova Scotia!