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Day 63 – Friday June 22, 2007 – Augusta, Main to Quebec City, Canada
The three of us woke up Friday with a lack of enthusiasm. You see, it was that most dreaded time of the week. You guessed it, LAUNDRY DAY! It is not that we don’t like to have clean clothes, (Shawn Reece being a typical little boy would probably bathe in dirt if he could) but it always seems that laundry day falls when we have so much to see. I will stop complaining about this since, to tell the truth, we woke up this morning with quite a bit of enthusiasm. The cause for our excitement today, was our destination. Yes, we finally took our first step into making this an actual world adventure. By Friday night, our heads were to be resting on Canadian beds!We left Augusta, ME at around 2pm after doing the laundry and spending a bit of time at the state capitol library in an unsuccessful attempt to book a hotel room. Yes, I was actually unable to get a hotel room before we arrived in the city. Our budget just didn’t allow for us to pay the amount of money hotels were charging in Quebec City, Quebec. In the end, we decided to drive up there and figure it out when we arrived. Probably not the smartest plan, but with several options written down and a credit card, we would not be sleeping on the streets of this old Canadian city.
Once again, I just want to mention how beautiful Maine is. It is BY FAR, the most beautiful state that we have seen thus far on our trip. The combination of dense forests, wildflowers and light green grass stretching off into the distance is phenomenal. This beauty also extends northward across the border into Quebec, Canada. I want to say that the scenery is beyond words, but this isn’t true, since I am constantly trying to find new ones to describe what I am seeing.
The drive up to Canada was pretty routine. At the border crossing, the Canadian customs officer asked us all of the usual questions before waving us through. While doing a little research about the province of Quebec, I uncovered a fact not previously known to me. While I knew that both French and English are official languages of Canada, I didn’t know that Quebec is the only province to have French as the one and only official language. Thanks to this research, we didn’t suffer too much culture shock as we finally arrived in Quebec City.
We ended up arriving in the city just before nightfall. With our list of hotels in hand, we decided to see if the local hostel had any available beds for us to sleep in. Given all of the options available to us, the hostel was the most economical, but certainly not the most comfortable! The YI hostel is in the old, walled in part of the city. After inquiring, we were told that they did have a dorm with 4 beds open. The man at the front desk also assured us that they wouldn’t book the fourth bed, so we would have a private room. In addition, we only had to pay for two adults, since Shawn Reece was free. At this point everything seemed to be going our way. That is, until we tried to park.
Quebec City has been the home of several anti-war protests in the past year. One of these protests was apparently going on just as we were trying to park in the public garage down the street from our hostel. With all of the commotion, the police closed the garage until the demonstration was over. We were stuck in the middle of a group of protesters, driving around in circles. Despite a few desperate attempts, we simply could not find a place to park, given that all of the available parking was closed. After two circles around the old city, I suddenly saw what looked like an angry mob coming up the street behind our car. At that point, the whole situation became quite overwhelming, given that everything was being said in French and we were stuck without any knowledge of what was going on. It was not until later that I would find out the nature of the protest. Finally, after almost having a meltdown trying to navigate the maze of four hundred year old narrow one way streets, we decided to get the hell out of the area, eat dinner and come back. Luckily, when we came back, the garage was open and we were able to park.
If you have been following our trip since the beginning, then you may have noticed by now that this is the first time we have stayed in a hostel thus far. In the United States, we were able to get hotels in most places for less than the cost of a hostel. We do expect however, that after we leave the United States, hostels and guest houses will be the norm. After hearing about them many times, Shawn Reece was excited to finally be staying in a hostel. He could hardly stop talking for hours into the night when Jasmine and I were trying to sleep on the most uncomfortable bunk beds every made. More on the hostel and charming Quebec City tomorrow…..
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The Coomer Family
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