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Day 64 – Saturday June 23, 2007 – Quebec City, Canada
Seeing a city in six hours is my opinion of a joke. Unfortunately, this is all of the time we had to see Québec City today. In our defense, Québec City was not on our original itinerary. As we got closer to Canada, it seemed to turn up everywhere as a great place to visit, so we decided that seeing a little of the city is better than seeing nothing. With a small taste of the city, we can always go back and see more. The fact that our hostel sat right in the middle of the “Old Town” certainly helped, given our time crunch. We woke up this morning, ate breakfast at the hostel and set out to see Québec City as best as we could.
The Old Town of Québec is still surrounded by walls that were built during English rule in order to protect it from the Americans! (The cannons are even still there to show how well guarded it was!) Québec City happens to be the only fortified city north of Mexico with it’s walls still intact. It is also among the oldest cities in North America, being that it was established in 1608. It is because of these reasons that Québec City is a World Heritage Site.
Perhaps what stands out the most in Old Town Québec City is that it feels like a small French village. From the cobblestone streets, to to the large cathedrals, we never had to look far to see something interesting. Our first stop of the day was the tourist information center, where they were nice enough to point us in the right direction, giving us a few things to do with our six hours. The Old Town is broken up into two parts. Upper Old Town was the walled in defensive position and sits on a hill overlooking the St. Lawrence River, while Lower Old Town sits outside the walls, at the bottom of a cliff, right on the banks of the river.
We took the stairs down to Lower Old Town and began to walk around. To be honest, with everything in French, at times we didn’t even know what we were looking at. Most of the time, English wasn’t even translated. I didn’t mind this though, since it added to the charm. Most of Lower Old Town is comprised of shops, so we mostly just looked from the outside, as we weren’t interested in buying anything. Shopping just doesn’t fit in with six hours in such a charming city!
The biggest tourist destination in the lower part of the city is the Notre Dame Basilica. It is very small and not much to look at from the outside. We entered and sat inside for a few minutes to take in the atmosphere. What the building lacks in size and outwardly appearance, it certainly makes up for with inner beauty. In fact, we saw at least four other beautiful cathedrals today alone. They certainly didn’t hold back in building these churches.
When we left the Notre Dame, in lieu of walking back up the steep hill to the top, (although we walked down again later and walked back up) we took the funicular up. This was a first for Shawn Reece and he was quite excited. Most of the rest of our time in old town consisted of us walking around and looking at the buildings while marveling at the architecture. We did go to a so called “chocolate museum” that was recommended by the tourist center, but it was nothing more than a few signs in the back of a chocolate store. I think that it was more geared towards selling chocolate than anything else.
Finally, about 3pm we decided to get in the car and start our four hour drive west to Montreal. Tomorrow we will tackle a similar task, as we only have a limited amount of time to see Montreal. We plan to take in Montreal’s Old Town, Old Port and then move out to St. Helen’s Island which sits in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Tomorrow will most likely prove to be a long day. Talk to you soon!
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