9. Discovering Quebec City

The strongest feeling for me in Canada is a feeling of discovery. A totally new land where I have never been before. I feel a strong wanderlust, which many travelers define as “strong and irresistible desire to travel and discover the world”.

So I talked to my friends, and we agreed what we will discover next. The capital of Quebec, the Quebec City.

Quebec City, here we come!

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We leave Montreal at 8 o’clock on Sunday and take the Highway 20, otherwise known as Autoroute Jean-Lesage. Quebec is about 250 km from Montreal, so we get there at about 11, and look for a parking. Surely enough, we did not find a free parking close enough to the city center, so we park at $12/day parking near the river, just opposite of Musée de la civilisation. I really want to visit it, but not this time.

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We go to the Old Quebec, and almost immediately we feel like we left Canada and landed in Medieval France. Old stone buildings, small cobblestone streets. And this is not just a tourist attraction, it is for real.  It is one of the oldest cities in North America, founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain. Its name come from, an Algonquin word “Kébec”, meaning “where the river narrows”.  The old part of the city is still surrounded by walls, that have protected city for many years and have seen many wars. It is the only fortified walls in North America north of Mexico, and it is a UNESCO World heritage Site.

Cobblestone streets and stone buildings remind old Europe
Cobblestone streets and stone buildings remind old Europe
Amazing street art
Amazing street art
Going up to the upper city
Going up to the upper city

We explore the lower part of the city and go to the upper part. We see city walls and old cannons aimed at the river, that were protecting Quebec at war. I could feel history at this place. It is really old and have seen a lot in its life.

Busy tourist street
Busy tourist street
Lower part of Old Quebec
Lower part of Old Quebec
Ferries cross the mighty St. Lawrence river every couple of minutes
Ferries cross the mighty St. Lawrence river every couple of minutes

And of course we head towards the city’s iconic landmark. The world-famous Château Frontenac. I have seen it so many time on pictures. It has been my wallpaper on computer for many years. Now I see it myself. Unbelievable. In reality it is just as good as on pictures.

The world-famous Chateau Frontenac
The world-famous Chateau Frontenac

We continue toward the Plains of Abraham. It is a historic area famous for being a site of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham, which took place in 1759. On that date, British soldiers climbed the steep cliff under the city in darkness, surprising and defeating the French. As a result, the battle left control of Quebec City to the British, eventually allowing them to take control of Canada the following year.

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Soldiers guarding the citadel
Soldiers guarding the citadel

Unfortunately we don’t have enough time to explore it properly. We decided to spend the rest of the time we had to explore another wonder of Quebec City region. We take a walk along the walls and return to a car.

Fortified walls of Quebec
Fortified walls of Quebec
Quebec parlament
Quebec parliament
Street drummer with nice dog
Street drummer with nice dog
Old building in city center
Old building in city center

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Montmorency Falls

We drive north of Quebec City to the famous Montmorency Falls. This waterfall is the highest in Quebec counting 84 meters, and it is 30 meters higher then Niagara Falls.

Top of the waterfall
Top of the waterfall
Looking down from the bridge
Looking down from the bridge

It is truly amazing. The water falls down from over 80 meters creating a cloud of water spray at the bottom. There is a suspension bridge over the waterfall which offers spectacular view of the waterfall, St. Lawrence river below, and the Île d’Orléans in the distance.

Tourist bridge, St. Lawrence river and Ile d'Orleans in a distance
Tourist bridge, St. Lawrence river and Ile d’Orleans in a distance
Tourist bridge from another angle
Tourist bridge from another angle
Mighty waterfall
Mighty waterfall
Some people enjoy water spray at the bottom of waterfall
Some people enjoy water spray at the bottom of waterfall

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It was getting late and we had a long way to drive home, so we headed back. It was a Sunday evening, everyone was rushing back to Montreal after a weekend away. Moreover, it was the last day of Construction Holiday, which is the most busy time for  tourism industry in Quebec, so the highway back to Montreal was literally packed with cars. Trucks, family cars, pick-ups with trailers, RVs, all doing over 100 km/h tightly packed on a highway, with distances between cars about the same as in city traffic jam. I have never driven in a traffic that dense and fast before! I felt like I was participating in NASCAR race! And if I did, I would come the last. It was my first ever drive on Canadian roads, on my friend’s car, with 4 other people inside that I was, as a driver, responsible for, so I tried to make it safe. I was not driving in “granny mode”, but with reasonable caution and observing speed limits.

Completely opposite travel styles face to face. Which one would you prefer?
Completely opposite travel styles face to face. Which one would you prefer?
There is something magical in highways at dusk
There is something magical in highways at dusk

Finally, I must say, 1 day is not nearly enough to explore Quebec City and nearby area. I am not sure even a week is enough. So this was definitely not my last visit there, so many more interesting things to see!

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