Pretrip Starts in Quebec City, Quebec
We are beginning the pre-trip part of our Canadian Maritime Provinces Tour with Grand Circle Travel. As usual, we arrived in the origin city a day ahead. In this case it is Quebec City. We are staying at the Clarendon Hotel which is perfectly located in the center of historic “Old Town” In the morning, after just happening to wander into the oldest restaurant in town to have breakfast, we took a tour through the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel. The tour began below the hotel on a wide boardwalk called the Terrasse Dufferin. We had bought our tickets while at home for this hour-long tour guided by a fellow in period clothing from the late 17th century. As we went through parts of the old hotel we learned a bit of its history. Some claim that it is the most photographed hotel in the world. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the old town. After a ride down a funicular we walked through the lower section of the city and to a ship dock where a couple of cruise ships were located. We had some lunch at an outside cafe where we enjoyed resting and people watching. Somehow rather than riding the funicular back up the hill, we ended walking the whole way to the top, taking our time on long flights of stairs and windy sidewalks. Diner was next at another outdoor cafe. The weather was really very delightful.
The morning of Monday, July 30, we met the twenty people on our pre-trip and our guide, Anne Matheson. We embarked on a half day city tour with Marie, a local guide. Quebec is a city rich with history dating back to the early colonial period. The drive took us to and through some lovely areas outside the central city and to the Plains of Abraham - the famous battlefield of the French and Indian War. Quebec is located on the narrowest part of the St. Lawrence River and the daily tide fluctuation here is about 15 feet, twice a day. We stopped in the lower part of town where Samuel de Champlain created the first French settlement in North America in 1608. The area is called Place Royals. This is also where ships dock, even today, although now they are often large cruise ships. There we saw samples of the three kinds of roofs used in the past: cedar (too volatile), slate (too heavy), and tin, just right. Most are now made only of tin. In winter they have lots of snow from about November until April, but the streets are efficiently cleared during the night. The temperatures get down to -40 degrees. Yikes! We spent the afternoon doing some wandering around and getting a little rest before our group met for a “Welcome” dinner at a restaurant up the street.
Tuesday we took an extra trip our guide planned for us. The first stop was at the Copper Gallery and workshop of Albert Gilles. We learned about the beautiful work the family members do, and then we had a chance to try our hand using the tools and making a small piece of copper artwork. My elephant actually turned out quite well. The second stop was at the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupre, which was finished in the 1930s. The third stop was out on the Ile d’Orleans, in the St. Lawrence River. The large island is the garden and agricultural area for Quebec and is 5 miles wide and 18 miles long. We stopped for lunch at a place that made delicious chocolate. From there we stopped at a winery to sample five kinds of wines they make on site from their own fruit: pears, apples and grapes, including ice wine from frozen apples which are left on the trees until it is 40 degrees below. Delicious. Back to the mainland, the last stop was at the famous Montmorency Falls. They are 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls, but not nearly as wide. They are still impressive and we were able to walk out onto a pedestrian bridge to see them up close and personal. It was a great day’s outing.
After dinner at a popular restaurant and some gelato, it was time to turn in and get ready for our departure in the morning.
In the morning we will drive to Montreal for two nights. It has been a delightful stay in Quebec City.
Grace and Paul
Visiting Special Iranian Friends
On the way to start our tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, we stopped in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our dear friends, Yousef and Narmin from Iran, are visiting their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter there. Yousef’s daughter and her husband are attending the local university. Yousef was Paul’s mentor when he was teaching English in Iran with the Peace Corps. They have maintained their friendship for over fifty years, so this reunion was very special.
We were met at the airport and taken directly to the kids’ home for a delicious Iranian style dinner before going to our hotel for the night. The next morning we met at a nearby restaurant for breakfast and then enjoyed visiting the Western Development Museum. It was one of the best laid out history museums we have ever visited. We enjoyed the “Main Street” exhibit that showed an old town in 1911. Other exhibits covered more recent time periods.
In the afternoon we went to the one Iranian restaurant in Saskatoon and had delicious kabobs. We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging around visiting. The kids loved the opportunity to practice their English and to listen to all the stories Paul and Yousef told as they reminisced about their time together when Paul was in the Peace Corps. The stories never quit. Narmin cooked a delicious dinner for us of chicken and saffron rice.
After breakfast the next day Hamid and Nazanin, Yousef’s son-in-law and daughter, gave us a tour of the University of Saskatoon. It is a beautiful campus. We started in the Geology building where they had a great exhibits that included replicas of a number of dinosaur skeletons. The last building we visited was the engineering school where they study. It was special that we got to see their labs and hear the explanations of their projects. The afternoon again was spent hanging around, visiting and sharing stories. This was what we stopped in Saskatoon to do. Again Narmin fixed us a delicious dinner of a special soup made with oats chicken and lots of vegetables. She is an accomplished cook.
The next morning after breakfast they took us to the airport where we had to say good-bye. It was a very sad time. The last time we saw them, we could not dream that this chance would come again, so now we can think that it might happen again one of these days.
Now we are on to Quebec City where the Pre-Trip begins to our tour of the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
Grace and Paul
Grace and Paul Pitzer are retired school teachers who love to travel and share their stories and photos with others.
Grace and Paul Pitzer
We hope you will keep checking back regularly to see what is new. I'm always out and about with some camera and love to stretch my skills and add to my volume of work.
Motto: "Pack light and take lots of pictures."