Quebec City wasn't in my itinerary when I decided to go to Montreal. In fact, it wasn't even in my radar of places to visit. It wasn't until my host Benoit, mentioned it would make an excellent side trip. Upon his recommendation, I decided to go. So I immediately looked into day tours to Quebec online. Unfortunately, there wasn't a lot of information available regarding off-season tours. All the schedules listed online were for summer. By the time I gathered all the information I needed, it was too late to make a booking. The bus was scheduled to take off at 7am the next day. Which meant, I had to be up by 5:30am navigate the subway system, look for the tourist information office in downtown Montreal and hope to arrive in time. I didn't know if they were going to be open by seven or if I could even join the tour, last minute. But I decided to take the chance and go anyway. When I arrived at the tourist information center, it was still closed. I could see the bus, but without a ticket, I couldn't get on; nor do they sell them on board. Luckily, there was someone available from the bus company to accomodate me. Suffice to say, I made it by a hairline.
The Old Military Fort
The bus ride took 2 hours and it was comfortably warm. I was giving myself a nice pat on the back about making it on the tour. I didn't really know what to expect other than it was "nice." So I was pleasantly surprised when we got there. We were brought to a nice waterfall (in the summer - you could take the lifts up to the mountain that lead to the viewing decks offering spectacular views of the falls.) Despite the rain and cold winds, I was having a good time. I was in a great mood. I was happy to be there. After the quick waterfall stop, we were driven around Quebec City before being dropped off at the old Fort and Artist's Row.
It is here where Quebec's infamous charm can be seen and felt. I became infatuated with the place. One could really feel the Christmas spirit in this town (Sorry, this entry is 4 months overdue). Most of the public buildings, street lights, stores and hotels were decorated with cheerful decors. It has been a long time since I felt excited about the Christmas season. As I strolled down the cobbled stone streets of this very European town, I couldn't help but day dream what it must be like in the winter. With the streets covered in snow, with the scent of roasted chestnuts wafting through the air, the sound of children's laughter mingled with vendors' shouts selling their wares echoing in the wind, and the sight of kids sledding down gentle slopes covered in snow, while parents observed from a distance sipping hot ciders. I was unreasonably happy. I had a string tugging at my heart as I imagined this scene. In addition to its quaint beauty, it was filled with independent artisan shops. Most of the places sold local handicrafts by resident artists using local materials which made it even more special. I had an incredible and surprisingly great time touring this little jewel. I recommend it to anyone looking for a quick and quaint get-away.