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Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

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Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

I'm sharing this trip report to pay homage to the amazing people who helped me plan our visit to Quebec City. I cannot thank you all enough with special mentions going out to Bogwoppit, RickB and numerous others.

We had the most truly wonderful visit to Quebec City. My whole family of 4 is completely in love with this magical place.

Here goes our adventure:-

Arriving in Quebec City - 29 December, 2012

Essentially the whole day was spent travelling. Our car picked us up at our hotel in New York at 8.30am for our 11.15am flight. We got to the airport quickly, no traffic this morning for some reason but I am glad we are leaving NYC, it’s bound to become insane in the lead up to NYE.

Security and check in were smooth but due to a massive snow storm in Canada the flight we were catching with Air Canada arrived 1 hour late. That wasn’t too much of a problem, we know how to fill in our time at airports so soon we were winging our way to Montreal. The problem of course came once we got to Montreal because by then we had missed our connecting flight to Quebec City. This is where the fun started.

We got rushed through Customs which was the only bonus of what is about to happen. The customs line was what looked like hours long so truly being skipped to the front was a wonderful thing. By the time we got to where we needed to be about half of our original flight had missed the connection to Quebec City. This meant they had alot of people to fit on other flights. Which meant another long long line trying to get to a desk operator to help you out. I think we stood in that line for over an hour, perhaps longer.

Then we finally made it to the desk and the next flight she could get us on was 11pm that night. Since it was around 3pm you can imagine what unwelcome news this was. Sigh!!! But hey, what can you do, not a thing. It’s just more that as a parent you are thinking – how will my poor babies go for that amount of time stuck in the airport (which kind of translates as “are they going to drive me crazy during that wait time”).

The lady said she could put us on standby for the 7pm flight though and that we should just hang around that departure gate just before the flight boarded because we may get on that flight if some people didn’t show up. This seemed like a pipe dream but hey, I like a dream.

We thought we would wander over to that gate lounge and just set up camp there until the 7pm flight and we would then move to the 11pm flight lounge if that didn’t work.

So off we wander to the gate which was quite a long way for some reason. We finally found where it was and got comfortable and then DH decided to go for a walk, he’s not so good at the waiting and likes to stretch his legs. The kids settled in with Facebook for her, ipad for him and I decided to have a little nap. I didn’t even realise I had nodded off and the kids were waking me saying they thought they had heard our surname called to come up to the gate desk. This didn’t seem likely since it was still only around 4pm. I assumed it was another family with our name since it is fairly common but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to go and check. So off I toddle with our tickets etc. to see the lady. She says I understand you are waiting on standby, we can get you on that flight yadda yadda yadda. I’m all like, oh yay, we get to fly out at 7pm instead of 11pm. That makes me very happy. She prints out the boarding passes and I wanted to do a little happy dance. Just by chance I asked her what time she thought that flight would board. She said that flight is boarding right now.

I nearly had a little meltdown right then and there. DH was somewhere off in the airport, goodness knows where. Like seriously, I thought I may have a little vomit from the stress of what to do. I was trying to call him but our international sim cards sometimes take a bit of time to work and I couldn’t help thinking, OMG, what happens if I can’t get a hold of him. Fortunately I eventually got him and I told him to run run run back to us.

Meanwhile I was telling (I may actually have been yelling, who knows at this point, telling/yelling, it's all the same) the kids to get everything together, that meant getting shoes back on, packing up backpacks etc. It was really a mad scramble. Finally DH came running up looking like he had run a marathon. I think I can say with absolute certainty that the man hasn’t run that fast or far for a good 20 years hahaha. We finally boarded (having lost a few years off our lives) and took off nearly 6 hours earlier than we thought we would. What a relief, even though for a few minutes there it was more stressful than a parent teacher interview. Whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We landed in Quebec City with no fuss or bother to be greeted by snow snow and more snow. For a gal who’d been dreaming about the stuff, I was about to get a serious dose. Caught a cab to our hotel, Palais Royal (thank you TA forum) which turned out to be as lovely as I had hoped. Beautiful lobby (DD says that’s essential), stunning room with a separate living area and the view out the window, sigh. It was of the most precious winter scene which included iceskaters, Christmas lights, historic buildings and plenty of snow. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.

We dumped our bags, rugged up and headed out to have a quick look around and find a bite to eat for dinner. We wandered down the most beautiful street filled with picture postcard perfect shops decorated for Christmas perfectly. It was the stuff dreams are made of and I was so happy we had chosen to come here. It definitely did not disappoint.

For those who don’t know much about Quebec City, it is French Canadian and predominantly French speaking. We were soon to find out how much this was the case. We were a little shocked that most of the people in customer service/tourism jobs were not as bilingual as these not very French speaking aussies had anticipated hehe. At times it was quite challenging to even get a bottle of water which surprised me greatly. It definitely gave us a kick up the bum to learn more French before we go to France in April 2013 I can tell you.

Obviously we had some basics but it would definitely help to be a little more fluent.

It was fairly cold outside, the coldest we’ve experienced on the US/Canada trip so far but it wasn’t unbearable. Although DD is the least in love with the cold hehe. Learning to navigate the snowy icy streets is new to us but we managed very well. I will never get tired of looking at snow I don’t think. It fascinates me how everything simply looks prettier with snow on it and around it hehe.

We finished the day absolutely already in love with this beautiful city.

Highs – Quebec City beautifulness, hotel, snow

Lows –delayed flights

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1. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Day 2 - 30 December, 2012

Okay so today was forecast to be extraordinarily cold. Like super cold. So perhaps it wasn’t the best day for us to be doing a horse and carriage ride tour for 2 hours hey???? Alas I had booked this in advance and the show must go on so we rugged up and I do mean rugged up with thermals, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves etc for the ride.

Fortunately for us the carriage driver had massive big fluffy rugs to put over ourselves as well which came in handy. I made the mistake of being greedy and wanting the best seat for viewing everything so sat in the back seat facing forward. I was right, it did give me the best views. What I hadn’t factored in was the amount of snow falling and how once we got moving the snow was flying into my face. No windscreen on a horse and carriage, wish I’d thought of that beforehand. Karma I guess for being greedy hahahaha.

It was a sensational way to see the city, the tour guide was a young man with lots of knowledge and humour and since it was early and super cold the streets were quite deserted. Because there was so much new snow, everything just looked amazing. The architecture here is truly beautiful and their stonework is especially lovely.

The Americans have nothing on the French Canandians when it comes to decorating for Christmas. The Quebec people really know how to do it and so charming and simple. It’s 3 things – 1. branches off the fir trees, tied together in long garlands and draped around windows and doorways, 2. wreaths with just a simple red bow on them, the wreaths are everywhere and 3. Real actual amazingly beautiful Christmas trees outside of nearly every store and home with just simple white fairy lights and the ultimate Christmas decoration – snow!!!!!! This has made me definitely want to visit Europe for one Christmas, it must be stunning.

Quebec is such a European looking city and obviously that comes from being run by the French and at times the English. I couldn’t believe how much war and conflict had gone on in this city's history, all to own this beautiful place. There were still cannons along the waterfront and so many tales of battles and war. It was very interesting but of course, since it was so cold, my brain was unable to retain a damn thing. Google it if you want to know more hahaha.

I felt like the tour went about 45 minutes too long on such a cold day hehehehe. Poor little DS, for the last half an hour he was a sobbing mess because he could no longer feel his toes. Now he had merino hiking socks on and his great gortex hiking boots (as we all did) but alas it wasn’t enough to keep our feet warm because we weren’t using them in that carriage. If we had’ve been walking it would’ve been warmer I’m sure. So DS's completely under the blankets sobbing, I’m trying to act like nothing is wrong to the tour guide/driver, all the while trying to actually retain some of the amazing things he is telling me, blinking wildly to get the snow out of my eyes and also trying to look around at the beauty that was everywhere. It did become a little challenging near the end but I’m very glad we did this tour. It was a wonderful way to see the city.

After the tour finished we crawled up to our room, peeled off our shoes and socks and promptly hopped into bed to get our feet to warm up hehe. It sure took a while but pretty soon we were toasty warm and ready to head out for a nice lunch, perhaps at a pub somewhere.

Imagine how surprised we were to find out you can’t take children into pubs. You can imagine the look on our faces lol. What sort of weird and insane law is this???? Don’t these people know that the only thing that sometimes gets parents travelling with kids through the day is a little liquid lunch assistance? We were completely stunned.

Fortunately we did find an irish pub that apparently would let us bring the children in for a meal and a jug of beer (not sure how they get around the laws). We were only going to have a glass of beer each but the waitress said for only $3.50 more you can get a jug. And well you know what a frugal gal I am, we so had to go the jug then. It would’ve cost me money not to go the jug. And don’t you worry, we managed to polish it off with no problems at all my friends, no problems at all. There may have even been a second jug but what happens in Quebec stays in Quebec so I'll never tell.

DD was happy because they had wifi, DS was playing a game on my phone so DH and I sat back and relaxed over a nice pub lunch. Afterwards we wandered up the main drag of the old town area, looking in little shops, enjoying the light snowfall. Did I mention how much I love watching snow fall. It fascinates me completely how it doesn’t just fall straight down but ducks and dives and swirls around. The snow fall here was different to what we experienced in New York. This snow was much lighter and fluffy, I can’t explain it (mainly because I may not be making any sense at this point lol). The family agreed though that it felt different. Not sure what that was about.

One thing we have learned is don’t step on ice, only snow, as the ice is super duper slippery. Our Gortex waterproof hiking shoes have been perfect, I’m very glad we got them, even though they are a little on the “ugly” side. Just ask DD, she would happily go on for hours about how much she hates hers although I think secretly she’s glad she has something that is protecting her feet and keeping them dry. I believe she is hoping to have a "burning" ceremony of the gortex shoes on our return. Little does she know I am going to make her wear them again in a few months when we go to Europe, mwahahahahaha. Evil I am.

I’ve also learned it’s all about the scarf here. You have to wrap it around your mouth so you aren’t breathing in all of that cold air. The scarf trick is a good one. DH has also embraced the earmuff. There are so many funny things I want to say about this but it’s all just too obvious and low brow hehehe. Just imagine him in them and you’ll laugh and I’ll know my work here is done.

For dinner we went to a really beautiful Italian place and had amazing pizza and pasta. They had a man there singing and playing the guitar and it was a fabulous atmosphere. The walk home was chilly but watching the fairy lights and the people all rugged up walking along enjoying their surroundings is fun. Watching the iceskaters is great too. I can’t decide whether the city looks prettier during the day or at night. I just know it is beautiful.

DH and I both agree that it is hands down the prettiest place we have ever seen. We are in love with it.

A big sleep in tomorrow. The great thing about this portion of our trip – we don’t have too many plans. Just lots of wandering and eating and shopping. The things that make us happy at a relaxed wintery pace.

Side note – first time ever wearing thermal under garments. Hating the top, feel like I’m suffocating but loving the thermal pants. I definitely think I could get used to these for cold winter mornings in Canberra at AFL and basketball for early games.

Highs – horse and carriage tour, nice pub lunch, guitar player at dinner

Lows – coldness on horse and carriage tour, no kids in pubs law (boooo)

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2. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Day 3 - New Years Eve 31 December, 2012

The good news about Quebec is that we don’t have to be up and out the door early the whole time we are here so the family are definitely making the most of it – much to my frustration since I struggle to truly sleep in.

I finally dragged the sloths out of bed and we went to a local bakery for breakfast. We had the most delicious cheese and bacon bread. It was a sour dough style of bread with cheese and bacon pieces baked inside. Deeeeelish!

After filling our tums we decided to explore some more and headed through the streets towards The Chateau Frontenac which is this amazing hotel set high up on the hill which was built in 1893. It is such a beautiful building, so majestic. It almost looks like a castle. It was very traditional and lovely inside but the exterior was what was truly stunning.

We walked along the boardwalk near there overlooking the St. Lawrence River which was a mass of frozen ice and was flowing very quickly. Watching the ferry’s cross over was so interesting, the way they fight against the tide upstream and then once they are halfway, they float along with the tide.

We then watched some very crazy people have a go at the massive big ice slide/toboggan thing. It was so high and went so fast and to say the structure was “thrown together” would not be out of line. Yikes!!! Our kids wanted to have a go at it but there simply was no way at all. They weren't happy with the mummy and daddy but we just thought it wasn't safe.

After we finished here we hopped on this weird little contraption called a Furnicular which is like an elevator that goes down the side of the hill at an angle. The members of the family who don’t like heights weren’t too sure but we braved it and were glad we did. It was a great way to get down to the “lower town” of Quebec.

The furnicular took us down to the most pretty street in the whole of Quebec City – Quartier Petit Champlain. Seeing wintery pictures of this street were what finally convinced me we had to visit this city. The street is lined with all little boutiques with cute little wooden signs hanging outside of each store. Every single doorway and window was decorated for Christmas and truly festive.

We stumbled across this strange “sweet” fast food set up where a man had a wooden tray filled with crushed ice and he was pouring some warm golden stuff in a straight line right along the ice. It looked kind of like honey or treacle but turned out to be Maple Taffy. Small portions then get wound around an icy pole stick like a lollipop. The ice is there to quickly cool the taffy down and it is a truly delicious little treat. What a fun and unusual thing and oh so yummy.

We saw the Notre Dame des Victories, a beautiful little Catholic church that was built in 1687. Such lovely craftsmanship and a sweet little church.

We then headed to a little crepe place for lunch. These crepes were not like any crepe we had tried before. Paper thin and delicious. DH and I tried savoury ones and of course the kids went with strawberries and ice cream. Yum.

Some more wandering of the streets and shopping and we then headed back to the hotel for a big rest.

Soon it was time to get ready to go out for New Years Eve. I had booked us into a restaurant that had great reviews that was on the Grand Allee which is where all the New Years Eve action is concentrated. We were going to walk here but since it was not in an area we were confident we could find easily we set off a bit earlier. The snow was falling from the minute we left the hotel.

The snow here is just awesome, I love it. Nothing more can be said to explain it. It’s definitely a life highlight to enjoy it.

The Grand Allee was alot closer than we thought so it was a pleasant walk in the evening. Once we arrived to the area we were surprised to see so much going on. All of the restaurants and bars were lit up, many of the bars had outdoor “ice bars” set up which were pretty cool. There was a ferris wheel which the kids just had to go on. DH and I sat that out, we both aren’t fans of ferris wheels. The kids loved it and said the views across Quebec at night were beautiful. There was such a party atmosphere everywhere but very family orientated which I liked.

Above our restaurant was a bar and the guest DJ that night was going to be Boy George. DH and I were a little spewing we had the kids with us, would’ve been fun to check that out hehe.

The restaurant we were booked in with was the Cosmos Cafe and it was lovely. Very modern upmarket vibe but with a really broad menu with something for everyone. It was so good to finally see some nice asian meals on a menu. DH and I had both been craving stir fries and asian salads and flavours.

We had a few drinks, some lovely food and a fun evening. Once it was time to wander home the kids and I had a little snow fight but ever sensible daddy put a stop to it quick smart because the kids didn’t have snow pants on and he didn’t want them walking home wet. Party pooper lol.

Once home the sleepy head of the family was soon in bed so the kids and I stayed up until midnight. I admit to nodding off a few times while watching the tv but hey, I’m getting old hahaha. We did make it to midnight which I think was DS’s first time to see in a new year which was very exciting for him. Big kisses and Happy New Year’s all round then finally crawling into bed for a big sleep.

I love the beginning of a new year. I always feel a little excited at the possibilities the new year may bring. It’s a clean slate, anything bad from the previous year is wiped, the new year is pristine and exciting and full of promise.

Highs – Cosmos Cafe, beautiful snow, the possibilities a new year brings

Lows – having the snowball fight cut short, feeling like this cold is getting worse

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3. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Day 4 - 1 January, 2013

So after the most delicious sleep in for us all we slowly got up and had a lovely brunch. The main event for today was a bus tour out into the countryside and I was very excited to explore.

First up we crossed the St. Lawrence River which simply looks so amazing with all the frozen bits and headed to Ile d’Orleans which is an island off of Quebec City. It was one of the first areas to be settled by the French and a large percentage of French Canadians can trace their ancestry to early residents of the island.

This island was so pretty. With around 12,000 residents, nearly each and every house is like a postcard. So quaint and pretty. Just when I thought I had seen the perfect house that I would want to live in, we would go past the next one and the next one and the next one. I seriously think this island was the highlight of our time on the bus tour and perhaps the whole of Quebec. I know I simply don’t have the words to describe how stunning the area was. And the worse thing is that since much of the time was in the bus and I was so completely in a love bubble over the place, I barely have a photo to show for it.

I definitely think the snow topped roofs and Christmas decorations added a sweetness to the whole place that would be missing in summer but it would seem that in summer the area is extremely popular for holidaying. The houses aren’t that expensive and seriously, if I had a few extra hundred thousand dollars, I would be investing it there hahaha. It was truly beautiful.

Afterwards we headed to the Montmorency Falls. These falls are reported to be highly than Niagara but since they aren’t nearly as wide and impressive they aren’t quite as famous. With that said, they were still very beautiful . Partially frozen, with the water area below being completely frozen, they were quite a sight to behold. We also went up the top of the falls and were able to walk across the suspension bridge that went all the way over. It was a little out of the height hating Shuttergirl family’s comfort zone but a must do so we were very keen. It was an incredible view and very much a worthwhile terrifying effort.

Afterwards we headed to a wonderful little bread mill and got to sample their bread with the most delicious maple butter spread on it. Simple at a $1.00 per slice but so tasty. Maple butter could be my new favourite thing.

Then the final stop on the tour was St. Anne Beaupre Basilica. What a stunning church this is. I have not seen anything quite like this beautiful building. The stained glass, the amazing stone work, the high ceilings, the tile work – the whole thing was a piece of art. I walked around with my mouth hanging open in awe.

Afterwards we headed back to Quebec City, snoozing on the way.

This was a truly excellent bus tour, I am so glad we did it as we got to see so much of the countryside and most especially I will forever be thinking about living in a precious cottage on Ile d’Orleans, what a dream come true that would be.

For dinner we headed back to the Irish pub for some comfort food and oh yes indeed, some more of that good value jug o beer hahahaha.

Highs – Ile d’Orleans, St. Anne Beaupre Basilica, Montmorency

Lows – I just simply can’t think of one for today, oh perhaps standing beside the river and the bitter wind, that’s all I can think of, oh and yes my cold was getting a whole lot worse today

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4. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Day 5 - 2 January, 2013

Sick, Sick, Sick - Finally this cold has well and truly caught up with me. I could not lift my head off the pillow this morning, let alone drag myself out of bed. I did try but DH forbid me from getting up and going outside today. This was to be the coldest day we had seen with a low of -23 forecast and a real temperature of -32. Since I was finding it hard to breath and was a complete snot monster it was probably the best thing.

So DH, god bless him, took DS out for a big wander in the morning and then brought him back and then took DD out shopping for the afternoon. Finally in the afternoon I got up and did the packing which is becoming increasingly difficult with all the purchases being made haha. It was challenging to get it all done but finally we were packed and I needed another nap hehe.

After our luggage not showing up last time I packed alot more carefully so there was some of everyone’s clothing in each suitcase so if anything goes amiss this time and we only get 1 case, we will have the basics with us.

I did manage to walk down into the town for dinner and could definitely feel that the cold outside had moved to a whole other level from what we had experienced on previous days. A quiet Italian dinner and then it was back to the room for some sleep. We have a crazy early start in the morning.

Sorry this day was such a quiet one but hey, one slow day out of 25 isn’t too bad I don’t think.

And on a final note – I had no idea that one person could have so much mucus in the body hahahaha. That’s a nice note to leave you on right.

Highs – well if you are going to be sick, may as well have a view of a pretty city like Quebec

Lows – sick, sick, sick

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5. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Final comment - Quebec City was absolutely beautiful and to anyone planning their first visit, I wish you well and am super duper jealous. I wish I was going back there soon.

And to the beautiful and generous Quebec City Forum people, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You helped me choose the perfect hotel, the perfect itinerary, the perfect places to eat, the perfect adventures for my family.

Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!!!

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6. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Wow, what a trip report!!! Amazing!!

You certainly did many of our favorites. I can only add that if you do it again you might want to consider a train ride from Montreal to QC. It isn't much in the way of scenery but it is comfortable and convenient.

You also mentioned on your first day trouble communicating. dDd that still happen throughout your trip? Normally that is not a problem in the tourist areas. Yes, a few french words always help and show a respect for the culture, but most times communicating is fairly easy.

Otherwise, great report!

JDP

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7. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

What a fabulous trip report. It was fun planning with you as you are so enthusiastic. It sounds like you experienced the city at it's very best.

The pub thing is odd isn't it. My fav pub in the city, Pub Ste Alexandre, is a no kid pub and it breaks my heart as my kids need to watch me drink a pint of Harp!! Ah well we often end up at Pub St Patrick drinking some Quebec beer on tap, as they have no Harp on tap BOO!!!

You really managed to fit a lot in, too bad you got sick on the last day, but trips on planes have a way of getting to you.

This should be added to the trip reports on the forum as it will help other families plan.

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8. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Great report! Thanks for sharing.

For those of us who deal with snow day in day out in winter, sometimes it's good to be reminded of how beautiful it can be ... LOL ... we love it when it first comes down so magically ... but then we remember we have to move it ...

So glad you were able to experience it.

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9. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

I added your trip report to the list at the side so others can benefit from your experience.

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10. Re: Trip Report - 5 days over New Years

Aaaaaaaaaaahhh!!! Thank you so very much for your sensible and entertaining trip report, MsshuttergirlfromOz!! Bless you with your philosophy :

" The great thing about this portion of our trip – we don’t have too many plans. Just lots of wandering and eating and shopping. The things that make us happy at a relaxed wintery pace. " This is a true recipe for success, in my opinion.

I am very glad that you made the best of the time you had. I appreciate that you graciously provided tips about the way to deal with the cold - these sure will be helpful for the readers from warmer climates, who will stumble upon your trip report while planning their winter visit over here.

Halfway through reading your 1st post, I took a mental note to add your trip in the Trip Report section of the Top Question and I see that bogwoppit beat me to it. In my humble opinion, your TR fits in the top 5 ever recorded on the Québec City forum :)

Since you mentioned having not taken pics on Île d'Orléans, I thought these would somewhat compensate :

http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/image/53367380

http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/image/54309725

http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/image/55253837

http://www.pbase.com/zobroc/image/55206994

bonjourquebec.com/fileadmin/…tq_005265_g.jpg

uneparisiennesemerveille.com/wp-content/uplo…

www.maisonfradet.com/images/facade_hiver.jpg

journaldesfemmes.com/jardin/magazine/photo/m…

…artprintimages.com/LRG/21/2165/BCZCD00Z.jpg

…duproprio.com/facade-en-hiver-maison-a-vend…

.. and these would remind you of the frozen Montmorency fall, a bit later on during the winter: www.pbase.com/zobroc/chutes_montmorency -