A Travellerspoint blog

Breakfast at Eggs Crepes

rain 15 °C

On our way to Toronto. About time for some breakfast

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Posted by Peter 09:10 Archived in Canada Tagged automotive Comments (1)

Canadian Roadtrip begins

sunny 24 °C

After a week in Montreal, it was time for Sam and I to hit the road and explore some of the countryside and other attractions Quebec has to offer. After comparing prices, we settled on Avis for our rental. Of course, even though I asked for the smallest car possible, we were given a Grand Am, which seems pretty darned big to me. I'm starting to wonder whether rental companies should actually give you a discount when they do this, considering the extra fuel cost involved. After finding a decent road map, we set a course for Quebec City.

Quebec City is an absolutely gorgeous place, something like a North American Prague. Really a very quaint place, with some beautiful old streets, a gigantic castle and a very nice aspect on the river. After a drive-by view of the city, we pulled up at the Information Center to arrange some accommodation. Booked a nice little place in the old town; Hotel Vieux de Quebec, drove down, zig zagged down a few backstreets and finally found a metered car park right next to the hotel that would eventually save us a whole dollar compared to the parking garage; bargain! The next morning we walked around the city and enjoyed some incredible weather; warm, blue skies and barely a cloud to be seen. There were some gigantic cruise ships in town while we were there, so the streets were packed with tourists. It seems a popular stop for the cruise companies and for very good reason.

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After a couple of hours of looking around, we set on our merry way towards lac (lake) Saint Jean, a couple of hours drive east through beautiful fall scenery. The leaves are changing colour this time of the year and it really does make for some spectacular views. In particular if you have colour tinted glasses like I do. I swear these shades serve a double purpose sometimes; saving my eyes and just improving my outlook on life.

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We pulled into the small town of Roberval on the lake and booked into a motel with a pool table on display. Dinner in the nearby "resto pub" proved a cultural experience. The menu was entirely in French of course, so we spent a while deciphering it as best we could. In the end I chose the tempting Croque Monsieur Grande, which turned out to be a panini and beef sandwich of sorts. Pretty good fare actually. Sam's Beouf le Pub looked pretty apetising as well.

This morning we woke up to another fine Quebecian (made up word alert!) day. Starting to wish I brought some more t-shirts. The nearby Zoo sauvage de Saint-Félicien (Wild Zoo of Saint-Félicien), which proved to be a great few hours. In particular, seeing the polar bears dive into the water and swim about was well worth the entry price. Other attractions included Grizzly Bears, Lynxes, Cougars, Moose and so on. We hopped on a little train cart thingy for an hour. Supposedly "bi-lingual", but it turned out the only bilingual part about it were the small signs in our cart. In fact, I wish they didn't talk so much on this trip - it must have been the loudest wildlife experience ever. It felt good getting some peace and quiet when it was over.

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Other than that, we've just been enjoying the beautiful scenery seemingly on offer in whichever direction we head.

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Church in Alma

Posted by Peter 18:10 Archived in Canada Tagged automotive Comments (2)

Montreal

sunny

Flying into Montreal on Friday, I headed straight to Hurleys in the city. I think the taxi-driver was a bit thrown by the fact that I wanted to go to a pub rather than a hotel. Maybe I should make a habit of it. Though this time, I had a decent reason; the grandest Travellerspoint meetup to date, total attendance: 9. It didn't take long to spot Kris (beerman) inside. Sam (Sam I Am), Gretchen (Isadora), Tina (tway), Anne (areinstein) and Viv (mtlgal) were all already there enjoying their martinis and beers and generally having a good time. The conversation went something like this:

Sam: "Did you know I was upgraded to business class?"
Gretchen: "Yes, you've been telling us about it all day"
Sam: "It wasn't actually that comfortable, the service was better in Economy Class on Singapore Airlines"
then start again from the top and repeat that 5 times.

Kris: "How about selling a TP beer?"
Sam and Peter: "Yeah, great idea. Let's drink to that!"

We were still expecting Evan (aka SeeTheSky) to join us that evening, but considering none of us knew what he actually looked like, we spent the rest of the night calling "See The Sky" out to random strangers. Apart from a few odd looks, no damage was done. Unfortunately, no-one actually understood our secret code either.

Next morning we gathered for an eggcelent (pun intended) breakfast at Eggspectations. Again, waiting for Evan meant a few random 'See the Sky' comments to strangers until eventually we actually did make contact. In fact, Evan was at the pub the night before and we had yelled out Evan, but clearly not loud enough. He had spent the night talking to some Scottish strangers instead. Our last attendee Quan (Q_Zhang) turned up 30 minutes later and so our group was complete.

Tina, the only local with us at that stage, guided us up the Parc du Mont Royal for some great views of the city. Of course, we were parched at the top and had to rush back down fairly soon to quench our thirst. A couple of hours passed, savouring some local beer and Poutine, a tribute to bad health, involving fries topped with cheese curd and gravy.. mmm.. Well, even if it is bad for you, it must be had to savour the local culture right?

We took a break for a few hours - went and drank some more beer actually and played some pool before heading to the Hard Rock Cafe to see a friend of Tina's play. Turns out Evan is a budding pyromaniac and Anne and Quan were easily enough convinced to join in! In fact, before too long we had created some phenomenally beautiful sculptural structures by melting plastic straws to the table cloth. Clearly things were getting out of control !!

The following morning involved breakfast at Chez Cora, then a metro ride down to Old Montreal. Kris and Gretchen had to farewell us at this stage.. but not before this very glamourous shot:
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photo courtesy Anne

A couple of hours of drinking and doodling later (a sort of pass-the-pen-and-add-to-the-drawing game Evan came up with), Anne had to leave us as well. We got her into a cab, reassuring her that yes, the cabs work the same here as in NY - you just tell them where to go and they go there. The gathering was pretty much over.

All in all, the get-together seemed a success to me - lots of great conversations, good food and some interesting sights thrown in.

Montreal is actually a very nice city; some beautiful old buildings, great nightlife, good restaurants everywhere and a general friendly atmosphere. Sam and I spent the rest of the week there, working mainly, and soaking up some of the great Montreal atmosphere. Evan stayed with us a few days before catching the train back to NY, providing some entertainment, particularly on one crazy night time bush bashing adventure to get to the top of Parc du Mont Royal. Nice view though.

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More photos from the meet-up here: TP Meetup Montreal

Posted by Peter 18:45 Archived in Canada Comments (2)

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