Thursday, August 22, 2013

To the Beauce and Beyond

I am currently in Quebec, Canada, in the Beauce region doing a press-check for a book my company produced. I love coming here. I was supposed to go to Ireland three years ago but the trip was cancelled due to Iceland exploding and I never made it over the pond. I did, however, have my first international trip shortly thereafter to Quebec, Canada.

If you're going on your first "international" trip and it's to Canada from the United States, it might not seem so international. But if you go to the "old" part of Quebec City, it has the flair and essence (and French-speaking locals) of a typical European village/town. Old Quebec City celebrated 450 years of existence recently; it is the second oldest city in North America. I was also surprised to find there is a great connection between the Quebecois and Irish (after all, they both hated the Brits, so there you have it. There's nothing like bloodthirsty loathing to create a bond), so the spirit of my ill-fated trip to Ireland lived on in the streets of the old town.

The printer my company uses is about an hour from the airport and it's actually closer to Maine than the historical Quebec City. Anything you might picture on a Currier and Ives postcard is alive and well here in the bucolic region of Canada called "The Beauce." Agriculture far outnumbers the industrial plants and there is plenty of breathing space with lovely green rolling hills, wildflowers and farmhouses – there's even a covered bridge or two, and plenty of lakes that you can try to visit as a tourist, but good luck as all the land is privately owned.

I have had the pleasure of traveling to Quebec for business no less than nine times so far, with visits falling in late winter/spring (brrrr), summer (hot and humid) and fall (more brrrr).

So let's start the picture show!! Ready? Let's GO! 

Quebec City is really two "cities" in one.
The historic Old Quebec City is 450+ years old and surrounded by walls such as this.
It was, after all, a fortress town. Today tourists and locals alike lounge on the
expanse of grass lawns that cover what was the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.

A small portion of the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac.
Built in the late 19th - early 20th centuries, the building
served as a meeting ground for Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt
to discuss strategies during World War II.

Horse-drawn carriage rides make for a wonderful way to view the upper part of Old Quebec City. 

Awwwww who's the purty horsey?? YOU'RE THE PURTY HORSEY...
YES YOU ARE...yesssyouarrrre.
And me without a carrot...

The lively square in upper Old you find the Tourist Bureau,
restaurants, many government buildings and an occasional Irish Pub.
During the summer artists show off their talents with high price-tags.

A small part of upper Old Quebec city – at the base of the Chateau Frontenac – is undergoing excavations, unearthing relics from soldiers and leaders during the early years of the city.

I would love to tell you what part of the excavation this is. I really would.

Pieces of relics found in the excavations, including a bristle-free toothbrush head,
a key and apparently a lot of dishes.

The tracks of the Funiculaire, a glass elevator that takes you from upper to lower Old Quebec City. It's that or take a gnarly set of stairs...

As you walk the cobbled streets and sidewalks,
you will find wonderful surprises tucked away here and there,
such as this playful statue. 

I love old architecture. This may be no big deal to East Coast residents,
but for this California girl a good old-fashioned brownstone is photo-worthy.

Walk the boardwalk, sit with cannons, feed the birds. All in a day's tour of Old Quebec City.

A courtyard with more cannons. Sit WITH cannons, sit ON cannons, you say tomato I say tomato.
Note to self: Stop forgetting the tomato/tomato thing doesn't work in writing!!!!!

I am not sure I'd want to stay in a hotel with cannons pointed at me.
The old fortress canyons still hold court over the Saint Lawrence Causeway.
And provide wake up calls. "Hello? Front desk? Would you please
send an exploding iron ball to Room 712 at 8:00 a.m. sharp? Mercyboocoop."

Speaking of...the Saint Lawrence Causeway is HUGE.

Le Cochon Dingue (The Dirty Pig). Don't let the name fool you.
I have never had a seafood pot pie so heavenly as the one I ate here. And
no dirty pigs to be seen. Anywhere. So...Go. Eat. Enjoy.

You couldn't get away with having your store named Fuck la Mode in the States.
Which is kind of sad. So, so sad.

Ahhh, the old "detective prive." I wonder if he's the gritty, cigarette flinging, fedora wearing detective prive a la Mickey Spillane or Mike Hammer. Michel Corneau, le detective prive dangereus!!  

I wonder if gritty ol' Mickey Corneau throws back a slug or two while on a case,
grilling low-down shady characters to get 'em to spill the beans, see, takes 'em out back
and roughs 'em up see.... this Irish pub.
Note to self: stop reading gritty ol' detective novels. And definitely stop trying to
sound like Edward G. Robinson.

Oh my, lookey what I found...a beautiful Irish Celtic Cross.
And I thought Iceland ruined my chances of an Irish getaway for good.

Ahhh, now I understand all the Irish pubs...

The cannon courtyard. That's ol' Mickey on the far right...casing a target, blending in with
 over-heated tourists. I'm just kidding. That's just a very warm
old dude who doesn't give a cochon dingue about what anybody thinks.

If you are so inclined to visit Quebec in the winter, it is a beautiful, wondrous place...and you'll find the largest winter carnival here, which I think should be named Le Grand Carnaval en Hiver Fantastique de Wonder or Aventures en Brillant Scintillant Blanc Merveilles du Vieux-Qu├ębec but is called Quebec Winter Carnival. Be sure of two things, especially if you are here in late Winter/Early Spring: Keep one eye above and one eye below at all times. The headache will be worth it.  I learned the lesson the easy way by watching numerous tourists slip on the icy sidewalks or get bombed by snow sliding from rooftops. Thank you fellow travelers for taking those bullets for me. You'll ne'er be forgot!

So...Old Quebec City in winter...

The cannon courtyard in winter.
Remember the old shirtless dude? Those benches were on either side of these doors.
Yeah old shirtless guy, come sit on these benches NOW.  

Icy street with fun shops and the Funiculaire tracks in the background.

Looking back down the street to the cannon courtyard. 
Speaking of formidable....there's the Frontenac...tall, imposing, cold.
Anyone else picturing Jack Nicholson running around with an axe? 


Just a restaurant with icicles. Watch out, those suckers can be deadly.

Now THAT'S formidable. The Saint Lawrence Causeway in winter. Brrrrr.
Truly, it is an awesome sight.
As for the rest of my trip in Quebec, here are some highlights of the area around my printer's plant. Again, keep in mind I come from Southern California. You can't take a shower without your neighbor knowing about it. Wide open spaces are thin on the ground (literally) or owned by Donald Bren. (I'm not linking to Donald Bren. He doesn't need my help).

The view from the client suite at my printer's plant. That icky ol' building to the
right is actually a tire recycling plant. Canada is BIG on recycling. BIG BIG BIG on it.
That would explain their lack of toilet seat covers in public restrooms.
I guess it's considered a waste of good paper. ACK.
Just another barn on the road...tra la la...IF THEY ONLY KNEW!!
(Says the lady who has lived in a condo for the last 15 years.
Did I mention I can hear my neighbors snoring??)
OHMIGOD I can actually breathe in this country.

Every time I come here, this house is still standing. Against all odds...

The view from my hotel room. Awww, I love St. George!!

So...the photos from my times in Quebec. Ahhhh, the favorite hotel, le Georgesville, my favorite restaurant, Le Cochon favorite private eye, Mickey Corneau....lots of beautiful shops, architecture, doors (I took a lot of pictures of doors and windows and stuff. It's all explained here...)

Oh, and for my final parting shot:

I should have bought the tank. Because the next one definitely was NOT.
Nor was the next one, nor the next one...
Note to self: Manifest normal boyfriend: buy the tank next time.


  1. Hopefully one day I'll get to visit my step-sisters in Canada :)


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