Our last day in Québec
Today was our last day in Québec, and it's been a long one. "Yesterday" would actually be more accurate, since it is 12:16am on Sunday as I write this, but since I haven't slept yet, "today" seems more appropriate. What's more surprising than me writing at this hour is that Alison is out for a drink right now (yes, 12:16am) with Amélie at the Château Frontenac!
Before their current drink at the château was another drink at a very small bar a few blocks from here, one off the beaten track and frequented only by locals. Alison and Amélie had gin and tonics; I had water. There was a four-piece band playing the kind of modern, dissonant jazz that I always expect to "get" if I listen to it long enough, but it hasn't happened yet.
Before the first bar, we had dinner at L'Entrecôte Saint-Jean with Amélie and Ariane, where one "goes for meat" as per our new friends. The women shared a bottle of sparkling wine; I had a bourbon and ginger ale and could barely finish it (as per usual).
Before dinner, Alison gave a haircut to Madame Daoust, Ariane's ailing mom, on the back porch of their second floor apartment. While Alison gave her a very stylish new haircut, Madame Daoust and I chatted about books and art and favorite places in Chicago.
Before the haircut, we sat on the patio with Amélie and Ariane and had wine, cheeses and meats. Alison told them both how she'd miss them; they responded in kind; tears were not shed, but it was close.
Before the time on the patio, Alison and I took a long bike ride along the Saint Lawrence River from the Old City to the bridge, about 10km or so each way. About half way to the bridge, I got a flat tire. After borrowing a pump and re-inflating the tire, I was able to get a mere 20 yards before it was flat again. I pulled out my trusty iPhone and determined that there was a bike shop about 1-2 kilometers down the road. When a good samaritan cyclist pulled over to help, I told him our plan to walk to the bike shop and he wished us luck and went on his way. About 15 minutes later, the same cyclist returned. He told us that he had ridden ahead, noticed that the bike shop was closed, and then returned to... repair the tire for us! It turns out that in his spare time he trains people on how to repair bicycles. Is that wonderful luck, or what? Québecois kindness at its best.
Before the bike ride, we toured The Citadel, the enormous star-shaped fortress that sits atop the highest point in Québec City and is just a stone's throw from our flat. We've know all along that it was up there somewhere, but since it is a real-life fortress, we were never quite sure how to get in. It is surrounded by soaring stone walls and a deep and wide moat. As two college-educated adults, we eventually figured out how to get in. Once in, we witnessed the very official changing of the guard (just like the one in London) and then took a guided tour of the facility. Since it remains an active military facility, one must be in the presence of a tour guide. They made that very clear several times.
Tomorrow morning, we leave for four days in Maine, two days in the Boston area and then a long drive back to Virginia. We hope to keep blogging until Boston.
These were both taken atop The Citadel and is definitely the best view of Québec City that we've seen.
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