Quebec City (17 – 19 July 2013)
My penultimate destination on this 3-month journey, had it been that long? This was my thought as I walked out of the bus station to find my hotel in Old Quebec. I was starting to think about home a little and yet I was wondering if I could go somewhere else after Canada. Since I did not have a job to return home to I could extend this journey for as long as I wished. However, having explored so many countries, I thought that I should go home and explore my own country a little too.
But before I could get home, I had to see Quebec City first. Apparently the name “Canada” first referred to the area around Quebec City.
People who claimed that Montreal was very European probably did not visit Old Quebec. I thought that Old Quebec felt more European than Montreal although I must add that I was speaking in relative terms and Old Quebec was still very North American to me. In any case historic Old Quebec was a wonderful place to do some walking in. I stayed at a hotel right in the middle of Old Quebec and that made my visit much more convenient. There are two parts to explore, since Old Quebec is split into an Upper Town and a Lower Town.
By virtue of its location on the promontory jutting into the St Lawrence River called Cap Diamant, the Upper Town was set aside as a military and administrative centre.
Quebec City is one of the oldest North American cities and its fortified city walls are the only ones remaining in the Americas north of Mexico. That was the claim made about Quebec City. I have to say that as grand as the claim might sound, it really only means that the US does not have any fortified city walls left. Wide as the US may be, the claim stops sounding all that impressive once one sees the geographical context. But of course that is not to say that Quebec City is any less charming.
It is possible to take a tour of the Citadelle of Quebec on the Upper Town. The Citadelle is still an active garrison and the Royal 22e Régiment is stationed there.
It is interesting that an army regiment would pick a goat for its mascot. I had always thought that soldiers preferred more fearsome animals like lions and tigers and eagles. Guess I will have to change my perception on that.
The guide did make the Citadelle sound much more interesting than it probably was. But despite his admirable efforts, I still much preferred the civic and religious structures of the Upper Town.
The Lower Town was where the merchants and artisans congregated away from the stuffy administrators, clerics and soldiers.
As with other cities in Canada, Quebec City also offers wonderful summer performances. On both nights I was there, the Cirque du Soleil performed. For free. I loved the performance so much on the first night that I decided to see it again the following night. The performance was short but very creative and exciting.
I think I am such a sucker for historic cities and Quebec City was definitely worth all the time that I had spent there. I knew that Quebec City effectively marked the end of my 3-month journey and the next 4 days in Vancouver were going to be used for winding down and resting my poor feet. It therefore felt a little sad as I trudged through the streets of Old Quebec one last time to the bus station to get to Montreal to catch my flight to Vancouver. Nevertheless, Quebec City was a wonderful end.