Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Today is Canada Day, so it is fitting that I reflect upon my trip to Canada today. It's also not-so-fitting a day for it, since we were visiting Quebec. Quebec's national holiday is the Feast of St. John the Baptist (La St. Jean-Baptiste), celebrated on June 24. The day we left. Yeah, that was some poor trip-planning research on our parts. It would have been nice to have been there on that day, not flying out of the airport in the A.M.!
Looking back at the post I wrote the night before we left, and reading my goals for the trip, I see that I did well for the first couple of days ... and then... well, we'll get to that.
We arrived in Montreal late the first night, walked from our hotel to find a bite to eat, and slept in! "Relax," check. "Leisurely," check. Umbrella in hand (and good thing, too), we walked down to Vieux Montreal ("Old Montreal") to have a look around.
We saw lovely old buildings and a stunning basilica. Basilique Notre-Dame has a main altar that, due to the sheer size, detail, and dramatic blue lighting, can't be adequately captured on camera.
There is also a newer chapel (where they hold regular services) that is made of different shades of wood. We took pictures of the stations of the cross to show Big Girl, since we thought she would be interested in the French.
What really struck me about the basilica were the stained glass windows depicting scenes from Montreal's history. I was unaware that Catholicism had played such a large role in the founding, and was really struck by it.
That day in Montreal, we also enjoyed a delicious lunch in a sandwicherie/cafe (smoked salmon sandwiches, homemade minty lemonade, amazing brownie, and "Jazz in the 80's"), hiding out from a rain squall (in an American chain coffee place), exploring narrow cobblestone streets, historic structures such as the Hotel de Ville (City Hall), a nap back at the hotel, a delicious dinner back in Vieux Montreal at Gibby's (mussels, steaks, lemon sorbet for the palate, their famous pickles, and for dessert? Hot apple croûte with ice cream and caramel), and a nighttime stroll back to our hotel through both old and new sections of the city.
The next morning, we slept in kinda-sorta, found a bakery for a divine cinnamon roll and flavorful fresh squeezed OJ breakfast, and then headed out of our hotel and over to Montreal's Olympic Stadium area on our way to Quebec City. We wandered around in the Botanical Garden and Insectarium, as well as riding the stadium's funicular to take in the sweeping view.
Hubby drove us to Quebec City, and I must tell you that at this point, I was experiencing nerves.
You may wonder why. Why would I be nervous about Quebec City on my anniversary vacation? I agree, it's silly. I worry too much.
Some part of me was worried that Quebec City wouldn't live up to my memory of it from 15 years ago. It's a cherished memory, one I didn't want tarnished if the city was not quite as amazing as I remembered. Maybe I had built it up in my memory all these years. Maybe no place can live up to that standard...
And what if the reality made the fantasy in my head disappear and fade away? I couldn't verbalize it at the time, but I was uneasy during that drive that day.
Stay tuned to see how it turned out...