Sunday, July 17, 2016

Quebec City

Almost half a century ago I learned about the Plains of Abraham, how General Wolfe  defeated the French General Montcalm by a sneak predawn attack up the cliffs from the St Lawrence River below and despatched the French army in less than half an hour. The victory cost both generals their lives but Wolfe thus secured North America for britain. Three cheers!
I wanted to see the spot and I did. There was also a Martello Tower closed for some nefarious French reason, so I did not get the view I had hoped for. No matter.
There we were in this historic spot though I have to say there was no mention anywhere I could see about this historic French failure in Quebec. They keep the park looking nice but nowhere does the city talk about the Seven Years War and the crushing defeat of the French. Ho hum fiddle de dee.
The official Canadian government story is pretty bland: The site of many clashes for supremacy between the French and British Empires, the park is the scene of the 1759 Conquest, which changed the fate of North America. Apart from its historical past, the park is to Qu├ębec what Central Park and Hyde Park are to New York and London: a city park of outstanding value, the lungs of the city. One hundred and three hectares of meadow and grassy knolls, decked with flowers or covered with snow, are there for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Better this: LINK
Quebec City is quite small in the old town section and reminded me slightly of a  rather hilly New Orleans though cleaner and much more wholesome.

Rusty was not at all amused by the caleches, the touristy horse drawn carriages. He growled and hid when they clattered by.

Parking was metered by the spot, and the ticket was  only good for the numbered spot you entered on the machine. The good news is that wherever there is a blue numbered tag you can park, whether or not you speak French.

We went on a food walking tour after we dropped Rusty off at a hotel approved kennel. I was totally freaked out but Rusty didn't give a damn. Weird dog.
Our guide, above with the jersey over her shoulders, was an ex-United Nations peacekeeper who had taken up a retirement job and she was quite brisk and French and not apparently terribly chummy with Americans. At one point she looked at me and asked me if I lifted weights. An extraordinary question but she seemed quite pleased with herself when I said yes. I find humans unfathomable.
Then they suddenly produce striking street art, do humans.
The Ursuline chapel below was the home of the first batch of French nuns who came to North America to educate young women and  they still do it apparently:
We marched and munched across the city:
Not my idea of a hot day but it was for some people, around 80 degrees with occasional drizzle.

We visited seven places and had a snack here and a glass there including such weird stuff as salmon with maple syrup - quite good actually...

...and every kind of erable - maple product imaginable. 
And a museum dedicated to the product:

I am told large headsets are back in fashion, as dorky as they look, even on chic Francophone  Canadians.

Locals do eat poutine, in this case she was digging into a heap tarted up with bacon and other pig byproducts. Not proper poutine, then.
Much to our guide's disgust she had to give us a moment to try this famous tourist delicacy. It was filing, give it that:
I really wanted to try this place out on my own terms. Among other things they rent picnic baskets and you can buy  a bottle of wine to take with it. Brilliant. However the wife's gallbladder went south before we could execute this plan.
I wonder what she was thinking about, the decline of western civilization probably. I should have worn a suit and tie I expect but I was a slovenly tourist.
Not everyone was smartly dressed on the streets. ASt least my armpits were covered.
The chocolate factory got the phone cameras out...
Not an ugly citybut hey say it should be seen in the winter snows.
We never did get to walk the walls or check out the famous hotel, symbol of the city. Bugger.
Gratuitous dog picture to make up for boarding him for four hours.