Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Friday, April 28, 2023

So, I am trying to get ready for our last dressy night and as I was drying my hair, I heard a pop. Both the hair dryer and the makeup mirror suddenly quit working. I called Guest Services, waited on hold for 15 minutes, and then gave up. Sigh. I used my flat iron to finish my hair. I was glad my hair was short.

I saw the room steward as I was leaving for dinner and told him about the problem. He said he would call the electrician.

The main dining room was very busy. We shared a table with a couple from New York and one couple from Oregon. I chose the duck and Chuck had the sole.

HAL was hosting a second Orange Party of the trip because today was the King of Netherland’s birthday. We chose not to go because it wasn’t going to start until 9:30 and we had an early and long tour in Quebec. Chuck wanted to play some cards. I bought a hot chocolate and went to the room to read.

There was a knock on the cabin door at 8:30. The electrician was there to check the outlet. He confirmed it was now working and said a fuse had blown.

I set the alarm for 7:00 a.m. but I was up at 6:15. I got us some coffee and then breakfast was delivered at 7:45. We watched the sail-in to Quebec City. We were finally having a beautiful sunny day.

We were supposed to be able to get off the ship at 9:00 but the Cruise Director came over the loudspeaker and said they were still trying to get the gangway in place and please don’t come to the gangway area. He said he would make an announcement when it would be okay to disembark.

Our HAL tour was supposed to begin at 9:30. At 9:15, we went to the 5th floor to look out the port side to see how they were coming with the gangway. Much to our surprise, the gangway was set, and people were streaming off. We headed to the gangway, got in the line, and were just about off when the Cruise Director came back on the loudspeaker and said we could go to the gangway now. Faster communication between the personnel at the gangway and the CD would have been nice. By the time we got on the bus, it was 3/4 full. Sigh.

The HAL tour we were on today was called: The Best of Quebec and Countryside with Lunch.

The tour description: Learn the fascinating history of Québec as you are whisked back in time to relive the city’s 400-year legacy, followed by a journey along the St-Lawrence River to the Beaupré Coast. This is one of the most picturesque areas of the Province of Québec.

You will first visit the Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré Shrine, where popular belief holds that Ste-Anne saved numerous shipwreck victims off Cap Tourmente. If time permits, you will stop at the family-run Albert Gilles Copper Museum to view the amazing works of the artisan who created the copper doors of the Basilica.

As you make your way back to Québec City, you’ll stop at Montmorency Falls. Cascading down a 272-foot cliff, the falls are 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls. See the powerful forces of nature as the water of the Montmorency River roars down the cliff to eventually meet with the St Lawrence River.

Inside the fortress walls of Old Québec, you will discover the strength and beauty of the cradle of French culture in North America. This city is a remarkable mélange of Amerindian, French and British heritage, evident in its narrow cobblestone streets, stone gates and ramparts. Stop at Dufferin Terrace and the Château Frontenac Hotel — Québec’s most famous landmark — for panoramic views over the Old City, the Lower Town, the St Lawrence River and the surrounding countryside.

Notes: The Best of Québec & Countryside is a comprehensive tour. If you purchase this tour, you should not purchase Countryside of Québec or Historic & Modern Québec, as they visit many of the same attractions.

Our guide today was a history professor from the University of Quebec who grew up in Minnesota. He was very informative and entertaining. He said we brought good luck. A couple of weeks ago there was still snow piled up and the weather today was the nicest they had experienced since October.

The bus was okay, but the seats were narrow and the space between rows was like an airplane – tight. The sound system was excellent.

Our first stop was a short walking tour of Old Quebec. The guide said that you could find many English-speaking people in this part of Quebec City but get further away – French would be all that you would hear or see.

We were following the St. Lawrence River to our next stop. There seemed to be thousands of snow geese all along the banks.

Our next stop was Montmorency Falls. He said the Falls were wider than Niagra but not as tall. He encouraged us to walk up the path to the base of the Falls or we could stay on the boardwalk and view it. We opted to go to the base but found the path closed off. He later said the officials told him that they closed it because the water was rising, and they were afraid it would flood the path. Since we could see other people were walking on the path, that explanation was a little weird. We viewed the Falls a while and then went to the Visitor Center for a bathroom break and a cup of coffee.

We then traveled down the Royal Road – created in the 18th Century to link Montreal and Quebec – to our next destination. It was a very narrow and winding road and our guide said some of the land we passed had been in the same families for centuries.

Our stop was Ste Anne’s Basilica. He said that Ste Anne was said to have saved shipwreck victims and healed thousands of people during her life through prayer. The Basilica holds masses every day to accommodate all the people who make a pilgrimage here from all over the world. We got there at noon just as a mass was finishing and the bells were tolling.

The Basilica was impressive – granite structure, handmade copper doors, mosaic floors, walls and ceilings of hand-laid tiny tiles. The ceiling depicted the complete life cycle of Ste. Anne.

Even the lower level of the Basilica (to hold the overflow of people at mass) was ornate.

The shrine itself is said to hold the arm bone of Ste. Anne.

We had ample time to tour the Basilica and its grounds. We didn’t have time to visit the copper museum. However, the guide said that it was still run by the descendants of the copper artist who created the doors and should be visited if we ever come back to Quebec.

Our next stop was a restaurant for lunch. I never know what to expect when the tour advertises lunch. Will it be sandwiches or a complete meal? Today, I was hoping that the lunch would include poutine, but it did not.

However, we were squeezed into several long picnic type tables. We started with a very good vegetable soup. Then, we had a choice of either chicken or salmon, both of which came with a large portion of vegetables. The meal finished with a light purple dessert – I thought it tasted like blueberry mixed with Cool Whip. Your choices for drink – water, tea, or cola. You could purchase wine. One woman ordered a glass of wine and was very disappointed with the amount she received for the price she paid.

I thought it was a good meal but just kind of an ordinary meal you could get on the ship. We spent a long time for lunch so they could get everyone served. May want to rethink the tour. Shorten the tour time and just include a snack of some sort (hint – poutine).

After lunch, we went to Upper Quebec and stopped at the Parliament building. The building had statues of famous Canadians on the front.

We then walked over closer to the walled portion of the city and the guide talked about the Battle of the Plains of Abraham where the French lost to the English.

It was now time to go back to the ship. I was disappointed that we didn’t get to stop at the Chateau. We only drove by it.

They had us back to ship right on the dot at 4:30 which was the all-aboard.

I thought the tour was okay. The guide was very good. You could tell he loved his adopted city. I would have liked to have had more time in Old Quebec with a stop at the Chateau and less time at lunch.

Now, it was time to do some more packing and get ready for our last evening on board.

Travel Trivia

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

The Algonquian people had originally named the area Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning “where the river narrows”, because the Saint Lawrence River narrows proximate to the promontory of Quebec and its Cape Diamant.

Quebec City is one of the oldest European settlements in North America and the only fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist. It is also the second-largest city in the province after Montreal.

Almost 73% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Quebec.

Quebec remains the oldest community in North America that speaks French.

Quebec is home to the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. This is an important part of the Old Town UNESCO Site. It’s also one of the oldest Roman Catholic properties north of Florida.

Trivia provided by Wikipedia

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