A September 2005 trip
to Quebec City by shaunandtrish
Quote: The title of this journal is a bit of a misnomer. It was half a day and a night.
At the risk of repetition, there's no substitute for a wander if you're able enough. Nothing too demanding, the old town is quite compact, with plenty of nice cafés, bars, and restaurants to dive into to break things up. There are horse-drawn tour rides for a novelty. Getting into town is quite easy by car, but parking is expensive. You'll be better off parking just outside the old city walls - it's more cluttered inside and just not designed for motorised traffic.
Hotel | "Hilton International"
As is usual in these sorts of hotels, you get a grand lobby with a pile of free newspapers lying around. There was also a polite and efficient check-in staff, fairly spacious and clean rooms, basic toiletries, and a fair few TV channels. The thing I find frustrating whenever I stay in a pricier venue like this one is the fact that all but the basics are charged on top. Bath robes have to be requested and coffeemaking facilities are available, but the coffee itself attracts a fee. Basically, inside the room you get less than you get in a room half the price, apart from a bit more space maybe and the option to pay for extra services. It’s not something that should necessarily put you off a stay or spoil your visit, but is irritating. Anyway, back to the strengths - the view. The location and elevated disposition of the establishment gives guests unrivalled views over the old city and in all other directions. The higher you are the better, we were only on floor 5, so our view wasn't the best available - we looked out onto the outdoor pool on floor 4, which brings us to the leisure facilities. These consist of the outdoor heated pool and sun terrace with great views all round. Inside there's a tidy little gym and a good-sized and efficient sauna free to guests.
The restaurant facilities were not sampled. As a budget-conscious traveler, I somehow don't think I'm in their target group.
There is a "panorama" threatened if you take the lift to the top floor, but this was closed off to guests for some reason throughout my stay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on October 16, 2005
1100 RENE LEVESQUE EST
Quebec City, Quebec G1K7K7
First thing you get is a greeting from the fresh-faced young staff who hastily find you somewhere to sit in that informal, friendly, barely organised way that is somehow very reassuring and disarming. Sitting you down, they manage to rustle up what seems like the only two remaining menus in the half-empty establishment and promise to be back in 2 minutes to take your drinks order. Aaah.
The menu was very interesting - at the time of our visit, they had this mini menu parallel to the main menu, which was called a "passport" or something. Basically it contained a small selection of internationally themed experimental dishes, like a Lebanese pizza, daring you to give it a go by entering you into a prize draw for a holiday as a reward for your courage. We chose an 18-inch Sicilian pizza from the main menu and two soups.
In my past experience, not that it is likely to change my future behaviour, the wisdom of ordering a huge pizza, even between two people, comes into question as soon as the beast arrives. This was different - mainly because of the wafer-thin, light and crisp base. For a change we managed to polish it all off without the usual feeling of shame and regret. It was an outstanding pizza.
The total bill for a couple of soups, the pizza, and (I think) four beers was C$50, give or take, and more than worth it both for food and atmosphere. This is a nice place.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on October 16, 2005
707 Rue St-Jean
Quebec City, Quebec
Restaurant | "Pub St Patrick/Cafe Bruyere"
So, you peer along the terrace, trying to determine if there's a free table, and wander in tentatively to be greeted by a 19-year-old usher who permits you to seat yourself in a spot of her choosing. These places do such a roaring trade that they can afford to employ somebody who does nothing much other than tell people where to sit.
Anyway, we sat down; looked out onto all those people out there in the sun, who were obviously wishing they were where we were; and took a deep breath before looking at the prices. As it happens, they were high-ish but not terrifying - C$4 and up for a small glass of beer, C$4 for a plate of frites mayonnaise, and C$13 for a Glos Plat de Nachos. All in all, C$30 for a unscheduled midday snack stop is a bit steep considering the purchases, but you must also take into account the value of the stop and experience itself, offering you the chance to pause a while and soak up the atmosphere of this lovely city over a beer.
The name of the place, judging by the signage and parasols, would appear to be the Pub St Patrick, but our bill was marked up as Cafe Bruyere, so I'm not entirely clear what it prefers to be called.
Maison Serge Bruyère
1200 St-Jean St
Quebec, Quebec G1R 1S8
+1 418 694 0618
Restaurant | "L'Oeuferie"
It offers a very fine range of (as the name would suggest) egg-based breakfast fayre - loads of omeletes and variations on that theme, waffles, toast, pastries, fruit, and some special plate combinations. In the end, we elected for an Omelette "Western" (i.e. a big omelette with bacon and hash browns) and waffles (beautifully presented with whipped cream and a good-sized portion of fresh fruit). It was all washed down with some good tea and coffee. It's very European in feel and quite a good value. Our bill came to less than C$20.
It appeared from the menu that the establishment specialises in serving up continental standards like pasta and moules et frites in the evening.
Quebec City, Quebec G1R 5N4
The Rue St Jean is a good artery from which to execute your foot tour. Outside the city walls you have the bohemian student bistros, book shops, craft shops, and so on, and inside you have the beautiful architecture of the old town, where even the like s of McDonald’s are made to toe the line with sensitive colour-matched shop frontages (no golden arches here). In actual fact, the usual pan-global suspects are notably absent from the old town, shopping being dominated by local chains and, unsurprisingly, tourist-orientated shops selling T-shirts, mugs, magnets, and all that paraphernalia. Wander out to the edges of the old town, where the walls overlook the St Lawrence, and you see the big old cannons that remind you of the historical context from which the city grew, dictated chiefly by its outstanding strategic position.
Street performers are common and come in all shapes, sizes, and varieties. Hip-hop dancers, grunge rock groups made up of 10-year-olds, jugglers, buskers, conjurors… you name it. See it all from the carriage of a horse-drawn trap if you’d like. These seem to run around from mid-morning to midnight. Restaurants are ubiquitous and continental in the main, although there is variety to be had if you wander a few minutes. Although the old city is an inherent tourist trap these days, it is carried off in a very classy way - I'm guessing the local council has its clear do's and don'ts that it enforces strictly in order to stop things getting out of hand. This is indeed a very civillised place. It’s very enjoyable.
Overlooking the St Lawrence from the Citadel is the place to be at dusk. Wander along the tops of the city walls, take some photographs of the fading light over the river as an illuminated river freight passes quietly by, and watch the groundhogs sneaking out from the bushes for a bit of a nocturnal forage. Alternatively, you can try to be in two places at once, as the boardwalk to the front of the Chateau Frontenac is also quite spectacular at this time, as the lights around the chateau spark up for the first time and all manner of interesting and irritating street performers start their routines.
It’s darker still, and you need to be inside the city walls. There are no security worries here whatsoever. There are some great lighting effects on the city walls and squares, but pride of place is retained by the majestic Chateau Frontenac, towering above the island, as the sensitive artificial lighting effects take hold as the natural light dims. That said, it really is a street a photo. Here are some of mine. Everything is so beautiful.
Durham, United Kingdom