Brad and I are currently having a debate about which was the best day on our cruise. Yesterday in Quebec was almost magical. But is it fair to compare this experience to the one we had in Qaqortoq?? They are both our favorites, but in different categories. So, long post ahead with all the wonders of our day.
We made it to Quebec on time, although I wasn’t sure we would. While heading out of Saguenay, we stopped for a bit, then backed up for a while, and took a different route. Not sure what happened there, and the Captain didn’t spill the details in his daily update. Nevertheless, we got here and were docked nearly on time.
Overcast again, with a forecast of some rain in the afternoon. Our time in port was extended … we had from 7AM to 10:30 PM!
We had a walking tour scheduled for three hours in the morning, so we crossed our fingers that we would not get too drenched. Spoiler alert … the best part of the day was after our tour.
Jean-Marc was our guide for the tour. He had a little flag that he carried around so we could find him. There were about 20 of us on this walking tour. In addition to walking, we also rode the funicular and took a horse-drawn trolley ride.
The feeling while walking around the area was of old Europe. Narrow cobblestone streets, old stone buildings … beautiful.
One thing we learned was that when the timber industry was booming in the 19th century, the ships would go to Europe filled with wood, but they couldn’t come back empty because that made the trip too dangerous. So they picked up shiploads of bricks from Scotland for the return trip. Many of the buildings are made with these Scottish bricks.
To get to the upper part of town, we rode in the funicular! I managed to curb my fear of heights and enjoyed the ride.
At the top, we got a good view of the beautiful Chateau Frontenac. This is, and always has been, a hotel, but it looks like a castle. The rooms go for upwards of $2000 per night, and many many celebrities stayed here.
Then on to the horse drawn trolley. It was an OK experience, but we had trouble hearing the guide, and the route was not terribly scenic with lots of construction and other disturbances.
We continued on with our walking tour for another hour. The most interesting part of that was the large mural with Quebec life and history.
Then we decided to leave the tour before it got back to the ship, and head out on our own. About three minutes later, it started pouring, so we headed for the nearest cafe to have some lunch. We both chose dishes made with the local salmon, which was yummy! While there, we heard a couple of thunder boomers. Then we walked around a bit in the rain, which had subsided a bit.
As we walked around, we stumbled upon this wonderful Plein Art event by the waterfront. It consisted of several large tents with many booths of artisans selling high-quality crafts. We spent a long time perusing the beautiful wood, textile, metal, leather, and other creations (but didn’t buy anything). Just outside was a whimsical public art installation called “Happy Castaways”.
Next to the art tents was a covered farmers market area. Despite being over fed on the ship, I wanted to try everything here. The vegetables were so carefully and beautifully displayed, and the baked goods, pastas cheeses and smoked meats were tempting. I did give in to a gelato. I kept thinking … if only we had a cruise ship port on the Willamette, we could have something like this in Eugene too!
We headed back to the pier area in search of a drink, and found this fun place right outside our ship. It was lively and active, and both family and dog friendly. We enjoyed some drinks for a bit, but then the sky threatened again, so we decided to head back into the ship (just in time, it turns out).
Once the rain (and thunder boomers) stopped, and we had a little graze at the ship’s buffet, we put on our traveling shoes and headed back out to the pier. Clearly, this was the place to be! There was all sorts of activity. The space was designed to encourage participation, and the kids were having a great time with the misters and the water features. There were party boats loading and unloading, along with the theme music of the day … the 80’s. We had a lovely time just wandering around and experiencing the space and the energy of the people.
Why not head back into the old cobblestone streets for a bit? I don’t know … why not? So we did.
Back on board, we headed up to the Lido Deck to secure a spot along the starboard railing. There was a free circus show in an amphitheater right next to our ship. As the sun went down, we marveled at the views, sipped some drinks, and watched the acrobatics. They were a bit far away to see the more subtle points of the performance, but we got the basics.
If that had been the day, it would have still qualified for best day of the cruise. But wait, there’s more! Fireworks!! We were, fortunately, on the proper side of the ship to be able to view them from our balcony. The display was to be set off from a platform in the middle of the river, just past our ship. There were quite a number of private boats, and those party boats, that lined up on the river to get a good view. The loud, competing music from all of those floaters was interesting. The police were out on jet skis to ensure that people stayed a safe distance from the detonation spot. Finally, at 10PM, they started … and lasted for 20 minutes. These were the best fireworks I have ever seen! I am posting a video, for those of you that want to get a taste of the actual experience, and photos for those of you that aren’t video geeks.
We went to bed, tired (walked 8 miles) and happy. What a tremendous day.