Leaving Montréal we had a 3.5 hour train journey to Quebec City and we both took the chance to try and brush up on our standard grade French (from over a decade ago). We arrived in to Quebec City to a far nicer 21C which we were extremely glad about as we had a pretty much vertical climb from the train station to the Hotel Terrasse-Dufferin, our home for the next 3 nights. Arriving 4 hours before check in we were glad to be able to leave our rucksacks and we set off exploring. We made our way along Terrasse-Dufferin and up the many, many stairs to the promenade around to the Plains of Abraham, the battlefield where the British defeated the French in 20 minutes in 1759 and captured Quebec City. We didn't spend too much time exploring as we were both in need of some food and getting a bit hangry so we headed off in search of somewhere with an English menu and settled on Cafe du Paris - we certainly felt like we had been transported to continental Europe, and the $5 mimosas were excellent!!
After a leisurely lunch we made our way back to our hotel and we were both in need of a bit of lie down. One of us napped. The other didn't. I'm sure you can all work out which one was which!
Post nap it was time to explore what the Quebec nightlife had to offer and luckily we were in town at the right time and a terrace bar by Festibière had been set up at the riverfront. With delicious mojitos, a reggae one-man-band and some seats in the water, we had a brilliant time.
After a few drinks, the rum beginning to go to our heads, we made our way back up towards our hotel to find somewhere for dinner. Being such a lovely European style city it was extremely difficult to stay in "budget backpacker" mode so instead we found ourselves at the Lapin Sauté for a delicious meal and bottle of wine (although Craig did ask for half bottle). Thankfully brushing up on our French earlier in the day paid off and our waitress, who was very appreciative of us having made a gallant if somewhat flawed effort, took us to a private spot to watch the fireworks that are put on every Wednesday & Saturday during the summer - a real treat!
The next morning history buff Craig was extremely excited to tour the Citadelle of Quebec, built by the British in 1820 to defend the city. We set ourselves up for the day with a breakfast at Le Petit Chateau and whilst there noticed that they had an amazing fondue menu and decided that we would be returning in the evening as Craig had never experienced a fondue (I did say it was incredibly difficult to stay in budget mode, didn't I!?)
After breakfast we made our way up to the Citadel, which is still an active military base, and we somehow managed to continue our streak of having excellent tour guides and we were shown around by the wonderful Nicklas. He clearly had a passion for the history of the area so he was extremely informative and given he was a teacher during term time (teachers here don't seem to get paid during the holidays) he was able to keep our group of about 35 in check the entire way round - a mightily impressive feat! Once we had completed the tour there was a museum to see, it was truly fascinating to see the history of the Royal 22e Régiment, the first solely French Canadian regiment. The were granted royal status in 1921 by King George V and are therefore able to wear the same red uniform with bearskin hat that we are so used to seeing outside Buckingham Palace.
Following our visit to the Citadel we were very excited to take full advantage of a deal our lovely little hotel had with the Fairmont hotel next door. We were able to make use of their spa facilities so spent the afternoon swimming, enjoying the free fresh fruit for lunch and lounging on the private terrace. It was a real bit of luxury, our favourite part was most definitely the eucalyptus infused showers which were even more appreciated as our hotel shower was made for people no taller than 5ft - Craig looked like Will Ferrell in Elf!
After a relaxing afternoon it was time for our fondue experience back at Le Petit Chateau, each course was delicious. Gruyere and Emmental cheese to start, Chinese spiced beef for main and the usual selection of fruits with melted chocolate for pudding. I think Craig is regretting getting to 27 and not experiencing a fondue before now!
Friday morning and still full from the previous nights dinner we set off for some more exploring. First stop was the Parliament building, definitely a lot prettier than the Scottish Parliament building - but then again that wouldn't be too difficult! Then it was on to the Wilderness Trail at the Plains of Abraham for a bit of wildlife spotting where we spotted a groundhog (we think) and a black squirrel.
Then it was on to Q-de-Sac for lunch as according to lots of reviews not only was it on the prettiest street in Quebec City it also had the BEST French onion soup you could get in the city. It lived up to the reviews, and no, 27C is not too hot to eat soup al fresco!
Post lunch we took the ferry to Lévis and back to enjoy the view back over towards the city, got the rucksacks packed back up, grabbed a quick dinner and got ready to be on the move again in the morning.
Now starts the road trip of the Gaspé Peninsula!