As the new year dawned, Sarah and I spent another day exploring the Old City in Quebec City because of a mistake in our planning. I call this The Lost Day in Quebec City.
A Wrench in the Works
Our original itinerary in Quebec City looked like this:
61 Rue du Petit Champlain
See inside of Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Sledding at Les Glissades de la Terrasse
Quartier Petit Champlain
Cross St. Lawrence River to see Château Frontenac from distance
But there was a problem with our plans. On the 31st, we called to confirm our appointment at Siberia Spa only to discover that they were closed on the 1st. So we decided to switch our plans for the 1st with those of the 2nd.
As our second day in the Old City of Quebec progressed, we learned that this was way more time than is needed.
Les Glissades de la Terrasse
We braved the cold and set out to find the Toboggan tracks set up in the public space outside Château Frontenac. But first, we found a sign of exactly how much it snows in Canada:
The Toboggan Slide Au 1884 is apparently open from December to March-ish (the official website says “as long as Mother Nature cooperates”). On the day we went, Mother Nature was showing no signs of thawing as it was about -5° F.
We watched a few people go down, and it looked like fun, but man, it was deceptively fast. I wasn’t aware of this, but apparently it reaches speeds of 70 kph (43 mph). I shot this video, and you can hear the exact moment that Sarah realizes how fast we’re going:
Quartier Petit Champlain
After tobogganing, we hopped onto the elevator that took us down to Quartier Petit Champlain.
Quartier Petit Champlain is a small shopping co-op in Quebec City, and one of the more known tourist attractions. However, the shops sold the same t-shirts and trinkets available at other stores. So while it was very quaint and pretty, it left us wanting.
I did get a good kick out of a souvenir shop selling license plates. Particularly, the Alabama – Education license plate. Two questions:
- Why would someone buy an Alabama license place in Quebec City?
- Since when does Alabama care about education?
Again, I wanted to like this area. I really did. The architecture was unique and beautiful. The pictures I took capture this well, and it was a very aesthetically pleasing place to be. But it reminded me of a ski resort town: a great place but very manicured, catering almost solely to out-of-towners, and lacking any depth.
After this, we couldn’t find much to do with the time we had left in the day so we went back to our hotel around 2pm. We’d seen most of the attractions within walking distance of the Old City, and an excursion on Quebec City’s small and primarily bus-focused public transit system would have taken a long time. When combined with the exhaustion from being out in the cold all day for the past five days, we had no issues spending the day in the warmth of the hostel and re-determining our plans for the next day.
Quebec City Travel Tip: Leave the City
If you’re looking for a Quebec City travel tip, and I could only give you one piece of advice, it’d be this: rent a car and leave the city. Also, don’t go over New Years because everything is closed. So I guess two pieces of advice…
Anyway, when we made plans for Quebec, Sarah had booked us a Spa Day at Siberia Spa. She swore up and down that she made reservations for the 1st, but they were closed on New Years Day. Throughout the day we kept wondering if our reservations were actually for the second or had we made an uncorrected error? We couldn’t call to confirm, so we decided to risk it, find a rental car, and hope that we had reservations.
That night in the hostel, I booked a rental car from the only place I could find that was open on the 2nd (Enterprise). And since we had the car for the day, we looked at the attractions to which we now had access: Montmorency Falls, Sanctuaire de Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, dog sledding on Ile de Orleans. All of these were mentioned merely as footnotes in our guidebook, but all of them sounded like things we wanted to do and see. If we’d known about the wealth of things that existed on the periphery of the city when we’d been planning, our trip might have looked very different. Live and learn (and share on a travel blog so others can learn, too) I guess.
The next day, we drove up to Siberia Spa to see if we could get massages and spend the day in one of the most relaxing places in Quebec. While up there, we also saw a waterfall that’s 30m higher than Niagara Falls. But that’s a post for next week.
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