Adventures in Old Québec

When you’re given the opportunity to have two days to yourself in Québec City, you take it. Or at least that’s what I did recently.

My wife had flown up earlier in the week on a work-related trip. On Wednesday morning, at the crack of first light, I hopped in the car and started my 7-hour ride to meet up with her.

Fair warning – it’s a slightly longer post.

Thursday morning took us out to do some shopping. There’s nothing funner than going shopping on a weekday instead of being in the office! We started with some breakfast at Café Ricardo, then spent the next few hours shopping up a storm. Okay, let’s be honest… my wife did much more spending than me, but I enjoyed it too. I’m actually more of a mallrat than she is.

Friday morning saw us take a stroll down to Old Québec City, one of the loveliest spots in our fair country. So much character and charm. We had breakfast in a little hotel café, then wandered around for a few hours before heading back to the hotel around lunchtime. Isabelle was going to be attending a weekend retreat at The Augustinian Monastery, so after a little rest at the hotel, we took a cab back to Old Québec, and I dropped my wife off at the Monastery. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d be writing.

With Isabelle safely checked in, I was now on my own for the next 48 hours.

Saturday morning found me walking back to Old Québec. The 20-minute walk was now a familiar journey. I walked around all of Old Québec for hours – up and down the streets, visiting shops to see what I could find.

For lunch, I stopped at a little pub called Q de Sac. I sidled up to the bar, sat down and ordered a bowl of French Onion soup and a beer. Little did I know when I ordered, but the French Onion soup was finished in a wood-fired oven to melt the (massive) pile of cheese on top. This was one of the best things I ate over the entire trip.

While I was browsing through the Christmas Boutique, I happened to see someone who struck me as familiar, but didn’t think anything of it and kept on browsing. A few minutes later, I crossed paths with this woman again, only this time she saw me too. She paused, had a look of slight confusion on her face and said, “Chris?” It was one of my work colleagues. She was in town for the weekend to do some shopping. It’s a small world after all!

I headed back to the hotel mid-afternoon. As I got near the hotel, I noticed some pylons and rope barricades were up around the sidewalks. As it would turn out, the Santa Claus parade was being held that afternoon. It ran down the street that was half a block from my hotel. Why not, right? So I got to enjoy the “Parade des jouets” and then headed back to the hotel to warm up.

I opted to treat myself to a nice supper on Saturday night. I felt like something special and a little different, and came across a review of a Japanese restaurant called Honō Izakaya. It was a short 7-minute walk from my hotel. Thankfully, I was dining solo so I managed to get the last seat available in the small, intimate restaurant. Seated at the bar, I ordered some miso soup, a plate of sashimi and some pork & shrimp shumai. The food was excellent! I was ready to wrap things up when my server offered to go over the dessert options. I had not intended to get anything, but when he told me about the sencha green tea crème brûlée, I could not pass it up. It was exquisite. The mild grassy flavour of the green tea blended perfectly with the sweetness of the brûlée topping. I can still taste it today.

Rather than head directly back to my hotel, I decided to take another walk in order to digest my meal. Naturally, I opted to mosey on back to Old Québec. I figured I might as well bookend the day by starting and ending in the same spot. Though I knew most of the shops were closed by now, the Christmas decorations were out, and I was looking forward to seeing them lit up. I slowly ambled through the quiet streets for a while, then started making my way towards the gates of the city to return to my hotel.

I started to run through the events of the day in my mind and chuckled to myself over running into someone I knew so far from home. The fact of being nearly 800km away from home and just happening to run into someone you work with was quite interesting. But synchronicity wasn’t done with me yet. It was only a few minutes later when I crossed paths with yet another colleague from work. To run into one person – weird coincidence. But two in the same day? What are the odds?

Sunday was check-out day. I opted to lounge around the hotel until just shy of noon, since that’s as late as I could remain. After checking out, I drove down to Old Québec to find a place to park near the Monastery. I’d be picking up Isabelle around 4PM. After another few strolls through the cobblestone streets, and another lunch of French Onion soup (though from a different pub this time), I just enjoyed my time until I met up with my beloved wife, and we started the journey back home.

I truly debated whether or not to write about this trip, which is why it’s only being posted two weeks after the fact. I felt as though I would be judged by people. “Oh, look. Here he goes again. Rubbing his travels in our faces.” But I’ve realized that I have to accept some people may feel that way, or be jealous. I have the ability to permit myself these types of trips. Why would I hide the fact? I’m very grateful for all of the abundance (in every sense of the word) that I have in my life. You attract what you put out in the world, so I’ll just quote my mentor:


Francois Lemay

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