Someone contacted me today to ask me about our 5 day trip to Quebec City, Canada and just a simple thing like that sent me down a rabbit hole of memories and sparked the need to share. Before starting this blog of silly travel stories a few years ago, I had always written about the trips we took. I just wrote crazy long emails each day back to friends to make them laugh and to stop me from killing the fam bam. Cheaper than therapy and as it turns out it’s been a fabulous way to keep the amazing memories of our trips alive once the old mind has faded a bit. Thinking about our visit to Quebec City over NYE 2012/2013 made me go back to the stories I wrote of the experience and it reminded me of just how beautiful the city was and how much we loved it. I wrote tons and photographed everything and I thought I may as well pop all of this together on this blog in case anyone else is thinking about heading to this magical place.
Reading back my words of nearly 6 years ago reminded me of two things:-
1. OMG Quebec City is honestly the prettiest place I’ve ever seen, in winter it is a wonderland; and
2. Wow friends, I was super enthusiastic and annoyingly upbeat back then. I mean, I still liked my children and my husband and just had a happy zest for life. I had a think about this and put it down to my kids only being 14 & 10 (they are now 20 & 16 – pass the bottle of booze, and then another bottle please) and maybe my bullshit-o-meter hadn’t tapped out just yet. Who even was I? All I know is I must have been really really hard to be around back then with all my sunshiny-ness and unicorn rainbows. I’m so sorry guys, thanks for hanging in there and guess what, good news…..6 years later I am now the blackhearted, cynical, potty mouthed, people hating BITCH I was always meant to be. You’re welcome!!!
(Oh and I may have to insert my 2018 comments throughout my 2012/2013 positive stories – because of course I do. New comments in Pink)
Background – Quebec City was to be a 5 day “piece of heaven” in the middle of a 5 week trip to the US over Christmas. Originally we were just going to the US for 4 weeks and since we were going to be heading up the eastcoast quite close to the Canadian border, I said to husband how about we jump on a plane and just dip our toes into Canada somewhere just for a few days. Originally we were thinking Montreal but once I started researching Quebec City just jumped out at me as being so beautiful during winter that it was a lock. We really knew nothing about the place but once I started doing some trip planning I was so excited to take the family there.
DAY 1 – 29 December, 2012
We were leaving NYC in time to skip the chaos of the New Years Eve celebrations. Yes I know, were we mad hahaha. Times Square with young kids on NYE really is not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s more for young single people who have a bladder that can hold pee for, hmmm at least 12 hours while they are corralled like cattle. It didn’t sound like fun to us and having just experienced crowd levels like we had never experienced in the Big Apple on our previous visits we were keen to get the hell out of dodge.
Essentially this whole day was spent travelling. Our car picked us up at our hotel in New York at 8.30am for our 11.15am flight. We got to the airport quickly, no traffic this morning for some reason. Security and check in were smooth but due to a massive snow storm in Canada the flight we were catching with Air Canada arrived 1 hour late. That wasn’t too much of a problem, we know how to fill in our time at airports so soon we were winging our way to Montreal. The problem of course came once we got to Montreal because by then we had missed our connecting flight to Quebec City. This is where the fun started. OMG, there is the first glimpse of that disgusting “upbeat” take on the world I told you about earlier. These days there would be swears for dayz!
We got rushed through Customs which was the only bonus of what is about to happen. The customs line was what looked like hours long so truly being skipped to the front was a wonderful thing. By the time we got to where we needed to be about half of our original flight had missed the connection to Quebec City. This meant they had alot of people to fit on other flights. Which meant another long long line trying to get to a desk operator to help you out. I think we stood in that line for over an hour, perhaps longer. You’ve got to know husband was a “joy” throughout the waiting process.
Then we finally made it to the desk (I’m about to cut a bitch by now I swear) and the next flight she could get us on was 11pm that night. Since it was around 3pm you can imagine what unwelcome news this was. Sigh!!! But hey, what can you do, not a thing. (hahaha, sigh, is that all 2012 Lisa had to say) It’s just more that as a parent you are thinking – how will my poor babies go for that amount of time stuck in the airport (which kind of translates as “are they going to drive me crazy during that wait time”).
The lady said she could put us on standby for the 7pm flight though and that we should just hang around that departure gate just before the flight boarded because we may get on that flight if some people didn’t show up. This seemed like a pipe dream but hey, I like a dream. Who even is this placid Lisa…?
We thought we would wander over to that gate lounge and just set up camp there until the 7pm flight and we would then move to the 11pm flight lounge if that didn’t work.
So off we wander to the gate which was quite a long way for some reason. We finally found where it was and got comfortable and then Husband decided to go for a walk, he’s not so good at the waiting and relaxing and likes to stretch his legs. The kids settled in with Facebook for her, ipad for him and I decided to have a little nap. I didn’t even realise I had nodded off literally slept the sleep of the dead and the kids were shaking me awake saying they thought they had heard our surname called to come up to the gate desk. This didn’t seem likely since it was still only around 4pm. I assumed it was another family with our name since it is fairly common but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to go and check. So off I toddle with our tickets etc. to see the lady. She says I understand you are waiting on standby, we can get you on that flight yadda yadda yadda. I’m all like, oh yay, we get to fly out at 7pm instead of 11pm. That makes me very happy. She prints out the boarding passes and I wanted to do a little happy dance (god this happy 2012 Lisa probably did do that dance….shudder). Just by chance I asked her what time she thought that flight would board. She said that flight is boarding right now.
INSERT ALL THE SWEARY STRESS WTF WORDS HERE. I REMEMBER THIS LIKE IT WAS YESTERDAY. WHAT A BULLSHIT STRESSFUL SITUATIONSHIP WE WERE NOW IN. DON’T EVEN LISTEN TO WHAT HAPPY LISA BELOW SAYS
I nearly had a little meltdown right then and there. Craig was somewhere off in the airport, goodness knows where. Like seriously, I thought I may have a little vomit from the stress of what to do. (oh ok, Lisa was a bit honest and not quite so Patricia Positive afterall) I was trying to call him but our international sim cards sometimes take a bit of time to work and I couldn’t help thinking, OMG, what happens if I can’t get a hold of him. Today’s Lisa would’ve totally jumped on that plane with the kids and left him there and given zero you know whats. Fortunately I eventually got him on the phone and I told him to run run run back to us. I probably said hurry the F up but ok let’s go with the Disney version.
Meanwhile I was telling (I may actually have been yelling, who knows at this point, telling/yelling, it’s all the same) the kids to get everything together, that meant getting shoes back on, packing up backpacks etc. It was really a mad scramble (it was a clusterFARK). Finally Husband came running up looking like he had run a marathon. I think I can say with absolute certainty that the man hasn’t run that fast or far for a good 20 years hahaha ~not without a sports bra anyway~. We finally boarded (having lost a few years off our lives) and took off nearly 6 hours earlier than we thought we would. What a relief, even though for a few minutes there it was more stressful than a parent teacher interview. Whew!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (puhlease, there is NOT.A.DAMN.THING more stressful then a parent teacher interview when your kids are teens)
Boarding this plane was the most strange experience I’ve ever had boarding a plane. We had to walk onto the tarmac (in a snow storm mind you) and since the plane was pretty much full and overloaded (oh, let’s not even try to tap into thinking about how scary that thought is) all handluggage had to be checked. So I had to leave my camera bag with a bazillion dollars of my equipment that I use to earn my income which helps support my family sitting and put food on the table and probably isn’t water/snow proof on a trolley unprotected from the snow and conditions. Nope, not even remotely concerned. Then we get on the plane and the snow was so bad they had to bring out some type of special de-icing snowy type machine to ummm I don’t know make it so the plane could fly. (What the hell could be worrisome about that – I just told myself, if we die we die, at least we are all together). I honestly was starting to get a bit anxious about takeoff, flying and landing in these conditions but hey, let’s play roulette shall we and be positive.
Fortunately we landed in Quebec City with no fuss or bother to be greeted by pretty snow snow and more snow. For a gal who’d been dreaming about the stuff, I was about to get a serious dose.
I left out of that last sentence that only 1 of our 5 suitcases arrived in Quebec. This became quite the nightmare over the coming days as the cases arrived at our hotel in dribs and drabs. It did teach me a huge lesson that I have lived by ever since. Always mix the clothes throughout the total of suitcases. Never have a case per person. Written by the lady who’s suitcase arrived on day 4 of our visit to Quebec….
Caught a cab to our hotel, Palais Royal which turned out to be as lovely as I had hoped. The location just outside the Old Town Walls was incredible, the price was really really good, it had a beautiful lobby (daughter says that’s essential), stunning room with a separate living area and the view out the window, sigh. It was of the most precious winter scene which included iceskaters, Christmas lights, historic buildings and plenty of snow. I felt like I had died and gone to heaven. Even 2018 Lisa 100% agrees with every word about this hotel and location and views.
The foyer and lounge
View from our room
We dumped our bags (lies, dumped our 1 bag), rugged up and headed out to have a quick look around and find a bite to eat for dinner. We wandered down the most beautiful street filled with picture postcard perfect shops decorated for Christmas perfectly. It was the stuff dreams are made of and I was so happy we had chosen to come here. It definitely did not disappoint.
For those who don’t know much about Quebec City, it is French Canadian and predominantly French speaking, actually something like 80%. We were soon to find out how much this was the case. We were a little shocked that most of the people in customer service/tourism jobs were not as bilingual as these not very French speaking Aussies had anticipated hahahaha. At times it was quite challenging to even get a bottle of water which surprised me greatly. It definitely gave us a kick up the bum to learn more French before we were headed to France in 4 months time I can tell you.
Obviously we had some basics but it would definitely help to be a little more fluent. It has since been brought to my attention that perhaps since Australians talk so quickly (I’m a shocker for this) that we contributed to the language barrier as well. I’m still saying the young girl in Subway who I tried to order water off was just being a beotch that morning but hey….
It was fairly cold outside, the coldest we’ve experienced on the US/Canada trip so far but it wasn’t unbearable. Although Daughter is the least in love with the cold hehehe. Learning to navigate the snowy icy streets is new to us but we managed very well. I will never get tired of looking at snow I don’t think. It fascinates me how everything simply looks prettier with snow on it and around it hehe.
We finished the day absolutely already in love with this beautiful city.
Highs – Quebec City beautifulness, hotel, snow
Lows –delayed flights