Montreal to Quebec City
Charbonneau, Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment and I awoke in the morning. We ventured out to see Notre Dame du Montreal. Pope John Paul II decreed it a basilica of note in the 1980’s. (maybe) It is very pretty for a church. The people of Montreal must party pretty hard. There are 12 double sided confessionals lining the walls of the church. Some even have somebody’s name on them. I can only surmise that they must sin a lot, but also donate heavenly sums. The church was about a block from our hotel. Charbonneau marveled at the proximity.
We had breakfast at an expensive coffee and sandwich place on the basilica square. It was pretty good. They make coffee in one of those really nice espresso machines. The guy who runs the machine is very serious. I changed my order three times before he made it. Mrs. Jon Bruce has a Americano Double. I had a latte with very little milk (the barrista poured a misshapen heart in the foam for me). Charbonneau had a double espresso and a beer. We all left with irregular heart beats. Charbonneau had very blotchy skin until the side effects wore off.
We went and checked out a store or two before heading out of town. We made a final stop in Montreal at the Mont Royal. It’s a Royal Mountain offering breath-taking and scenic panoramas of Montreal. We skipped the breath taking climb to the chalet where only the most cardiovascularly fit people can take the most scenic and panoramic vistas. We opted for the turn out accessible via automobile. The vistas were somewhat panoramic, scenic and sweeping.
I missed the turnout turn and drove into the parking lot in the wrong direction. The guy who sells “Water, Pepsi, etc” to the tour buses and his less employed friend gave me the stink eye.
As we departed Mont Royal, my cell service and GPS app stopped working. This gave us some time to explore family dynamics and team work. Also I about had a “Scanners” style aneurysm. We finally got on the Canadian Transcontinental Highway and headed in the right direction. The phone service started working. The GPS worked. Family dynamics and the natural order were restored.
Canada highway signs are very similar to the United States. There are differences. The deer crossing sign has four legs. It looks ridiculous. I suspect that deer is jumping in front of cars deliberately. There is even a warning sign featuring bent and crumpled car road sign and deer roadside crashed together. That deer crossing sign voted against it’s own best interests in the last election.
We stopped for lunch and a break de bathroom at a Scottish restaurant, McDonalds. I gave Merryweather some money so he could order his own food and parley with the locals. I went to the bathroom. When I got out of the bathroom, Merryweather was still at a self serve kiosk and now assisted by Charbonneau and Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment. I walked up to the counter and gave my order to an employee. By the time I got my food and made my own Diet Coke, the other three were standing in line to order from the person because the kiosk lost their order.
You don’t hear kiosks complaining online about hard working humans taking their jobs because they do it quietly and in ones and zeroes.
We stopped for gas some place in the in between. The whole trip I have been using my Apple Watch to pay for stuff. I ask “Can I tap (Achat in french) ?” They says “yes (oui!)”. I pay them with the watch and move on with my life. Smiles all around.
Somewhere east of Montreal things start to get different. First the gas station in Between needs me to come inside and pre-pay. Then about every other transaction requires a card. They ask “credit or debit?”. The level of tappy-ness has decreased along side my digital spending joy.
Allow me to side note… Many restaurants have had portable credit card machines. The waiter brings the machine to the table then hands it to you. You can add the tip directly. and click okay. One receipt gets printed. No wasted paper. It’s not as much fun as Square, but better than what I have seen. It’s everywhere. I can Apple Pay with my watch. Voila!
We arrived in Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River. Today I learned that the St. Lawrence Seaway is the great lakes and the St. Lawrence River. When I told this to Charbonneau, he laughed mightly. “No man could paddle a canoe that far in his lifetime.” I says to him “No, c’est vrai” (This is true) The drive was very scenic. There are scenic mountains or hills in the background, scenic water along the side of the road. I made a scenic illegal u-turn over a scenic median.
Please note that Old Quebec city is very old and very old world in scale. I will tell you more about it in a minute but the good descriptive part fit better later in the story. You will understand.
You could hear my teeth grinding as we drove towards the apartment. I was attempting to drive the Overland Rig through tiny streets in rush hour traffic. Additionally, there was an underground parking accessed via a side street. I thought she said it was diagonally, but Mrs. Bruce clearly explained it was called Die-Gone Alley. I missed the turn. I went the wrong way on several tiny streets. I was shouting at Charbonneau and Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment for metric conversions on the length and height of the truck. It was very obvious that this would be an issue shortly. Charbonneau didn’t appreciate my desire for Six Sigma decimals places in conversion until we pulled into the garage. I had both mirrors folded in. On the second turn, I had three inches on the front left bumper. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment had stopped looking because the right rear quarter panel was about to be sheered off. I don’t even think two spotters is legal in Jeep rock crawling events.
Thanks to Zeno and his paradox, the truck cleared the corner. The parking space was directly down the ramp. There is enough room for two water molecules to stand abreast between the front of the truck and the wall. The back of the truck sticks out slightly further than where the asshole in the Porsche SUV shit parked his stupid car next to me.
I really like my truck. A lot. I know it is unwieldy in urban situations. My imagination was unprepared for the prospect of trying to drive it in a 400 year old French City in Canada. I actually looked it up. The Ford is bigger in every dimension than the Honda Ridgeline. The scale of this place makes a Smart car seem awkward. This is the second and hopefully last time that I will be wishing we had driven a smaller car. It was super stressful. My family is very supportive and helpful despite the fact I insist on communicating with hateful swearing and personal attacks.
We got parked. We checked in. The apartment is triangular. One wall is all glass. ALL GLASS. If you have ever seen a 1000 sq ft apartment display at Ikea. We are staying in that. There are even furry pillows and furry throws and a weird shaped very red pot or sculpture. Except it is a triangle with a KICK ASS view of Quebec and the St. Lawrence seaway.
We did laundry immediately. I picked out a restaurant on the other end of god’s green earth for dinner. We walked all the way there. Merryweather was coerced into wayfinding and google map using. This is not the clever French street design of Indianapolis, nor the clever French street design of even Washington DC. This is the street design of Jean Val Jean in Les Miserables or the Hunchback of Viant Quebec City Dame.
Many a travel writer will use up all their adjectives talking about Old Montreal. Many a travel writing career has end as those unfortunate souls get their first glimpse of Old Quebec City. I was very lucky indeed to have only said.
” Words can’t do it justice.” – Jon The Bruce
Old Quebec City is twice the “Words can’t do it justice.” as Old Montreal. It’s hillier, it’s twistier, it’s turnier. You can hear knee joints grinding to dust on the cobblestones. But only if you listening closely, and drown out the buskers and street musicians. When we first entered Old Quebec City on foot, there were two girls on saxophone playing that song you would expect to hear in some French city along cobblestone streets. It was perfectly timed. Perfectly. I gave them money, because.
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” – HST
At one point near the bottom of our despair and the bottom of the hill, we looked back. There is an elevator/funicular/tram that goes up and down the hill.
At the very next point nearer still to the assuredly bottomer of our despair and the bottomer of the hill, we looked back. There is an elevator/funicular/tram that goes up the hill and a majestic castle looking thing. It was breathtaking. (Thanks to Mrs. Jon Bruce for noticing and pointing it out)
At the very nextest point nearest still to the assuredly bottomest of our despair and the bottomest of the hill, we couldn’t find the restaurant. Words were exchanged. Heatedly. Mrs. Jon Bruce Entertainment was entertaining the idea that I had lead the whole party astray, on purpose. Merryweather had disappeared like a ghost tour of haunted Old Quebec City. I confidently checked Google maps. We were 72 feet away. I wasn’t sure in which direction. Charbonneau went downhill another cobblestoned block to scout. No luck. I turned around in a circle to orient the GPS and figure out which direction to run away. I went uphill one block. I found the restaurant, but there was a 20 minute wait for a nice table outside. They recommended I go back down the block to the lower section of the restaurant for a table catty corner from the spot where I couldn’t find the restaurant.
Charbonneau ordered a pitcher of Sangria. It was delicious. So was the pizza. and the dessert tray. and the caprese salad and the bread and the decorative garnish.
The team decided to Uber up the hill. I walked. I have heard that the funicular is $3.50 CDN per person. One way. The next time you are in Dubuque, tip the Fenelon Place Elevator for providing such an excellent value. The one here is stand up, with glass walls and a view of the St. Lawrence Seaway and historic QC.
Bad Internet Picture link –