Finding the Quirk in Quebec City

Quebec City was the last stop on our Babymoon to Canada. It was almost like we had saved the best for the last.  The city and its people were a mix of old world charm and quirkiness, it offered us surprises at every turn.

I travel the same way I pick up a new book, I read the back cover and a few lines of the introduction and if it interests me I commit myself to it. I rarely research about a place I am about to go to or ask around for advice. When we travel as a family we pick a place that catches our fancy based on a few excerpts or a stray remark and book our tickets. It is usually only after we check in at the hotel that we try to figure out a rough itinerary for the trip. We have rarely meticulously planned out a trip and this always leaves room for our destination to surprise us. The beauty and secrets of Quebec City were all the more fabulous because we didn’t have any preconceived idea of what to except from this Canadian city.

We chose to travel by train as I was expecting and wanted a comfortable journey. I was at a sweet spot in my pregnancy called the second trimester where a lady can think of traveling without the nausea of the first trimester and the fatigue that comes with the third. We had booked a quaint bed and breakfast called Le Clois Saint-Loius. Hotel Le Clois was a charming renovated Victorian hotel which promised to be a get away for lovers and so it was. The decor, the personal attention and the vintage furniture gave the place a lot of character and romance.

Staying in the old city of Quebec was romantic in itself with the small shops, restaurants and cobbled streets to take a stroll on. The streets in the upper town of Quebec city all lead to the formidable Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac which is a historic hotel. The view from the Chateau Frontenac is that of the wide river of St Lawrence where cruise ships are a common sight. The streets of Quebec City have many quirks and surprises that spring up at every corner. The shop that sells Native American crafts and artifacts or the store La Boutique de Noel that keeps Christmas alive throughout the year are just a few of the quirkiest things to see in Quebec City.

The view from upper town of Quebec City is amazing and what makes it more worthwhile is the lovely secret of the lower town of Quebec City that lies hidden beneath. The lower town of Quebec has its own fun vibe throughout its narrow streets lined with french restaurants. The lower town is older and forms the first settlement in the historical Quebec City.There are street musicians and murals on buildings, fun little stores and tiny cafes. The place is completely filled with music, history and life where you can unwind and let the city and its vibe soak into you. Quebec City cannot be written about it really needs to be experienced, it remains one of the most romantic destinations I have been to.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Across Canada with a Bump – Toronto in a day

Toronto in A Day

This is part of a series of posts about four beautiful cities in Canada which I visited when I was in a beautiful stage in life, pregnant with my baby. These posts chronicle my trip from Niagara Falls to Toronto to Montreal and onward to the quaint Quebec City.

Toronto was the next stop of our great Canadian Odyssey which we later dubbed as our Babymoon.  Toronto has close family whom we could visit, which meant home cooked meals for my pregnant cravings and that itself was a big highlight of my trip. I could suddenly not handle food without spice, I craved spice. In-fact I drowned any food with pepper or sriracha sauce. We had one day for  seeing Toronto which we had to utilize as best as we could.

The first thing that strikes a visitor in Toronto is the amazing skyline of Toronto city where the CN Tower lords over the rest of the buildings. Before Dubai won the race for the tallest building, CN Tower retained the  honor of being the tallest building in the world. The  pressure difference while going up the tower is almost alarming. There is an observatory on top of the tower where enthusiasts can experience a Skywalk while tied to a harness. My excuse for not doing the Skywalk is pregnancy and not because I was  chicken. The CN Tower offers an all encompassing view of Toronto city and the Great Lake Ontario. Lake Ontario was a revelation as it dwarfed any lake or pond that I had previously seen. If I didn’t know any better I would have called it a sea.

In the midst of the concrete marvels of the city, is Toronto’s Historic District which boasts a happening and chic Distillery District. The Distillery District has fashion houses, designers, dance studios, bakeries, restaurants and chocolate shops. If there, do visit Soma Chocolate Maker. They have amazing Mayan chocolates which were spicy drinks that the Mayans drank. The Mayans were the pioneers of chocolate and would most probably pooh pooh chocolate in the present form. The restaurants at Distillery District were full of life and laughter with different flavors of beer on tap.

Here is a Photoessay with the highlights of Toronto city.

Toronto CN Tower
Toronto CN Tower
I Spy a Tower in my Eye
I Spy a Tower in my Eye
The City of Toronto
The City of Toronto from CN Tower
Look a car!
Distillery District
Distillery District
Fine Whiskey
Gooderham & Worts Fine Whiskey
Malt Kilns
Malt Kilns- Originally used for drying germinated grains.
Buildings modified as studios and stores
Buildings modified as studios and stores
Old Factories new uses
Old Factories new inhabitants
Dance Studios
Dance Studios @ Distillery District

Photographs are copyrighted and credited to Razor Rasu.

Across Canada with a Bump

This is part of a series of posts about four beautiful cities in Canada which I visited when I was in a beautiful stage in life, pregnant with my baby. These posts chronicle my trip from Niagara Falls to Toronto to Montreal and onward to the quaint Quebec City.

Immersed in the falls

Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls prominently features in the itinerary of anyone flying to the east coast of US or Canada. The view from both sides of the border is quite different and unique and each side can argue its merits or demerits. While from America you stand on a bridge and peer at the horse shoe shaped cascade of water called the Niagara Falls, from Canada the majesties of the falls is displayed to you in all its splendor. As you near the falls you can hear it roar and the fall kicks up an obscene amount of mist and spray in an attempt to cloak itself.

 

Niagara at night

Niagara Falls at night is highlighted with many colors but it comes a close second to beholding the falls on a light and crisp autumn day.  Niagara bursts with color in autumn with tree tops that have hues of red, orange and gold. Night is for the rest of the town of Niagara, the whole city turns into a carnival for grownups with casinos, shows, a wax museum and a Ferris wheel. Traveling with a bump meant turning in early and giving the casinos a wide berth but there is no concession required for soaking in the beauty of the place.

Maid of the Mist going into the roaring falls
Maid of the Mist going into the roaring falls

The Maid of the Mist is as famous as Niagara Falls and is almost synonymous with it. This boat service which closes in the winter, rides almost into the falls. The Maid of the Mist is an adventure where as you go closer to the roaring cold falls you get drenched with only the thin raincoat which is almost the uniform for the Maid of the Mist- to protect you from this natural marvel. Remember to wear sensible shoes as they are bound to get wet and while you are at it take a better rain coat.

Vineyard @Niagara
Vineyard @Niagara
Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting

The region near Niagara Falls has many famous vineyards that host tours for visitors. The tour usually includes a trip to the vineyard and a crash course in wine tasting. Niagara’s weather and water is conducive for good wine making and who can forget the golden drops of happiness a.k.a maple syrup! Niagara is also home to a unique and yummy dessert wine called ice wine. Ice wine is made during the winter when grapes are left on the vines to get frozen in the cold, they are then harvested and processed to make this wine. One drop of ice wine is extracted from one frozen grape precisely hence it becomes a luxury and a novelty to be had. On this trip I only got a whiff at the ice wine but it is definitely on my to-do list for some day.

Niagara with Autumn Colors
Niagara with Autumn Colors

Our trip to Niagara was rewarded with the appearance of an unexpected but beautiful rainbow, the likes of which I had never seen before. The wide skies of the north stretched the rainbow from end to end. It was and will remain one of the many miracles of nature that I have witnessed, no photographs and no cameras can do justice to the colors that I saw in Niagara.

All photographs are copyright of Traveling Noodles and credited to Razor Rasu