Nivi's Adventures

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Quebec City

Now this was an amazing city, and one of the highlights of my trip so far! Everyone speaks French, or rather Quebecois (pronounced ke-bek-wa). I KNEW before arriving that they spoke French in Quebec, but coupled with the fact that I was staying in Old Quebec (old buildings, cobblestone roads complete with a fortification wall that surrounds the city) it totally felt like a European city and so it came as somewhat more of a culture shock than I was expecting.

One of the roads in Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec). This is pretty much what it looked like when I stepped out of the hostel.

A gorgeous fresco done on the side of a building - which was amazingly realistic! Check out the detail in the top left and top right corner. The trim painted on the fresco perfectly matches the real trim on the other side of the building!

Place Royale - A town square kinda thing, just to sit and enjoy the sun. The French sure know how to live!

Eglise des Victoires - Church of Victories (over the British). Movie buffs may recognise it as the church in closing scene of "Catch me if you can" with Leonardo DiCaprio. Apparently it's quite common to get Old Quebec to be used instead of Paris in the movies.

Chateau Frontenac - This was never actually a castle but rather a grand hotel built by Canadian Rail. There were a good number of these built back in the heyday (Toronto, Vancouver, Banff etc). This one is supposedly the grandest of them all.

A shot of the wall fortifications that surround the citadel. Pretty impressive. I had initially thought they were built by the French to keep out the English, but they were actually built by the English to keep out the Yanks! It's all a push-pull in the struggle for world domination I spose ;)

Now this is a kinda amusing story. These steps are called les escaliers de casse cou - which in english means the broken neck steps. I would have had to have gone down these steps to get to the hostel from the train station. However after looking at the label on the map (and being able to translate it!) I decided to make alternative arrangements as I thought they would be some crazy steep steps that I would fall down (especially as I had my pack on!). However it turns out that the stairs got their name because a couple hundred years ago the port was at the bottom on the steps and the bars were at the top of the steps and wouldn't you know it, sailors would drink too much at the bars when they came ashore and would end up falling down the stairs on their way back to their ship.

OK this is funny too. Quebeccers are proudly of their culture and try to safeguard their language at all costs - almost nowhere do you see signs that have english on them - it's generally just French. This street sign is a good example of that. Also the guy at the hostel told us that it's illegal to have english on signs for buildings (altho I dont know how true that is...)

So, the reason that City Hall has it written in English was because Hotel de Ville, the French for city hall, kept being mistaken for an actual hotel by tourists and city workers got fed up with it. Yeah so dont know how true it is but thought I'd stick the photos in anyway ;)

So I'd already fallen a little bit in love with Quebec - it was a funky, vibrant city and I was rather taken with it. However just to add icing to the cake, the city decided to put on a free concert, fireworks and a street parade to celebrate the Olympics. This made the city even more alive! I couldn't quite work out if it was celebrating the success of the athletes in the Turino games or Vancouver winning the 2010 games but it didn't faze me for too long - I just partied with the rest of Quebec!

The concert - it was somewhat strange to see all these people sing along to some great (english) songs and then start chatting to each other in French!

The fireworks. Done in time to music, which I haven't experience many times before so it was pretty cool :)

Enjoying the festivities with Stephanie, a French girl I met at the hostel

The street parade the next morning, complete with Olympic Athletes!


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