This is day 10 of our Canadian adventure and we in Old Quebec. That is the last major city we will see in Canada. While Old Quebec was much more enjoyable than Montreal it was still a hectic time. But we did find the major stopping point we were looking for and that was Place Royale. It was part of the very old Quebec that has been completely restored back to its 1600s roots. That is except for the 21st century add-ons. Above is a picture of the main square in that area. We didn’t even attempt to get into the “new” Quebec, But I will grudgingly admit that I enjoyed the old town for the four hours we spent there.
It was a very festive place as shown in the picture gallery below. The painted murals on the walls were of the magnitude and beauty I have never encountered. I ended up spending quite some time just trying to take in the details. Even though I could not hear them the various musicians around the square were a pleasure to watch. I am certainly glad we didn’t write off this portion of the trip.
Of course this area is adjacent to the St. Lawrence River as it was the river was a major highway in its time. There were lots of nice restaurants and shops in the area, so I had trouble keeping my wife out of some of them. But, it ends up I was the one to spend for a major item which was a unique jacket. We found a parking space relatively close to the area and after plugging in about $10 worth of coins we got an hour and a half on the meter.
I made sure that I got a few pictures of the young french ladies in the area. I watched the one in the picture here put up her hair on top her head and as a result found that they follow the French in more ways than I thought. When she raised her arms to set her hair she revealed a full crop of hair under her arms. I knew Europeans don’t shave their armpits, but I was surprised to see the French Canadians don’t either. 😉
The next few weeks are bound to be less hectic than the previous one as we will not likely see another city exceeding 10,000 people during all that time. We plan on taking the local highway that runs right next to the St. Lawrence and the Atlantic for about 400 miles or so. When we find a really nice place with the scenic views that my wife relishes we will likely stay for a few days to recharge our batteries.
I want to close out this report with more pictures of Old Quebec. It was a very picturesque place that I’m glad we visited. Click on any picture below to see a larger slideshow version.
We went to the Canada Science and Technology Museum before trying to check into our hotel. They had a lot of neat exhibits there and a wall of fame that had about thirty pictures and related bios there. I recognized a few, but not many, names on that wall. Of course one thing they did invent here was the snowmobile. Here is a picture of one of the first ones. They claim Alexander Graham Bell as their own; I think he was born in Canada but spent most of his life in the U.S. Anyway the museum proudly presented the accomplishments Canadians have had in science.
After the museum we were off to our hotel. I got a really good rate at a premium hotel on-line, but it proved to be a pretty old hotel with pretty a poor Internet connection. We will be moving to another place tomorrow.
Since we are downtown among all the historic stuff we will be doing most of our touring on foot tomorrow. We will be staying here for a couple of days before heading north. We haven’t decided whether we will go to either Montreal or Quebec, or maybe both, from here. I guess that will be decided tomorrow.
Some Initial Observations…
I know I have only been in Canada for four days now, but I am ready to come to at least one conclusion. That conclusion is that Canada is not famous for food. Maybe they just take the “eat to live” mentality pretty seriously here. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner last night and that, along with most of my previous meals here, was the basis for this observation. When we sat down we were given the usual salsa and chips, but the salsa was really nothing more that diced tomatoes. There was no cilantro, jalapeño, onion, or anything else included. It was just chopped up tomatoes. When I told the waiter, I would like something with a little kick in the salsa he managed to find a bottle of hot sauce.
I ordered my usual Chimichanga and when it came it was composed of a tortilla wrapped around pinto beans and a small amount of pot roast that was baked in an oven until the bottom of the tortilla was pretty much black. Again, there were no spices, no red or green sauce, no cheeses of any type. Just a dried out baked tortilla! Beside that was another pile of pinto beans and some white rice. I guess I should have known better than eat at a Mexican restaurant in Canada. I don’t expect many Mexican to make it past the U.S. to get into Canada.
But in looking back at the meals of the previous days I can see a trend here. All the meals have been pretty much bland with little or no seasoning involved. I am coming to love the Canadians that we meet here, but God bless them they just can’t cook. 🙂 I am hoping to be proven wrong when we move closer to the maritime provinces in the next week or so. Surely, they will know how to cook at least seafood.
Before our dinner last night we did take a one and a half mile, or maybe I should say a 3 km walk around Ottawa. This is going to be a very interesting day for us. There is much to see here, so we are already extending our stay through till Saturday morning.
As expected today was an exciting time. We spent most of the day around the Parliament complex. Here are some pictures of that. We also toured much of the area around the complex and went to the Museum of Currency. It was also a very beautiful day here in Ottawa, sunny and in the 70s. I forgot to take a hat along with me so now I have a sun burned bald head! Gotta remember the hat for tomorrow or I can expect some peeling scalp later in the week.
The brochure provided at the places we visited gave us a somewhat abbreviated history of the country. Of course it parallels that of the U.S. in some regards but is different in others. Where the U.S. had a north/south struggle over the issues of slavery the Canadians had one over language/culture. It was quite some time before they finally resolved that and unified into one Canada. There were a good number of heroes statues around the building and a brief history of each in the brochures.
I think I most admired Lester B. Pearson who was prime minister from 1963 through 1968. He gave Canada a peaceful and compassionate face by his work in helping form the U.N. and bringing universal healthcare and pensions to the nation. I wish we had someone like that to guide us in the U.S. into a more compassionate track. I had hoped that our current president would fit that mold but that doesn’t look to be the case. Of course another thing about Canada is that even though they are not completely separate from England they still have a great love for the mother country.
I will finish here with a final picture. Of course, it is a mandatory one of an RCMP. What trip to Canada would be complete with a picture of an RCMP on his (in this case her) trusty steed. Tomorrow we will be going to the national gallery, the mint, and to the By ward market. More on that later.
Oh, by the way, we did have a very good and properly seasoned dinner tonight, so maybe I will have to rescind the previous post 🙂
We spent a good bit of today at the National Art Museum here in Canada’s capital Ottawa. In some ways the building was more impressive than the art it contained. I would say about one-third of the exhibits were for modern art which is really not so much my taste. I picked out my favorite one in that area and I called it “Big Black”. It was about a 12-foot square mural of solid black; nothing else! They seem to have pictures just like that in about every modern art exhibit I have been to.
But they did have a pretty fair amount of wall space dedicated to photography and that was nice. My collection of 20,000 and growing daily now of photos contains some that deserve to be on those walls too.
One of the neat things I haven’t mentioned yet is the combination of old buildings and modern glass buildings found throughout the city. They are pretty much interspersed, so it is neat to take pictures of the old ones being reflected off the newer ones. Kind of artsy stuff. We have many such pictures now that I will eventually share on this blog in the future.
After leaving the museum we stopped by the Notre Dame Cathedral and then took a long leisurely lunch to rest our legs before strolling over to the Byward market. This is a very large outdoor/indoor market of vegetables, flowers and crafts. We picked up some berries for snacking; I am eating some of them now. This market reminded me of the one I have been to several times in Guadalajara Mexico. We happened upon the U.S. Embassy while we were in the area; that reminded me that we are in a foreign country even if it doesn’t seem like it at times.
Instead of hiking back to the hotel like we have for the last two days we got lazy and took a taxi back. Tomorrow we will go to the national experimental farm and then begin heading for the next adventure and that will be Montreal. We were talking with the waiter in the restaurant last night about trying to decide whether to go to Montreal or Quebec, we decided we only want to do one more big city before heading north-east for the coast. The waiter said without hesitation that we should see Montreal. He gives us several good tips on what to see there.
On our last night in what is now one of my favorite cities we came across this group of young people celebrating a birthday. Oh, to be young again.
We will likely spend at least one day in the hinterland between here and Montreal for a little R&R before starting walking tours again. More on that later. I wanted to throw out at least one more picture here and that is of the big spider outside the national gallery that was about to eat my wife. I, being the superhero that I am, saved her just in time. 🙂
This is the first of many on-the-road reports to come to RJsTravels about my visit to all 50 States, Mexico and Canada with camera in hand and history in mind. I believe that these personal stories are more interesting than just giving you the same facts and figures that most travelogues provide. My version of travelogue tells you in a “John Steinbeck – Travels With Charlie” account of our adventures. I hope you find these stories interesting. I hope you find them enjoyable.
Day 1 – Upper Michigan To Sault St Marie
Since we started out near Green Bay Wisconsin and most our first day was spent in the wilds of the upper peninsula (UP) of Michigan. The UP is about the least populated area of the country except for maybe Alaska. After leaving the Lake Michigan coastline there is very little there except for forests. It was a six-hour drive to Ste St. Marie where we stopped for the night. I have been to this beautiful city on several occasions and as usual we enjoyed a peaceful stroll down the riverfront boardwalk and a nice meal afterwards. Looking back, I wished we had spent another day touring the city, but we were just too anxious to officially get into Canada across the St. Mary’s River.
Day 2 – Sudbury, Ontario – Would you like gravy with that?
Since we were only planning a four-hour drive this day we spent the morning at the Canadian Bushplane Heritage Centre learning about one of the major means of transportation in northern Canada and then hit the road.
One of the first things you almost immediately about Canada is that there are almost no franchises here. So, at the end of this day’s drive what should have been a routine thing turned out to be quite an adventure. We stopped at a small motel just short of Sudbury and asked to see one of the rooms. What we found could have been directly dropped from the 1920s. It had a very hard bed, velvet bedspread and one-hundred year-old very used furniture and lots of wallpaper on the walls. It even had that old hotel smell, you know what I mean. It is mainly found in motels that have been used way beyond their useful life. We were tempted to stay there but just didn’t think we would get much sleep on the rock they call a bed. We politely said that we decided to drive some more before stopping.
We did eventually find a place closer to Sudbury that was clean and cheap but with no Internet connection and had a TV out of the 1950s with only one usable channel. 🥴 The bed was well worn but without any protruding springs, so it proved a restful night after two days on the road.
After we got settled in the room we went out for dinner to a place called Hardrock 42 Gastropub. No, it is not one of those Hardrock places with the loud blaring music as found in the US . It ends up that Hardrock is what they called the miners in the area years ago. I guess this place was kind of like where they used to eat. It was similar to a New Jersey diner in that they had a lot on the menu including what I chose which was a pulled pork sandwich with Jack Daniel’s sauce and french fries. So, here I am in Canada having sauce made from Tennessee whiskey I hardly knew I was out of the U.S.
The waitress who took our orders was a very nice young girl. After I told her what I wanted she asked me if I wanted gravy with that? I wondered why they would put gravy on a pork sandwich with sauce already on it. She saw my confusion and said the gravy was for the french fries. I decided to go with the flow and try it. After I said yes, she commented that you guys must be from the U.S.? She just didn’t understand why we didn’t put gravy on our french fries in our country. After trying it I can say that gravy on french fries is really pretty good; maybe I will ask for it at McDonald’s when I get home.🥴
Tomorrow we keep going on toward Ottawa which is the capital of Canada. We will spend at least a couple of days there before heading towards the St. Lawrence River.
Day 3 – Sudbury To Ottawa
We made the last trek through the seemingly endless pine trees this morning and afternoon and finally got into the city of Ottawa. Since the first two days of this trip were travel days I considered this day 3 the official start of our adventure. I, like a giddy school kid can’t wait.
Upon entering the city my first impression of Ottawa is that there is a lot of traffic for 9:30 on a Wednesday morning. After that soaked in I started noticing quite a few older building in the downtown area. Since this is the capital of Canada I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised. We found a nice hotel in the downtown area and pretty much vegged out there for the rest of the day, even eating in the hotel dining room.😎 Tomorrow we will be visiting all the capital sites, and then who knows where…
RJsTravels has been on the web for more than a dozen years now. It has had a number of names including InSearchOfAmerica. In that version, which ran from 2012 to 2019 I had several posts where I reported daily while I was on the road. Those posts were very popular but time-consuming.
This blog is inspired by John Steinbeck’s novel entitled Travels with Charley – In search of America. That was one of Steinbeck’s last novels that was written a year or so after he had a custom truck cap fabricated to take him on a multi-month trip around America. I feel in love with the book as an early teenager and daydreamed that one day I would do the same. It took me over half a century but I too have made a custom micro-RV (µRV) and have been traveling America for the last five years although only on brief trips.
With this post I will be doing more on-the-road style reports in the future and since RJsTravels is meant to be a travel guide I will be updating older posts to put some of them in the on-the-road format.
Thanks for browsing RJsTravels, and if you have time drop a comment to let me know how I am doing.