Over the pond, and far away……Day 3

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Quebec…….Day 3

I vaguely remember something in History and Geography about Quebec, but I am afraid, for my teachers’ sakes, that I remembered almost nothing! I had no real concept about what it was like, and it very-quickly became evident that we were not to be disappointed. A quick look at a town map showed an old part (Vieux-Quebec), and a market (Marche Chamlain), two features which add enchantment to almost any city.

…….but I’m getting ahead of myself. You see I am very fond of my food, and especially breakfast, lunch, and dinner! The quality of food on the Holland-America line is of a high standard and as a self treat we had the following little morsel on the first morning, after which we were ready to face the day.

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I had contacted some French speakers about whether my normal French would be understood in Quebec, and as assured that there should be no major problem, and so it was. We had a Shuttle bus which took us to the centre of this lovely city. We walked on up to one of the gates of the Citadel where numerous carriages were taking visitors on a tour. Ignoring them totally, we walked along the walls on a lovely day.

I took so many photos here, as every corner was just a new riot of colour and exquisite taste, and these are only a small selection This was probably the highlight of the cruise, and yet again, we were blown-away by the cleanliness. It could be compared in many ways with Luxembourg, or Monaco, in its beauty. One thing especially was the depiction of some of the town’s activities in 3D, but on a flat wall….see the last two photos. It really was amazing how well this had been achieved, even from close-up.

I had also mentioned the Old Market, and this was approached from a large board-walk down the funicular railway to a couple of crowded streets, full of lovely shops and cafes….well worth another visit. The only downside was that we did not have time to visit the modern town. Although maybe we should retain the memories we have. I suppose that it is a bit like Venice….having seen the old town, the modern bustling industrialised adjunct somehow seems to take away the charm…..so best left alone.

Tomorrow was to be cruising the St Lawrence, so I will take the chance to show you some of the folk we met and a little more about the ship. …….Night, night for now…

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Over the pond, and far away……Day 2

 

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Novotel, Montreal, with Lady standing in the sun

Montreal to Quebec………

So you were left with us sleeping the sleep of the exhausted, in our Montreal Novotel (shown above) following a rather long period of travelling. The upshot seems to be that the hotel had expected us a year AGO, and we had been listed as a ‘no-show’. We had to pay for the night but already the situation has been resolved with our Travel Agents….no hard feelings..

I have to say, that the staff there were fine, and so was the welcome cold-buffet breakfast. The predominant ethos in this area is French, and the archetypal tall stool, newspaper, coffee, croissants etc, were all much in evidence. Apres nos ‘petit-dejeuners’, we decided we had to take the chance to see what we could, of Montreal.

It was then that we realised the significance of the ‘Mont…’…it is built on a hill, overlooking the St Lawrence, and makes for great photos. The first one is a typical square-built office block, then some of the lovely flower beds which adorn the city. Everybody’s favourite reading comes from here, and children and grown-up nutters are catered for in the fairground. Then the Catholic Cathedral, one of the roads heading upwards, and an interestingly-shaped building, follow. Unusual parking meters have French instructions, but are easily understood…all part of the small area of Montreal which we could see.

We also spoke, at random, to a couple in the street, and it turned-out that they were going to board our cruise as well….what were the odds of that happening?

We have to also say that it was not all unalloyed perfection. It is not exempt from poverty  with a number of beggars in the streets. But two over-whelming aspects kept repeating themselves in out travels thro’ Canadian towns….the streets were almost completely free of litter, and the pedestrians and drivers were courteous and chatty. Our driver who drove us to the harbour area (still full of derelict sheds, and undergoing a re-vamp) to join our ship, was hilarious.

The boarding area  for the Holland America ship The Veendam was a very big marquee on the peirhead, which allowed a lot of movement for bodies being processed by the shipping company, and also a large number of seats laid our in a series of rows, with a number of people sitting deeply enthralled in phones, tablets and laptops, almost like a congregation preparing for a service! It was only later that we found out that the port Wi-Fi is excellent (and FREE!). In dramatic comparison to the on-board cost!

We had hoped to see an iconic set of buildings called Habitat 67, designed by an Israeli/Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, which is on the north shore at Montreal. Probably not my ‘cup-of-tea’, but it would have been interesting, if we had not been eating/ unpacking/chatting or whatever we were doing!……..Judge for yourself!……

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And so with the emergency  drill satisfactorily completed, we were pulled from our berth at 5 pm, by a tug just outside our cabin window.

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The adventure had started, with hopefully no more problems, so off to the restaurant to meet some new people….and hopefully get a good night’s sleep! So we will see you in the port of Quebec in the morning……………

 

 

Over the pond, and far away…..Day 1

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Glasgow to Montreal ……….

Some five years ago, Lady and I, on retirement, traversed the north Atlantic, and the North American Continent to see Calgary, Banff, Jasper, the Rocky Mountaineer, Kamloops, yet more Rocky Mountaineer, and finally the fair city of Vancouver, before embarking on  a cruise into Alaska.

It was a momentous journey for me, as I am not a great lover of sitting in a metal tube for many hours at a stretch, either in the air, or on a rail line. Much as I loved it in retrospect, I was pleased that we had returned unscathed, and vowed that ‘That is That!’.

Lady is not so easily put-off, and expressed a gentle (but insistent) wish that ‘Boston in the Fall’ might be worth a view. As any man knows, this indicates that cerebral plans are already well-established, if not completed, in the Lady’s mind and that further discussion is meaningless……IT WILL HAPPEN….

This was all in August 2015, and when our Travel Agent was approached, I knew that all struggling was futile. Dates, times, hotels, cruise itinerary, were all established, as I saw a dwindling bank balance being replaced by increasing paperwork in a folder. Weather forecasts all along the way were viewed anxiously, so that it could be established what clothes I would require, to have washed, ironed, unworn, and sitting beside an open suitcase some weeks before departure. I had no inverse opinion requested about Lady’s clothes!

And thus it was that just a couple of weeks ago, accompanied by the massive amount of paperwork demanded by the so-called ‘paperless society’, we set-off for our flight from Glasgow to London. Weather and flight were pleasant and great views of London convinced us that we were lucky to live to the north of Glasgow with a view of the lovely Campsie Fells……all was looking good…..

Our Heathrow transfer was painless and our 7 hour BA flight to Montreal uneventful…… even some sleep was possible after a pleasant meal. As a bonus, the Canadian Customs Officers at Montreal were courteous, and the airport coach took us to a couple of hundred yards from our hotel. So we set off happily walking and chatting in the late evening …….but everything had been going too swimmingly….!

There is something about a foreign city at night…….it doesn’t look at all like it does in Google Street! We had just missed a turning, but, hey, there were a few police standing together, and we could ask them. It turned out that they were there because of the presence of the Chinese president! We chatted briefly and then asked for confirmation of where our hotel was ….well you know what they say…..policemen know everything. We set off again on our way happy that we would be soon tucked up in bed…..

The receptionist was mystified, and justifiably so, as she had no record of us. Showing her the booking confirmed that the police were wrong. It was NOT our hotel, although is sounded similar (probably my Irish/Scottish French!).

OK, so we now had the correct directions to our correct hotel and we DID arrive, checked the name over the door, and met ANOTHER mystified Receptionist…..’Sorry, Mr Monroe, no record of you’…..’Can you give us a bed and we can sort it in the morning?’……..’Of course, De Luxe OK?’…..’Anything!!’…..’Sleep well’……..

Three am saw me on my phone to our Travel Agent (the 5 hour time change permitted that) who reassured me that they would be working on this for me, and slumber eventually overcame tiredness from a very long day, annoyance, anxiety, and the question….. what can happen next?

For that you will just have to wait……