A Travellerspoint blog

Old town of Quebec

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large_5550_14738916934987.jpgOld Quebec city from St Lawrence River.
It’s our last day in Canada and we had it set aside for exploring Quebec City [Quebec-City-travel-guide-1311894]’s old town. Having done our reconnaissance, we drove to Lower Town where we parked easily and relatively cheaply for the max allowable period of 5h.

The ferry to Levis [Levis-travel-guide-203397] was ready to leave so we ran to it and got it just in time. At $3.55 per it was a good way to get a different view of Quebec [Quebec-travel-guide-204411] City. I don't know how the ferry can be commercially viable for the low fare and patronage. The car fares were very good value too but it seemed like a bit of hassle for just a tiny time savings.

Over at Levis we wandered around the waterfront for 5 minutes before returning to the ostentatious terminal.large_5550_14738916974189.jpg Again, I don't know how public funds could be justified on it before we boarded back for the ride back to old town.

Back in Lower Town, we wandered around, admired its beauty and appreciated its history as one of the earliest settlements in the country. We continued by stairs to Upper Town where we did the same. The Fairmont Hotel is truly beautiful and the city wouldn’t be the same without it.

We wanted to go to Battlefields Park and found the walkway and stairs; it was a little bit of a hike and gave us some needed exercise. The Citadel was like no other that I had seen. It was obscured from enemies because externally, it was all covered in lawn. There was little giveaway as to where anything inside was.

Kim and I decided against going into the museum as we had diminishing interest after too many things this trip. We wandered back down into Upper Town; we had found the easier route between Upper Town and the Citadel.large_5550_14738917018178.jpgWithout the Fairmont Hotel, the city's skyline wouldn't be the same.
After a Subway sandwich, we wandered Upper Town a little more before heading back to the car. We had used about 4h30 of our 5h parking :-)

We had dinner back at Normandin (yesterday’s place) and retired early due to our upcoming 0300 wake-up for our flight at 0530. It wasn’t easy to sleep so we took half a tablet each.

Parting thoughts on Canada

1. It is very beautiful at this time of year. Winter would be a different story.
2. People are very polite and friendly. Customer service in many places reflect this. Because the surrounding are quite US-like, one expects surly staff but are pleasantly surprised by the patience and willingness.
3. Drivers are aggressive and even rude. Even though Kim is quite an aggressive driver, he has been honked at quite a few times.large_5550_14738917082011.jpgThe citadel.Quite a few crazy drivers cutting in and changing lanes haphazardly.
4. It is a blend of the USA and the rest of the world. Very American but they have a Parliament, work in metric etc.
5. There's a helluva lot of roadworks around, especially in Quebec province. I wonder if they have too much budget or the financial year is coming to an end. It was very disruptive for driving.

North American English

I’ve often wondered how the American English accent grew to be so different from the English English. I finally found the answer; it is called “rhotic pronunciation” where the “r” sound is pronounced (as opposed to left silent).

My reading suggests that English English used to be rhotic but has turned non-rhotic.large_5550_1473891712980.jpgThe citadel.So, English people used to speak somewhat like Americans. In this respect, it was the English that changed and not the Americans.

Rhoticism isn’t confined to the English language. Northern Chinese (non rice eaters) speak rhotic-styled Mandarin (eg. å�ªå�¿) while Southern Chinese (rice eaters) speak non-rhotic (å�ªé��).

Before you think that rice consumption affects one’s pronunciation, Indonesian is rhotic (trilled rhotic) where as Malay is non-rhotic. Eg. Jakarta is pronounced as Jaakarrrrta vs Jaakaata respectively.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhotic_consonant [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhotic_consonant]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhoticity_in_English [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhoticity_in_English]


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The last hop by car

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Kimball woke with a sore neck and shoulder today. Fortunately it was an easy 2h40 drive from Montreal [Montreal-travel-guide-203795] to Quebec [Quebec-travel-guide-204411] City. This would be our last hop by car in Canada this trip. We took a detour through Mont Royal where we saw some exclusive homes, cemeteries and the viewpoint before leaving the city via the Olympic Stadium. We missed St Joseph’s Oratory near there as we couldn’t spot it; never mind we had already been to St Peter’s in the Vatican just recently! The museum was also closed for remodelling anyway.

We had considered a detour along the way to the countryside but we cut that out. Arriving at Repotel Henri IV near the airport around 1400, we managed to get into our room immediately. As hadn’t had lunch, we went to our nearest option at Tim Horton’s (a Canadian coffee chain). The wrap and sandwich were both made-to-order and absolutely delicious. This find was a little too late in our stay in Canada!

After my driver had had some rest, we decided to do some reconnaissance. First up was the airport to ensure that we’re able to return our rental car around 0300 on our last day. Secondly, to old town to orientate and check out parking in preparation for tomorrow.

We managed to park in Lower Town for about 20 minutes and took a brief wander. We decided that this would be the best place to park tomorrow as the time limit was 5h rather than 2h in upper town (at the same hourly rate of $2.50 per hour).

Back near the hotel, we ate at a Quebec chain restaurant called Normandin. It was of a similar standard to Denny’s but the Thai chicken salad and Atlantic Salmon pasta were both superb. Another Canadian “find” a little too late, but this one is limited to Quebec province only.

Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

Lazy day in Montreal

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large_5550_14744239291430.jpgAround Old Montreal.
We had a very slow morning both before and after the awesome continental breakfast at Manoir Sherbrook. There weren’t any cold cuts but whatever they had was top notch, eg. bread, pastries, jams.

The weather still looked blustery outside but was set to calm down. We stepped outside before 1100 and returned to get a second layer, but opted to keep our shorts in favour of longs. It was about 30 minute walking to the old town.

Mass was on a Notre Dame so we couldn’t pay to get in. We didn’t make it back there but we had been to the “real thing” already. We continued NE to Place Jacques-Cartier, then the old port where a boat show was held.

It was free entrance, so we both went into the boat show. Kim was wow’ed by the Monte Carlo yachts on show and got motivated into investigating a purchase. Afterwards, we went to the Marche Bonsecours where we didn’t find anything we felt like eating. It wasn’t a very “picturesque” outing in terms of taking pictures as there were lots of works going on and the Hotel de Ville had scaffolding.

We had Vietnamese on the way back and settled in for a rest in the warmth of our room. This was the first coolish day in Canada. Dinner was a simple pizza and salad at a chain called Pizza Pizza. It was a lazy day after many days on the go.


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Diefenbunker then Montreal

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large_5550_147442382963.jpgEntrance tunnel.
After check-out, we drove about 40 minutes to Diefenbunker. It was a bit of a backtrack as we were headed to Montreal. We arrived about 15 mins before the opening. They have a free guided tour which filled up just as we got to our turn.

As the tour started at 1100, we gathered around the group and followed them all the way through. No one seemed bothered about it but the group was a little cumbersome through some narrow areas.

The bunker is a four level structure for the Canadian government to operate in case of nuclear war. The top level is actually at ground level but protected by an artificial hill built over it. It consisted of offices, meeting rooms, a hospital, living areas and cafeteria and plus the engineering/civil infrastructure at the lowest level (together with a gold vault).large_5550_14744238209955.jpgNarrow corridors of Diefenbunker.

It was about a 3h drive to Montreal. Our accommodation at Manoir Sherbrooke was very highly rated but we were prepared for parking hassles as it was on the edge of the city centre. Fortunately for us, we were directed by the receptionist to the clearway across the road from the hotel, where we could park for two days FOC! The parking right outside the hotel would have cost $2 ph (2h max); but there was also longer-term parking for around $20 which we didn’t have to investigate).

After a rest, we wandered up nearby Rue St Denis then back down on Rue St Laurent, both lined with great eateries. We settled for a simple Indian dinner; Kim was getting a little wound up as his meal didn’t arrive for quite a while whereas my ready-made meal was available straightaway (but my naan did take a while).


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

The Canadian Parliament

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large_5550_14734736772599.jpgParliament Hill; Centre block with East block on the right of the picture.
Today was dedicated to exploring central Ottawa, especially the area around Parliament Hill and Byward Market. We drove downtown to that area and found pay-parking suprisingly easily for $3 per hour (max 2 hours).

That allowed us to go arrange a parliament tour, explore the Parliament Hill a little, walk around Rideau Canal before lunching at Byward Market. Our parking time was up and we had over two hours to kill, so we drove out of town to the Canada Aviation & Space Museum. Kim enjoyed the exhibits at the museum greatly.

Back in town, our parliamentary tour started at 1420 with security checks. Our guide Surya took us through the corridors of power to the House of Representatives chamber, then to the Senate chamber before dropping us at the Memorial Chamber which was also the location for the elevator to the top of Peace Tower.

It was interesting for me to learn more about the one-chamber parliament as New Zealand only has a one-chamber system. So, the role of the Senate or upper house was a bit of a mystery to me. Despite Canada being quite like the US, the political system is more like the UK and Australia.

We drove back for a rest. Kim was feeling a little fatigued and fell asleep. He woke all groggy and wasn’t in the best frame of mind when we walked to the Shawarma Palace for an awesome dinner of two sandwiches and a salad.


Posted by alexchan 17:00 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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