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Trip Report Christmas in Quebec City

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Quebec City has been on my list for a long time, but the flights never seem to go on sale for us and I usually choose outdoors over cities for my vacations. This year, I wanted to get out of town for a few days over the holidays, but we wanted to avoid driving in bad weather. We decided on QC where we could fly then use taxis, buses, and our feet for transportation.

We were lucky about the weather. It was REALLY COLD the week before we arrived, but hovered around freezing with light snow during our visit. Perfect for the days leading up to Christmas. Although we packed our long underwear and down, we didn't wear them. I was glad I had serious winter boots, coat, hat, and gloves. People were properly dressed for the weather and not focused on fashion while outdoors.

The weather did delay flights in Toronto, pushing our arrival back from midnight to almost 2am. Taxis aren't hanging around the airport at that time, so it took quite awhile for enough to cycle to the airport to accommodate the at least 2 very late flights. Our driver flew into a rage shouting angry French and making threatening moves toward the driver pulling in behind. The attendant separated the two and we were on our way. As he calmed, we asked what happened and we understood that the other taxi was "private", not an employee of a taxi company, who was taking away their business. As we careened through the empty streets we learned our driver had practiced karate for 40+ years--I guess he was ready for the fight. Quite the introduction to Quebec.

The city already had several inches of snow. Plows and trucks worked to keep the streets cleared late into the night (could hear the back up warning signal in our hotel room) and a little bobcat plowed the sidewalks (pedestrians jumping for cover). Slipping was inevitable on the steepest streets (my niece did a graceful butt plant). We watched snow being thrown off the top of the Chateau as well as a cherry picker being used for roof snow removal. All interesting for us Southerners.

The holiday decorations on the exteriors of hotels, restaurants, and other buildings were lovely with many incorporating natural materials and each just a little different. The lights strung across the shopping streets in lower town created the perfect atmosphere. The lighted tree in Place Royale was gorgeous in the snow at night.

Everyone seemed in a great mood--ice skaters at Place d'Youville (live music Friday night), tobogganers on Terracce Dufferin (my first time on a toboggan), folks riding up/down the funicular, shoppers at the Marché du Vieux-Port, and the many children being pulled around town on their sleds and saucers.

We didn't "do" a lot besides walk (6-8 miles per day). We rode the public bus 800 to Montmorency Falls (easy), which was packed with tourists, but lovely still. We walked across the bridge and around to a viewing platform as well as down by the falls to a platform before my traveling companions complained of wet feet, so we didn't walk along the bluff in the other direction. Saw some folks climbing the ice. We also rode the ferry over/back to Levis after dark. Lovely lights, river ice up close, and freezing breeze. The toboggan was fun, though the snow slowed the speed on the day we chose. We only visited one museum in Place Royale. It was OK, but not remarkable.

The hospitality industry workers were happy to see us and work with our extremely limited French, whether we were the only customers in a small bistro or got the last seats in a busy restaurant on Rue Saint-Jean. We chose our restaurants from TripAdvisor based on ratings, price, and hours around the holidays. Got our crepes, croissants, duck, ....too much food, for sure.

As often happens when we travel, we started seeing the same people repeatedly. Despite staying in a 23-story hotel, the first other guests I saw at the concierge desk were also the last people I saw that night at the hotel, plus again at the Chateau....A family we saw at breakfast at Paillard (lovely Noel cake later) were on the bridge at the waterfalls. A couple approached us in a store on Rue Saint-Jean that evening and said "You lost your room key on the bus" and held out a key card. It looked like ours, but my husband produced his from his wallet and I knew mine was still zipped in my purse. My niece checked her pocket--gone! The couple had picked it up on the bus after we got off at the train station returning from the falls and recognized us in the store. Small tourist world.

Taxi driver to airport much less dramatic and everything on time. Young worker at Tim Horton's gave us too much change and it was complicated returning the extra $10. At Toronto airport, we must have shown our boarding passes 6-8 times to get to our gate to the US plus passport a few more. Three of us in a row were "randomly selected" for body scan, which showed a box on my neck. No necklace, no metal thread in my sweater. The hazelnut on top of our Noel cake was gold dusted--stuck in my esophagus?

We all agreed great trip and good choice for holiday destination. The city was filling up on Christmas Eve, so glad we went before rather than after Christmas.

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