Monday, August 10, 2009

Quebec City

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Drove into the beautiful old city of Quebec. It's probably the most European looking city I've seen since last I was in Europe. They've got it all: narrow cobblestone streets, timeless architecture... and the crowds. For awhile it felt like I was being pulled along in the tide of humanity that was ebbing and flowing through the city. We left the crowded tourist area and headed for the citadel to find some history. Carol and I are both history buffs and seek it out wherever we go. The walls and fortifications here were most impressive. I love picturing the tall ships of the 18th and 19th century passing beneath the city walls on their way up and down the St Lawrence River. I mean, back in the day, one could literally sail across the Atlantic and arrive in Detroit as long as the great guns of Quebec remained silent. The strategic position of Quebec meant it controlled the entrance to the Great lakes and essentially the interior of all North America. No wonder America tried to capture it on two separate occasions.

Anyway, we headed back into town and after we'd had our fill of the street performers, arts and crafts, and people, we went off in search of a good meal. We'd planned to go to a Moroccan restaurant that Vince recommended but alas when we got there it wasn't open. However, across the street we had a fine meal in the Coin Latin Jardin. They had a wonderful, shaded back terrace that was very comfortable and dog-friendly. We had all manner of exotic tasting soups, salads and entrees, with a crème brule for desert. Tres bien.

Afterward we walked to the Governors Promenade overlooking the river, and marched back through time. Stumbling up the ramparts overlooking the Plains of Abraham, I could visualize the plight of any attacking army. It came as some surprise to me that the British were able to take the city in 1760 by scaling the walls directly below the French guns. The loss of life had to have been horrific. I can only imagine what it would be like for the officer in charge of the assault to give the order condemning so many to their inevitable deaths. But charge they did, and because Quebec fell, France lost control of their colonies in the new world. What I find so interesting, in spite of losing New France to the British, is that Quebecois speak French. In fact it seems that in all of Canada, the province of Quebec is the least bi-lingual of them all. It's almost like a case of winning the battle but losing the war. For my part, I thoroughly enjoy being in a non-English speaking country. It makes me feel I'm on a long and distant journey. My french is rusty but it gets me through, and I like the challenge.

Since I don't do nightlife, once it got dark I was happy to return to the van and drive back to the campsite. Carol put on a Joseph Campbell dvd (Sukhavati: A Mythic Journey) that I soon fell asleep to. She's seen it three or four times and learns more with each viewing. I fully expect to get through it one of these nights. Carol is a very patient person. She even loves me when I'm grumpy.

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