Whew! After some unplanned oopsies that threw me into the thick of things for about a week, I finally sat down long enough to edit and post the Quebec City portion of the Epic Drive.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about living on a farm, it’s that you never know what will happen next. Thankfully, I got a nice, relaxing weekend off. A heat wave settled in on top of our drought and anything more exerting than eating ice cream on the couch takes a lot of effort, so the weekend off is doubly appreciated. I did a bit of writing in hopes to catch up to today…I’m really excited to post about my adventures in Australia, but, before that, I really do want to relive and share my visit back home. It’s a long post, especially considering we were only there for two days, but I guess that if you move fast, you can pack a lot of adventure in two days.
I also found the pictures Ed took, which is why this post is suddenly filled with pictures of me. I apologize if my unruly hair and lack of posing skills break any computer screens.
Highway 40! (Yes, I know 20 is faster but I wanted to take the 40, dammit!)
Quebec city is home. Always has been, always will be. I mean, my Rocky Mountains are home too, but Quebec city is slightly more home than the Rockies. Not sure I’d want to live in Quebec anymore (political drama, much?), but it’s still as home as home gets.
I hadn’t been back since moving out West three years ago. In that time, my parents sold the house I grew up in, most of my friends moved away and my baby brother bought a house in the distant suburbs.
So Ed and I showed up at Andy’s house with my car full of luggage and unloaded into his spare bedroom for a few nights.
I should probably mention here that I hadn’t seen Andy since I don’t know when. It may have even been before I went out West. And I think I had only talked to him once, at Christmas or something. Every family has something they’re terribad at and mine is keeping in touch. Still, siblings are siblings: the kids you once took your baths with, the kids you picked up and threw out of your room when they messed with your Barbies, the kids you banded with when your parents lost their tempers, the kids you fought over the TV remote control with. When I was little, I’d see my dad visit his siblings and his siblings visit him (my mom never visited siblings because she was an only child) and I couldn’t wait for my brothers and I to be adults with our own separate lives so that we could visit each other.
Andy and Ed got on well (which wasn’t a surprise, really, Andy is super charismatic and Ed gets along with almost everyone) and I got to enjoy my childhood wish of being an adult who visits their adult sibling. Andy and I have always been on the same rhythm too (our middle brother, Chris, functions on a different beat… I’m not sure how to explain it other than with musical terms), so it’s almost eerie how easy it is for us to reconnect after a long time. Even though we haven’t spoken in years and live on separate sides of the continent, we still use a lot of same words and tend to say the same things.
La Chute Kabir Kouba, in my brother’s neighbourhood. (Random fact, a good CEGEP friend of mine sat on the Chute Kabir Kouba park’s board of directors for years. That friend is now also in Australia, but nowhere near me.)
Poor Ed got dragged all around town, to my old neighboorhood, my old ski center, my old lake beach, my old scout meeting place and all my favorite nooks and crannies downtown. I’m not sure what he thought of the whole thing. I don’t think I left him much room for opinions! I feel like he didn’t quite get the fiery passionate love I have for my hometown (he was probably too overloaded with all the stories and info I threw at him), but he did notice a lot of the city’s characteristic traits and ongoing soul-searching.
While we were downtown, we walked by the parliament which had this growing on front of it:
I thought it was a brilliant idea: it’s a public vegetable garden. While most of the garden is used to grow food for a charity organisation that provides to needy families, a few rows are for visitors to help themselves. It’s super nice – instead of wasting ressources on a pretty but otherwise useless flower garden, they’ve planted something lovely AND practical. (Note that the practice is not new, I can’t remember where the original public vegetable garden – but it started somewhere in Europe I think. I’m just really glad that the idea was trasmitted to the parliament grounds. Hopefully more public gardens will follow suit.)
Ed and I each ate a tomato. They were delicious.
We also stopped to relax at the Artillery Park, which was one of my favorite museums as a kid (I used to be a huge local history nerd and just loved these interactive sites.) Even if you don’t want to see the exhibits, there are a lot of spots in the park to sit and relax. Plus the view is pretty nice, as seen above.
In terms of food, we had brunch at Chez Temporel, a tiny cafe on a side street of the historical part of town. Its semi-hidden location gives it a local secret feel, though Trip Adviser makes sure that travellers who do their homework are rewarded with yummy soups and sandwiches.
Another restaurant we went to was Le Gros Hector, which claims to have invented local delicacy pain à viande (basically seasonned ground beef in a hot dog bun) upon my brother’s suggestion. It was a good idea. Despite rollerblading by it all the time in the summer (it’s right by the multipurpose trail that I was a regular on), I had never been there and it is somewhat of a local landmark. Over the years, it kept it’s authentic old school Quebec casse-croute vibe too – a vibe I can’t really describe with words out of fear of “getting it wrong”, but that I was happy to show to Ed (accompanied by stories of epic casse-croutes in random trailers along remote highways).
While in the city, we stopped for drinks at two places. The first, Le Sacrilege has lovely courtyard, perfect for cold beers on hot, sunny days. It’s been a favorite of mine since before I was old enough to really know what bars were. When strolling down St Jean with my mom, I’d see the long, narrow courtyard entrance and imagine all sorts of stories of magic and mystery. Now that I stop by once in awhile for a drink, it’s less mysterious, but it still has a ancient magic feel.
Stop to check a message and someone takes your picture.
The second place was l’Atelier, another recommendation from my brother.
Look at us, taking an artsy picture!
L’Atelier is a new (meaning I don’t think it was around the last time I was in town) place on Grande Allee specializing in creative cocktails and tartar. Two of my favorite things! To my deepest sadness, I had no room in my belly for tartar, no matter how delicious (I’ll just have to go back!), but Ed and I did have some fun ordering funky cocktails while soaking up the nice weather on their terrasse.
Tracking down friends
Of my friends who were still based in the city, almost all were travelling abroad. I love that my friends are globe trotters too, but it does make homecoming meetings a challenge to coordinate.
My old childhood friend S, however, confirmed that he was currently in town and that he’d be happy to get together with Ed and I.
S I hadn’t seen in…13? 15? years. This is where Facebook is pretty nice. S was a friend from my scout group – as the troup’s two resident computer game geeks we gelled pretty fast. (As a side note, we also went to the same high school, but I don’t think we ever really crossed paths in the hallways. )Sadly, after I moved away we fell out of touch. Thanks to the wonders of Facebook, we started leaving each other likes and comments, so when I thought of friends still living in QC that I might like to visit, S came to mind.
Like most other reunions of old friends, it was like we’d only last seen each other the day before. (Except, perhaps the hour or so we spend getting up to date about our respective life event from the past 15 years.) I don’t think either of us has changed all that much. Plus, much to my relief, his English is fantastic him and Ed could interact without me having to translate everything.
The Road Must Go On
After cramming a week’s worth of activities in 2 days, we said goodbye to my brother and thanked him for his hospitality.
As usual, I left with an endless mental list of things I want to do next time I visit. Becase I think it’ll be less than 3 years before I visit again. I might even visit for a decent amount of time. I’m not sure I ever want to deal with all the drama that comes with living in Quebec capital again, but it’s still home and I feel that the city with feature in one or several upcoming chapters of my life.
Never too old to pose for a picture sitting on a cannon! (But it is easier to climb on when you’re 10.)