The Sun Shines on Quebec City

We woke to brilliant blue skies which was sure to put a spring into our step.

Steve was keen to walk the Plains of Abraham after yesterday’s history lesson. I wasn’t as keen to walk through the snow! My Frankie4 boots are good but I didn’t want to slip and slide as the snow is hard and slippery.

I decided to visit the Morrin Library and the city public Bibliotheca. I’d also spotted a good book shop I wanted to browse. It had a magnificent glass ceiling.

So Steve headed off on his adventures and I on mine. Sometimes when travelling together we follow our own interests and when we meet up have lots to share.

I walked back along some of the streets we discovered yesterday. But with the blue skies and no wind it felt completely different.

I arrived at Morrin House – the site of the first jail, to find it didn’t open until midday.

That left me time to explore the Bibliotheca nearby , the bookstore, Simons, a department store and have coffee laced with clover flower essence. Delicious.

Steve, the explorer, met me for an early lunch time at a crepe restaurant. Then we took the funicular down to the port. It’s lovely there – quite touristy near the funicular but then interesting to walk further afield around the streets of the port. Lots of little galleries and antique shops.

We finished by walking back up the steep winding road and headed for the Morrin House. No tours but we went into the Library and the lovely man there – a volunteer, gave us quite a good overview of the history of the house. http://www.morrin.org/en/

It’s a centre for historical and cultural purposes and has a large beautiful library – an English speaking Library. All the books are in English. The language here in Quebec is absolutely French. Quebec city is a place where the French and English languages and cultures live together.

I noticed a sign saying ‘ the weather is cold and snowy, stay and curl up with a book’ What great advice and if I lived in Quebec this is where you’d find me!

I noticed a cutting from a Writers Festival they had there a few years ago. Louise Penny, a local , wrote a book set in this very library. So I just had to buy it. Has anyone read it? Will keep you posted.

They had a good children’s section

We spent some time chatting before heading off in the beautiful afternoon light stopping for a drink at the red roofed hotel near the Chateau.

We rested up and packed before a sit in the cocktail bar watching the afternoon light play on the tin roofs across the river.

A walk through the town to admire the lights before a delicious dinner at Boulay. A really lovely restaurant.

It was a pity out lovely day was finished by involuntarily listening to the American couple in the room next door arguing – shouting insults at each other at 11pm isn’t good for anyone.

I was tempted to knock on the adjoining wall but thought perhaps I might cop a mouthful for my trouble.

Hopefully we don’t wake them when we get up early to get to the station for an early train to Montreal.

The Battle for Quebec

The afternoon was spent visiting the Museum of the Plains of Abraham – about the French English Seven Years War.

The battle was fought on some land (owned by Abraham Mary) outside the walls of the old city. Quebec is the only city in Canada with a fortress wall.

We walked up Rue St Louis and out the old city gates to get to the museum. It was well set out with interactive displays and a film showing both sides of the fighting. The war went on for seven years and must have been so hard in the weather they experience here.

After our visit we went to the Inox brewery nearby for a local beer. We walked by some houses needing snow removal from their steps.

My beer had a secret ingredient. Maple syrup! It wasn’t bad at all.

We got talking to the young barmaid and found out she likes to surf! In Canada she needs a very thick wet suit. No surprise there. The brewery had a dart board that works electronically. They don’t allow regular darts boards as they are too dangerous and people were being injured by darts 😱and I though Australia was a bit of a Nanny Nation.

It’s always a good idea to leave time for a little R & R before dinner so back to the beautiful bed before leaving for the restaurant La Buche. We had visited it today as part of our food tour but coincidentally that morning had already booked it for dinner. It’s a Québécois style restaurant. We got talking to the waiter who remembered us and pointed out a few favourite dishes. We decided on something light!

Steve had the local ‘second favourite dish after Poutine’ – the Mac n’ cheese with bacon and sausage. It looked small but was so filling. I had a small serve of fresh salmon with hazelnuts, apple and dill with a high pile of fresh salad green. Yum!

The restaurant is decorated in local Québécois style but it the downstairs bathroom that provides the biggest surprise. Our guide Sam from the food tour told us not to miss it!

With good reason. It’s unlike any other bathroom I have seen ( except perhaps one from Beijing years ago!)

Take a peek.

Now there’s a new decorating style!

Walking the snowy streets of Quebec

Sleeping in the Chateau bed was like sleep on a cloud. So soft!

We woke to soft skies and a little bit of sun. After last night’s snow it was good news.

We didn’t organise breakfast at hotel. We just can’t keep up eating three meals a day. So it was off for a walk and a quest to find coffee. It was cool and breezy so we walked up and down the streets admiring the beautiful buildings. The French Canadians know how to do special ironwork.

We found cafe Paillard. It seems the owner has had restaurants in Quebec for many years. This included three MaDonalds (are they really restaurants?) He sold them, retired to travel, got bored, so started a cafe bakery after seeing great cafes in Paris. Well this one is huge and does have wonderful croissants and coffee and hot chocolate in bowls you could swim in.

We walked some more feeling the cool breeze picking up!

Then it was time to meet for the ‘Old Quebec Food Tour’. The Chic Shack was the meeting place and Sam our guide. We did the usual introductions and we are the only Australians along with Canadians and Americans and one lone Englishman who was married to an American.

We started the food tour with Poutine. What is Poutine? It originated in Quebec and rumour has it it occurred after someone dropped a more formal meal of potatoes on the floor – grabbed it up and poured gravy over it. Anyway it was a delicious mix of chunky potatoes in a rich gravy with cheese curds and topped with pink pickled onion. It’s a real comfort food and was delicious!

We set off the the promenade outside our hotel and Sam gave us a history lesson on Champlain, the founder. And lots about the battle between the French and English. And pointed out a long toboggan ride !

We followed Sam along Rue St Louis and the group personalities started to show. The chatters, loners, the one who answers all the questions and those who are happy to bond. We rather liked the English man and his wife. He played rugby and now coaches in the US.

Next stop was La Buche. Quebec is still more French than the French. So this Québécois style restaurant is a very French treat.

Sam organised us onto a long table and we were served a cube of Salmon with a maple sauce. Unusual combination but strangely it worked!

Then we had a local version of Shepherds pie called Chinese Pie. Beef braised in red wine with corn mash and fruit ketchup. It screamed Comfort Food!

Then a small cup of pea soup. Yellow peas with bacon, fried peas & glazed carrots. Warming. Remember it’s cold outside.

To truly finish us off we each were given a quick lesson on making our own maple taffy.

Back on the streets and it was getting colder. We heard more history of this beautiful Unesco city and viewed a clock presented to the locals by the Swiss. Modern and precise it cost the Govt a lot to house it in a weather proof container.

We talked about the houses, the snow and what a long cold winter they have had.

We went past the Morrin House and ended up down the hill and back to bakery we had visited this morning.

I spotted some wonderful carvings on the stairs we walked down and marvelled at the snow almost covering them.

Back in Paillard everyone ate a croissant and I was given a gluten free macaroon. Not a bad substitute.

We did a little detour to a lovely small deli style place Chez Boulay – Comptoir Boreal for a cream fudge. Just a bite sized piece!

Then our final stop. A lovely bistro. Belobe Bistro. This very smart little restaurant has it own smoking room for its ham , bacon etc. They served us mac ‘n cheese. Always a crowd pleaser. It looked creamy and yum with larger smoked bacon on the top.

I couldn’t eat it. Too much gluten. I had a smoked beef and pickle sandwich. We warmed up especially with the glass of red wine.

Walking back to the hotel we called into the Anglican Cathedral as they were preparing for a small concert. They are trying to become Quebec’s version of London’s music church St Martin’s in the Field.

We sloshed through some snow at the back of the church taking a short cut to the hotel. Not a good idea! Wet boots.

Taking a break before a later afternoon trip to the Military museum.

Sightseeing is pretty exhausting!

Bonjour Quebec

The morning in NYC was spent recovering from last night – with a walk around West Village finishing with breakfast at Buvette.

We passed Rob & Jordan’s place admiring the plaques on the wall outside their neighbour.

We passed a wonderful locksmith where the walls and even a chair are covered with keys.

Back past the Speakeasy from last night.

Then into Buvette. It’s wonderful.

Check out the website.

https://ilovebuvette.com/about

We sat and enjoyed the atmosphere, the coffee, the food but not the rain that started while we sat inside.

It meant an Uber back to the hotel to pack up for our trip to Newark airport for a flight to Quebec.

It was all pretty easy and we liked the airport. Big and clean it had great cafes all with iPads on the tables so you can order your food and drinks quickly and easily.

Then it was onto an alarmingly small plane.

Some tall men had to crouch!

Thankfully it was a trouble free flight and just over an hour later we landed in a very snowy Quebec.

We’re staying at the gorgeous Château Le Frontenac.

https://m.fairmont.com/frontenac-quebec/?utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.au%2F

Such a beautiful old hotel.

Our king size room overlooks the river and parks.

And our room is so comfortable. In fact the hotel is so big and lovely to explore that we’re trying the Bar for a cocktail and the Bistro for dinner. We’ll start to explore the city in the morning.

We have a walking food tour booked. I hope there’s no rain!

Have any if my readers got an hints for Quebec?

New York City Never Disappoints!

We arrived back into NYC in good time dropping Rob & Jordan at their apartment block.

We didn’t offer to go up with them. Their 90 odd stairs put us off! We continued on to our hotel. John is a member of the Marriott and had booked us all in for the night.

Leaving our bags we headed off for a Sunday afternoon stroll through Soho. It was slightly drizzling but not enough to worry us as we walked along window shopping. Some great windows.

One amazing shop we stepped into was called Paracelso. Run by a little old woman with theatrical make up including a blue mono brow it was amazing.

I asked could I take her photo and she said ‘only if you buy something!’

We browsed picking up some of the unusual clothes. She said she had them all made – but labels had been cut out. There were clothes all over the shop. Randomly flung over hooks and chairs draped here and there!

What an eclectic collection.

We walked on checking out the street art, the spring plantings and the other strollers. Mostly young – this is a fairly young trendy demographic in this area.

By now it was time to head over to the East Village for dinner. A quick Uber ride gave us time to go into the bar next door to the restaurant. Slightly seedy and empty the barman really didn’t want to serve us! He was too busy fixing lights and the juke box. I could have suggested he also mop the sticky floor.

We ordered beers and cocktails and settled onto the bar stools waiting for Rob & Jordan who were riding city bikes over.

The restaurant Root & Bone is a Southern style place. It was clean and friendly and a great menu which included shrimp and grits and fried chicken, ribs and a great devilled egg.

I had a simple grilled chicken with faro risotto. It was delicious.

It was too early to head back to the hotel so we left the kids to cycle back to their apartment ready for work tomorrow and we headed out to Marie’s Crisis Bar.

John and Lisa found it last week and what a find. That’s if you enjoy singing ‘Show Tunes’ with a bunch of talented strangers. It was hilarious and so much fun. The pianist sits in an enclosed area with a bar with stools around it. Everyone else just stands around the small floor space and just joins in. The tunes are all from musicals and it’s amazing how everyone just knows the words.

There we were singing the words to Oklahoma, South Pacific, Hair , Cabaret just to make a few. I bet you’re all starting to hum along right now!

We met a few people – some of whom have sung in musicals.

We dragged ourselves away and walked home but not before dropping into a speakeasy.

Well it used to be – back when alcohol was banned so went ‘underground ‘. It was behind an unmarked door, a dark bar found after climbing down steep stairs. A jazz trio played and we had one last drink before bed.

What a night in the Big Apple.

John & Lisa are so much fun. Aren’t we lucky to have such great in laws?

And so to bed in the city that never sleeps.

Sunday Stroll in Sag Harbor

A beautiful sleep always restores you and Sag Harbor https://www.sagharborinn.com

is a beautiful quiet place to stay.

We had dinner last night at Lulu’s a rather smart restaurant run by Italians. http://www.lulusagharbor.com/index.php

I was still a little full from my chicken salad at lunch – it also may be from the beer at Montauk brewery.

Do you ever get to the stage in holidays where you just can’t decide what to eat when you are always in restaurants? Well it’s day two and I already feel that way! I’ll have to get over that. We’ve got three weeks of eating out! I have to pace myself.

So the girls – Jordan, Lisa and I ordered a few plates to share. Octopus with a touch of pork belly , burrata and grilled artichokes. Followed by a small shared pizza it was perfect.

We took a lovely Sunday morning stroll around the streets of Sag Harbor. It was clear weather and so quiet. The houses are lovely. Such distinctive Hamptons style.

The gardens have wrapped their shrubs to protect them from winter frosts. It looks like they have their pjs on!

There are many impressive buildings and churches in this lovely town.

I popped into the Catholic Church as the congregation were arriving. They were so well dressed! It’s Palm Sunday.

We continued down the street past the old clock and the Spring flowers.

We decided on a Mexican place for brunch and had a short wait for a table so sat in the large garden.

Estia. It’s a great place for brunch. http://estias.com/sagharbor/breakfast/

They had the best omelettes!

We seem to do a lot of eating !

This afternoon it’s back to New York.

Wandering the Hamptons

A slow start was in order after our 20+ hours of travel from Australia to New York.

Our hotel is just great. https://www.sagharborinn.com

Beautiful beds and large rooms overlooking the marina it is peaceful this time of year.

We sat in the comfortable breakfast lounge and planned the day.

It was raining but if it didn’t put off the runners passing our hotel in a fun run it shouldn’t worry us!

Our view from the bedroom!

We decided to go to Main Street for coffee then head off for the half-hour drive to Montauk to visit the Lighthouse.

The Main Street is a mixture of pretty businesses and shops. The flowers have been planted for Spring but the weather’s still cool and rainy.

The marinas are still empty waiting for the season to start, so the town is quiet which suits us.

We got back into the van and headed off through East Hampton to Montauk.

We visited the lighthouse which was shrouded in fog, taking the rocky path near the water to get the best views.

Moving on we went to the Marina which must be so lovely in season but is super quiet now.

Feeling thirsty we stopped at the Montauk Brewery. This was most crowded place we’ve been so far.

The beer is good and their marketing spot on.

I had the watermelon ale. A touch of sweetness to take away the bitter taste. A great aperitif for lunch to follow.

Driving through the still foggy streets I loved seeing the washed grey shingled houses. And the lobster shacks like the one featured in the TV series The Affair

The signs were catchy…..

And the beaches quiet and dreamy.

Back in Sag Harbour I couldn’t help think how different it would be in Summer.

Back to our hotel for a little R&R before dinner. The jet lag has just about gone.

Family Time in the Hamptons

Our flight over was smooth and uneventful – just the way I like it.

We landed in LA to blue skies. We’d like to have stayed a night to catch up with our friends Dan & Isabelle Garr but time didn’t allow. It was a short stopover before the 4 1/2 hr flight onto New York.

Unfortunately it was grey skies and light rain that greeted us there. We landed early but the taxi back to the terminal took about 35 mins. Waiting to cross a busy runway of plane taking off provided a plane spotters ideal but I was anxious to get off the plane.

Walking off the plane and into Terminal 8 we passed a wall mural that summed up NY. It was shiny and glittery and beautiful!

Lisa and John were there to meet us with a van and directions to Sag Harbour in the Hamptons. Traffic out of NY was the usual – stop, start, slow feature that leaving any city for the coast has.

The kids Rob & Jordan had arrived in the afternoon and were waiting for us at our hotel. The Sag Harbor Inn. We finally arrived and headed straight out for dinner. It was so lovely to see them again.

After eating a lovey meal at Il Cappuccino we planned tomorrow then fell into bed.

Start Spreading the News!

Yes, we are flying off to New York tomorrow!

It’s almost exactly a year since our son Rob married Jordan in Santa Barbara. They have been living in NY and we haven’t seen them since then.

So we are excited!

We land in NY on Friday at 5pm and will head straight to Sag Harbour in the Hamptons for the weekend. Sounds good doesn’t it.

So follow along for our three weeks in New York, Quebec, Montreal, Vermont, Boston and Newport.

Walking through Historic Forte Kochi

Up early for our walking tour. We booked with a lady at the hotel next to our homestay. She said she had an elderly gentleman who was a very good historian.

So at 7.30 sharp a very well groomed man appeared outside our homestay. Mr Anthony Thommen was smiling widely and spoke in a gentle way. He launched into a little story about himself telling us he was born in the area, was a historian an author and guide and lived alone since his wife’s death and his only child had moved away.

We began the story of Fort Cochin or Kochi as it’s known locally, in Princess St. We heard about the Portuguese arriving and settling up trading, then the arrival of the Dutch and finally the British. We wandered along the narrow streets stopping at Anthony’s street and then the large Catholic Basilica.

We heard about the rebuilding of the Basilica and how Anthony spent a year in the Seminary.

We moved along through streets dotted with houses showing distinct Dutch and English influence.

We saw our first lot of young men playing cricket! On a dusty ground.

And visited the Bishops House and Museum.

Next stop was the Dutch Cemetery. This was turning into a history / religious tour of Kochi. Not that I minded.

We visited the elephants I had seen yesterday and then spied a lot of photographers along with couples posing. Seems it is ‘post wedding photo week.’ Just before Valentines Day. Some lovely couples posed with just one in a wedding dress.

Our last stop was St Francis Church and Vasco de Gama’s house

Mr Anthony was more than keen to continue but after 2.5 hours we were ready for breakfast!

We paid him and he asked if we’d like to buy his book. How could we refuse. He was so sweet. So he found us later at the breakfast place and three of us bought his book!

By now all power was off. The poor shop keepers were beside themselves. No one was coming into their dark hot shops. Our rooms were hot and noisy – the hotel right next door had a generator making a huge racket. So I went walking by the water and eventually took my book out and enjoyed a read in the sea breeze.

Marlene and I also had another stroll and visited our Homestay’s brothers guesthouse a little further out.

It was charming. If you’re coming to this area the Delight Homestay looks good. It’s opposite a park and has lovely big rooms set in a garden. it’s also very reasonably priced. Around $A30 a night.

We had a lovely last night dinner at a hotel by the water. We all decided we had to wear something we had bought on the trip.

To top it off three of us Marlene, Linda and I all bought the same white dress! We decided we chance not ever wearing it on the same day!

Tomorrow we leave. I’ll miss the smiling faces and the colours.

It’s been such a wonderful holiday. Temples, the history, the bronze casters, mud bricks, tea plantations, dancing Shivas, beautiful people, colourful saris and men in dhoti, great food, elephants, farms, fashion, yoga and lots of laughter.

To my travelling Sari sisters. Thank you.