Quebec 2019

Quebec Day 1: Fancy Feast

Five friends, each brought together by a desire for friendship and adventure decided to plan a trip to the most dangerous and remote of North American destinations reachable by car: Quebec City, Canada. There will be bitter cold. There will be icy car rides. There will be awkward language barriers.

 

But first there will be the challenge of squeezing five-full sized suitcases into a Subaru.

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By some miracle, we completed this challenge, we squeezed our five full-sized bodies into the same Subaru, and made our way to the Canadian border. We talked, played some games. It felt like we were seriously cruising our way up to the Great White North.

 

We made it a whole one hour before needing to stop for bathrooms and food.

 

This was going to be a long day.

 

We tried to keep the stop brief. Our departure time had been an hour later than intended, as a result of an issue with the rental car company, so we didn’t want to dally any longer than necessary. We stopped in at a little convenience store for bathrooms and snacks–most importantly, Carolyn’s much desired pickle chips. 

 

And after that, we stopped at the world’s fanciest McDonald’s. Bet you didn’t think THAT was in Lincoln, NH. I mean, the only thing that made it fancy was that you ordered on screens, took a little table tent with a number on it, and then they brought you your food. We were all amazed.

 

We packed back into the car and continued north. We were still about an hour and a half south of the Canadian border. The good news is that we hit some pretty scenic parts of the White Mountains on the way up. The bad news is that with the freezing rain and low clouds, we only got to see some bits of it. But it looked spooky in a cool way, so that was at least fun to look at.

Eventually we came to the border to Canada. As the driver, I was in charge of getting us through with limited suspicion. He asked us the basic questions: where we were going, how long we were staying, how we all knew each other (which is a fair question, considering we live in three different states). There were a couple of rough spots in there, like when we contradicted each other about our length of stay (is it five nights and six days, or six days and five nights?), and when he asked us twice if we have any weapons or firearms (because we totally look like we were smuggling in weapons). But, after much diligence, we passed his test and made our way into Canada without being pulled over or searched.

We drove for a little while longer, maybe a half an hour, before pulling over and switching drivers. This began our last leg of the journey: about two and a half more hours. During that period we played some more car games, drove each other nuts, almost got sideswiped by a bunch of Canadien drivers, and got stuck in traffic twice. Carolyn, who hates road trips, was having a mild panic attack and clawing at Sarah’s arm like it would somehow save her. But finally, after nearly seven hours since departure, we pulled into the driveway or our happy little AirBnb, with five out of five passengers still in tact.

This place is way nicer than we thought it would be. When you book an AirBnb, you kind of expect them to embellish how spacious/nice the interior is. But this place was exactly what we had ordered. A nice spacious living and dining area with a separate room for each of us upstairs. We were delightfully surprised.

After a quick unload, we started to prepare for our first dinner out in Quebec. We were starting off with a bang and going to Sam’s Bistro, a very classy restaurant in the Chateau Frontenac: which for those of you who don’t know, is a hotel that looks like a literal castle. So needless to say, we needed some time to make ourselves presentable. We hit a couple snags, in that the downstairs shower was out of hot water, and we were fighting over the limited mirror space. But eventually we were dolled up enough to trick the hotel into letting us in.

After walking through the brass revolving door, we were greeted by one of the fanciest hotel lobbies I’ve ever been in, all decked out in Christmas festivity. There was even a little gingerbread replica of the hotel. 

Our hostess took us from the lobby to our table and we got a view of the restaurant. It was cozy and classy and all uplit in blue and purple. I think Sarah was the one that said it looked like the kind of place where a 60s businessman would go to pick up girls.

Our waiter was very nice, and chill. Carolyn and Sarah practiced their French vocabulary with him, and he was nice about making suggestions and applauding vocabulary usage. He was definitely the right fit for our table. We could have had a snooty jerk as a waiter, but he was on the opposite end of the spectrum.

 

We started off the dinner with drinks–Geof got a glass of merlot while Sarah, Carolyn and I each split a bottle of prosecco. Carolyn and I also split a crab cake, which was undoubtedly the best crab cake either one of us had ever had. “He was in the ocean today,” Carolyn said, and I responded “Yeah he was singing to Ariel this morning and some jerk scooped him out of the sea.”

Next came the entrees. Now, I’m not usually one to splurge on dinners, but knowing that this was our *fancy* stop for the trip, I went for filet mignon, as did Bob and Carolyn, while Sarah got scallop risotto and Geof got duck. I can’t speak for anyone else, but this was one of the best steaks I’d ever had. It came with black garlic potatoes and veggies that had been cooked with bacon. Everything kind of melted together flavor wise. I was in food heaven. Everything else was going to pale in comparison. Just send me back home to New Hampshire.

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We capped off the dinner with dessert, obviously. Sarah and I each got a mousse tart…thing. It was the “dessert of the day,” I still don’t really know what it was. But it was good. Chocolate mousse on top of an orange jam and a cookie layer and then more chocolate on the bottom. I dunno man, it was good.

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After paying and saying goodbye to our waiter friend, we took a short walk outside to see the castle and the river below. It was very short-lived, as it was freezing outside (I mean, it’s Canada), but it was nice to get a little sightseeing in before retreating back to the AirBnb. 

Exhausted by a full day of driving, we filed into each of our rooms and called it an early-ish night. Of course, a fairly uncomfortable sleep in a creaky old house awaited us, but eh. Sleep is for the dead.

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