Days 52-55 – The Magic of Quebec, Shopping in Maine, Breaking and Entering in Newton

Saturday September 27 (Muriel)

When it was time to leave Montreal we got into our car for the first time since arriving at our hotel here.  The Lady of the Dashboard helped us navigate our way out of town, taking us on freeways and through tunnels.

Eventually we were in the countryside, driving through flat countryside.  The terrain was flat, full of tidy fields with frequent patches of woods that displayed striking fall colors.  There were scattered farm houses and frequent villages, some of which had large industrial or commercial areas.

We arrived in Quebec mid afternoon.  It didn’t look all that different from Montreal, although less compact and with fewer highrises.  That is, not until we got into our hotel room on the 16th floor.  We looked down at the walls of the old city and into the old city and the harbor along the St. Lawrence.  Wow!  We set off on foot for the old city.


We crossed through the old city wall through a gate that looked like part of Cinderella’s Castle in Disneyland.  We passed shop, after shop, after restaurant after shop, all in lovely old buildings.  Eventually we were walking through old residential neighborhoods in light drizzle.  It reminded us of wandering through neighborhoods of Bruges in drizzle in July of last year, except that it was much hillier.  Among the pristine, centuries old multi-story houses we walked past was one where a woman was watering flowers in window boxes through open windows.  The scene was picturesque, but more eye-catching were the statues of a bride and groom suspended over a doorway, skulls and similar goodies decorating the front of the building.  It will be Halloween in just over a month.

HALLOWEEN SCENES  (Whole building and detail)

SCENES FROM OLD QUEBEC (Narrow Streets, Gate, Chateau Frontenac, Mural)


(Enlarge to see what is under the chairs)

We continued wandering, returning to the commercial streets.  We passed Catholic and Anglican cathedrals, the town hall, the fantastically elaborate Frontenac Hotel, and other public buildings.  Eventually we were above the old city walls, passing through the park below the Quebec provincial parliament building, with its beautiful gardens and statues.  We returned to our hotel to clean up.

Cleaned up, we walked back to the old town to dinner in an outstanding restaurant.  We had excellent meals in trios of related items.  Fluffy and Thumper, forgive me, but one of the trios I enjoyed were an appetizer of three forms of liver of lapin (rabbit).  This was followed by a trio of game meats from the environs of Quebec.  It was a lovely and sumptuous meal, which we hoped we counteracted by walking back up through the old town, past the town wall, and up to our hotel.

Sunday September 28 (Muriel)

In the morning we set off through light drizzle and chilling winds.  We wandered back into the old town and turned left into Artillery Park.  The drizzle lifted and the wind was blocked as we wandered downhill, passing old cannons, barracks and other historic military buildings.  The military buildings were much more attractive than their modern versions.  We left the park and soon were walking down a road to the lower town, the old commercial and shipping area of the old city.

We found a beautiful starkly modern fountain in front of Victorian era railroad buildings.  Turning right, we wandered through streets with stores and restaurants in the lower old city.  We found ourselves at a museum celebrating the 400th year of Quebec City where we watched a film about “The Face of Champlain,” one of the founders of Quebec. The film was 3-D, very French, and very weird.  It was engaging, although we learned much less history than we expected.  We wandered the attractive museum, looking at assorted artifacts and interactive displays.  Deciding we preferred to spend our limited time here on broader approaches and the feel of the living place, we headed out along more of the commercial area.

We lunched at the Restaurant Lapin Saute – again forgive me, Thumper and Fluffy.

Then we puffed up many steps to the upper old town and walked up through the old town, through the gate, toward the Plains of Abraham where the British forces defeated the French in 1759.  Because of the British victory there, Britain took control of Canada.

We returned to our hotel in the late afternoon, exhausted.  It began to rain, and we elected to have dinner at a hotel nearby, rather than trudging to the old town through the rain.  Since the rain stopped while we were having dinner, that may have been a mistake.

Monday September 29 (Muriel)

The skies were partly – only partly – sunny in the morning.  We had to pick up a misplaced credit card at the Lapin Saute, so we headed directly for the stairs to the lower city.  Down the stairs and to the restaurant we went.  They correctly checked Allan’s ID before returning the card.  Then we panted back up the stairs to the upper old town.  We stopped for a bit of souvenir shopping and found something I had been looking for.  Allan noticed a terrific purse with shoulder strap for me, so I now have my birthday present from him.

We got back to the hotel, finished packing, retrieved the car and set off toward Maine.  The countryside southeast of Quebec City was much hillier than it was to the west.  The fall colors were fantastic!  We stopped for lunch in a restaurant in an old windmill that was painted vibrant orange.  Actually the food was excellent and the interior décor was surprisingly attractive and tasteful.


Eventually we crossed the border into Maine, by which time light rain was falling.  The fall color continued to be amazing as we drove through very hilly countryside, along fairly wide rivers.  Allan had scheduled a critical conference call and there was NO cell signal.  We finally got a signal in the very small town of Moscow.  After a boring and slightly surreal  hour stop during which I listened to a complex negotiation of a ground lease in Los Angeles amidst the growing dusk of the north woods, we continued south.  It was dark for the last couple of hours or our drive to Freeport, ME, home of L.L. Bean.  Tomorrow would be my chance to try on clothing at the largest and one of the few outlets of my favorite clothing catalog.  Meanwhile, we had a very late dinner at a pizza joint across from our motel.

Tuesday September 30 (Muriel)

We spent most of the morning in the clothing building of L.L. Bean’s flagship store in the shopping mecca of Freeport.  It was a great opportunity to try on styles that otherwise we can only see in catalogues or on the web, although there was no way that even this huge store could carry all of the items the company carries.  We both augmented our travel/casual wardrobes.  We wandered through some of the other outlets and on to lunch.  We ate lunch in an old tavern where an 1820 agreement separated the state of Maine from Massachusetts.

We spent the afternoon on the road to the home of friends in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.  Driving through Maine and briefly New Hampshire was pleasant.  Once we were in Massachusetts, the road widened, tollbooths became frequent, and traffic increased hugely.  Most drivers were fine, but a surprising number of them seemed crazy.  Some enjoyed speeding into the fast lane, passing us in lane 2 and then the cars in lanes 3 and 4, in order to get to their exit at what must have been at least 20 miles over the speed limit.  Others barreled up to about 3 feet from our rear bumper, cutting around us, and slowing down to our speed or even less once we were properly terrified.

We got to our friends’ home with the help of Our Lady of the Dashboard.  Our friends had left their front door unlocked, as they were at Rosh Hashanah services and a special dinner gathering afterwards.  Newton, a community of large Victorian homes on large lots, they assured us, is one of the safest communities anywhere.  Door locking is optional.  We went into their house.  We weren’t sure which bedroom we would occupy, so Allan spoke to our host on cell phone.  Our host said the front bedroom.  We couldn’t figure out which, so we left our suitcases and computers at the top of the stairs and went to our car for more stuff.  On our way back in, a woman introduced herself as Nancy.  We said something like “Oh, we didn’t know there were other houseguests.”  Nancy replied that this was HER house.  She was very kind, assured us Allan did not look like an axe murderer, and told us our friends’ home was two doors down.

We moved our car to the right driveway, hauled our stuff down the stairs and over to our friends’ house and up the stairs, and went to dinner at a seafood restaurant.  After we returned to our friends’ home, Nancy knocked on the door to be sure we were OK.  Or maybe she wanted to be sure the invaders of her home were for real.  We chatted a bit with her.  She left.  We settled in and waited for our friends to get home.  They did.  We had a pleasant visit and settled in for the night in the right house.


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