I sometimes get to visit places in a rather roundabout and unexpected way. That has a lot to do with the fact, that I’m given to on the spot decisions and my ability to change plans when I’m not happy with my present situation. My visit to wonderful Quebec is a point in case.
You see, I walked off a cruise – just like that. I was on a cruise ship from Hamburg to Toronto. Land excursions in Iceland and Greenland were rather disappointing, I felt trapped on the ship, my fellow passengers were talking about nothing but their previous cruises and whether or not they had been recognized by the maitre d’ or the food was awful or not. Not a word about what they had seen or done in places as fascinating as Patagonia. In short, I was bored to tears. My purpose for being on that cruise in the first place was that I wanted to see icebergs.
Approaching Newfoundland, I finally got my wish. There they were, majestically rising out of the blue waters of the North Atlantic, brought to mysterious life by brilliant sunshine, a breathtaking view.
It can’t get any better, I thought, so I might as well end the trip here and go on to Canada under my own steam. As soon as I uttered my wish to the cruise director, great brouhaha ensued. You would think it’s easy to just walk off, but not so. Finally, when they saw that I wouldn’t change my mind, they let me go.
I spent a great day on my own and then took the next flight to Quebec. First order of the day when arriving at the airport was to find accommodation. I knew about the famous Chateau Frontenac, one of Quebec’s many attractions and one of the most luxurious hotels in all of Canada. I didn’t have a reservation, but I trusted my luck and took a taxi there.
Photograph by Jeangagnon wikipedia commons
Located at the backdrop of the St. Lawrence River, the towers of the hotel greeted me from afar and I felt like heaven the moment I stepped into the lobby. Definitely my kind of hotel and, yes, they did have a room. Don’t even ask what it cost me, but it was worth every penny. No luxury was spared in my room, I strolled along the corridors, admired the paintings and decorations, had a splendid meal and enjoyed the view over the city of Quebec at night.
The next morning I looked down at the funicular which connects Haute Ville with Basse Ville in a steep drop. In childish pleasure, I rode it four times, before finally staying in the cobble stone streets of the historic Petit Champlain district. I couldn’t get enough of the old world French feeling of the many shops and cafes and I even bought a beautiful handbag.
Photograph by Garrett Rock GNU Free documentation license
A visit to Notre Dame des Victoires and then I made my way to Battlefield Park and the fabulous museum of Fine Arts. I was surorised to see how many parks there are and how green the city is. Art galleries everywhere, not to mention restaurants and exquisite residential areas.
I didn’t have that much time because I needed to catch my return flight to Hamburg from Toronto, so I left the next day by train. Another pleasant surprise. I only went second class, but it was better than many first class compartments anywhere else. The waiting room was more like an airport lounge and, when the train was due to leave, an assistant came to fetch me, accompanied me to my seat and even stowed the luggage for me. Thumbs up for Canadian railways.
A great day in Toronto rounded out my very particular ‘cruise’. At the airport, I was reunited with the other ‘cruisers’, nobody spoke to me. I think they took my ‘desertion’ a bit personally, hanging over the railing when I left, shaking their heads and tut-tutting. Did I care? I had a fabulous trip, seen everything I wanted to and reaffirmed in my opinion that it’s entirely up to you to make the best of any situation.