Quebec City Part One

Hanging with the Church' | Photo Courtesy of the lovely Jackie
Hanging with the Church' | Photo Courtesy of the lovely Jackie

Five hundred miles and nine hours northwest of languid Northern New Jersey lies the oldest city north of Mexico, Quebec City. The drive is certainly not an easy one, passing through the unendingly rustic milieu of northern New York State. The car ride feels like a torpid journey back through time where, sans the miles of highway, the entirety of the world is green and natural, only the occasional exit shaking you free of this antiquated nostalgia. Upon breaking through the clutches of the mighty Adirondack Mountains you are left with only a short stretch of dismal terrain until the Canadian border, a ritual in patience and rehearsed niceties.

Then you burst forth headlong, carefree, removed from the repression of the English language and the standard system of measurement and stop at a stop sign. But then, you are truly free! A stranger in a foreign land, voracious and willing.  You do 100! but only km/h, so as not to get into any altercations with law enforcement. Then after several miles of slightly suburban landscape and the passing of Montreal in the distance you embark on yet another journey into nothingness. Over two hours of strange signage, giant dinosaur replicas and Tim Horton’s restaurants. What a peculiar place rural Quebec is, more akin to Iowa than one would ever believe, except with more French and probably a lot less bestiality.

Then, an oasis forms from out of the monotony, urban yet beautiful and you realize you have arrived in Quebec City. A serene atmosphere and extraordinarily cleanliness are the first things you notice upon entering this historic locale with all the amenities and convenience of  New Jersey suburbia without the cookie cutter hellscape. Each house has its own singularity and the architecture alone makes one want to jettison their previous life and move right in. Quaintness is norm in the residential areas in Quebec, but without the bullshit kitsch you so often see in America.

Upon arrival immediately you are inundated with the reality of a Francophone atmosphere, a customary Bienvenue! Bonjour! at every locale you patronize. As a mediocre French speaker you rely heavily on Parlez vous Anglais? Instead of frustration or even exasperation, however, you are greeted with a Yes of course! The affrontery! How dare they be well versed in multiple languages, a clear indicator of our own American educational superiority. Parting with that tangent, almost everyone encountered spoke perfectly understandable english and were happy to converse with an uncultured boob as myself without any visible disdain.

The true value of the city, outside of its meritorious and gregarious citizenry of course, is its historical foundation. The Chateau Frontenac overshadows the entirety of the Old City (which is walled in from its French territorial days) a monstrous hotel beautifully constructed and magnificent without detracting from the surrounding city. Cobblestone streets, narrow and heavily populated by foot traffic, encompass the entirety of the Old City and provide the illusion of one walking the streets of any one of Europe’s beautiful cities. The European vibe is everlasting throughout a stay in Quebec, but with a distinctly Canadian tinge of openness.  The NotreDame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral is evidence enough of the French influence over the city. A beautiful church inside and out displays the architectural prowess of the 17th and 18th centuries. A similar exhibition of gorgeous architecture can be found at the capital building, an immense building with detailing down to its minutia.

As exciting and enticing as the architectural facade of Quebec is, the food rivals anything crafted in stone with a decidedly more pleasing aftertaste. From Japanese to Italian to traditional Québécois flare every possible combination your palette desires can be satisfied and all in walking distance. Similarly distinct and appetizing is the local beer selection with Belle Gueule seemingly the most popular. A very pale lager, or blonde beer as called in Quebec, its smooth taste with a hint of bitterness provides the perfect symbiote to a burger or steak. The food preparation, whether due to lax food standards or simply better ingredients is miles above the heaping filth that many of us shovel into our mouths day after day at chain restaurants here in America. The prominence of privately owned establishments provided an amount of differentiation on cuisine unrivaled.

There is so much more to indulge in Quebec that a blog entry has become a necessity. Try to stay tuned and anticipatory for the latest which I will attempt to finish as quick as possible. I’m only a man dammit. Not some damned blog vomiting robot that spews golden insights all over the juicy innards of the interweb. I spew real man knowledge all over your eyes, but only if you read this. Please.

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