(There is a link to more photos at the bottom of this post.)
Winter in Quebec is a magical season... they don't call it the "Great White North" for nothing. But Quebec offers something otherwise unseen in North America: the only fortified city and a bit of Europe nestled into our continent. The main reason I wanted to go was for the obvious: History buried in SNOW. I miss snow... I miss the cold. If you know how to dress for it, visiting cold places (or living in them) isn't nearly as bad as many may think. While I had originally kicked around London, I thought I'd go to Vieux-Quebec first because it's a one-of-a-kind on my continent.
Our first day on our trip was unexpectedly delayed by 10 hours in Detroit's scenic (not so much) DSW Airport. We flew from CHA to DSW and immediately boarded our flight to YQB. After about 10-minutes on the plane, the pilot informed us that, due to snow and wind in Quebec, we would be unable to land so our flight was being cancelled. Not delayed; cancelled. I secretly think they cancelled it and booked all 8 of us on the way later flight just because there were only 8 of us flying in. Our day at DSW was dull at best and our 2nd most expensive day of the trip. Why? The only way to combat boredom and retain morale came in the pale amber liquid we like to call BEER... at $8 a glass. The only thing good I can say about the Detroit Metro Airport is that it's clean, large, and has a cool hall of tranquility (I'm not sure what it's REALLY called, but I've dubbed it this and linked to a video I took on my phone while going through).
Finally we board our flight and after 2 more hours in the air, we're finally in Quebec City, Quebec. We breeze through customs, grab our luggage, and snag a taxi to the hotel.
We spent our trip at the Hotel Louisbourg which is part of the Acadia 'chain' here. The Louisbourg and Acadia are situated right between what is known as upper and lower town and central to many great sights. Quaint and cute (and warm!), it was a good place to stay. The only thing I can say, however, is to bring ear plugs if it's the winter season. The stone walls and large windows don't do much to block street noise (which isn't from noisy and boisterous tourists, but rather from the large snow removal equipment!).
We knew it was going to be cold, so after we got checked in, we layered up and started to walk the streets looking for something to eat. We discovered quickly that Vieux-Quebec rolls in the rugs early and closes everything. We were very lucky that St. Patrick's Pub found themselves with a few more patrons than usual and opted to remain open. So at 2230 (or 10:30 as we would call it) we had nachos with salsa and some amazing St. Patrick's home brand: St. Patrick's Blanche (i.e. wheat). The weather? About -23-degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill.
St. Anne's was freaking amazing and the fact that it was built in the 1600's is enough to blow anyone's mind. Luckily I could get a great view of Chute Montmerency on the way, so I didn't bother to stop. It was only -1 Fahrenheit so playing outside near falling water (it appears the center of the falls rarely freezes all the way solid) wasn't on my list of things to do.
On the 5th day I was suffering from cabin fever while Funk was suffering from over-walkabout. I wanted to go cross-country skiing but Funk had other ideas, so we stayed local and ate at (can't remember) for lunch and D'Orsay for dinner. Funk had a huge bowl of muscles while I enjoyed steak-n-frites with homemade mayo. The French have something with this dipping fries in mayo... amazing stuff that assisted in my 7-pound weight gain (LOL). We ended the night at our favorite: St. Patricks.
RECOMMENDATIONS and RAMBLINGS
I recommend the St. Patrick's Pub completely. A good selection of local beers and a good atmosphere. I also recommend Le Sacrelige on Rue St. Jean in the 500 (I think) block. The place is crammed with locals, has a killer beer selection, and the joy of live entertainment. Regardless how you get there, make the trek to St. Anne's Basillica... it was the coolest. I liked it better than St. Patrick's in NYC. Make SURE you eat some frites with homemade mayonnaise.
On a side note, I recommend Icebreakers thermal gear in 200 or more weight (get it in the States before you go). One layer under jeans and a layer under a sweater and coat kept me toasty and dry. Also, bring ear plugs if it's winter as the massive plows and snow blowers start roaming the roads around 4 a.m. and are VERY loud.
If you don't know any French, I recommend learning the very basic French words: Do you speak English? Please. Thank You. Yes. No. Those words are enough to get by.
Lastly, forget about currency exchange and just use your credit card. There are so many non-official 'currency exchanges' that you're bound to lose money if you go that route (especially right now when the Canadian dollar is worth more than the American dollar).
Want to see a few more photos?