Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quebec City & Hotel Champlain

I finally made it to Quebec City after 25 years in Canada.  What a wonderful place.  Myself and my husband left Toronto an early October morning and made the 8-hour drive to Quebec City.  The drive really didn't seem that long. After spending most summer weekends sailing Lake Ontario for 6 to 8 hour stretches, I believe we've built up our tolerance for long distance travel.

I had booked Hotel Champlain online, and didn't have much expectation other than the bonus breakfast that was included.    I was positively surprised when I stepped into our room;  it was huge with two queen size beds, nice fireplace, and a beautiful en suite. 

This hotel must have had a major makeover recently as everything seemed up-to-date and clean.   The continental breakfast was just perfect with scrambled eggs, toast, fresh croissants, cheese, cereal, yogurt, fruit salad and coffee.  The hotel also has a 24/7 self help espresso/cappuccino coffee bar that was very handy.    Staff was fully bilingual and extremely helpful.

As our hotel was located within the old city, everything of interest is within walking distance.  I don't think I've ever encountered so many quaint looking restaurants in one area.   One cannot visit Quebec City without a visit to a local cafe for coffee and a french pasty, so we managed to try a few, and boy what a treat that was.   Best tasting pastries I've had in years.

We had a scrumptious Italian meal at Portofino for our first evening.  This restaurant had come highly recommended by a friend, so we decided to give it a try.  I had a nice salad with caramelized walnuts and brie cheese, thin-crust pizza with caramelized red onions, prosciutto and ruccula, and creme caramel for dessert.  Overall, I'd rate it an 8.  We're pretty spoiled when it comes to Italian foods, so it would have to "blow-me-away" to be a 10.

I really liked Simons, the only department store in Old Quebec,  and bought a cute, chic fall hat for myself.  I just love hats; my husband keeps teasing me that I keep buying them but he never sees me wear them.  Mmmm, I'm gonna have to give that some thought. I showed it off to the kids when I got home, but it was thumbs down.. Too old fashioned, I was told.

 I was determined to have Entrecote with Bearnaise sauce for our second night, so we ended up walking around for 20 minutes searching for a restaurant that would serve it.  I believe this is the first time I've had "homemade Bearnaise sauce", a bit tangier  than the powdered version, but still very good.

The weekend brought rain each day but we didn't let that stop us from having fun.  We purchased an umbrella and spent 5 hours exploring the city by foot on Saturday.  By early afternoon, we continued our sightseeing by car as the weather didn't clear and we thought it would be nice to explore the area outside the "old city".  We made sure to drive by the waterfront and the marina as we have an interest in boating.  Quebec City is situated on the St. Lawrence river so we both wondered, "where do they sail to?"   We have so many destinations on choose from on Lake Ontario.

This weekend allowed us to savor a small amount of what Quebec City has to offer, so I would definitely like to visit again as there is much more to experience.  With its cobble stone streets, centuries old homes, sidewalk cafes by the dozens, and jam-packed little boutiques, Quebec City is absolutely delightful. It's hard to believe you're still in North America, and not in Avignon? Lyons? or St. Tropez?

This was a weekend I will remember; it also reminded me of how much enjoyment there is in traveling and visiting new places.  I really should do this more often.  Watch out New York and Montreal, you're next on the list!

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