Saturday, July 01, 2006


Sketches of Quebec City (Part Three)

We are sitting on the warm pavement of the parade grounds at the Citadel, the site of the original military fortification at Quebec and still an active military garrison. We are hot and sweaty under a heavy grey sky, having marched uphill into the Citadel from the old city in double-time to make it in time to see the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

(If you are looking for a way to keep two preschoolers sitting still for a 35 minute outdoor spectacle, walking for a couple of hours through the winding streets of the old city and then running them twenty minutes uphill in dreadful humidity to get there is a pretty good way to ensure they sit in quiet stupor awe for the entire thing.)

I couldn't resist at least one cheesey tourist photo for posterity:

Okay, so these ones are pretty cheesey, too - but cute!

I can tell the boys are starting to lose patience in being dragged around the old city, but Beloved wants to make one quick stop at the l'Hotel Dieu, a museum run by Augustinian nuns within a working hospital, before we stop for lunch. I was hoping the boys could stand at least a little bit of cultural indoctrination, but am fearful of what kind of behaviour we might encounter with tired, hot, cranky boys inside, of all places, a monastery. We are wandering down from the Citadel back into the city walls when a perfectly lovely park appears in our path like an oasis. I nearly fall down with joy and gratitude, and the boys and I stop to play for an hour while Beloved makes his way down to the museum unencumbered.

The Parc Esplanade is truly a gift, a full park nestled up against the old city walls. We swing, we climb, we play with the children of other exhaustedly grateful tourists, and we even make our way up on to the old walls themselves to run on the grass-topped ramparts for a few spectacular minutes.

The hill that rises up the left side of the photo leads up to the old city walls, which you can just barely make out. The buildings you see are all outside the old city walls.

Now I get it. This is the Quebec City that people have raved to me about. Amazing...

Continue reading Sketches of Quebec City with Part Four, Tristan's Perspective.