Ahhh Québec! I have often said if home is where the heart is, my home is in Québec. It was my first destination outside of the US of A and easily some of my greatest memories were made there.
I may be wrong in this assumption, but I believe that the first international trip one takes often becomes their favorite place in the world. For me, this is pure truth. I adore everything about Quebec–from the food to the french.
During my freshman year, I received one of the best surprises a broke college kid could get: an unplanned scholarship. It is no surprise that I chose to use that money to fund my first study abroad trip through WVU. We spent ten days traveling through Niagara, Montréal and Québec City.
Our first stop was Niagara, just across the border of Buffalo, NY. I still remember getting the text message alert that I had crossed an international border and no longer had access to data. Sigh. Niagara has a certain charm about it that I adore. I will hardly ever say that I love the tourist areas, but Niagara has the best tourist attractions. My friend Jared and I went through a haunted house. I learned quickly that I am a scaredy cat! I scared myself more than the actual actors. I clamped my hands on the back of Jared’s jacket and hid my head behind his back. But alas, a great memory was born and an even better friendship.
We spent the bulk of our short trip in Québec City at l’Université Laval where we took our classes. I love(d) the university. I came from an American university with a reputation for partying (thankfully, we know longer hold the “prestigious” rank of no. 1 party school in America), so the drinking culture in Québec quickly captured my attention. In Québec, we enjoyed wine at dinner and beers at the pub after classes. Getting pass-out drunk has never really interested me, so the change of scenery was much appreciated. Another great aspect of Uni Laval are the heated tunnels that connect all of the buildings on campus! The first day we arrived in May, there was a lite flurry…ahemmm of SNOW (did I mention in May?). The tunnels offer refuge from the bitter winters, the chilly springs and for the unprepared American traveler.
When I refer to a city taking my heart, it is always Québec City. The Québecois culture leaks from the streets jammed with little shops and the majestic Chateau Frontenac! We packed our luggage and backpacks into the International House on campus, unfortunately, there weren’t many students there to meet.
NB: On some of my trips back, I have really enjoyed staying at l’Auberge Internationale de Québec. I have never had a bad experience there and love location, located in the heart of Vieux-Québec. For those wary of staying in Hostels, you absolutely must. Hotels may be more convenient and more expensive, but you’ll never be able to meet such amazing people there. Hostels house so many wonderful people full of adventure and wanderlust–just like me! They also offer bar crawls and other outings to some of the coolest places around Québec at a highly discounted rate. This is a great opportunity for solo travelers to meet new people–sometimes you’ll meet more people than you even want to! For this hostel, don’t forget to bring a book to exchange at the international book shelf!
The real treasures of the trip came for the daily outings around the city. La Rue Champlain offered many hidden treasures near the St. Lawrence river. Like this restaurant pictured on the left, a restaurant specializing in rabbit cuisine. (Not the best choice for a vegetarian, but who could pass up this opportunity! I returned a year later and was quickly shoo’ed out for interrupting a private party.) I ordered the rabbit poutine sans lapin. Some of my other friends enjoyed Rabbit Pie –which was a completely new concept to me, the naïve vegetarian. Ironically enough, a popular option for any meal of the day is “rabbit food,” which is simply enough… a salad. (;
Vegetarian or not, I will never forget this quirky place and I highly suggest it for those who travel to la ville de Québec.
It isn’t possible to spend time here and not learn about their past. The ramparts that surround Vieux-Québec are the only remaining ramparts in North America north of Mexico. You know, comparable to the Great Wall of China–just a little shorter. (ha!)
Who could pass that history up? Not I. My friends and I, some old and some new, spent over an hour on top the ramparts admiring the beautiful landscape. Not only are you literally walking through history, a place where guards once stood to defend their nation, but you can also observe the new parts of Québec on the other side of the wall. We quickly learned that when you wish to rendezvous with your friends outside of the uni, you should specify whether or not you would like to meet inside or outside the wall.
On your next trip to Canada, please don’t pass up this amazing ville. Of course, visit some of the other amazing places nearby, but make sure this one is on the list. Don’t forget to walk across the ramparts and get lost in the breathtaking views of the countryside. Get immersed in the culture by strolling down la Rue Champlain (beware of Breakneck Stairs, L’Escalier Casse-Cou, which are properly named). Indulge in the finest rabbit cuisine around and then stop by La Chocolaterie Du Village for some sweet dessert!
Until next time Québec, au revoir et je vais vous voir bientôt!
With much love,