Canada By Car: Leg 1 – Driving through Quebec

For the next couple of weeks I will be busy hiking in some of the most spectacular mountains in the world through the Himalayas,  wifi-free of course, so the next couple of weeks are going to be like a Throwback Thursday on Saturdays. Here’s my adventure across Canada! Enjoy and there will be mountain blogs when am off the mountain! Nameste!

I have been fortunate enough in the time that I spent in Canada to be able to have made it from the eastern most point in the country in Newfoundland, to the western most point of Canada on Vancouver Island. After living in Ontario for most of my time in Canada, my first other province to visit was Quebec and I spent three weeks here gallivanting around and having a fabulous time. So because we always start at the beginning, I will start at the very beginning of my Canadian exploration and we shall continue on through the provinces in coming weeks.

It all started in Montreal with a visit to the Red Path Museum of Natural History at the McGill University, which I really enjoyed. But the thing that stood out to me the most at this time in Montreal was the Jazz Festival that was kicking on with much craziness in the streets. I went down with a bunch of people that I didn’t know and started dancing with randoms to this incredible brass band playing their instruments in the street. My road trip had started with a party! The best possible way to start!

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Loom weaving in the streets of Montreal

The party continued as we drove into Quebec City. For some reason that we did not know at the time, as we drove into the old quarters to our accommodation and was greeted with a shower of streamers falling from the sky. It turns out that the Festival d’ete’ du Quebec and I had arrived at the same time and we were in for a huge party. After checking into the hostel, we walked down to the highway underpass where they had strung up a stage and a huge lighting set up for the free Cirque du Soleil show for the evening. It was absolutely incredible and I was on the biggest high.

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Cirque du Soleil show under the highway underpass

The second day in Quebec City was spent wandering around and checking out the citadel, the Notre Dame Basilica where we visited the crypt under the basilica, danced through the streets to numerous bands that were playing and went to the giant movie projected on the windmill down by the river. Of the most interesting and yet naughty behaviour that I got up to that day was when I visited the Chateau Frontenac, the most expensive hotel in Quebec. We managed to sneak in and up the elevators and were wondering around the floors of this amazing old building and looking out of the windows at the ends of each of the corridors at the views when we pass a maids cart. In these maids carts are very expensive Le Labo 31 New York designer shampoos, conditioners, body washes and soap. Being a pov traveller, the handbag opened up and more than a few samples went shoveled in and then off we go. I must have been the most fabulous smelling backpacker in the world for the next month. It was also in Quebec City that a seed was planted for quite an amusing make a buck scheme of bottle return. While it did not have any use in Quebec City of much, it came to become quite a fruitful idea which I will discuss more in future posts.

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The famous Chateau Frontenac

So onwards from Quebec City to the Jacques-Cartier National Park. We set up our camping gear at the Hirondelle camp site and then went on a hike around the Les Loup track to the top of the mountain for the most spectacular view. After an awesome camp cooked dinner, we packed up our stuff and went to bed. This sleep was short-lived however. At 1am there is something outside of the tent throwing things around and twigs are snapping…. Hysterical… “What the hell is that?? Is that a bear?? OH SHIT! I left the toothpaste in my backpack and forgot to take it back to the car! OH SHIT! OH SHIT!” So trying not to breathe, and laying very still, we sit and listen to the bear. Eventually it disappears. Eventually I get to sleep.

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Jacques-Cartier National Park

The next day was another fifteen kilometer hike up a mountain and chilling out with dinner and crossword puzzles before heading ouf to the next destination of Saguenay. There wasn’t really a great deal to do in the Ville Saguenay/Chicoutimi area so we continued on to Tadoussac, famous for its whale watching and set up camp there for the evening. As the thunderstorms set in, we hid in the laundry of the campground in the hope that the tent would withstand the literal hurricane going on outside. Lucky for us, it had calmed down by midnight and the tent was still standing.

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The fountain in the river at Ville Saguenay/Chicoutimi

The morning was not the best weather and it was too foggy to see very far, but we went out on the boat whale watching and saw a heap of dolphins, porpoises, seals and minke whales. It was really cool. A little bit sad that we did not get to see one of the famous blue or humpback whales that frequent this region but it was still an incredible day!

Down the main street of Tadoussac

After the whales it was back on the road again to St Simeon where we took the ferry over to Riviere-du-Loup. After taking in the Parc du Chutes and seeing a few bands in the street for a festival that they had on we moved on to Rimouski. Just out of Rimouski is the Parc du Bic, one of my most favourite places in Canada. While we were there along the stunning, rocky coastline, we were fortunate enough to see a fox wandering around where the people were eating their lunches. At one point it pounces into the bushes and arises with a mouse caught in its mouth. He went over and buried it in the amphitheater for later. Very cool to see.

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Mouse-hunting fox in the bushes at Parc du Bic

The next stop was St. Anne du Monts, hands down one of the coolest places I have stayed in the world let alone Canada. We set up our tent on the beach at the hostel and then had a chill out session in the hostel hot tub that sits outside overlooking the ocean while watching the sun set. It was a great place to just laze about and have relaxed days and evenings however the bar can lead one astray and you might be finding yourself getting to bed as the sun comes up as it is too easy to sit around talking to new people in spas and hammocks.

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The view of the beach from the hot tub at St. Anne-du-Monts

The following day was to be a huge one for me. I had been in Canada for almost two years and was yet to see a moose. It was my day. We were hiking through the Gaspesie National Park and chattering away down the path when all of a sudden I gasp and come literally face to face with a moose. It is about two meters away from where I am standing chewing down on a leaf. Behind it (thankfully) was its baby. For a good half an hour I stood there in awe. I named her ‘Lucy the Moosey’ and I took a million pictures. The word excitement didn’t even cut it! Eventually I had to say goodbye to Lucy and continue on my way before it got too dark, all the while, munching on the wild strawberries I picked from the path along the way.

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Lucy the Moosey! Isn’t she pretty!

From here we drove to L’Anse Aux Griffon from the sea shack. It was bad weather again so we set up the tent and spend the evening inside listening to a spanish/latino band play music and hanging with the people. It was only a hop from here over to the Forillon National Park where we hiked the last 7 kilometers of the International Appalachians Trail to the Gaspe lighthouse. The path had some amazing flowers along the way and was just a beautiful trail.

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The lighthouse at the end of the International Appalachians Trail.

The last stop of in Quebec was Perce. We hiked over the sandbar in the water to the Perce rock and I found a fossil there that I took home with me. I spent my last evening in Quebec foraging around for the abundant wild raspberries around the campground. This became a huge thing for me in my Canadian travels. I love berries, I love wild ones even more. From here it was on to New Brunswick… and so the journey continues….

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Perce Rock

Chill out for the next installment in my travels across Canada…. 

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