After the Canadian Cross Country Road Trip:
ARTICLE #5: Transitioning From Nature To The Vibrant Cities Of Quebec
With the Maritimes becoming a summer memory, the next location was going to be Quebec. My first stop was at a campsite I used when I made my way towards the East Coast in the gorgeous town of Riviere Du Loup. Located on the South Shore of the Saint Lawrence River, this was my first stop in Quebec. I loved it out here the first time I came with the gorgeous sunset setting over the rolling landscape on the other side of the river. The night that I arrived was even better. The weather was warmer; I got to the sunset a littler earlier so I could watch the many colors throughout the descent of the sun. My objective for this province was taking the time to visit the old city of Quebec, Montmorency Falls, Jacques Cartier National Park, and Montreal. After settling into my campsite, I got some food from a local grocery store, got my supper cooked and consumed, and with a plan in line for the next two days I was ready to go.
The next morning rose from the darkness and was already showcasing promise for excellent weather conditions. With my GPS ready to go, some caffeinated beverage consumed, I got onto the highway and made my way south. Travelling alongside the Saint Lawrence River presented itself for some great landscape photography. The beautiful tall grass moved around with the wind gently blowing in the area. The sun was in the right area for some sharp contrast to the landscape, so I took a few shots after taking in the calm morning atmosphere. With having a camera in hand, I try to take the time to take a mental photograph of new locations that I get to see. Those mental photographs get utilized hopefully throughout the rest of my life for potential future areas that I’d like to come back too. You never know when you might need a unique setting for a photo shoot. The farmland alongside the Trans-Canada Highway was gorgeous with the vibrant colors they produced. What I equally liked was some of the homesteads had solar panels on their acreages which was exciting to see since the practice of utilizing self-sustaining energy is something I want to invest into. As I’m starting to see the city buildings popping in the distance, I decided that I wanted to treat myself and get a hotel room for the night. I got to my room, and the first thing I did was take a short nap on an actual bed. What an amazing feeling! I eventually woke up from my blissful state of mind, jumped in the shower which was equally amazing, and made my way to the city of Quebec.
Quebec city, with a population of 540, 994, is a huge place. The capital city of the province, there’s so much to see and do. You’ve got buildings like the hotel Chateau Frontenac that sits in the Citadelle Fortress that surround Old Quebec. Spending the first part of my day here, I was welcomed by an outdoor festival that was causing traffic congestion. With construction and detours appearing throughout my travels, my GPS had a workout to get to its final destination. I’m getting close to my end destination and now it’s a matter of finding parking. My car has a roof rack with a cargo carrier and my bicycle which sits upright. Having the bicycle sitting upright makes it over eight feet tall which caused issues for indoor parkades. With a little bit of patience, and looking around for outdoor parking, my wish was granted. Every time that I get into busy areas like this my bicycle has been my savior. I started exploring to areas that I saw had something going on. There was outdoor entertainment in different regions of the town. One of the areas had this performer that was placing an incredible show. Everyone was engaged in the performance and so was I, enough so that I had to take a photograph.
Being another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Quebec occupies the Upper and Lower Town Of Quebec City. There’s a lot of reminders throughout the area that fills you in that this was originally a military base many moons ago. Some of the buildings can date as far back as the 17th century, and you could never tell. Everything I got a chance to see was immaculate and beautiful. The roadways are slightly narrower but luckily they're some horse and buggies you can hop into and get a feel of how transportation would have felt like a few hundred years ago. I got to one location that brought me close to the walls of the fortress with the canons sitting alongside the top of it. You get a good view of the Saint Lawrence River from one of the hilltops. I wondered how many other sets of eyes looked from this point throughout the past. I got some street shots of the area and decided to make my way towards my car. After maneuvering through town decently well, my eyes were fixed on my next prize, Montmorency Falls. Standing at 275 feet tall and 150 feet wide this astonishing waterfall is a sight to see. There’s a set of staircases that give out different viewpoints and then there’s the suspension bridge that goes over the waterfall. There’s also a zip line that went over the river and in front of the waterfall.
Since I didn’t have the funds nor the nerves to try the zip-line, I took my shots and then made my way to my last destination of the day, Jacques Cartier National Park. Located in the Laurentian Mountains, this park is a great location for the gorgeous lakes, the dense collection of black spruce trees, and astonishing views of the river valley from the lookout points some of the trails in the area provide. I heard great things about this place and I wanted to take advantage of the lookout views. My issue at the moment was time. I was running out of it. I was a little over an hour away from my hotel, daylight is going away, and I have a potential two-hour hike to get to one of the lookout points. There are some instances where you can’t fit everything into one day, so I decided to stay around one on the riverbeds and enjoy the beautiful landscape from level ground. There’ll be another time. With the sunset setting over the mountains I made my way to the car and headed back to a comfortable bed with my name on it.
Day Three has come, and it's time to head forth to another famous city, Montreal. With a population of 1,649,519, this small town young man was going to have some fun. My first stop was in Mount Royal Park. A volcanic-related hill that’s a part of the Monteregian Hils situated in the west of Downtown Montreal, this place was fantastic with its various trails that surrounded the area. One of my highlights was the panoramic view of the city of Montreal from the Kondiaronk Belvedere Plaza. I got my bicycle as my primary mode of transportation, and I wanted to take the time to explore a little of downtown Montreal. I had a full charge on my cell phone, a bottle of water, some snacks, my camera, and a pocket full of hope and optimism. I got down the hill from where I parked my car and enjoyed how bicycle friendly this city is. There was a lot of cyclists on this beautiful summer day. I was on the hunt for the older parts of the city of Montreal. The structures in the area are stunning. The Notre-Dame Basilica Church was one example. Standing at 200 feet tall and 151 feet in width, built 186 years ago, this intricate and architectural behemoth is truly stunning to see. I loved seeing the horse and buggies rolling along the cobblestone roads. These locations are great because they give you the opportunity to take a walk into another time. You have to admire the people that had the skill sets to create these structures with the technology that was available at the time. After daydreaming of horseback riding through this city, I got on my two-wheeled stallion and made my way alongside the Saint Lawrence River trails. There was outdoor music playing and people enjoying the beautiful sunny weather. I enjoyed my ride so much that I didn’t pay attention to where I was going, which would later introduce a dilemma. That realization of that difficulty came in my mind at around the point where my water bottle was almost empty. Looking around the area, I started to wonder where I was. I used my GPS, and I was a 45 minutes bike ride away from my car. I didn’t think it was a big deal and that it would be easy to travel on a bicycle, I’ll just go back on the trail I just rode in on. That would work but only for about half of the bike ride. Remember that bit where I said I wasn’t paying attention as to where I was going, well that became the challenge from the older parts of Montreal City to Mount Royale Park. Looking at it now it shouldn’t have been a big deal, like most major cities there’s some form of a grid system with the roadways. That wasn’t the case for me at the time where I was wearing jeans and a dark shirt on a bicycle in 30 plus degree Celsius (86 + degrees Fahrenheit) weather with a camera bag on my back with a cellphone that was running on 18% battery power. All I wanted to do was get to my car. I took a deep breath and started on my challenge of the day. I looked at the map and tried to find the best route with the least amount of hills and traffic congestion because I did fail to mention that this was a weekday at around supper time, traffic was going to get heavy. The ride was brutal. I would have a sigh of relief when I could coast down a hill, but I was heading towards Mount Royal Park, so it was going to be an uphill run for most of the way. I eventually found myself in the park’s boundaries smiling from ear to ear. After buying two bottles of water from a concession stand and disposing of them in a matter of seconds, I made my way to the parking lot. There was an outdoor act that was happening in one of the open areas involving people with Viking clothing and swords and shields and it seemed like they were acting out a fighting scene. I sat down to take a break and enjoyed the show.
With my bicycle strapped to the roof rack, I got into my car and enjoyed the fact that I was sitting in an actual chair and not a small piece of foam fixed on a seat post. I turned on the A/C, and made my way downtown and was instantly reminded of the rush hour that I thought I left behind. You got to have some decent driving skills to get through this obstacle course. Construction is happening in various areas, traffic as far as the eye could see. There were some drivers that we’re swerving around traffic aggressively because they wanted to get out of this congestion. In all this mix you got a small town kid with a Ford Focus ST with a bicycle strapped to the roof catching on the methods to drive in these conditions. As stressful as that may sound, I had fun. It felt like I was filming a scene for the car movie “Gone in Sixty Seconds.” I finally got onto the Jacques Cartier Bridge and made my way to another hotel that I booked for the evening. I convinced myself that after a long day like this I deserved a shower and a nice comfortable bed. As much commotion was going on throughout my day, and the adversities that presented themselves along the way, I felt good and satisfied. It can be tough to transition from being in nature and relaxing small towns to high traffic cities with more lights and noise than you can handle. But within that chaos, there is a beauty that’s worth the time to explore. I enjoy photographers that do city photography if its architecture or portrait or documenting stories or events. Having the pulse of the city captured in photos can be a real challenge, but when it's done right, it can be a beautiful outcome. Tomorrow will be my departure day from this beautiful province, and my next stop will be the capital of this great country, the city of Ottawa and the province of Ontario.