Sunday, June 8, 2014

Hooray Canada!

It's taken me a week to write my latest travelogue, but better late than never. Over Memorial Day weekend, AA and I took a road trip to Montreal and Quebec City with the FF-POs. bklynbiblio readers may recall my 2010 trip to Montreal for the BQH conference (Oh Canada!), about which I was initially excited, but afterward somewhat disappointed (Ugh Canada!). Hence the title of this post: yes, this trip was fantastic. My disappointment with Montreal last time was in large part because of the weather and the conference, but I did have a few highlights, like the Museum of Fine Arts. We did go back there, and it was even better than I remembered, because there was more time to explore the entire museum in all 3 buildings. The decorative arts and design collection is especially impressive. The picture you see above is of AA and I posing with Jim Dine's Six-Foot Hearts outside the museum, in their urban public outdoor sculpture park. We spent our time exploring more of the city, and spent some time at the Botanical Gardens, which we rather nice. We had amazing weather, so we couldn't complain about that at all.

Our two nights in Quebec City, however, really made this trip as great as it was. This charming city is everything I imagined French Canada would be: quaint village-like shops and cafes, a lot more spoken French, and a relaxing place to simply wander and take in the sites. Even better, we had fantastic meals. We stayed in a delightful hotel called Port-Royal, located in the lower part of Old Quebec, and we just meandered through the lower and upper parts of the city. The pictures you see here help narrate some of the highlights for me. The upper part of the city is crowned by the Chateau Frontenac, and had beautiful sweeping views down to the St. Lawrence River. In our wanderings, we found ourselves by the Parliament building, which had a gorgeous French fountain that originally was at the 1862 International Exposition. The bronze sculptures throughout the city, including installed on the Parliament building, are in impeccable condition, a testament to their interest in taking care of their art. The quaint streets are lined with stone buildings, and at night the street had a beautiful misty feel to them, that made me think of John Atkinson Grimshaw paintings, albeit with electric lights, not gas lights, but still atmospheric. Finally, I have to say, I had one of the most amazing meals of my entire life at Cafe Bistro du Cap. The dinner was table d'hote (prix-fixe), starting with a mousse pate, then a main course of beef bourguignon with thyme mashed potatoes, carrots, and asparagus, with panna cotta & berries for dessert. The restaurant was quiet and intimate, with only about eight tables, one server, and the owner who was the chef. Truly, the meal was superb. I definitely look forward to returning to Quebec City in the near future!

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