I’m currently debating whether or not I want to write this post. When I was planning my trip I felt like I kept reading about this little island trying to prepare things to do. That’s not really how it works. This island really made me feel free, I didn’t have reservations nor did I have to ask anyone to move so I could get the perfect shot. Corynne and I just drove and looked and listened.
We went to the island twice. It’s a lot bigger than I expected, so it takes about two hours to go around the island without stopping. There are hand painted signs telling you that countless people are selling chocolates, wine, berries and jam. We drove around half one day and then half the next day, which is hard to describe since it’s just one road. The second day we came back at a sunset-y time, which was beautiful. we drove around and stopped once, we tried to find like the best one spot to stop, but I almost feel like it was so much better seeing it all roll past me while an amazing album played.
We stopped at a gas station and then suddenly, Corynne said she wanted to stop at this beautiful statue of a man playing a guitar. As we parked and stopped, it was a moment that I felt was so impactful. The trip was definitely impactful outside of this moment, it was the first trip Corynne and I had taken as adults. We grew up together and it just felt very much like a movie-ending moment. The sky was beautiful, we had cameras and laughs and the air smelled so fresh.
We stopped. We needed to get food and gas and to pack the car. But we stopped and we looked at the world and it was a beautiful experience.
A few months ago I mentioned going to Canada, and I actually did not think it would happen. Until my friend Corynne texted me with some dates, I asked off work, and now I’m sitting in an amazing airbnb, packing from a very wonderful weekend. While Corynne and I were planning the trip, we had general ideas of what we wanted to see in this city. Instead of having a strict itinerary, we just floated around knowing we had three full days to experience this.
We arrived late Thursday night after driving 18 hours from Northern Kentucky to Quebec City. Our airbnb was incredibly welcoming and allowed us to rest up so we could walk around for hours the next day.
Friday Morning: We walked toward Brugels, both of us are serious breakfast lovers so trying somewhere that offered Montreal style bagels was a must. We sat and talked about our life goals and growing up, while also really enjoying the amazing homemade jam and bagels. Guys, they really are different that the United States! This is located in Montcalm, a lifestyle and art focused neighborhood.
After breakfast, we headed to the Plains d’Abraham. This a super beautiful garden thats peppered with museums, beautiful vistas and a lot of history. While enter this area Corynne and I kept exchanging looks like, “Oh yeah. This is why people love this city.”
This expansive park can lead you straight down to Rue Saint- Jean. It’s kind of like where you really notice Vieux Quebec is starting. This area is full of artists on the street, historic buildings and churches, horses with carriages, and occasionally many tourists.
Still following the flow of both the streets and the people walking along them, you can find yourself near the charming streets of Petit Champion. It was incredibly quaint. When we weren’t taking pictures of the village-esqe houses, we were stopping on terraces for tea and coffee so we could people watch. If I had forgotten that we were in a french city, this area would have reminded me.
Friday Afternoon: After seeing all the classic charm that Vieux Quebec could offer us, we steered toward Saint-Roch. Guys, this neighborhood!! It has this wonderful grungy, but also very fresh vibe to it. We ate lunch at Le Projet, it was a beautiful bar full of natural light and reaaaally good beer. I asked the waitress for a beer recommendation and she brought me one of their twenty four beers.
After lunch we walked along Rue Saint-Jean, which is the main street of the Saint-Roch area. This street has everything you could want, including a clothing boutique/taco bar. We spent some more time here later this weekend.
Friday Night: Since Corynne and I had such an incredible airbnb, we decided to cook dinner and sit in our temporary home. The Canadian grocery store that I went to was not nearly as complicated as some of the french grocery stores I have experienced.
Saturday Morning: Today we headed out early to go to the Chutes des Montmoncy. We drove to the big waterfall, I would recommend going and seeing it but definitely in the morning. Then you’ll skip the massive crowds and get better majestic photos. Another place close by is the National Park, they have a ton of trails online ranked by difficulty so you can plan accordingly. We stuck with just the waterfall though. After the waterfall, we headed to the Ile d’orleans, a beautiful island full of fruit stands, friendly restaurants, and vistas for dayssss. We actually returned here later this weekend.
Saturday Night: Since we knew someone in Montreal, we decided to head there for the evening. Man oh man, I had done research. I had plans, but nothing could have prepared me to how much bigger of a city Montreal is! In the one night that we were there: the metro was free for an event, there were fireworks competitions, a $40 tattoo and $3 succulent sale (yes, that was one event), the Just For Laughs comedy festival, and we also saw a few art installations across the city. IN ONE NIGHT. I will tell you about this night in a later post, but that is just a taste of the city.
Sunday Morning: Quebec City has a heavily Catholic background and it’s filled with many beautiful churches. Corynne headed off to mass this morning, while I went off to Saint Roch. I honestly didn’t know what to expect on a Sunday. In Switzerland, this usually meant the hours were very different. In Quebec it seemed that everyone was still out and bustling. I stopped by Maelstrom, a cool coffee bar, then strolled while looking at all the incredible buildings. I cannot stress enough how much you guys need to schedule time for strolling. It’s so important!!
I also picked up lunch and a sweater at Deux 22, a taco bar and boutique. The clothes here were super adorable, but I did have to stick to the sales rack when picking out a sweater. It was a pretty penny, but worth it to say “oh I got this at a taco/bar/clothing boutique in Canada!”
Sunday Night: When it was getting closer to sunset, Corynne and I headed to Ile d’Orleans again. We had dinner while looking out at the water, imagining what it would be like to live here permanently and if the beauty would wear off. Before we drove off the island, we stopped one last time to get out and take photos. It was the perfect lighting, the perfect weather, and the perfect end to a wonderful trip.
Guys, I cannot wait to head back to this city! Next week we have a Quebec Coffee guide coming, ya know I love my coffee. Have you been in Quebec City? Let me know what you loved about it!
When you have a full time job, rent, and a weekly schedule that you’re used to, it can be hard to break the routine. So I was planning an extremely safe trip Canada several months in advance when my friend asked if we could go in three weeks.
I mean, of course I said yes. Then I realized what that meant: I had to figure out when i could get off work, which cool airbnbs are left, how long does it take to drive, what festivals are going on! I was lucky to have started doing research, but still.
We made it happen though. So welcome to September, the month of CANADA.
Look forward to a post about road trips! What to bring for snacks and drinks, the best music and podcasts, the views and how I think Canada is nailing safe driving.
The importance of stopping and taking a moment to enjoy yourself while on a trip, and how an island here helped us do just that. Bonus Track: This one comes with a playlist!!
My weekend itinerary, the neighborhoods I think are the best and too many photos of our Airbnb. And of course a million facts and tiny stories about Canada, Quebec City, Montreal, friendly travelers, being brave with language borders, and what food you have to eat here.