Right… In a desperate effort to catch up the blog, which is now over a month behind, I’m combining a few journeys here. So may I present Riding the Rails: Quebec City to Toronto, via a brief stop in Montreal and Toronto part 2.
So after the road trip around Nova Scotia my trip suddenly became quite hectic as I tried to race back across the whole of Canada to make it to Vancouver in time to join my tour. Quebec City was a must, because I missed it on the way through, but the other thing dictating my stops was the train schedule. So first off…
Riding the Rails: Quebec City to Toronto (via Montreal)
Quebec City to Montreal: The first section of this was fairly uneventful. I left Quebec City in another heat wave meaning lugging my luggage around was really starting to get to me. Luckily I had the comfy seat train again which was nice. I did also leave my phone charger on the train so swings and roundabouts. Got into Montreal at 9 at night, guzzled down some food and went to bed.
Montreal to Toronto: early train. I haven’t had to get up early for most of this trip. I do not like early mornings, especially when they mean I miss the free breakfast at my hostel and I’m only having to do them because I have luggage to check in. Seriously it’s like flying! Wifi on the train though so I spent most of this journey chatting to people, before arriving into Toronto, buying a new charger, showering and crashing.
Toronto part 2
Here’s a piece of travelling advice: if rocking up in a city for only two days and expecting to be able to do things, check first if it is a national holiday! I arrived back into Toronto on Victoria Day… so a lot of things were closed and it was raining so the holiday fireworks were rained off. Also, due to the torrential rain that had plagued Ontario and Quebec for the last few weeks, Toronto Island was flooded and closed to visitors. So a slightly different few days than I had planned. I explored the University District (very pretty and green) and the Distillery District (less distilleries than you would expect but some nice shops) and had a far more chilled out two days than I was anticipating. I also had to kill 2 hours in my hostel before my evening train, luckily it was happy hour in the downstairs bar, so actually by the time I get on the train I was in a pretty good mood.
Arriving in Quebec City was a shock to the system. Turns out that while I was enjoying myself in Nova Scotia Quebec had been having some pretty extreme weather, snow in Montreal, half the province underwater, meaning that when I arrived in Quebec City the temperature was in the high twenties with 90% humidity. Those that know me well can guess how well I coped with that. The 10 minute climb up the hill from the station to the hostel almost killed me and that’s not an exaggeration. Luckily that evening there was a mega thunderstorm (I love thunderstorms) complete with multi strikes of fork lightning and hail stones! By the morning the weather had cooled down and I was back in my North face coat, the day after was sun burn territory again, seriously Quebec weather is weird.
The city itself is beautiful and does feel more like it belongs in Europe than anywhere this side of the world. It also a city of two halves, one half is historic and European, the other feels like the edgier end of any English city and there’s literally a wall between them! Anyway Onto highlights
Montmorency Falls – a hostel organised tour that I signed up for. A group of us caught the bus, got to see a bit more of the City and then get wet and windswept admiring the falls that are higher than Niagara. Really quite spectacular, just annoying that the zip line that ran across them was closed. After the tour all of us headed back into town and spent the next 7 hours drinking our way through the bars of Quebec, finding that Aussie, English and American really are 3 different languages and eating poutine. It was an excellent day, thanks tour buddies.
The Museum of Civilization – I had time for one museum in Quebec and as I started I really thought I’d chosen wrong. The Hergè exhibit hadn’t yet opened and the ground floor seemed to encompass a somewhat uninspiring, if informative exhibit about the founding and history of Quebec. Upstairs it became one of my favourite museums. The First Nations our story exhibit was spectacular, artwork combined with history, artefacts, projections and spoken words myths and first hand accounts available to listen to throughout. There was an excellent interactive exhibition on the human brain and the study of mental illness and a maze with hidden keys in 6 interactive rooms. Well worth a trip.
I could’ve spent more time in Quebec City, I really liked the vibe, apart from the tourists. You’ll be quietly walking down a side street and then you’ll suddenly run into a huge noisy school group. The whole of the old city is littered with shops selling overpriced tat and restaurants pretending to offer authentic cuisine at an extortionate mark up. Still, it’s a lovely city to just wander.
So that’s Quebec City, if any friends ever fancy it I would definitely consider coming back here, especially off season without tourists and crazy weather!
I will say very little here, because for those of you that follow along I was live posting on instagram for the whole journey. A few quick extras though: on season shiny new trains, while giving me a single seat, are not as comfy to sleep in. Why can they not get the temperature right on the trains! Too hot in the carriage, too cold in the canteen car. Also many thanks to Megan (my train mate from my journey to Halifax) for messaging and telling me how to get my water bottle refilled!