Sunday, 21 December 2014

Quebec - La belle province

I generally decide the places I'm going to blog about months in advance and, with Quebec, I was hoping that it would be the first time I would actually visit the place whilst I was blogging about it.  I visited Quebec in early October this year but, as you can see from today's date, my armchair travelling took a lot longer than my real-life travelling and I was busy reading and blogging about Palestine, when I was physically travelling across Canada!

Nevertheless, it was great to visit Quebec before approaching it as a blogging topic and I did a lot of reading about Quebec and Canada when I was there in October.  I've also come back with lots of photos (like the ones illustrating this post) that I can use for my blog but, more importantly, I have context for Quebec, which is really important to me.  When I see Montreal or Canada on the news or depicted in movies, I now have a sense of what it's like there and that puts everything into context for me.

Montreal skyline
I'd been to North America once before, on a visit to Cuba in 2010, but this was my first time to set foot on the mainland of North America and, in many ways, Quebec was a fantastic starting point, as some of the first European settlements were in New France - Newfoundland, Nova Scotia and Quebec. It was also great to start my North American adventures in a French-speaking environment and in a city like Montreal which, to me, just looked like the New York I've seen in the movies.

I was fascinated by the steps leading up to the front doors above street level, the weird hydrant pipes sticking out of buildings and the dull brown brickwork of Montreal - I arrived in the midst of a heavy rain storm and the city looked quite grim in the dark afternoon, with an occasional glint of glass or steel from one of Montreal's many high-rise buildings.  I really loved Montreal though - the city has a certain edgy feel to it and it's incredibly vibrant and pulsating with an artistic energy that appealed to me.

Quebec city rooftops
As I only had a week in Canada, I decided to limit myself to Quebec and visit the two main cities, Montreal and Quebec city, as well as somewhere more off the beaten track.  Quebec city was gorgeous, very touristy, pretty cobblestone streets and the autumnal sun was beating down on me, as I set off on a walk around the city walls.  It's in a fantastic location, overlooking the St Lawrence river and it reminded me of Edinburgh, with its Chateau Frontenac perched on top of a hill in the ville haute.

My 'off the beaten track' experience was a very long bus journey to La Gaspesie - one of Quebec's most interesting sub-regions, a peninsula extending eastwards towards the Atlantic ocean and Europe. I saw some of the places where the explorer Jacques Cartier landed during his first voyage to Canada, which he claimed for the French crown.  La Gaspesie is a wonderful place and a world unto itself in many ways - all three experiences; multicultural Montreal, quintessential Quebec city and faraway Gaspesie, gave me a sense of Quebec's variety, as well as its rich history and fascinating cultures.

La Gaspesie
I'm really looking forward to blogging about Quebec over the coming weeks - I've already started reading, listening to music and watching movies.  I hope you'll join me, so we can learn about Quebec together!

Image credits:

All of the photos used on this blog post where taken by me and you are free to re-use them using the Creative Commons license:

- Attribution (particularly to this blog)
- Share alike
- Non-commercial

I've created a set of photos for Quebec which you can see on my Flickr account.  
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