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Michelle's Journal

Quebec 1

Day Date Entry
56 Fri, Aug 27

First indication we may be in Quebec, west of the Quebec sign

My first impression of Quebec was that it's cyclist-friendly, with lots of bike paths, but its cyclists are not friendly. Cyclists in all the other provinces reciprocated smiles, nods and waves, but since we crossed the Quebec border, cyclists have been aloof and unresponsive. Fortunately, Bill knows his way around Montreal very well, from the eight years he lived here. Although I spent three years in Montreal, almost all of my time was spent in McGill music practice rooms and at the theatre where I worked as music director, so there is much I haven't seen. We visited some of Bill's old haunts and I enjoyed hearing anecdotes associated with each place. We enjoyed a chat with a woman on the street near Bill's childhood home who knew many of his childhood friends.

57 Sat, Aug 28 A rest day. We looked up acquaintances from our Montreal years in the phone book, but none were listed. We decided against going downtown, as it would require three hours commuting. We enjoyed browsing at Chapters, each bought a book, and spent the evening reading. It was a treat to read and to drink a summer cooler (only $1.09 at the grocery store!), both common in my past summers, but new experiences this summer of cycling.
58 Sun, Aug 29 As today's forecast had been 100% chance of rain, it was a great surprise that it barely rained. The day's cycling was pleasant, even though we were somewhat against the wind. We enjoyed 69 cent hot dogs with cabbage at La Belle Province restaurant, and St. Hubert chicken dinners. As we've been staying in motels rather than camping recently, we've been sleeping better and less sore, and are generally having a very nice time. The town of Berthierville, including our motel and the chicken restaurant, displays much Formula One memorabilia featuring Gilles Villeneuve.

La Belle Province
59 Mon, Aug 30 We're following La Route verte along Highway 138. This bike route runs throughout the province of Quebec, sometimes on good shoulders on a main road, and sometimes on quieter roads or paths that diverge from and rejoin the main road. I'm impressed that the Quebec government consciously considered how cyclists can get through the province and created a safe and pleasant route, complete with "share the road" signs featuring cars and bikes. Manitoba and Ontario governments could learn something here.

Québec cyclists beyond Montreal have been friendly. Although I felt sick and it was raining, I enjoyed today's ride as some beautiful houses lined the road and I was motivated to keep pedaling to see if there were more. Some very attractive houses in an old style are on the road into Berthierville (yesterday) and near Saint Barthélemy (today).

A cute Saint Barthélemy house with a crucifix in the yard

The solid, unadorned house across the street
60 Tue, Aug 31 We spent the night in a suite at Les Suites de Laviolette in Trois-Rivières. This hotel is luxurious at a reasonable price. Hot breakfast was served, with a toaster on each table, and great attention to meeting needs; for example, if you wanted milk, you could choose between skim, 1%, 2%, whole or chocolate! I enjoyed having the heated pool to myself for an hour's morning swim. Cycling, I considered that our home city's tallest, most spectacular buildings are all about business and money, but here, in town after town after town, every tallest, most spectacular building is a church. Many private lawns also feature large crucifixes, crèches or religious statues. Since Donnacona and Neuville only had one overpriced motel, we were fortunate to find Camping L'égaré, a well-organized, quiet campground.

An attractive farmhouse

Some older style houses display a family name crest or two
61 Wed, Sept 1 We had a short bike ride to the Château Repotel in Ancienne-Lorette, then a bus ride to downtown Québec. We enjoyed Van Houtte coffee, then walked all over Vieux Québec. We saw the Artillery Park, Celtic Cross, Citadel, Plains of Abraham, and an alley displaying many paintings. It seemed most everything in the old city was about war, religion or tourism, with many inns and souvenir shops. Among many higher-priced restaurants, I made a fortunate choice in Aux Anciens Canadiens restaurant, in a 1675 house. We each enjoyed a glass of wine, soup, main course and tasty maple syrup pie for $14.75. Dining there was a delicious and satisfying experience. Our calves became quite sore from walking on the very steep roads throughout the city.

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