Jun 24, 2011

Our Quebec excursion: A recap

I'm taking a break from the usual DIY/decor theme here to share a little bit about our recent anniversary trip to Quebec City. Well, actually, it's a little related, since -- as I mentioned in my post about our budget-setting -- we decided to dedicate some funds to this trip instead of home improvement and furniture. While we're itching to buy some new couches, taking a trip to celebrate our first year of marriage was priority numero uno this summer -- and I don't regret it one bit!

The hubs and I have only taken one big trip together, and that was our honeymoon last year. I was a little nervous to see how we'd do traveling together, because the stresses of travel can bring out things in people you might not see otherwise. But we had a total blast and I even learned something new about my new hubby (this usually introverted guy isn't afraid to chat up cab drivers to ask about how their tourist season is going or what restaurants we should try -- totally adorable!). I love doing new things with him, because even after years together, a new adventure brings out things (hopefully mostly good!) in your relationship that routine doesn't.

For our second big trip as a couple, we decided to pick a place neither one of us had been, and a place we could get to easily and for not a lot of money. Quebec is only about five hours from us, and I'm really fascinated by the region's history and French heritage, and since the hubs had never visited our neighbor to the north, "la belle province" was the perfect spot to go.

Quebec is known for the stone walls, a vestige of its original settling in the 1600s, that surround much of the older parts of the city.

We spent three nights at this completely adorable hotel inside the walls that we found just by Googling hotels in Quebec City.

Centrally located, it was easy as pie to leave our hotel and walk around to everything we wanted to see (which was good, because those Quebeckers drove like crazy people! Or maybe we're just not used to city drivers). But what really sold the hotel for me was this:

Okay, it doesn't look like much, until you open it...

O.M.G. I want it all again right now in my belly.

Every morning, the staff hung this adorable basket on our door, so we woke up to fresh croissants, fruit, juice and yogurt. Twice the croissants came with organic maple butter. If you've never had maple butter, just imagine maple syrup but with a peanut butter-like consistency, super smooth and super sweet. Seriously, it's a jar of deliciousness.

The hotel was renovated a couple years ago, and our room was comfortable but still rustic.

Quebec City is full of incredible history every where you turn: cobblestone streets bursting with cafes and storefronts, stone buildings with colorful wooden shutters and hanging baskets of flowers, gorgeous churches tucked in amongst the trees around every corner. We spent most of our time just walking around, taking in all the sights and reading about the historic places.

The rest of the time, we were stuffing our faces with awesome food like tourtiere (traditional meat pie), steak-frites and maple syrup pie (I wish I got a picture of the maple syrup pie, because it was one of the best things I've ever eaten!).

Don't believe what you've heard about the Quebecois being rude to you if you don't speak French. While I do speak some French, I had to transition into English with many people because I'm terribly out of practice, and everyone was extremely nice and helpful. Just remember to say bonjour, merci and au revoir, and most people will appreciate your effort. We brought a little pocket French-English dictionary with us, which helped translate menu items (although many of the wait staff were more than willing to translate for us, and would even describe a certain vegetable or dish if they didn't know the word in English).

At night, we walked the streets, which stayed busy but not crowded, as people ate late, grabbed drinks at outdoor patios and even shopped, since many of the stores stayed open until 9 or later (a rarity in Maine!).

It was quite a charming, romantic place.

I spent a few months living in France, and Quebec definitely reminded me of Europe. It was hard to believe this place was only a few hours from our home, and yet completely different from anything we've seen in the U.S.

We left feeling like we'd seen a lot of what we wanted to see, but of course wanting more time to explore all those little nooks and try all the dishes we hadn't tasted yet. We're already talking about what we'll do next time we visit.

True to my trip advice, we didn't come home with a lot of generic souvenirs. Instead, we snagged some locally made products, like blueberry caramel sauce, maple coffee chocolate sauce and artisan soaps scented with blueberries, maple and cedar. I also bought one of those adorable baskets, which the hotel sold for $35. I told the hubs to put some croissants in it and hang it on the door every morning...yeah, that's not gonna happen :)

Soaps...I bought three!

I hope you enjoyed this little (big??) recap of our trip. Now, it's time to get back to real life and tackle all of those projects waiting for me, like our office redo, which really needs some attention. We've finally gotten our desk, and I can't wait to show you...once I clean up in there. :)

Where are you going this summer? Or where do you dream about going? I'd love to hear about it!

Linking up to Centsational Girl's Travel Destinations link party! Though we've only been once, it's safe to say Quebec City will be one of our favorite places to visit. Stop by the link party and live vicariously through all the great and exotic destinations!


CalypsoInTheCountry said...

What a beautiful place. Years ago, some friends and I took a road trip up to Montreal which was very charming but I have heard that Quebec city is even more beautiful! Great post!

Tabitha@InspiredByGiving said...

Oh just beautiful!! We just went to the Old City as well. Check it out here: http://inspiredbygiving.blogspot.com/2011/06/back-from-quebec.html
Looks like you had a lovely time, and your weather seemed to be a little nicer!

Stephanie said...

Great Details of your trip! I found it on Centsational Girls Blog and wanted to read what you thought of Quebec City. We lived in Ottawa for awhile, so we traveled there for romantic trips as well. Such history and culture, I agree. We also traveled through your area as well. Lovely seafood! It's fun to explore. So glad you enjoyed your trip.

Mindy @ Heart Maine Home said...

Thanks all! We had a great time there and will definitely go back.