Friday, December 31, 2010

Day 23 - Quebec City Tour

Just putting it out there that it is totally wrong that on a non bag pull day that we are still up at 6.30am for the 7.30am start!  Just wrong! I was really looking forward to today not only was I finally seeing Quebec, which my friends have been telling me all about since they heard I was going. it is chilly there was actually blue sky and limited chance of rain. Wooohooooo
Tres Chicing it up in French Canada 
Made the decision that since I was in Quebec – French Canada that I would tres chic it up today… so hair got totally re straightened and actually wore full make up for the day in well over a week. I have just been doing mascara, foundation and eye brow pencil… and not even that the day before...  
Our first site of the Château De Frontenac 
So on went the black jeans, and new DKNY shirt, thermal and the pink Ralph Lauren scarf,  finally cold enough to wear it wooohooo. Happy girl - this morning. 
Lower Town Quebec
Grabbed the backpack with a change of clothes for tonight’s dinner and the new zipper bag which would be the day bag. Stopped at the ice machine and filled up the drink bottle to last me for the morning because there is usually limited chance to buy refreshments on the city tours. 
Fall Decorations everywhere 
Walked on the bus with the sunglasses on to a volley of wolf whistles! That shocked me … I haven’t been wolf whistled at for years! Thanks everyone for making my day haha. Testament to how daggy I was the past 4 days.  So much for me being invisible!  Not quite working out to plan but hey I was really enjoying getting to know everyone.
The beautiful streets with the Château overlooking it 
We headed into Quebec along the St Laurence river with the fall colours in the trees on the left and beautiful sun lit river on our right – all in all a perfect Sunday morning.
Lower Town 
We picked up our city guide and we got taken off the bus in order to do a walking tour of the lower town along with the other 10 odd tourist groups. So along with the usual tourists there was over 250 tourists all following each other which made it challenging to hear what our lady was saying. Especially with all the French names which made it all very confusing because they all sounded the same.
Lower Town
Quebec is famous not only for the river but also for the summer and Winter festival – especially the Winter one.  With cobblestone streets lined with the beautiful French inspired stone homes and shops in lower/old town it is no wonder it is a UNESCO world heritage site.  With the city surrounded by so many firsts you realise the beauty of the city is how steeped in history it all is.  
The beautiful wall murals 
With the Eglise Notre Dame Des Victories as the first Catholic Church and oldest stone church in North America; one of our first stops of the morning and then you have the cubes which to do this day I still can’t explain why they are there so it was a beautiful area of constrasts.
The Cubes which I still can't explain why they are there
We walked around back to the bus and she told us to stop trying to capture the Château which is one of the most photographed hotels in the world because there would be a idea spot just around the corner and sure enough there it was. 
Chateau De Frontenac 
So the lovely David or Linda from the Welsh crew made sure I stood in one spot in front of the camera and got me. 
the Beautiful stone buildings in Lower Town
We all wandered back to the bus and I was standing outside snapping photos chatting to Christina on the best place to find a toilet and an ATM because I seriously needed some Canadian dollars. 
Overlooking the St Laurence River
Directly behind me is the Chateau
Started chatting with Steve and he was surprised to hear that I had already been travelling by myself for 3 weeks and still had another 4 weeks to go. 
The Citadel
Also the fact that I didn’t have a boyfriend the look on his face was a bit priceless. As I said I wouldn’t be able to this travel and be so carefree if I was in a relationship – I loved the look I got with that one.  I think he was flirting with me … but never sure I am useless when it comes to that!
St Laurence with a bit of Hazey,
Honey child with a sprinkling of Hush 
We headed off on our city tour to the Citadel which is a diamond shaped fort at the Cap Diamant which overlooked the St Laurence river. With the sun shining down it was truly beautiful and even better a toilet stop!!!  Woohooo thank god.  I walked down a bit further along the fortress and it was so beautiful and nice to have the sun on ones face.
At Joan of Arc Park 
As we passed the Battlefields Park they obviously had a big concert or something there last night because they were cleaning it up. I can just imagine how many people were there … I wanted to go. just too bad we were so far out of the city and we could have gone last night.
A random coffin at Joan of Arc Park
We then went to the Joan of Arc Park which was fully decorated with Halloween statues, pumpkins, coffins etc and it was so cool. I am not sure of the name of the park really was. But it was beautiful with the stone steps and the river with the fall colours coming through all around the park. I loved it and the quirky fun it was in the middle of Quebec.
Joan of Arc 
As we drove out we saw these beautiful townhouses which overlooked the park and had the fall colours surrounding them. 
One of the decorations in the park 
As we drove back to the Quebec proper we learnt about how the English vs French language decision is made in each of the homes. It is the mother who decides what the native tongue will be and with most children not taking English lessons until they are about 8 years old. While most people in Quebec are multi lingual French is the language that dominates in most homes and schools.
The Fall colours from the Joan of Arc Park as we drove out
As we headed back to the city proper we saw a Breast cancer run that had blocked off most of the city and since it was officially the beginning of breast cancer month and why not enjoy such a beautiful day by doing something good.  

Monday, December 27, 2010

Day 22 - Boston to Quebec

Woke up feeling very blah today and really dragged my heels in getting ready today because I think the drugs knocked me around a bit. Also I think the weather was really draining me. So I decided to keep it fairly casual today and wore my Canada eh! Shirt with my new GAP pants and pig tails!  Pete someone else enjoyed them as much you did … haha…  Best way of dealing with headaches for me as opposed to a ponytail and bad hair…  giggle
 Fall colours just outside of Boston
As I walked down to Breakfast I said hi to our quiet soul of a Bus driver Steve got a smile out of him at least – he just doesn’t seem to smile much.  I love the free breakfast at the Holiday Inn, Brookline – overall a good hotel, laundry onsite, pool, good restaurant, public transport and good local area. The only drawback was the very noisy air conditioners while the rooms have been all redone the air cons haven’t been and they are very noisy. 
Fall Colours at the Flume 
We took off for Quebec at 8am with a long day on the bus with something like 650kms to cover today and I situated myself up the back and was very comfy with my pink travel pillow so I could snooze as required. Gave the lovely Hilda and Dorothy their nickname of the rif raf which Hilda couldn’t believe. Her response was RIF RAF US! (Now imagine that with a strong English accent)  I just explain it is the naughty children up the back of the bus in a good way of course … the English sense of humour vs. the aussie is still very different but I think they really warmed to it by the end of the trip. These 2 cracked me up because they weren’t afraid to speak their minds and so adventurous in spirit.
The Flume At White Mountains NP
Christina put on a movie the Lucky catch with Drew Barrymore about the Boston baseball fanatics since we were right near Fenway Park. As we left Boston Christina filled us in on more about Boston like the most famous resident was Robert Frost who you will know if you love the movie the Notebook because he wrote leaves of grass.  Also more about the Boston Tea party but I had learnt that on the freedom trail walk I did yesterday.  It was nice to watch that and sort some photos on the lap top. I had Vicki and Kim in front of me today, they are such a nice couple and Kim is a bit of a stirrer which I like. Such an Aussie larrikin stirring me about the chocolate addiction I mentioned on the first day.
Concord Carriage Coach at the Flume 
We made our way through to New Hampshire although we weren’t going anywhere near their capital city of Concord but we had a lot of road to cover today and I have to say we got to see the difference in the landscape and flora as we headed more and more north. The beautiful yellows and oranges in the autumn colours were starting to come through as we flew past. The mountains are nowhere near as beautiful as the Rockies but the beautiful colours and quaint townships were so beautiful.
Concord Carriage Coach at the Flume 
As we got closer to our first stop Vicki decided to plug me for information on cameras and get hers working better for her in terms of some better shots. She was cute about it…. Although she doesn’t have the manual features like my canon I think I helped her a little bit. 
Concord Carriage Coach at the Flume 
Our first stop of the day was at the Flume in the White Mountains at the Franconia Notch State Park, New Hampshire. It was funny because I was one of the last off because I was helping Vicki with her camera and Steve the bus driver was helping all of us because of the steep step off and I said I am all good because I am not an invalid. He made the comment you are just trouble…  last on, last off and wearing pig tails and l can hear you laughing from the front…  at least I got him to smile at least was my retort…  I forget about the southern hospitality but I am more than capable in getting and off a bloody bus… so I think I offended him. 
The pretty water feature as we walked into the Flume

I wandered around the Flume especially outside and got some good shots and enjoyed the coldness of the air. FINALLY!!!!  I love the fact it was cold again. The flume is natural occurring chasm which is about 800ft long with drops of up to 90 feet.  Just too bad we didn’t have the time to go do it because it takes about 45-1 hr. to go through and since we only had 30mins we couldn’t do it.
Old Man Mountain
Apparently there are some covered bridges on the walk and since we were in the state with the most covered bridges it was such a shame that we didn’t have the time to see them. I would love to see them… I almost got to see one the week before on my last week journey in Connecticut, but to me that is always reminds of that area and the fall foliage which I have always wanted to do. One of the reasons why I did the tour when I did … was for the fall foliage.
Halloween decorations at the
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont 
We saw Old Man Mountain shortly after we left the Flume which was a stone face in the side of the mountain with a small portion still left. it was discovered originally in 1805 and then it fell away in 2003.  We made our through to Vermont and I have to admit I was doing a bit of snoozing today because it was such a long day on the bus but the scenery was beautiful.  We didn't go past their capital of Montpelier but Christina did point it out the turn off to it.  Vermont in French means Green Mountains and the state tree is Sugar maple which is perfect for the scenery that we were seeing.  We were on the edge of the Appalachian Mountain range which we would see again when we travelled from Niagara to Lancaster.

Halloween decorations at the 
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont
Our lunch stop was at Newport, Vermont which was only few miles from the border. I have to say the worst steak and food I have ever had.  I should have gone with Wendy’s with the others!!!  Firstly it was a cute location with lots of autumn and Halloween decorations around the restaurant overlooking Lake Memphremagog with Canada within my sights, I was a happy girl. 

Halloween decorations at the 
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont
I waited to go with the toilet and this lady starting having a go at me about the ties hanging down from my track pants. WTF..  I have been on a bus for 5 hours and needed to comfortable so the ties were undone and how old did this woman think I was … I think also because I had my laces done loosely because my feet swell with the migraine meds.  How rude!!!! 
Halloween decorations at the
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont
Then couldn’t find a seat and welsh crew very generously let me sit with them and Jeffrey who wasn’t eating let me take his spot which so lovely of him. They were all such a great group I really liked them all. Such a good comrade in the group and we all got on so well. It made a bad food lunch really good… I almost forgot about the food, I only really remember the conversation over lunch which is always a good sign. I decided to go out since the food was so bad and get some more pictures but I had to pay first and my god… any one would think I asked her to jump in the cold lake the look I got. 
Lake Memphremagog
Apparently it got worse after me. It was because they had 3 bus loads in but seriously it was bad service and attitude. I finally was able to pay and took off outside and Fran was outside as well taking photos with her new filter. It was funny the 2 youngest on the bus were the ones outside taking the photos when on the other tour there were a couple of more experienced photographers than me who were a older always out taking the photos.  Also we were the ones who braved the cold than anyone else.
Halloween decorations at the
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont
We headed out to Duty Free on the USA and Canadian border…  I brought some vodka hehe and a cute pink pashmina but I almost brought a cute Guess handbag but got talked out of by Christina because the one in Niagara apparently has better variety.  Would later regret that decision…  I wish I had got it now.  Steve reckoned that wasn’t enough Vodka for me and I should have brought more!!  Haha
Halloween decorations at the
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont
Had a quick toilet stop while I was there because I wasn’t sure where our next stop would be. 
Halloween decorations at the
East Side Rest. Newport Vermont
We continued on to the border and all filed off the bus with our passports and got stamped by the very cute customs boy J he was almost as cute as the ice driver on the Columbia icefields!!  But no cameras allowed so couldn’t take a photo - bummer dude…  but best thing of all I was back in Canada!!!! Wooohooo happy girl
Fall Colours at the Toilet Stop at Derby Line
We then continued on to into French Canada and made a quick stop at Derby line which was an information centre and toilet stop.  We didn’t have an afternoon tea stop today because we were only a few hours out of Quebec and we had already had 5 stops but this meant we would be in Quebec at a decent time at least.  Also I got some great shots of the fall colours while waiting for the toilet. 
Fall Colours at the Toilet Stop at Derby Line
I pretty much slept the rest of the way into Quebec as I couldn’t read the signs and was bored so it was easier.  I woke up as Christina gave us a French lesson and handed out some easy to remember phrases which would come in handy the next day.  
Fall Colours at the Toilet Stop at Derby Line
We crossed the St Lawrence River into Quebec City and we got a rundown why the St Lawrence River is so important; as it is a major shipping channel connecting Canada, the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.   I think we saw a video on this but I think it was as we were leaving Quebec for Montreal, my memory is a bit hazy due to the migraine from the day before.

St Lawrence River coming into Quebec 
We got in about 4-5pm so we headed up to our rooms and I basically emptied everything I had because somehow my backpack was really heavy and in doing so made a big mess really fast.  But I had a look on the veranda and there was a raccoon on there and got some great shots of him. Jeff and Diana were next to me and I tried to show them the Racoon but he had disappeared because they hadn’t seen a raccoon before either so I was going to let them know when it came back. There was an amazing tree with beautiful yellow leaves overlooking the pool so it was so pretty. 
The Raccoon on the Veranda at the Hotel
I ended up taking the time to straighten my hair since I had some time to kill before heading out for dinner.  Felt like a human being again after being on the bus for 10 odd hours. 
Autumn Colours at the Quebec Hotel
Rugged up and headed out for dinner but I couldn’t find anything to inspire me, the hotel was too expensive for what it was so I headed out to tackle the dining options near the hotel. As we were a fair way from the city centre we had to contend what was nearby locally.  I ended up trying a couple of places but the service was crap. I ran into a couple of the tour people and they had some crap food and service at the Italian restaurant but I still went for a look but no one served me so lost me straight away. 
Autumn Colours at the Quebec Hotel
I ended up at Maccas and struggled with the language barrier and ended up with the wrong dessert which was annoying but I muddled through. But got to eat dinner with the lovely Vicki and kim and got to know them a little bit better since they offered for me to join them for dinner. 
Fall Colours at the Toilet Stop at Derby Line
Headed back to the hotel in the rain …surprise surprise…  was going to make walking around Quebec tomorrow if it was going to be pouring with rain.  I tried to print the complaint form with the bank for the missing money from New York but the printer wouldn’t work so I had to go back to the reception and the girl at the front desk let me email to her Hotmail and she printed it for me.  Finished some emailing, sorting of photos and blogging then headed off to bed early because I couldn’t sit on the bed with the laptop since it had to be hard wired in. No wireless which was annoying so I couldn’t play and watch bad French TV. 
Fall Colours at the Toilet Stop at Derby Line
Fell asleep about 9.30pm since I think I needed it due to the headache that was still looming but I was looking forward to Quebec City as I had heard it was really beautiful.  Although I was nervous since my first encounter in French had not gone well and I am so bad with languages as I can barely grasp the English language hahaha…  
Fall Colours at the Toilet Stop at Derby Line

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I hope you all had a wonderful day surrounded by the ones you love most friends and family.  
Just to prove I really did put up a Xmas Tree 
Being single I am fortunate not to have do the multiple family shuffle and enjoy the time before the family bedlam. Previously I have spent the day cooking or relaxing watching DVD's. Today I spent the day sleeping and returning the 100 odd texts also helped me deal with the pain from my wisdom teeth removal. I had a bad day with it yesterday so needed some recovering time. So I spent the day in bed sleeping and reading so I was pretty content. The past few days has been a haze of baking, finally putting up the Xmas tree with a little help from some friends, and wrapping all the pressies so I think I have worn myself out a bit.  
One of my favourite decorations
On my way to the parentals I dropped in to see some friends as I have for the past 3 years and always feel so welcome. Also I have known them since Primary school so it is just like I am part of the furniture and it was their babies first Christmas which makes it nice and special for them. 

Pressies all wrapped and ready to go 
For those of you who aren't Australian...  to give you an insight on how we spend our Christmas's...  usually swimming, eating and relaxing from the heat and humidity.  The humidity this year was a killer and the constant rain was annoying but with the cyclone off the coast of Queensland it was hard to escape it in Brisbane this year.  

Headed off to the parents and we actually had all 8 kids together this year. Because we have separated partners in my twin and elder brother they alternate which year they get the kids in the morning and usually they don't have the same year. But this year we had all 8 of them with the youngest very excited to get more presents. He was quite upset to realise it was the adults turn and no more presents for him.  That is what Xmas is all about.  

I scored good this year with a new vacuum cleaner, new photo album for all my trip photos, gift cards, cupcake holders and calendars and some other fun stuff. So all in all I did well.  The only thing I really wanted was a book/album to put all my trip memorabilia in ... any suggestions from anyone who has done this would be great and where to get one.  You know the most memorable photos and all the ticket stubs and information from the different spots you visit pictured in an album.  

Because I am hopefully moving overseas I didn't need too much this year ...  otherwise I just have to pack it up and seal it in a box so not really worth it.  

So overall it has been a good day until I sat down for dinner when I bit on my wisdom teeth wounds and that pushed me past my pain threshold and reduced me to sobs.  I had to leave the dinner table and take more drugs which made me feel awful because I have too much in my system at the moment.  So I took a few minutes, lay down on my mums bed...  then re-joined everyone at the table. It was so annoying because this was going to be my first real meal in well over a week so I was really forward to it.  I can barely eat it but to give you an idea on what an aussie Christmas dinner in our household consists of... 

  • Chicken (cold) 
  • Ham (cold) 
  • Salad, 
  • Rice salad 
  • Mums Jellies which is multiple layers of different colours of jelly with mountains of ice cream and ice magic on top.  
  • Christmas pudding... Marshmallows with Chocolate icing and spearmint leaves with smarties. 
  • Lollies
  • Fruit Cake
  • Cashews 
  • chockie rockies...  
So all in all it is a feast.  

So I hope you all had a wonderful day and your present haul from Santa did well.