March 31st, the sounds of my “roommate/host” getting ready woke me. I lay there and began my french tradition of listening for him to leave before I got up.
Quiet at last. I took a comfortable, normal person shower, (one where you stand outside and wait for the water to get hot BEFORE you enter!) and then prepared for my day.
Before my trip, I had asked my aforementioned Québec born friend, Robin, what the best places to visit in VdQ were. He had given me a neat little list, and I intended to follow it. I looked up the locations and decided to start with the Musée de la Civilisation.
I googled the route, and then escorted myself 5 minutes from the house to the bus stop. The buses were very easy to navigate in VdQ, compared to Montreal where they are basically a supplement to the Metro. Not necessarily difficult, but still not as reliable.
It was at least a 40 minute bus ride downtown from where I was in St. Foy, so that gave me lots of time to chill out and people watch. One of the stops was the Université de Québec, and seeing the students pour in and out was very entertaining. Some were even speaking english, to my delight.
Unfortunately, this bus ride also featured the worst encounter with a french person of my entire trip. A man came up to where I was sitting, and sat beside me. He then began to speak rapid french to me. I understood one or two words. I began to panic as he handed me a business card. I told him I was on vacation here in Québec, he kind of looked at me funny and then walked away. Then as he was talking to another girl he pointed at me and started making fun of my accent and laughing. That really pissed me off, I was not looking for a conversation with you, BUDDY.
So it made me feel slightly better when I got off the bus 2 minutes later, to crumple up his card and throw it in the garbage. This is an inside joke between my coworker and I, PS, I am a cook. Often at work when I am wrapping the breakfast wrap or the taco in the tinfoil, one sharp corner of the crispy tortilla will tear the foil, and make it unwrap-able. At this point I will pull off the foil, crumple it up, and throw it in the garbage! Lindsey noticed me doing this and started watching me when I did wraps, just for the chance of seeing my little display of aggression, which to her was apparently HILARIOUS! So we began a joke, anything in our lives that frustrates us, the other will say “crumple it up and THROW IT IN THE GARBAGE! It works pretty well with all of life’s paper-based problems.
Once off the bus I had to catch ANOTHER bus to get to the Museum, which is right down on the St. Lawrence waterfront. While waiting for the bus, I was joined by two women with a gaggle of enfants on tethers. It was quite cute, the little leashed french children pulling every which way while the women chatted boredly over top two strollers with four babies each. When the bus arrived they motioned me to board first, and then began the process of corralling the children on after me.
10 minutes later I arrived in front of the museum. There was a breezy chill coming off the river that resulted in me running towards the Museum, rather than the usual slack jawed staring while walking touristic-ly that I had been doing in Montreal.
Inside the museum was very open and spacious. Off to the two sides and upstairs were different areas to explore. I paid for my pass and dropped my coat off at the coat check.
I first headed upstairs. They had an exposé on “Cats and Dogs” which was very cute and educational.
They inserted many interactional tools to teach people about the two animals. Here, for example, is a half wheel they had built to mimic the height that cats can jump.
You were meant to try and jump and hit the highest button you could. I was able to reach the 2,17 mark. So, not a cat obviously.
Here is another example, a poster of the height of various species of dogs that people could measure themselves against:
I am about 160 cm,
Then a chart that absolutely astounded me:
The speed at which two cats could reproduce into 20,736: 4 years!! Mind blowing. SPAY AND NEUTER YOUR PETS, PEOPLE!
After this display I went next door.
This one was a series of rooms, in each one was supposed to be a key that you could find, with clues also hidden all around. I opted out of playing the game, as around 25 school aged children were going through and milling about like ants.
The sky was my favorite room, it was like a little observatory, with a telescope,
Through which you could watch a slide featuring various celestial bodies.
There was also a pile of pillows and string lights in front of a projected screen of our visible starscape, with a voice that named and talked about different constellations while they lit up one by one on the screen.
After dodging rampant children and discovering the wonders of the universe I had worked up an appetite. I went to the cafeteria to get lunch. I was unprepared, however, for the level of food that they served. This was my FAVORITE of all the meals I had throughout my 10 days in Quebec.
My god, I am drooling just looking at it! The soup was very unique, a duck broth, clearly cooked for a long time and very flavorful, duck meat, pulled, but not dry. The vegetables within were clearly cooked to order, thinly julienned, and crispy to the bite. It was such a perfect balance of fresh and depth that I hope one day to replicate. The chocolate “avalanche” was basically a ramped-up chocolate croissant, with little crunchy chocolate pieces floating in creamy melted chocolate, which paired perfectly with my mocha latte.
After lunch I went to explore the other end of the museum. First up was an exposition on the history of several different indigenous populations of Canada.
I took several pictures of the different groups they had, and the tools specific to those groups.
As I reached the halfway point of the exhibit I was approached by a french lady who clearly worked for the museum and told me I wasn’t allowed to take photos here. I said “désole”, and put away my phone. Also in my panic I addressed her as informal “tu” instead of formal “vous” which may or may not have insulted her a bit. Hopefully not!
The next exhibit was on nanotechnology:
This exhibit had a very cool interactive feature, first you chose a duck from what looked like a giant vending machine. You pushed a button and a rubber duck was assigned to you, then you took it to another machine where it registered you, and gave you a random name.
All around the exhibit were different machines that had philosophical questions regarding nanotechnology. There were four answers to each, and you could place your duck over the answer which most closely reflected the answer you would give.
At the end it tabulated your results into a graph to show where you stood in relationship to the general public. On the wall as you entered was a giant electronic graph that showed the overall results of the study. It was quite interesting.
Me & my BFF Iron man, nbd. Also terminator.
Different examples of nanotechnology that exist in our lives.
Stained glass is NANOTECHNOLOGY? Cool.
Even the insect and animal world employ nano-particles in their existence!
Different microscopes throughout history.
Finally I was out of exhibits. I went to gift shop to buy a few cool things, and then grabbed my coat and once again braced myself against the icy cold Québec printemps.
The streets were very steeply slanted this close to the river. Here is a picture that shows the difference!
I walked around the corner from the Museum and found L’escalier Casse-Cou (break-neck stairs!)
View from the top, (left) and bottom, (right) of the stairs.
They weren’t THAT steep but I’m guessing they get pretty ICY in the winter months which might attribute to the name.
The stairs led into a narrow shopping district with storefronts that might have been up to 100 years old or more. It was pedestrian only traffic. Most of the shops were empty besides the cashier when I entered.
I circled through again and found the entrance to the “Funicular”.
It’s basically a glass elevator set at a very steep (45°) angle. For 3.00$ (as of March 2017) You could ride it one way.
Pictures of the St. Lawrence skyline as seen from the Funicular.
Once you arrive at the top you get a beautiful view from the Dufferin Terrace, set in front of Le Château Frontenac.
This is a very cold, windy area. Or at least it was when I was there. So I sought refuge in a coffee shop with precious wifi.
At Baguette et Chocolat I got a mocha latte, a slice of maple pie, and a seat right in front of the huge storefront window, perfect for people watching!
Finally, tired and full of sugar, I made my way back to the bus stop. When I got there I was able to take a cool photo of the funicular in the distance.
When I got back to the apartment an hour later I took a much needed bath to relax and de-stress. Patrice was not home, so I decided to go out again for dinner.
I was craving nachos, so I googled a place to get nachos nearby. I settled on a pub near the University called “Shack”
Here I was greeted by a friendly server and seated between a mid-30’s couple and three “bros”. I sat and quietly ate as I people watched again. Finally when the couple dude’s wife went to the washroom he started speaking to me. I found out he spoke english fairly well, but was Quebec born. His wife was from New Brunswick. They were friendly and patient with my terrible french. After they left a one-man band started to set up, so that was my cue to leave.
At the bus ride home my electronic bus ticket failed for some reason, but the bus driver took pity on my poor tourist self and let me on anyways. I was able to make it back in one peice, back onto the quiet Rue, back into my comfy, borrowed bed, back… to sleep!