Friday, September 27, 2013

A visit to Quebec City

I recently spent 5 days in Quebec City, Canada, and wanted to share with you some of that amazing little town. I call it a town for a reason; it's a quaint and charming 'ye olde towne' despite being the capital of Quebec.
Everyone has seen pictures of the famous Hotel, Le Chateau Frontenac, perched high on a cliff overlooking the St Lawrence river. Currently undergoing a massive restoration only half of the hotel is in operation but it remains a great home-base in the city; most evenings were finished in their round bar overlooking the river.
The oldest parts of Quebec City are actually down on the riverfront far below the Frontenac. This area dates to the 17th century and the exteriors have been faithfully maintained (if not the interiors which hold a warren of gimmicky tourist shops).
The city is surrounded by an enormous wall, separating the old town from the modern city. While once it defended the French and British troops, these fortifications are now freely crossed by hoards of tourists.
Definitely take a walk along the top most part of the wall for stunning views of the city.
The terrain is of course challenging, resulting in some cliff-like streets such as Cote de la Montagne see above.
The main street of Rue St Jean is a charming lane full of shops and restaurants.
I stayed at the luxurious Auberge St Antoine, a Relais & Chateaux property located in the heart of the Old Port district. Centrally located, comfortable, and accommodating, I can't recommend this hotel enough!
Much time was spent in the lounge / bar / restaurant relaxing, reading, and snacking.
What is there to do in Quebec City you may ask? Well......
...the answer is probably not much.  If you are looking for a completely charming and beautiful location to relax, Quebec City may be the vacation destination for you!
Other than a handful of beautiful historic churches there isn't much to tour or visit other than walking the streets of the town.
I know because we saw each and every one. Each church was friendly and happy to have visitors tour their beautiful buildings.
I did find one minuscule shop that was definitely worth a visit, the Boutique a la Capucine near my hotel on the Rue St Pierre opposite the Museum of Civilization.
The weather in mid September was comfortable but rather damp with tremendous fog each evening and morning.
Much of the city was viewed through a romantic mist.
The train station is a beautiful Beaux Arts building down near the river that is definitely worth a visit near the entertaining food market.
Quebec is, as you probably already know, a French bastion of culture in Canada. Amazing French restaurants abound and I highly recommend both the Continental for old school HIGH French food, and the Saint Amour for nouvelle French cuisine. The Cafe du Monde down on the river has fantastic views and a wonderful brunch.
Walking around the city is a pleasure, despite any negative feedback you are sensing here. Surprises lurk around every corner, such as this tiny Victorian rowhouse squeezed between 2 much larger buildings.
The perfect length of time to spend in Quebec City is a weekend. This is generally what travelers have as it's a common stop for cruise ships which constantly hover over the lower part of town.
Lastly I have to commend the city for keeping the town immaculately clean with beautiful plantings and street art to be found through the city. Go for the food, go for the views, but just GO!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Old Town Alexandria Home & Garden tour this Saturday!

Don't miss the 72nd annual Old Town Alexandria Home & Garden tour this Saturday, September 28th, 2013. Tickets can be purchased beforehand ONLINE or at the Ramsey House Visitors Center (221 King Street) and the Historic Christ Church Hall (118 N. Columbus Street) day of.
All proceeds from the tour benefit the Inova Alexandria Hospital; a good cause! The tour has raised over $3.2 million dollars for the hospital since the historic women's association began in 1933; Congratulations and thank you, Ladies! Get 10% off tradeshow booths when you shop at Valid until September 2013.