Brent woke me up as he returned from the gym, I did not care as I felt great after ten and a half hours of sleep. I took forever getting ready because I could not decide between wearing regular leggings or fleece-lined ones under my jeans because it was -12C outside. We were starting out the day near the hotel so I opted for the regular ones, with the thought that I could just go back to the hotel if need be. The in-room coffee was just awful, nothing can substitute for real milk. I chased it with a cup of Cold 911 tea, which I was actually starting to like. That and the Mrs. Fields cookie I had packed from Toronto, washed away the memory of the bad coffee. As I was slowly getting ready we watched a house-flipping show, not the usual trash reality TV because it was a Saturday morning.
We started out our day walking on the terrace by the hotel and looking down into the lower city and out across the river. We bought tickets for the ice slide and started heading up the hill. Halfway up we noticed a sign saying to bring a sled with you from the bottom. They could have made that more clear earlier on. At the bottom there was just a crowd of people and it was tough to tell what was going on until a lady told us, in French, that there was a line-up. The ice slide was not at all what I had imagined. I honestly thought we would be sliding down an ice chute to the lower part of the city. Instead it was three tracks down a small hill running parallel to the wall. I was surprised at how fast it was, the bumps along the track really hurt my butt and the wind was so cold and it whipped my hood back. No matter, we won the race.
We walked to Montmorency Park and past the seminary. There were cannons in the park and great views of the city down below. At City Hall there was an Inukshuk version of Bonhomme. The city was Carnaval crazy, with Bonhomme’s face everywhere. All around there were gorgeous old buildings. Up next on our tour was an old hotel from the 17th century which was now connected to an Augustine nunnery with a nice little old white church. From there we went over to the military park, it was not open and we could not go inside the barracks. I made jokes about the soldiers having snowball fights.
We stopped in at Place D’Youville to see what was happening there for Carnaval but it was just an outdoor skating rink and they were giving away free McDonald’s coffee (no thank you, one bad cup of coffee is more than enough for me in a day). On the way to lunch we passed by an SAQ (liquor store) and stopped in to see what they had. I found a carbonated maple wine and as was quickly becoming the theme of the trip, I had to try it. A few doors down we found a convenience store that had a better beer selection and so Brent topped off his haul. The plan was to have lunch at La Pain Gruel. Alas it was a small bakery with no seating. We got a loaf of bacon cheddar bread for snacking on later, and each got a pastry and ate it as we walked. The praline one I had was so good, much better than the chocolate croissant that Brent had. It was so cold out that I had to eat with my gloves on.
The next stop was another Carnaval site. At Le Park Amerique-Francaise there were snow sculptures. Those in the international competition were still works in progress, whereas the national wons were completed and had been judged. It was cool to see them in all different stages. They were very well designed and it made me wonder how exactly one gets into this hobby?
The Plains of Abraham was a giant expanse of a park. There was a cool-looking watch tower looking down over the hill and towards the river. As we walked through the park, looking at the cross-country skiers I noticed on my map that there was a citadel up ahead. We had to go check it out. Up on the citadel it was so windy and unbelievably cold. But the views of the river down below were amazing. Totally worth it, even if my fingertips did go numb and putting on my mittens over my leather gloves barely helped. It was so much nicer once we were back down and away from the wind.
As it turned out, our next stop, Esplanade Park, was the Carnaval site where we had gone the night before, with the ice bar and Bonhomme’s ice palace. Even still we decided to go check it out in the daytime. It was a lot busier and we were glad we had gone the night before. There was a huge line-up to get into the ice palace and there was a marching band playing outside of it. The walkway the other Carnaval site, on the other side of the wall was now open. It turns out the site we had tried to enter the night before was the children’s site at Carnaval. There was a weird and small petting zoo that had only a few animals, including a very fuzzy donkey. There was a radio station giving away marshmallows on sticks to roast in the firepits. Again, I did nto feel like taking out my Invisalign, not in the cold and when it was so crowded. Brent got one and it turns out it was strawberry flavoured, he was not pleased.
Our last stop of the walking tour had the word “ursuline” in it, that was all I could remember. I was convinced we were going to a bear museum. Turns out it was a nunnery. Not as nearly as interesting but still a nice old building to see. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a convenience store. I found a maple Mars bar and of course, had to buy it. I also found some rather expensive maple butter and bought only one, for my mom as a souvenir.
In the hotel I discovered that we were close to a PokeStop and I didn’t even have to leave the room! The plan was to rest a bit before heading out for dinner- the perfect excuse to set a lure in the PokeStop and hunt Pokemon. And for the next half hour I found myself cursing as all I caught were Magnemites. The Mars bar was delicious, the bread was amazing and the wine was good but a little bit weird. It was the perfect snack break. Except that the wine had a cork and now I could not reseal the bottle and I had to drink it all. Thankfully it was a small bottle. I managed to make the bottle last an hour and a half as I wrote and caught Pokemon. Somehow I was so exhausted, I ended up plotzing and watching a reality TV show about tattoo artists.
For dinner we went to Poutineville on a recommendation. We were hoping that on a Saturday night it would not be too busy. It was anice walk, we got to see City Hall all lit up in the evening. I ordered the signature which was smashed potatoes and topped with braised beef. I did not want to look like a light-weight so I ordered the regular size instead of the junior. It was just a bit too much food, but migawd, the smashed potatoes were incredible. It was easily some of the best poutine I have ever had. Nothing on the drink menu caught my eye so I stuck with just regular old Dr Pepper… until I saw that they had sparkling cider! Damnit! The bathroom door at Poutineville cracked me up, rather than the usual lady symbol, it was a lady who really had to go, there was a real sense of urgency.
We took a different route back to the hotel, stopping at PharmaPrix to get me some more cold medications. I had been expecting a Shoppers Drug Mart, not a tiny little mom&pop-seeming shop. Needless to say, the snack selection was subpar. However we passed a grocery store on the way. There I found some maple sugar (and cheaper maple butter, grr) for more souvenirs. We passed by a David’s Tea and I could not pass up a chance to finally get some Honey Lullaby tea.
Back in the hotel we looked up nearby bars that had good craft beer selections. We were still tired and so full, rather than head out we watched Homeland while I refueled with more tea. By the time we decided to head back out we were still very tired. Instead we went to the ice bar to see what was happening and maybe have some more Caribou. It was not very busy inside. It was nice to stand by the fire pit, it was so cozy and something I could get used to. We finally got to see some people drink Caribou from the plastic Carnaval canes. Not a good souvenir, $30 and its plastic and it would be awkward to pack. There were lots of people out and about walking the streets in their snowpants. We were too tired for the bar, we headed back to the hotel instead. It was so nice to have a hot shower, the steam did me a world of good. My cold was just awful. This had not been our original evening plan. We were supposed to go see a Carnaval parade but it aws happening at the other end of town, a 20 minute drive away. Instead we stayed in, whiel I nursed my cold with more tea and we started watching Man In The High Castle on Amazon Prime. As we walked up to the hotel a horse-drawn carriage pulled up to its parking spot to wait for passengers. In the backseat there was just a dog in a coat, it looked like he had hired the carriage and it amused me to no end.