Author Topic: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR  (Read 1926 times)

Offline Yehoshua

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Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« on: October 23, 2016, 02:36:03 PM »
Quebec City Mini TR

Planning
It was time for another Chol HaMoed trip, and this time we chose Quebec City. I’d always wanted to visit North America’s only fortified city, so when award seats became available on AA (I check every year, they’re almost never available) PHL-YQB I snagged 2 for 15k BA round trip each. For what it’s worth, tickets for my flights were going for $1,041 before we left, making it a relative value of 14.41cpp.

There are limited points hotels in the Quebec City area, but we ended up choosing the SPG option, Hotel Pur. I found it interesting that the hotel was not associated with any of the SPG brands, it was just its own thing. It wasn't a Design Hotel or a Luxury Collection property, but as a relatively new member to the SPG family maybe that will change. We paid 10k SPG for the 1 night we were there. I was debating staying in the Marriott Quebec City for 40k Marriott but ultimately decided that spending an extra 10k Marriott just for a free breakfast (because of Gold status) wasn’t worth it on succos. Both hotels are in good locations and are about a 10-15-minute walk from each other.

For transportation we ultimately decided not to rent a car and stick to taxis/Uber/public transit.  Renting a car would have cost over $100 (all prices discussed here are in CAD) for the 2 days we’d have needed it. By comparison a taxi to/from the airport is fixed at $34.25 while Uber charges $22-$29. The bus to the one attraction we’d need was $11.80 for 2 adults round trip, while parking at the hotel, around town and gas made not renting the clear option. The other reason we didn’t rent is because Quebec City is a great walking city (and biking apparently), so we wanted to spend time walking around, not driving short distances and worrying about parking.

As it was succos, food was another challenge we’d have to deal with. Without any kosher restaurants like Montreal, Toronto or Vancouver, we’d need to bring our own no-succa-needed food or buy what we could from the regular supermarket. We decided not to rely on the supermarkets because we weren’t familiar enough with what kosher food would be available in Canada that would be good for succos, though we did buy fruits and vegetables.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016, Arriving and Old Quebec
American only operates twice-daily flights from PHL to YQB seasonally, one departing in the morning and one in the evening. We decided to maximize our time in Quebec by taking the 8:15 am flight which got us to Quebec by 10am.

We got to PHL 1:15 before our flight out of terminal F and needed to check in (you can’t check in online when traveling with a lap child to Canada). The check-in guy, Geno, was having a real hard time processing the lap child since we needed to “buy” her a ticket. After trying 3 different computers, calling a manager, and overriding the 1 hour check in cut off (we didn’t check bags), we were finally checked in by 7:45am.

We passed though “expedited” security (there’s no Pre-Check in terminal F) in no time at all and ran to our gate. We got to the gate at 7:55 and they hadn’t even started boarding our little CRJ 200.

We were the first to board thanks to American reinstating their families first policy, and took our bulkhead seats 1D and 1F (infants are not allowed on the A/C side of the plane) without too much difficulty.

The flight left on time and was completely uneventful.

After we landed we headed to immigration (which was empty) and waited for our gate-checked stroller at the oversized baggage claim.


Welcome to YQB

The reason we didn’t get our stroller at the gate was because the luggage compartment door was stuck, and it took maintenance a good 15 minutes to get it to stay open before they could get the bags out. Because the plane was visible for both immigration and baggage claim, it was fun watching them try. Two minutes after they took the stroller out it appeared inside at baggage claim.

We decided to take a taxi to the hotel instead of Uber. Officially Uber is banned in Quebec City and operates illegally. They also cannot officially pick up at the airport (the app blocks it), and because of that I didn’t want to do the drop-a-pin-near-the-airport-and-tell-the-driver-I’m-actually-at-the-airport trick. As our Uber driver told us on the return to the airport, it wouldn’t have been a problem and he picks up people from the airport all the time like that. Oh well.

Getting a cab was quite easy enough at the airport and the traffic-free drive to the hotel lasted about 25 minutes.

Hotel Pur is located in the St. Roche neighborhood, a 15-minute walk from the city walls, in the lower city. Quebec City has an upper city and a lower city with the upper city built on cliffs above the lower city. They’re connected with some roads, staircases and even a few elevators and a funicular.

Hotel Pur:






No one met us when we arrived at the hotel and the sole check in person was able to help us check in when we arrived at 11:00am. As an SPG gold member we were assigned an upgraded room on the top (18th) floor with a nice view of the upper city and the old city to the side.

Here are the pictures of our room:














After settling in and feeding our daughter, we picked up a map at the concierge and were on our way off to explore the city.

This is the map of approximately where we walked (5 miles/8km):


Our first stop was the Metro Plus supermarket to buy some fruit and veg. As we continued walking, we saw some amazing murals on the posts supporting the freeway and ramps overhead.

Pictures of murals:




We kept walking and found a nice fountain right outside the train station where we sat down and had some lunch (rice cakes, tuna and tomatoes).


Fountain


Train station


Not sure what’s in this building next to the train station, but it looked cool

Our next stop was the Marche de Vieux Port (Old Port Market) which was in indoor farmers market.







We continued waking around until we came upon the mural of Quebec City:





A few feet down the road we saw a whole harvest display in a small town square:



We walked up the street towards the funicular:



We decided not to take the funicular (it’s cash only), but continue past it to finish exploring the lower town. We came upon another very autumn-themed park with swinging benches.





Right before we turned around to head up to the upper city we saw yet another mural:



There was even a sign that was almost correct, but it’s nice they tried:



Just to the right of the funicular are stairs going up. This is the view looking down:



This is a view from the upper city looking out over the St. Laurence River:



Probably the most famous building in Quebec City if the Château Frontenac which now houses the Fairmont Hotel. We walked around the public areas of the hotel which were just gorgeous.

Château Frontenac pictures:










The statue right outside the hotel:



We walked through the old city, passing through an open air art market on the way. We walked on the main streets staying inside the gates of the city.




St. (John’s) Jean’s Gate




Another gate on Rue Saint Louis

We left the old city through the aforementioned gate and walked across the street to the Quebec Parliament building. We decided to take the last English language tour of the day at 4:00pm.


Parliament

The tour was free and required going through security and registering by showing ID. My wife didn’t have any ID on her, but I had a picture on my phone which was good enough.  The tour lasted about 30 minutes and included a stop in the legislative chamber where we got to see members stating their concerns of the day. While we were able to take pictures all over the building, we were not allowed to bring anything whatsoever into the chamber. All members speak in French and look just as excited as the California state assembly.

The building itself is very nice with lots of symbolic designs, including crests, all over the place.

Some pictures of the inside of the building:






(photography people: how do you take a picture of stained glass when it’s light outside?)













From parliament we headed towards the Plains of Abraham. We stopped by the Jardin Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc Gardens) where they had it all set up for Halloween.





After davening mincha in the park, we walked back to our hotel via Rue St Claire, as there was an elevator there to get back down to the lower city.


Elevator (L) and stairs (R) at the end of Rue St Claire

We got back to the hotel, put the baby to bed and had dinner, which consisted of Cup of Noodles, carrots and corn tortillas heated up using the in-room iron.




Dinner

After dinner I walked next door to the hotel to the Uniprix pharmacy to purchase our bus tickets ($2.95/ride if you get an Occasionnel card) which can be purchased with a credit card. We watched the final presidential debate and went to sleep.

Thursday, October 20, 2016, Montmarcy Falls and leaving
We started the day with a gorgeous sunrise from our room:



We got ready, ate breakfast (we brought puffed rice cereal and bought milk and yogurt drinks at Metro Plus), and by 9 am we were on a bus to the Montmarcy waterfall. The bus stop for the line 800 Metrobus is 1 block from the hotel and the bus comes every 5-10 minutes.

The bus ride took just 30 minutes (it was scheduled to take about 10-15 minutes longer) and before we knew it we were right outside the park.




Top of the falls


View from the bridge above the falls of the bridge to Orleans Island
 
Autumn in the park


View of Quebec City in the far background
 

Natural Fortress




Montmarcy Falls


Stairs down to the bottom of the falls

We spent 2.5 hours walking around. Most people spend 45 minutes to an hour there, but we had a baby and kept stopping to take care of her.

There’s also a cable car that takes you to the bottom parking lot, but besides for some different views of the falls, there’s no real reason to take the cable car unless you park in the lower lot.

Right near the cable car’s upper terminus is a building with restrooms washrooms and a gift shop. We looked around at their unique, locally made items but decided not to buy anything.

We took the bus back to the hotel, ate lunch (same as yesterday), and spent the rest of the time (about 2 hours) walking around the neighborhood and checking out the hotel’s gym and pool. Unfortunately, the pool is closed during the day on weekdays and is only open in the evenings.

We checked out of the hotel at 3:15 pm, called Uber ($24.10) and arrived at the airport by 3:50 for our 6:00pm flight. I decided to arrive super early so we wouldn’t have any issues with the baby’s ticket. I’d already called AA the night before to issue her return ticket over the phone, but because we flew the outbound already the rep couldn’t finalize the ticket and said we’d have to finish at the airport and pay ~$21 in taxes.

After waiting 5 minutes for check-in to open, then 30 minutes in line (despite being 3rd in line), we finally got checked in. It was a super smooth check-in, and I wasn’t even asked to pay any taxes in the end.

We headed upstairs to an empty security checkpoint where we breezed through before finding the lone lounge in the airport which is thankfully a Priority Pass lounge.

I presented my card and all three of us were admitted. Despite the tiny airport, the lounge itself was quite nice.




Salon VIP YQB entrance




Food area








Different seating areas


Conference room


Free massage chair


Business center

The lounge had a few separate seating areas and nice tarmac, plane and runway views. There were quite a few people in the lounge during our visit, but we found an area no one was in and settled there. By this time, it was raining again, so I took advantage and made more cup of noodles we brought with us. We also took some bottles of water and Rold Gold pretzles (the only kosher snacks).

About 15 minutes before we left the lounge cleared out and we were able to each spend 5 minutes in the massage chair, which was nice.

We left the lounge at boarding time for the 20 second walk to our gate, gate 30.

Since I knew there were open seats on the flight (unlike the outbound which was sold out) I inquired if I could bring the car seat (we use a Doona) on the plane for our daughter. After calling over a few managers, making some phone calls and verifying that the Doona did say “for aircraft use”, they decided that since it didn’t have the official Transport Canada sticker/stamp on it I couldn’t bring it on the plane.

This was news to me. We’ve flown out of many countries in the past few months and have never been told that the “for aircraft use” wording was not enough to bring the car seat on board, but Canada is apparently different. Don’t mess with Transport Canada.

We again boarded first and enjoyed an on-time departure despite the rain and made it back to PHL on time at 7:45pm. Immigration was empty, though Global Entry saved us from filling out the immigration card. Customs people wanted to see my lulav, so we had to stop there for a secondary inspection. They’d apparently never heard of succos, despite the people in YQB (and YUL 2 years ago) knowing about it and not giving us any issues. After looking at it with a flash light, asking a few questions and acting quite out of it, we were allowed to go.

It was a short trip, but one of our favorite trips yet, and our favorite Canadian city by far.

End.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2016, 03:19:44 PM by Yehoshua »

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2016, 03:17:56 PM »
Great write up and thanks for taking the time to put it up so quickly! Looks like a really cute town. Loved the murals and the autumn parks. The picture of the colored leaves in the waterfall park is beautiful!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2016, 03:21:59 PM »
Thanks! It really is a nice place to visit, especially for a quick trip.

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2016, 03:29:44 PM »
Thanks, nice report. I was in YQB a couple years back on a winter Friday, and did not get to spend much time there.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2016, 03:45:35 PM »
Thanks, nice report. I was in YQB a couple years back on a winter Friday, and did not get to spend much time there.
What were you doing there, and why so short a stay?

Offline Yaalili

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2016, 04:04:30 PM »
What were you doing there, and why so short a stay?

JetSmarter was offering $4 flights on Xmas and New Years Day back in 2014/15. A flight that worked with my schedule was TEB-YQB, and drove from YQB to YUL for shabbos. - http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/mileage-run-discussion/1654670-prem-fare-gone-private-flights-4-very-limited-dates.html .

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2016, 05:16:26 PM »
JetSmarter was offering $4 flights on Xmas and New Years Day back in 2014/15. A flight that worked with my schedule was TEB-YQB, and drove from YQB to YUL for shabbos. - http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/mileage-run-discussion/1654670-prem-fare-gone-private-flights-4-very-limited-dates.html .
Cool!

Offline zow

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #7 on: November 20, 2016, 08:29:50 PM »
Yehoshua,
Thanks for a(nother) great TR. In late August 2001, I was in Quebec City with my wife and two children (now three, c"H), and my favorite memory was dancing with my then 15-month old daughter along the promenade below Chateau Frontenac, to the sounds of street performers. It was pure bliss. So much has changed since before 9/11, but I think those kinds of simple pleasures still exist. Thank you for taking the time to report.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Quebec City Mini TR
« Reply #8 on: November 20, 2016, 08:41:08 PM »
Really glad I could stir up good memories.