Traveling to Québec City was one of the few trips I’ve done with friends. I normally travel solo. I met up with two other travelers whom I didn’t know, Christina and Henry, in Montréal, and we embarked on a two hour and forty-five minute drive to Québec City.
We had no idea where we were staying, what we wanted to see, or what we wanted to do. One thing is for sure: we all wanted to be in Québec City. It seems to me the most impromptu trips always turn out to be the best, which is another reason why I love traveling. It teaches me not to worry too much and to just trust my gut. I used to love planning ahead and I would stress over every detail to make sure things were perfect. Those days are long gone, thank God!
We stopped at a café so we could have internet access to book a place through Airbnb. We were only one hour away, but we got lucky; Pierre, the owner, immediately approved our booking. Even though I don’t remember the name of the café, I do remember sipping on my café au lait as I watched the snow falling.
When we arrived in Québec City, it felt like we were in a different world. The character of the buildings—churches, homes, museums—is what defines the city. All the bistros and sidewalks cafés give the city an old European feel. I love that the city is compact, which makes it ideal for walking. Walking is the best way to explore, and it can be done in just one day.
First stop was the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec. It’s a must-see national historical site. The interior décor and the ecclesiastical designs of the ceiling are breathtaking. The ambiance was very serene. I felt a subtle energy around me. There is a monumental gold statue of Jesus, which is quite unique and like something I’ve never seen before. Many visitors posed in front of it for pictures.
There are many shops and sidewalk cafés you can easily access. A three-minute walk away from Notre-Dame is Château Frontenac. It’s a castle-like hotel that oversees the St. Lawrence River. Even though I didn’t go inside, that didn’t stop me from admiring its elegance from the outside. I finally understood why Château Frontenac is considered the city icon.
With so many places to choose from, our dining options were endless. We decided to stop at 1640 Bistro at Vieux-Québec (Old Québec) on Rue Saint-Anne. The service was great, the food was fantastic, and the wine was even better. The elegant plating of the food and the portion sizes were a gentle reminder I wasn’t in the United States. Food portions in the U.S. are larger than anywhere else in the world.
We walked around Vieux-Québec, which is the historic neighborhood of the city. Time flew by fast. In the blink of an eye, it was darker and colder. We decided to finally go check in to the apartment. The location was perfect, right on Rue Saint-Joseph, which has a strip of bars, bistros, and restaurants.
You can’t visit Canada and not eat poutine, which is French fries with cheese curds and gravy. After a long day of walking, I needed just that. Henry and Christina were not really big fans. Luckily, one block away from the apartment was Poutine Ville, a popular joint serving the city’s best poutine. The staff was friendly, efficient, and there were plenty of toppings. It was one of the best poutines I’ve ever had.
When the night came, we gathered in the living room, drank some wine, and ate cheese. We talked about nothing, but somehow everything. We laughed our hearts out. The day was nothing, yet everything. Everything I needed. Everything I wanted.
For a moment, it felt like home. For a moment, I felt pure connections, not just with myself but with Henry and Christina who were just strangers hours ago. We were now friends, fellow travelers enjoying our night in one of the greatest cities in the world.