Québec City in December

Note: I’m releasing this without a proofread. I’ll get back to it to make corrections later. Enjoy!

Dates: Wednesday, December 8th – Monday, December 13th, 2021

Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

This is a big deal. Janet and I plan to take our first-ever train trip from Halifax to Québec City and stay in one of the most iconic hotels in Canada, Chateau Frontenac. We board our train at 1:00 pm and travel in a sleeper car arriving in Québec City around 7:00 am on Thursday. That is not the best timing given check-in is closer to noon but with luck, our room will be ready when we arrive. Once settled in and rested, we will start to explore the shops, restaurants, and historic sites around the hotel. Our only fixed event is High Tea at the Chateau on Saturday afternoon at 3:00 pm and of course Mass at 9:30 am Sunday Morning at Basilica-cathedral Notre-Dame de Québec. And then we climb about our train late Sunday evening for the return trip home. That’s the plan and both Janet and are excited for this special time together.

Loaded with our matching luggage borrowed from Marissa and Melanie, Drew picked us up at home at noon and dropped us at the train terminal around 12:30 pm. I had sent a note to VIA to ask how long we should arrive before departure the day before. The response arrived after we boarded but apparently the timeline is 45 minutes.

We got all checked in for our sleeper car, booked the third seating for lunch at 2:45 pm, and headed down the ramp to car 39. In addition to our luggage, we had picked up some groceries for on the train. Meals are included when traveling in a sleeper car but with COVID that is the only time. The lounge is comprised of a couple of comfortable seats in a WiFi zone but the bar is not currently operational. I considered taking some J.D.Shore so I could do a little adult refreshment sipping while on the train but we were already more loaded down than we needed to be.

Our Porter, Dave, lifted our bags onto the car and led us to Room 5. It is pretty tight walking down the corridor of the sleeper car but we managed okay. I was curious how it would be when the train was in motion. It wouldn’t be long before we’d find out.

Our seats in the sleeper car face forward which I understand is pretty standard. It is a comfortable coach with two outer seats and the center seat pulled down as a table. There is a pull-down bunk so when set up for the night there is a lower and upper bunk. At this point, I’d had no idea how that worked but it was already decided Janet would be up top to reduce the risk of me falling during the night. In hindsight, it wouldn’t have been a problem but we only discovered that later and Jan was okay with the upper bunk.

The bags we had didn’t fit under the seat but the groceries did. A sleeper car is plenty of room for the ride but light on extra space for luggage. Both our bags were quite full and we had the extender piece open. If closed, they might have fit. This is only important as we were tight on legroom. Let me share a few observations about the sleeper car in case you take a trip sometime in the future.

  1. First and foremost, I really enjoyed the train and look forward to the trip home on Sunday. I will travel this way in the future if the opportunity arises appreciating that it takes longer than flying and/or driving and is more expensive but only marginally once you factor in hotels and meals.
  2. Janet and I each brought a bag which is the luggage we borrowed from you. I brought more than I needed but not your Mom. Both have the extension unzipped. They cannot fit under the seat so took up a lot of floor space. I’m not sure they’d fit even if we didn’t have the extension unzipped but perhaps. There isn’t that much floor space so they were more in the way than we would have liked.
  3. We did bring a lot of food which did tuck under the seats. I’m sure you’ll want to bring a few snacks. We brought too much but we’ll know better for the future.
  4. Both the meals we had were good and it was nice to go to the dining car just to get a stretch. We had lunch and dinner. On the way home, it will be breakfast and lunch. The service is good. The meals are included but the gratuity is not. I’d say $10 is about right for breakfast and lunch but that’s your call. I think you should have some cash for your porter who takes care of you during your time on the train. We tipped $20.
  5. I think it’s okay to walk the distance of the train any time you want. Good to get a little stretch. I didn’t but I think I will on the way home so I can count how many cars there are. I think it was about fifteen.
  6. I was thinking about bringing some J.D.Shore but didn’t in the end. You might like to do some social sipping during the day on the train. Other than during meals, there is no lounge service on the train.
  7. All the ventilation comes from the ceiling. I wished I had a turtleneck as I was cold a lot of the time even though we had the temperature up. Fast-moving air is colder in temperature; Bernoulli’s principle.
  8. The bathroom is more spacious than I expected but the shelf space is at a minimum. The shower is hand-held and it worked okay but the water didn’t get as hot as I’d like but it was still a way to freshen up. The who bathroom is the shower stall so everything gets wet is you splash around. The water in the sink is plenty hot but the volume is underwhelming. 
  9. Janet had no problem getting in the top bunk other than the suitcase was in the way. We ended up putting one on the end of the lower bunk tipped on edge and it didn’t interfere with the room I needed to stretch out but I’m not very tall so you might find it in the way. Having it there made it easier to get into the bathroom once the ladder was in place for the upper bunk.
  10. There is quite a difference in the motion you feel in the bottom versus the top bunk. The train does rock from side to side which is normal and hardly noticeable in the bottom bunk. It’s like a pendulum; in the top bunk, the sway is definitely more noticeable.
  11. The beds were comfortable and the bedding warm. I slept quite well.
  12. I don’t know how many cars were on the train but I’m guessing about fifteen. The engine, followed by a baggage car, then a couple of coach cars, a couple of sleepers, the dining car, the lounge car (which is a wi-fi zone – none in the room), a couple more sleepers (we were three back from the lounge), and then a couple of coach cars. Being that far back, I only occasionally heard the whistle when the train went through one of the hundreds of crossings. I’m sure you’d hear it all the time if closer to the front so I suggest you request a sleeper to the back of the train.
  13. I have a bluetooth speaker and a lot of downloaded music on my phone. This made for a more pleasant ride on the train. There is lots of power to charge phones and/or any other device you bring along.
  14. There is a push button in the sleeper which I thought Dave said is a way to bring him. We needed him to put the bunk up the next morning so I pushed the button about 5:00 am; opps, it sets off an alarm so it’s not like a call button but closer to an emergency call. Ah well, lesson learned.

What follows is a gallery of photos from our time on the train.

Thursday, December 9, 2021

We arrived, as predicted, just around 7:00 am at the station in St. Foy. I booked to the train station called Québec Gare du Palais, which is close to the Chateau Frontenac. However, only VIA trains on the Québec/Montreal corridor arrive and depart at this location so we need to take the shuttle from St. Foy to the Chateau. It will be the same on the way home, we get a shuttle (likely a cab which is pre-paid other than gratuity) from Québec Gare du Paris station to the St. Foy station. The driver acted as a tour guide on the way in and dropped us at the entrance to the Chateau so we didn’t have to walk from the Québec Gare du Paris which is a distance of 1.1 kilometers. With our luggage, that will be too far for me to walk on Sunday so we plan to take a cab.

The Doorman took our luggage and pointed us to the elevators to the Gold Floor. Yes, we could have booked a regular room but I decided we’d go upscale. It turned out to have some important advantages I’ll mention later.

The lobby of the Chateau is spectacular and decorated for Christmas in every direction you look. What a tremendous first impression. However. we booked on the Gold floor so rather than check-in here, we take an elevator to the 14th floor. Remember we are very early so all I expect is to get organized so we can figure out what we’ll do to use the time while waiting for a room to be ready. My hope is we might luck out and find we can check-in right away but I’m not expecting that to be the case.

In fact. it went the other way. We get off the elevator and head to the counter a few steps up the corridor which is also the entrance to the lounge on the 14th floor. I share my name with one of the people on the desk. There are other guests heading into the lounge which serves breakfast from 7:00 – 11:00 am from a fixed menu.

The receptionist reports that her system shows us checking in on January 28th. I’m tired from the trip so my panic system jumps into overdrive. She mentions the full name on the reservation and it’s a different O’Hara so I have her look further.

She finds our reservation but her system shows us checking in next week on Thursday. That was our original date but with treatment changes, I moved our reservation up a week. So my spidey senses click into anxiety mode again and I pull out my phone, locate the updated reservation so she can read off the confirmation. She acknowledges there is no doubt we’re arriving on the correct date and then mentions that online changes sometimes don’t filter through correctly to the main system, and for our dates, there are no rooms available with a river view. That’s not a show stopper but it was my first choice. She does find a room on the 11th floor with a city view and as it turns out it is ready for an early check-in so even though things didn’t go as smoothly as I hoped, we were able to settle into the room and catch some rest as we organized our day. All is good.

The room is lovely and the city views are beautiful. The skyline is filled with engaging and architecturally interesting buildings. The millwork in the room is spectacular everywhere you look. There is every possible amenity in the room including rich housecoats and slippers. The bathroom is equipped with high-end fixtures and there is the best shaving mirror I’ve ever seen.

Both Janet and I got changed and cleaned up a bit so we could head up to the 14th floor for a bite of breakfast. We also needed to get our hotel cards which show we are fully vaccinated. It saves having to dig our passport and ID every time we use a hotel service. This proved to be most convenient as our stay progressed.

I set up my Bluetooth speaker and started some season music while Janet got herself organized. I also checked out the expresso machine and mini-fridge. I have some salsa I wanted to put in the fridge but it was fully stocked. To make space I removed a random IPA. It wasn’t only until I more carefully read the room cards that I discovered as soon as you pick a product up in the mini-fridge, it automatically is charged to our account. In hindsight, I wish I had picked up something I know I’d like but ah live and learn. I expect Brad will enjoy the IPA when we get home; haha.

At any rate, we headed to the lounge for breakfast. Although there are minor changes from one day to the next, breakfast in the lounge is always two courses; the starter, for example, is fruit/nuts, salmon, crepe, and cheese and the second is a hot dish which typically is bacon, scrambled eggs, a home fries.

So we finish up breakfast and I’m waiting for the bill. We are so naive; all the food on the 14th is complimentary for Gold guests. As such, there is no bill on which to base a gratuity and we didn’t have much cash. I’m not sure the servers expect a tip but it felt right. We make a note we need to have more cash in hand for the rest of the trip. We didn’t have what we needed on the train either.

The 14th Floor lounge is fully licensed so any alcoholic beverages are charged back to the room. We also learned that we can come to the lounge at any time as there is coffee, tea, juice, etc. available around the clock. We also learned that there is an appetizer sitting between 5:00 and 8:00 pm which is also complimentary. This was an unexpected bonus but when I checked the Gold floor details later, I realized it is mentioned. We didn’t make this trip with the budget plan in mind but having a food expense covered at the start of the day and later in the afternoon will certainly make a positive difference. You might be curious about the room rates:

  • Regular rooms range from $260 to $359 per night.
  • Gold rooms range from $386 to $3,150 per night.

We had selected the Gold River King which was $486 a night. That rate is before tax and other fees so our final three-night fee is estimated to be around $2,154. And anything we add to the bill like the IPA from the mini-fridge is extra. So yes, this is very high-end and the most I’ve ever paid for a hotel but we are sitting in the absolute lap of luxury.

During breakfast, several people spoke about the German Festival just across from the hotel so we decided that would make for a good afternoon destination. First, we took a rest period in the room to ensure I had plenty of energy to enjoy the afternoon.

Although I’m not prone to take them unless necessary, I do have Tylenol 3 to help with the back pain I’ve had since injuring my back several months ago. I take a long time to heal from a compression fracture of my L1. I find they both eliminate the back pain so I can stay on my feet longer and they perk me up energy-wise. I brought them along to make sure I could cope with the longer time walking around than I do on a normal day. I don’t want anything to spoil this trip with my loving wife.

By the way, Janet is just aglow with joy on this trip. We are holding hands all the time. I’m sure it looks pretty romantic to anyone passing us on the street and frankly, I like to hold onto my wife although we’re more her arm under my arm. These days, however, especially where the sidewalks are slippery, holding hands helps me be more steady while being romantic. And where arm in arm, if I slip we’ll both go down so I think we’re a little safer holding hands.

Apparently, there are 90 different booths at the German Festival. If that’s the case, they’re well hidden. I was expecting a lot of Christmas decorations and loads of food. I was somewhat underwhelmed but ah well. Janet is looking for a particular decoration and we didn’t see anything close. However, across from the food booths, there was a store specializing in Christmas decorations of every imaginable nature so we headed there and found what we were looking for.

Nextdoor to the Christmas store, there was a welcoming Pub (of course what Pub don’t I find welcoming even if I’m just a sipper these days) so we thought we’d drop in for a late lunch. Clearly so did a lot of other people as there was a lineup. That was the end of that option but Drew and I ate at a place with Crepes not far from our location so I headed in that direction on Rue Saint-Louis. The restaurant is called L’Omelette where clearly omelets are their specialty but they have several different kinds of crepes which are to our taste. Janet went savory with ham and cheese and I went sweet with blueberries and ice cream. Of course, given the minimum quantity I can consume, Janet got the best of both worlds. She didn’t clean off my plate but made a good stab at it.

The Frontenac is just up the street a ten-minute walk so we headed back for a rest and the plan to head to the lounge for appetizers later in an hour or so.

We took books with us and a plan to find a couple of comfy chairs instead of a table. Mission accomplished and we both set off to read a few chapters. The appetizers showed up around 5:00 pm and before long we were both fully satisfied as we still had a fleeting memory of the crepes sitting in our bellies. We are consuming a lot of very tasty meals and most are sized as they should be for me. Janet, on the other hand, is helping out with my plates frequently so I suspect there will be a few more sessions on her exercise bike when we get home. I don’t think that is cause for concern. We aren’t here to deprive ourselves.

We headed back to the room and chilled out for the rest of the evening. I was asleep pretty early and boy did I sleep well.

It has been a good start to our time in Québec City. We are having a blast.

Friday, December 10th, 2021

A fixed menu breakfast is served in the 14th Floor Gold Lounge between 7:00 and 11:00 am daily. It consists of a starter plate which is the Chef’s choice but typically includes yogurt, fruit, small crepes, cheese, and salmon followed by a main of scrambled eggs, bacon, and home fried potatoes. The food for breakfast (and later in the day the appetizers between 5:00 and 8:00 pm) are complimentary as a benefit for guests staying in Gold rooms. The breakfast was an excellent start to the day but like all my meals, there is too much food for me to consume at a single sitting. As I write this I’m reminded of the song, “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth.” In my case, however, the title would read, “All I want for Christmas is My Stomach.”

The table we’re at is in one of the corner turrets. It looks very inviting but without question, it is only suitable for two guests. The tablespace is quite small and becomes crowded with only a few dishes. And even though surrounded by windows, they are behind so the view is limited. Odd how I thought they were the best seats in the house but now I’m not so sure.

To tell the truth, I’m enjoying every moment of this trip and my health has been good. The cold is bothering me, especially my hands. I saw a woman wearing heated gloves today and thought that may be a sensible purchase in the near future. Also, I find it a drag that every time we move from outdoors to indoors, like in a shop, it takes such a long time for my glasses to defog.

And we were off to Old Québec at the bottom of the Funiculaire du Vieux-Québec. A funicular is a type of cable railway system which connects points along a railway track laid on a steep slope. The system is characterized by two counterbalanced carriages permanently attached to opposite ends of a haulage cable, which is looped over a pulley at the upper end of the track.(*) The entrance to the funicular is just a short walk from our hotel entrance off the promenade called Dufferin Terrace. At the bottom, the area is called Quartier Petit-Champlain. Riding the funicular sure beats taking the steps; especially up – yikes! If I had to climb the steps it would take me forever; take a few steps, rest, then a few more, rest, and repeat.

Quartier Petit-Champlain is beautifully decorated with Christmas trees, seasonal displays, and ornaments in every direction you looked. It surpassed my expectations and we’re here during the day. It must be breathtaking at night. Every store window is themed for Christmas. I did find the walking treacherous and thought it could have been better cleared so we took it very slowly.

We weaved in and out of various shops which were filled with many Canadian-made and Quebec-made crafts, carvings. paintings, etc. There were also plenty of imported goods in the souvenir shops and I did find a Canadian crested mug very much to my taste. We also picked up a few other things I can’t mention here as they are Christmas gifts and that is still almost two weeks in the future. I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. They had plaid pajamas with butt flaps everywhere and I was tempted to get one for myself but it would be more entertaining if both Janet and I had a pair. She was only interested in the nightshirts which wouldn’t have been as entertaining. I’m still thinking about them. They are in every souvenir store we’ve visited so far. They all have toy buses so I suspect we’ll get one for Jacob; still undecided.

By the way, the funicular takes us to the bottom of the cliff on which the Chateau is built. It costs $3.50 each but that was money well spent given the alternative of using the stairs. Curiously later when we were returning to the hotel, the funicular was out of service briefly. I can’t say I had a panic attack but it was cause for momentary concern. We had to wait about five minutes but at the end of the wait, up we went back to the warmth and welcoming comfort of our Signature Gold Room 1220. There is a fireplace in the room which I’m sure at some point was fully operational. Now it is empty. I’m surprised they didn’t install an electric unit and then promote it as a romantic feature of the room.

It had been a busy day. We took a break and headed to the 14th Floor Lounge for appetizers. Each night there is something a little different. We took our books and found a couple of comfy chairs to do some reading while waiting for the appetizers. We had eaten so much

It was a wonderful day.

Saturday, December 11, 2021

As usual, we were up pretty early and relaxing with books and in my case recording my thoughts in this blog. We got cleaned up with the goal of getting an early breakfast in the 14th Floor Lounge. Funny, as comfortable as the corner tables look, we discovered yesterday the tablespace is limited so we opted for a traditional table instead. It proved more comfortable from my perspective and we had a nice city view.

Breakfast always starts with a Chef’s Selection of yogurt, fruit, small crepes, cheese, and salmon followed by the main course of scrambled eggs, bacon, and home fried potatoes. By the time I get to the main course, I’m so full from the Chef’s Selection that I can only eat a small portion before I’m at my limit. I think tomorrow I’ll start with the main and then consider the Chef’s selection if I have room left.

After breakfast, we took a break more for me than Janet. I need time to let the food settle. We decided to explore the streets in and around the hotel. In particular, we understood that Rue Saint-Jean is filled with small stores and many restaurants. We got bundled and out we head.

Like our prior exploring, we found walking to be treacherous in locations as there was a lot of ice. We both take great care but once we’re on Rue Saint-Jean it is pretty flat and as reported it is filled with many shops, some the usual low-end souvenir shops but many filled with locally made crafts and beautiful items. In one, Janet found a beautiful set of earing which will be her “surprise” Christmas Gift.

It was raining slightly so that made it less inviting than previous days but with that said, it was warmer so one pro is matched by one con. As promised, Rue Saint-Jean is loaded with restaurants. We read many of the menus and picked an Irish Pub. Ironically it wasn’t so much that it was Irish but they had Chilli on the menu and I had a craving. So here we are heading into an Irish Pub to have Mexican food; go figure.

It was just around 11:00 am and they were just opening so not as ready to serve as later in the day. That was fine as we weren’t in a hurry. As usual, there was way too much for me to consume but Janet helped out. She just order toast and I added a side of onion rings. Janet intentionally didn’t order much as she didn’t want to spoil High Tea later in the afternoon.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel to have a break. I didn’t realize how many hills we had come down so it was a long walk getting back. And it was raining the whole way so we were wet and cold but that’s okay as we had a nice warm room waiting and had a good break getting organized for High Tea.

High Tea

There were many reasons Janet and I visited Québec City. First and foremost it is a beautiful city with a feel of a European location. It is culturally captivating. The ambiance and the feel engages me in a way I don’t experience anywhere else in Canada. I look forward to returning in the future.

That aside, I knew a highlight for Janet is an experience known as High Tea. Ironically the event at the Chateau Frontenac and other iconic Canadian hotels is actually Afternoon Tea whereas High Tea is actually what we’ve come to call supper or dinner. That’s really just semantics.

Unlike making tea at home, the leaves are put in the pot, boiling water added, and after steeping you pour it through a filter directly into your teacup. There are about two cups in the pot and hot water can be added if you wish.

The Frontenac menu is divided into the following categories (taken directly from the Chateau Frontenac Menu for Afternoon Tea):

  • Upon Arrival – this is a fruit dish on tapicoa pudding with the goal of cleansing the palatte. I suspect the fruit changes from time to time depending on the season. I actaully quite like tapioca and will learn how to make this when we return home.
  • Tea Service – there is a selection of 35 teas although due to COVID some of the varieties are difficult to source at this time. For Tea, there are two pots on the table where the leaves are added to the pots first and then boiling water added.

    Janet select Creamy Earl Grey which is Black Tea with beans from Sri Lanka, India, Kenya, an infusion time of 4 – 5 minutes and describes as a remarkably heady earl grey tempered with wickedly delicious cream flavor. One cup is not enough.

    I picked a Flora’s Berry Garden which is an Organic Herbal Tea with beans from Bulgaria, Greece, and Egypt, an infusion:= time of 6 – 7 minutes, and described as Full flavored with deep berry notes, Burgundy red providing strength and character.
  • Traditional Scones – while the Tea is steeping, we are each served two Scones which are served warm with jam and housemade Devon cream which is a clotted cream produced in the county of Devon, England. Interestingly, in Devon, cream is traditionally spread first on a scone, then topped with jam. With a butterfat content of 48%, it is much more decadent than whipped cream but slightly lower than clotted cream.
  • The Classics – are Sandwiches and amuse-bouches Served on a gourmet tower. The lowest layer of the tower is savour while the middle had curcumber sandwiches, a mild spread cracker, and a small lobster salade.

I don’t know why but after High Tea I crashed. This happens sometimes for no good reason. It was late in the afternoon so it was okay. We canceled our dinner reservation as simply wasn’t up for another adventure and I had no appetite which is pretty typical. I guess it was my body saying I needed a break.

Even with the quiet end of the day, it was still pretty special overall other than my need to rest. I can’t believe how quickly the time passed; we head home tomorrow evening. Just one more day to enjoy Québec City. Ah well.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

We woke up to bright, sunny, and temperatures around 7°C. This was such a shift from earlier in the trip and yesterday (Saturday) it rained most of the day. An upside of the rain is that it washed away some of the snow but for the most part, it turned the snow to slush and the walking was just as treacherous as it had been for the last couple of days. Nonetheless, we were not deterred from carefully walking around but wow were we slow.

The time has flown by. Here we are on our final morning and it is the first day that we got to see a sunrise. The wind blew so hard all night that the screen in one of our windows rattled. I stuffed some cardboard in the edge to quiet it down. It is still windy but I guess that’s moving the raining weather away from Québec City. It really is sunny and bright.

We headed up to the 14th Floor Lounge for breakfast. My plan is to skip the first course and go right to scrambled eggs, bacon, and home-fried potatoes. Every other morning. the first course filled me too much to enjoy the eggs and I do love eggs. I will do the first course if I have room, some of the first, but my guess is I’ll be at my limit by the end of the bacon and eggs.

I don’t know the magic hotels do with scrambled eggs but I’m starting to think some heavy cream might be something I need to attempt. Today the bacon and eggs were not as hot as they should have been but they were tasty. I will master scrambled eggs; target Christmas brunch with the family.

Janet started with the first course but she didn’t take the salmon. The first course is typically bite-sized bowls of fruit, chocolate crepes, a cheese sandwich, salmon. and parfait. It is a lovely way to start the meal but in my case just leaves no room for bacon and eggs. And once again I’m reminded of, “All I Want for Christmas is my Stomach.” Dare to dream.

After breakfast, we take a short break to get organized to head out to Mass at 9:30 am. The basilica is just a short walk from the hotel. Here’s hoping the sidewalks are clear of ice. The last thing we need is a fall with the potential of an injury on our last day.

Off to Mass

Sunday Mass was at 9:30 am a short walk from our hotel at the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral. It was en francais but Mass is Mass; language has little to do with the spirituality of the moment. As you can see in the picture, the sanctuary is spectacular.

There was a six-man choir at the front of the church and they sang most of the parts of Mass. The priest was welcoming and although we didn’t understand many of the parts, we had a printed program and it was easy to follow along.

I find Mass to be comforting and enjoy attending, especially when I’m feeling well. And in Québec, I was feeling well. Also, the weather had warmed up, the sky was clear so it was sunny and bright out. That always lifts the spirits.

Lunch at Le Lapin Sauté

A small restaurant in Old Québec came highly recommended. Yesterday I tried to make a reservation and their first slot was later in the week. They did mention we could walk in and after a short wait might get a table. That was a little too unpredictable for me so we found a lovely alternative.

What had caught my attention about Le Lapin Sauté is there specialization is serving rabbits. This is not a protein I’ve eaten often but I’d like to expand my boundaries and I’m thinking about making a rabbit pie for Christmas Eve to honor the memory of Janet’s Dad.

At breakfast, our server suggested I check with the concierge so we did on our way out to Mass. They had no problem betting and 11:00 am reservation so this is where we were heading for lunch after Mass. As the day had warmed up, the walk to the Funicular was pretty easy but it got there was still a lot of ice in the Old Québec and the walking was treacherous. I’m surprised they don’t hire people to chip it out as there are a lot of people walking around and it really is dangerous.

Back On the Train

Our departure time is 10:22 pm so we’ll start the trip home in the bunks. There are two train stations in Québec City. The one close to our hotel services the Québec/Windsor Corridor. Our station is about twenty minutes from the hotel in St Foy, where all trains on the Halifax/Montreal route stop to drop or pick up passengers. We take a shuttle from the city station to the St. Foy station at 9:00 pm. I think if I was making this trip again, I’d only book to St. Foy and then take a cab or Uber to the city. It is not so much about the arrival as the driver dropped us at the front door of the Chateau Frontenac. Officially though he was supposed to take us to the Québec city station which is 1.1 km from the hotel. It is the return trip. We needed to be at the station for the shuttle to St. Foy at 9:00 pm and the travel time is about thirty minutes. That meant we had to wait almost two hours for our train to depart to Halifax from there. For train travel, we only needed to be at the station about forty-five minutes ahead of our departure so we were sitting around for a long time with nothing to do in the station. And all it has is a few vending machines and traditional station chairs which I wouldn’t call particularly comfortable.

Our train was running a few minutes late but nothing special. As it turned out we had the same room as on the way up so we had a better idea how to pack our luggage. Although I mentioned it before, the next time we take a train I will check our luggage and just take a small bag with what we need in the room for the trip. This will allow for more legroom and more comfort in the room.

With a departure around 11:00 pm, the room was already made up with the bunks down and ready for use. We were both tired and went right to bed and I must say I slept well with only one nature break during the night and up awake around 8:00 am.

One of the side effects of my chemo treatment is my feet and hands are numb all the time. Although a foot rub doesn’t eliminate the constant sense of pins and needles, it is soothing and relaxing. Janet is gracious enough to rub from feet from time to time and it makes a difference. I have such a wonderful wife.

Both Janet and I had books to read and I had Christmas music playing on the Bluetooth speaker connected to my iPhone. It is that time of year and I’m feeling pretty festive. This trip to Québec City was an early Santa gift for Janet and me and wow did it ever deliver.

The trip to Halifax includes two meals; breakfast, and lunch. The food on the train is okay and the service in the dining car is excellent, friendly, and welcoming. Although we could order from our porter and take our meals in the room, I personally prefer having a stretch so we went to the dining car for all our meals.

Everyone on the train was wearing masks and social distancing. Once seated at a table, it was okay to remove masks for obvious reasons so these COVID guidelines were easy to follow and I did feed safe throughout the trip.

It seems like Janet and I really dodged the travel restrictions bullet with all the recent announcements about new guidelines to deal with the Omicron variant.

The train encountered a lot of freight traffic during the trip. This is not a surprise given the need to transport more goods than usual out of Atlantic Canada to the rest of the country. The CN trains are long and take a long time to pass as our VIA train is on a siderail. Our original ETA in Halifax was around 5:00 pm. It turned out to be closer to 8:00 pm.

Melanie was at the station and drove us home.

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