You know Canadian trains really aren’t that bad. The seats are wide with plenty of leg room complete with a footrest and really quite comfortable. They also have power outlets and wireless internet for those who have a laptop with them. Not for everyone I know but I certainly found it handy.
As a result I spent the morning on the train going from Montreal to Quebec City in relative comfort. I didn’t really notice the time, then again it was only about three hours all up.
On arrival in Quebec City we went to our hotel and left the bags at reception as the room was ready for us yet and headed out into Old Quebec. Firstly to find some lunch. We found our way inside the wall without much hassle since our hotel is only about a block or so away from Old Quebec. On first impressions its an interesting place to walk around and its a pity that we only have the afternoon to have a brief glance around.
That is not because we didn’t have the time but due to the combination of it being peek travel season, Quebec City’s 400th Birthday and Paul McCartney throwing a free concert in town. As a result we only managed to get a room for one night.
While there were people out on the streets and sitting in the cafe’s there didn’t really seem to be that many people out and about. That was until we came out from lunch. There was not room outside or on the ground floor so they took us to the dining room downstairs, it looked like it had originally been a cellar. When we came out there were people everywhere. The streets were quite literally packed. It certainly reminded me of the other reason I generally hate travelling in the peek travel season. Other than everything being more expensive, accommodation being problematic there are just way to many people.
Still we walked around a bit looking at the buildings and gardens, pausing to watch some of the street entertainers work the crowds. We ended meandering our way up in Artist Ally where Lou did a spot of haggling and with a little white lie or two managed to swing a deal for a couple of etchings. (Miss Lou says it was only a ‘slight bending of reality”)….
After a few hours we went back to the hotel and were told our room was finally ready so we checked in and went out to check out the room. The room is quite nice and certainly nicer than the one in Montreal. Of course its a little more expensive than the one in Montreal. One advantage of that is we do not have a whole heap of noisy teenagers staying there running up and down, banging on doors, giggling and laughing like a bunch of two year olds. At least not on our floor.
After spending a little time checking out the room we headed out once more, its not like we really had much time and walked through some of the outer sections and around the outside of the wall. While walking around the wall we saw a motorcade drive past with police escort. Didn’t take much to work out who was inside said car as people waved screamed and took photo’s. Not long after that a familiar sound filtered across Old Quebec so we headed in the general noise of the music that was belting out. We ended up on a grassed slope that ended in a wall with a rather abrupt drop on the other side along with a couple of hundred people listening to Paul McCartney sing. The screen at the side of the stage was lit up. We stood there for a bit listening to what was obviously the sound check for the evenings performance.
We wandered back and settled into a restaurant with a jug of rose between us, that isn’t as bad as it honestly sounds, and people watched until we heard a familiar screaming, clapping saw people surging as far forward as they could, even people in the restaurant who left there meals to go crowding over to the edge with there cameras flashing. Seems Lou and I were the only ones who stayed put. Sure enough it was Paul McCartney driving past. I suddenly understood the motorcade and police escort. I mean give the man a break, he was just driving past in a car!
Dinner was both good and bad. The food was spectacular. The service sucked. Well actually the two younger waiters were fine. The head waiter sucked, I do not think we were local, French enough, for him. Anyway we had the Bouillabaisse Seafood Stew, it was beautiful. We talked to a local guy on the table next to ours for a bit and it turns out he was in town for the concert. Also turns out we were lucky to get accommodation since he was intending to sleep at the train station for the night since he could get any.
We returned briefly to the room to dump some gear then I went out once more and headed into Old Quebec to explore some more since it was still light outside. I finally found the main gate that we’d managed to somehow miss all day. People were everywhere all heading in pretty much the same direction. Towards the concert. I was a little curious as to how many people were now packing the ground since the people had been telling us all day that they were expecting a couple of hundred thousand people to show.
I got there and managed to wind my way through the mob to a fairly good position. I could see the top half of the stage, taller people could see the stage, or at least I think they could since quite a few of them were using binoculars. Still being short I just looked at the massive screens to either side or the stage. The local acts were on when I got there so I had a bit of a wait but the atmosphere was amazing.
The Paul McCartney came on and people went crazy. He came on stage, interacted with the crowd speaking a few words in French. Some how I think his French is no better than Miss Lou’s, a few more words than I can speak but at least they can not say he did not try. He even made a joke of it telling them he would be speaking English and the translation would be on the screens in French for those that needed it. Then remarking that he thought that they could probably understand him anyway. They all laughed, he had them although I think he had them from the second he walked on stage. He launched into one song after another that the crowd loved. Or at least the part of the crowd that I could see did. The concert was amazing and the man certainly knows how to play his audience.
So only half a day in Quebec but on the other side a free Paul McCartney concert.