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Trip Report A short report on a long weekend: Quebec City

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As you may know, my SO and I were desperate to run away from home for a nice long weekend and that lovely lady, Queen Victoria, offered us her birthday, so off we went to Quebec City.

At the recommendation of a friend, we stayed at the Hotel Coutellier on Rue St. Paul. The hotel was excellent for the price (our 'spring special' rate for a double with a queen bed was $104/night). It was spotlessly clean and very quiet and decorated enough to be pretty. The best thing, though, were the breakfasts. I hate it when the hotel price includes breakfast but you have to get up and dressed and downstairs to get it before 9 or 10 a.m. At our hotel, every morning they delivered breakfast to our room in a little wicker basket (the kind that has a lid -- like a little picnic basket). They don't even knock on the door. They just hang it on a hook outside your door so you can just reach out and get it whenever you're ready and it's so neatly packed. Every day we had croissants and another baked good (one day it was scones, another day brioche, and then chocolate croissants), creamy yogurt on two days, applesauce another day, butter, little pots of jam, juice boxes, napkins and cutlery. Plates (real ones) and coffee were in the room. It was delicious and very charming and convenient. There was also a big basket of croissants and coffee in the lobby every morning and fresh fruit in the afternoon. We were just a couple of blocks from the Quartier Petit Champlain and a not-much-longer walk from the St. Roch area, so the location was perfect. The hotel was also right across the road from the Vieux Marche, so we stopped in there a couple of times and that was fun and an excellent place for good snacks.

We had three days there so we did the three main neighbourhoods. I'll say right at the outset that we did absolutely nothing historical or important -- no historic walks, no Parliament buildings, no Plains of Abraham. It was sheer indulgence every day. We walked in the Cartier Petit Champlain many times. The first night we had dinner at Restaurant Toast. It was pricey but it was our only fancy evening out and the food was unusual and delicious -- tres gourmet, if you know what I mean. That was on Friday.

On Saturday, we explored the St. Roch area and loved it. Classy types that we are, we spent a good hour or so in a huge dollar store where I stocked up on cheap reading glasses. Then we classed-up and walked over the the Hugo Boss part of the street. At the recommendation of PamSF, we went to Cloche Pencher for lunch on Saturday and we loved it so much that we wanted to go back for dinner on Sunday but it was closed. We were so disappointed! That lunch was the best meal in a weekend of great food. We both had the same thing -- scrambled egg roulade, smoked salmon, cucumber salad, and a bagel. It came with a fruit, yogurt and maple jam parfait which you could have as a before or an after and we both chose to save it for dessert. Lunch also came with strawberry/basil jam -- an unusual but delicious combination. It was such a charming place too; so French!

That night we wanted a lighter dinner so we went to a little place called Cafe-Bistro du Cap, right next to L'Echaude. And I mean a LITTLE place. The restaurant was a room about 12'x12'. They don't usually serve crepes in the evening but the chef kindly made them for us. I had a bechamel, egg and spinach crepe for a main course and then a sugar and butter crepe with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. We did look at the menu at L'Echaude but it was quite expensive and a bit more of a big dinner than we were looking for. By the way, on the other side of L'Echaude there's a little shop where an artist makes these absolutely gorgeous leather masks. We went in and he explained his artistic process. I would have loved to buy one but no, not right now, thanks.

On Sunday, we took the funicular up to Vieux Quebec (love that funicular!) and walked around there for hours. We did a bit of shopping and grabbed a bite of lunch in a pub and then walked some more. We were pooped so we went into the Chateau Frontenac for a drink in the posh bar and it was just the ticket. That night we just had a pizza and salad dinner at Pizzieta down the street from our hotel.

All in all, it was the perfect getaway. Quebec City is just the right size and you don't feel the pressure of a big city vacation where there's so much to see and do that you have to be out every minute of the day. We slept in every day, lazed around reading the papers and junk novels, came 'home' for naps in the afternoon -- just perfect.

The other think that was great was that we flew on Porter Airlines. We've used Porter before and what a great experience -- small airport, nice people, lounge for everyone with free drinks, snacks and newspapers, pleasant flight attendants, lunch and/or snacks on the plane. Geez, it's just like the good old days of flying.

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