TR of Montreal and Quebec with teen

Dec 30th, 2018, 10:20 AM
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TR of Montreal and Quebec with teen

This will be a TR of the trip described in my earlier thread. Thank you to those responding to that thread for your helpful feedback.
We returned last night. The itinerary was: DC IAD to Montreal. Next day bus to Quebec City for 4 nights followed by a morning bus back to Montreal and flight next afternoon back to IAD. Airlines were United going, returning on Porter Airlines via Toronto - more on Porter later.

In Montreal we stayed at the Hotel Faubourg both nights we were there. The Faubourg is downtown on Rue Rene Levesque - a main thoroughfare. This turned out to be a good choice. The hotel is by no means a 4* but quite decent and it had available one bedroom suites at a reasonable price. It is right on the 747 bus line which is the express bus to the airport ($10Cdn)/person. It also includes a very decent breakfast. The Faubourg is under two blocks from Chinatown, two blocks from a huge indoor mall, and about a 10-15 minute walk to the Old Town. It is also near the Arts Complex.

In Quebec we stayed at an Airb&b in the Ste. Jean Baptiste section of the city. This was an excellent set-up for us because it was basically 2 living areas. The downstairs area had a full kitchen and bedroom with bathroom, stall shower and washer dryer. Above that was a connected sleeping loft with its own bathroom and shower. This arrangement gave 17yo GD the privacy that I was looking for in our living arrangements (as did the Faubourg for the most part). This Airb&b is on Rue Felix Gabriel Marchand, a small quite and modest side street just a block and a half from Rue Ste. Jean. Rue Ste. Jean runs straight down to the Ste. Jean gate to the Old City - it would be about a 15-20 minute walk in nice weather or a $7.50Cdn taxi ride. Rue St. Jean also has its own interest in that it is lined with neighborhood restaurants and shops for the entire distance.

I will begin the actual TR later in the day - A bientot!
basingstoke2 is online now  
Dec 30th, 2018, 11:04 AM
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Merci, Basingstoke. So far I have only made it to Montreal but I would love to visit it again; your recommendation of the Faubourg is very useful should I decide to stay downtown rather than in the old town which is where I stayed earlier this year. I'll also be interested to read your views of Quebec City which I should also like to visit.

looking forward to the TR proper.
annhig is offline  
Dec 31st, 2018, 07:55 AM
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So, our flight to Montreal was on time and uneventful. Arriving at the Montreal airport I was glad that I had the letter from GD's parents giving me permission to take minor 17yo GD out of the US since the nice customs women did ask questions about our travel together and having the letter came in handy. A cheap and reasonably quick way to get downtown is with the #747 express bus. The bus stop is at the far right of the terminal as one stand facing the street. The ticket machine is just inside the terminal near the bus stop and $10Cdn will get you a ticket good for 24hrs on Montreal transport and a ride downtown that takes about an hour to the end of the line which is the intercity bus terminal. If taking the 747 pick up a route map that lists all of the hotels near each of the numbered stops. The hotel Faubourg is at the #9 (of 11) stop and took about 40 minutes. Getting off at #9 we only had to cross the street to get to the hotel - how handy is that? The temperature when we arrived was a brisk -6C which was to be one of our warmer days on this trip. There were the remnants of snow on the ground. Checking into the hotel was no problem and the desk staff was pleasant and helpful. Our suite ($116) was of good size and had a living room/kitchen combo with fold out sofa and a separate bedroom. TV was in both. A full bathroom is there too.

DAMN - I just lost 2 paragraphs of what I wrote. I hate when that happens. I am taking a break and post before the above disappears too, and will come back later.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Dec 31st, 2018, 06:42 PM
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Continuing - As mentioned in my earlier thread, GD has a history of mental health problems and is on a new medication. Happily this medication seems to be working, yet of course there is residual moodiness and rigidity about new foods and experiences. This is one of the reasons that I am taking her on this trip. to try to gently expand her horizons and give her new experiences. With this in mind, we do not have and extensive list of things to see and do, but will play it by ear. Having checked in, we decided to head over to very nearby Chinatown for a late lunch and perhaps walk down to the old town afterwards. It was already getting dark and the temperature of about -6C was starting to drop. The restaurant we chose served congee, one of my favorites so I ordered that and GD had her usual shrimp and vegetables. She did not feel like walking to old town, so we strolled over to an IGA that we had spotted. IGA is food emporium and a good resource for travelers. In exiting IGA we found ourselves in a huge mall - a very nice one at that and wandered around looking at stores until we came upon.....McDonald's. Time for a snack and then we walked over to the arts complex on the way back to the hotel. At the complex there was an outdoor interactive structure - rows of giant dominoes to set up and then knock down in a chain - there were quite a few people playing with these as did we.
Back in our suite we repaired to our own areas and soon fell asleep after a long travel day. It is 1am and ..DONG.....DONG.....DONG........... the fire alarm sounded and we had the opportunity to spend the next 45 minutes meeting our pajama clad neighbors with overcoats down in lobby where there were firemen and some fire trucks. Luckily the situation defied the old adage, it was all smoke but no fire which was also good because if there had been a fire we would have to go outside in the cold. Back in our rooms we slept and then went down to breakfast before traveling to the intercity bus station (747 bus, same ticket). The Faubourg offers a decent included breakfast with both hot and cold items including baked beans, fresh fruit and an excellent fruit salad. We had booked our bus tickets to Quebec City online and the 3 hour trip to Quebec was along a typical interstate type highway - read that a highway of little interest. Arriving at the Quebec bus station, which is in the same building as the train station GD spotted a Subway sandwich shop and was suddenly hungry so that was our gourmet lunch. Fast food was to become a bit of a theme. The taxi line is just outside the bus station and we were on our way to our airb&b.

Next: About this apartment and its neighborhood and Christmas eve in old town Quebec.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 06:32 AM
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A short taxi ride and we were at our apartment. We met our host and hostess and settled in our spacious two level abode-an ideal set up for us. Walking up-and I do mean up- to rue Ste. Jean we were off to explore and buy some goodies for breakfast and snacks. There are 2 nearby supermarkets and one upscale food store nearby so that was no problem. Back in the apartment after putting things away I called a taxi and we headed off to the old city to look around on this fChristmas Eve Stores and restaurants were still open but not for long and the atmosphere was festive and crowded. Stores and most restaurants soon closed and as it became dark the temperature dropped further.

The problem was was going to be finding an open table without a reservation which turned out to be an impossible task and after a determined search we ended up at the only possibility, McDonalds much to GD’s delight. It was mobbed and definitely not festive. Most of the seating was closed off and the few remaining tables were occupied. GD went on a table snagging mission while I waited a half hour plus for our food. I found her having snagged a table for two which we soon shared with three others. At 8 McD’s shut its doors and we explored a bit more before heading to the nearby taxi line.

Next: A frigid but lovely Christmas Day in lower town.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 2nd, 2019, 11:29 AM
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It sounds like you're having some fun, but too bad you have been limited to fast food with all the good food choices there. I have traveled with people who seek out McDonald's in foreign countries so I understand.
schmerl is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 12:22 AM
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oh dear, all the way to Quebec city to eat at McDonalds. You are a very devoted grandparent.

looking forward to reading more about Christmas Day in QC.
annhig is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2019, 12:42 PM
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If venturing out on this trip was outside of your GD's comfort zone, it speaks to your trustworthy guardianship.

-6C is cold, but Montreal has been known to be much colder at this time of year. I hope you wore warm jackets, boots and hats and mitts.

We've had the same challenges of finding restaurants with available tables when traveling on Christmas Day. McDonald's would've sufficed for us as well. (On road trips, we'll pack a cooler of sandwiches etc. just in case.)

I'm not sure what the equivalent would be for Canada, but we use Open Table here in the US for making reservations. It's super helpful for snagging a table at busy times.

Also, for what it's worth re the two paragraphs you lost - sometimes hitting Crtl+Z will recover what you accidentally deleted by undoing your last action. I've used this many times.

Looking fwd to more of your report,
Boots
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Jan 4th, 2019, 08:15 AM
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A quick note about the commute from Trudeau airport. The 747 service offers two services. The express bus stops at the Lionel Groulx station, a fair distance southwest of central Montreal so that a change to a regular bus/Metro connection is almost inevitable. That bus swings back to the airport. But some 747 buses go on to the Berri terminal, in the centre after plenty of ordinary street stops..
747 Aéroport P.-E.-Trudeau / Centre-ville shuttle | Société de transport de Montréal
Southam is offline  
Jan 4th, 2019, 01:38 PM
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Thanks for the extra info Southam.
It is Christmas day and we woke up to a temperature of -17C (feels like -22 says the weather report) and going down toward evening. We had a bit of a late start and then were off to explore the lower town, getting there about noon. We have had good luck calling the Co-op taxi company, they have been prompt and courteous. There were quite a few people already out and as expected, stores and restaurants seemed closed. However we soon came upon an open restaurant called Cotes a Cotes Restaurant and Grill and tried our luck. After asking if we had a reservation and me replying "no" we were seated anyway at a perfect table at a window with a view of the cannons and river. It seemed a nice place and it was, quickly filling up. Service was attentive and courteous and the menu looked interesting. GD quickly decided on the BBQ ribs and I saw that they featured several types of Poutine. One of my goals on this trip was to try Poutine, so that is what I ordered. When lunch was served, the fries looked a bit different and a quick taste revealed that they were cooked Belgian style - a good thing. Tucking into her falling off the bone ribs GD said they were the best she ever had. As far as my Poutine, I am glad that I ordered it but would not order it again. It is a very heavy dish and the flavors were just not for me. I did like the cheese curds though. Lunch done we ventured back out into the cold to see what was doing in old town, lower half. A few shops were open and they were welcome respites from the weather. GD seems to be immune from cold. She never wore a hat, always light gloves, hiking shoes and her warm coat, that I bought her for the trip was usually left open except for this day when she did close it. I on the other hand was decked out in long johns, two pairs of socks inside of my insulated boots, warm shirt, yak wool sweater, goose down vest, hooded goose down coat, warm (but not warm enough) gloves, hat and scarf - fa la la la la, la la la la.
After several hours we took the funicular ($3.50Cdn pp) up to the Frontenac and watched the toboganners fly down. I offered to let her ride but she demurred. Actually, she said "no way!" Enjoying the view it got dark and GD wanted to go back to the apartment rather than search for another restaurant - since I thought the search would probably yield a result of dinner at McDonalds, and since my fingers no longer had feeling a readily agreed and we walked over to the nearby taxi line.

Now, my plans for the next day was to go out to Montmorency falls and I knew that there is a bus that would take us there from a stop not too far from our apartment. I asked our taxi driver what a taxi to the falls would cost and he said $30, which was the amount our apartment host told me it should be. Then he made an offer I could not refuse - that is if I would book his taxi for the return as well, he would wait for us for up to 45 minutes while we went to see the falls. That was fair to me and a good deal for him so we booked him. Sure enough, he turned at our door at the exact time that we arranged and we were off. Dinner in our apartment that night was Lucky Stars cereal for GD and shredded wheat for me with plenty of hot tea.

Next: The falls and GD expands her culinary horizens.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 5th, 2019, 11:47 AM
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Continuing - in the morning Jasmin, our taxi driver was right on time and we were off to the falls. Jasmin is an immigrant from Bosnia and speaks excellent English, so we had some good conversation about life in Bosnia during the civil war. Jasmine dropped us off at the path to the falls and said he would wait in the adjacent parking lot. It was not quite as cold as the day before and it seemed that lots of others had the same idea that this would be a good day to visit the falls. The walk out the falls took about 10 minutes on a sometimes icy pathway but we were rewarded with some spectacular vies of the falls plunging to an icy build-up below that was several stories high. There are several levels to see the falls including a bridge that goes over them. We went to the mid level viewing point and then GD went up alone to view the falls from the bridge. When we arrived back to the beginning of the path, Jasmine had seen us coming and was right there. Rather than go straight back to the apartment, I opted to go to Chez Victor, touted by our host as the best hamburger place around. That choice was predicated on GDs love of a good (or not so good) burger. Here is their menu https://chezvictorburger.com/menu/

GD had the La Bete and I had the L'Atlantique. She thought hers was terrific and I know that the one that I ordered was. I was expecting a salmon burger but it was a fillet of perfectly cooked salmon on a french roll. What made it special was that the sauce was based on blueberries that tasted as if they were first marinated in brandy. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever enjoyed. As you can see, the menu also had poutine, but one poutine on this trip was enough for me.

We walked back to our apartment for a bit of a rest until dinnertime and then did some more exploration of Rue Ste Jean having dinner dinner at Billings, a local crepe place. We both ordered the onion soup, most welcome on a cold night followed by buckwheat crepes. Ham and cheese for GD and roasted veggies for me. This was the first time GD ever had either onion soup or a crepe and she liked them both. Score one for expanding horizons!! She followed her dinner crepe with a dessert crepe which she liked even better. The next day would be our last full day in Quebec City, it was supposed to be a bit warmer, but not much. My plan was to spend the entire day in both the upper and lower towns with all of the shops and restaurants open.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 6th, 2019, 03:14 AM
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What a great way of expanding your GD's life experiences, basingstoke. Fantastic for her - and you.
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Jan 7th, 2019, 01:26 PM
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Thank you annhig. That was the point of this trip - because of her MH challenges she has be rather rigid about trying new experiences, foods, etc., although she takes up hobbies for short periods of time. At one time she was into designing and making jewelry and was very good at that but she lost interest and dropped after a few months. As far as travel, it has been limited to trips down south to visit her mother's family once a year. Also in nice weather my son would take her hiking and camping and she likes that. I should add that this turned out to be a particularly difficult time for her because her parents are in the midst of splitting up. This news came after I had already made all of the trip arrangements.

Continuing and ending this TR: There is little that I can add to how we spent our last full day in Quebec City visiting both the upper and lower towns. It was a bit warmer that day but not by much and we were getting used to it. I had the taxi drop us off at the Ste. Jean gate to the city and we walked pretty much every major street and many of the smaller ones as well, stopping in shops, now open, to warm up and to seek souvenirs for GD. She found some trinkets that she like and also bought a small wood carving of a duck in the lower city. Lunch time I spied a nice looking restaurant and ordered the plat de jour for myself and GD ordered a pizza. The plat du jour is usually a very good buy and this was not an exception although not quite what I expected. I was told it was soup, meat pie, side dish and coffee. The meat pie however was not what I expected but it was a proper British pasty. I happen to love those, so it was fine and I guess a pasty could be technically considered a meat pie.

We walked down the stairs of death to lower town and explored that in more detail. On one street there was a group of singers and we stopped to listen. Further down that street there was a vendor outdoors selling hot maple toffee on a stick which he would make to order. We had two each - they were delicious. We also stopped into the wood carving shop mentioned above where they had carvings from Ste. Jean-Port Jolie. These were meaningful to me because DW and I had visited there some forty four years ago and brought back three 10" carvings. The carvings at the shop included the same figures among them but on a smaller scale.

It was now after dark and time for dinner. We went back up to upper town and settled on the Portofino restaurant - Italian as its name implies. It is touted as one of Quebec's better restaurants and we were luck that we apparently snagged the last table without a reservation because after we were seated they were turning people away. I ordered an eggplant dish which was good, but not better than that, and ever adventurous GD ordered meatballs and spaghetti which she enjoyed. Dinner done, the restaurant called a taxi for us which showed up almost immediately and it was back to the apartment.

We awoke to a fairly heavy snowfall but the taxi we ordered came as scheduled and soon we were on the bus back to Montreal. Nothing much to speak of in Montreal other than we finally made it to Old Town where GD, given the choice of where to have dinner, chose Subways.

Next. Just some additional thoughts and my review of Porter Airlines.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 7th, 2019, 04:53 PM
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Mmmm nice menu! I love a good hamburger too but how fantastic that your GD ordered some never tried entrees.

I'm not a fan of poutine. Maybe it's one of those things like lutefisk that you ate as a child and developed a love for it.

I'm not familiar with a British pasty and wonder how it differs from a Quebec meat pie (tourtiere).

And finally, how sad that GD's parents are splitting up However, having a caring grandparent will no doubt help her through this difficult time.

Boots
boots08 is offline  
Jan 8th, 2019, 01:10 AM
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The plat du jour is usually a very good buy and this was not an exception although not quite what I expected. I was told it was soup, meat pie, side dish and coffee. The meat pie however was not what I expected but it was a proper British pasty. I happen to love those, so it was fine and I guess a pasty could be technically considered a meat pie.>>

mmm - when is a pasty not a pasty? When it's a meat pie I suppose.

Perhaps they thought that if they called it a pasty, no-one would order it.

Boots08 - this is what I would call a pasty: About the pasty | Cornish Pasty Association | Genuine Cornish Pasty : Cornish Pasty Association

Basinstoke - so sorry to read that your GD's parents are splitting up, that must be hard for you all, but particularly her of course. Some people seem to think that once kids are past a certain age it doesn't affect them but that is not my experience. I think that it can be even harder in some ways for late teens and early 20s who are just finding their own way but need the support of home. She is lucky to have you to turn to and it sounds like this trip came at an idea time.
annhig is offline  
Jan 8th, 2019, 10:43 AM
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Annhig, we can get Cornish Pastes in the Upper Midwest, brought there by Welsh miners. In Quebec, I would have expected a meat pie to be a slice of a Tourtierre.
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Jan 8th, 2019, 01:27 PM
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Iooked at the tourtiere which was not what was served
It was clearly a pasty
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 9th, 2019, 12:58 AM
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Annhig, we can get Cornish Pastes in the Upper Midwest, brought there by Welsh miners. In Quebec, I would have expected a meat pie to be a slice of a Tourtierre.>>

Happytrvlr, I think you might be interested and possibly surprised to read this little article I found today. The Upper midwest was settled by cornish miners in the first half of the 19C and with it they took their food like pasties, saffron loaves and tea biscuits. There may be some welsh miners too but it was the cornish who brought the pasty.

Midwest Cornish Festival, Mineral Point, Wisconsin :: Great Migration
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Jan 10th, 2019, 05:57 AM
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On our final Canadian day, we took the 747 bus to the airport with tickets that I had purchased at the metro station near Old Town (these tickets are sold at all metro stations, a real convenience). I left with plenty of time to our flight to account for the still less than good weather, unknown length of security lines and my own penchant for wanting to be places early "just in case." Although our flight was to the US, we were on Porter Airlines that goes through Toronto and therefor we had to go to the domestic side of the airport rather than international. Why Porter one may ask? Several reasons, the main one being that they fly turboprops and I wanted GD to have the experience of flying on something other than a jet. IMO these kinds of aircraft are soon to become the steam engine equivalents in the airline industry. I have flown on many military turboprops and of course I am of the age when much of my early travel was on prop driven planes and I am glad for the experience. Besides, we were going home and had plenty of time and other than the wait in Toronto changing flights, the actual flight time was not too much longer, perhaps another hour and a half.

It was a good thing we got to the airport early because upon arrival we learned that our flight had been cancelled. We received a notification of same from Porter at about the same time. Heading over to the Porter desk we were met by a very friendly counter rep whose response was "no problem, I can get you on an earlier flight and he did. Even though we were traveling with carry ons only the airline did a gate check of baggage which was fine with us since it speeds up boarding. I had expected a poor on time experience with Porter based on reviews and was not disappointed. Our earlier flight left about a half hour late or about half between its original schedule and the time of our cancelled flight.

In Toronto, Porter flies into Billy Bishop airport which is practically in downtown Toronto and the views of the city as we were landing were spectacular. If one was flying into Toronto and a Porter flight is available it could be a good idea as there is a free shuttle downtown which only takes a few minutes so you will save both time an transfer costs. Billy Bishop is a lovely airport with waiting area that are several steps above the usual, read soft armchairs rather than those hard plastic ones. Upon landing we were met by an agent who separated those flying domestically from those of traveling outside of Canada and group assembled accompanied us to the international waiting area. At that time I found that not only did the agent in Montreal book us on an earlier flight to Toronto, he also booked us on an earlier flight to DC so in the end we got to DC a few hours earlier than expected. The plane Porter uses is a Bombadier C400 which a two engine high wing turboprop. The interior is modern and bright and the seat are two on each side of the aisle. Although Seat guru indicates otherwise, the pitch between the rows feels roomy - the person in front of me leaned back his seat and it did not impinge on my space in any significant way and this something I am sensitive about. The free snacks served are also several cuts above the usual teeny bag of pretzels. There was a choice of large shortbread cookies (these where also available for the taking in the airport lounge) name brand chips, a few other snack - all of these in normal sized supermarket packaging. The beverages were also a cut above with the usual suspects including Starbucks coffee as well as wine and beer. All served in normal sized glasses. Porter treats its passengers well.

Retrieving my car at the airport was another story, one that I will skip other than it took far longer and with more hassle than expected when booked.

So that is it. As usual I appreciate the feedback that has been received and want to assure those who may be concerned that the breakup of GD's parents is for the best considering what had become a toxic atmosphere at home lasting years - that is never good for kids. GD's dad, my son, has both girls in therapy to help deal with all and for GD that is in addition to the psychiatric care she has been receiving for a good part of her young life. All in all, I think I achieved most of my goals for this trip and I promised her younger sister a trip next year if possible.

As I said earlier, A bientot.
basingstoke2 is online now  
Jan 10th, 2019, 07:31 AM
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Excellent report. When Porter first started they stole quite a bit of the business traffic in the Toronto - Montreal - Ottawa triangle. Good service and the island airport were big sellers. I’ve lost touch a bit as to whether that is still the case.

That was was a nice thing you did with your GD. It can get bitterly cold in QC. Glad it worked out.
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