Quebec City versus Bar Harbor

May 22nd, 2009, 02:47 PM
  #1  
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Quebec City versus Bar Harbor

Taking my 75-year-old mother to Quebec City and Bar Harbor/Acadia in late July/early August (adults only, no children; none of us have been to either place). Both locations are must-sees for her right now, so that part is not negotiable. Plan right now is to drive to Quebec from Boston on Day 1, stopping along the way to see things and arriving late afternoon. Will drive from Bar Harbor back to Boston on Day 8.

That means we have 7 nights total (4 one place and 3 the other) and are trying to decide how to allot them. Some things to keep in mind:

We will not be doing any hiking in Acadia, and maybe not even any really long walks. Walking per se is not so much the problem as trouble on uneven surfaces and needing a place to sit down occasionally (not every 15 minutes, but more often than just at mealtimes). Not a big deal in an urban setting or a park or garden, but might be out on a trail. We do plan whale watch and carriage ride and driving around the island.

Mom is not a museum person where you just look at displays in cases or art on the walls, but she does like living history and guided tours - both general tours, like around the streets of Quebec CIty, and tours of specific historic sites (or a ranger-led walk at Acadia). A tour of 60 or 90 minutes should be OK - we just can't stack 2 or 3 on top of each other with no rest between. She likes browsing at interesting shops, too. She would also like driving to scenic places near Quebec City such as the Île d'Orléans or the Île aux Coudres (but she can't sit in a car for more than about 2 hours, so we would need to get out and walk around on occasion, too).

So - given those parameters, which location merits the extra night, Quebec or Acadia? (sorry this post is so long!)
Cranachin is offline  
May 22nd, 2009, 03:16 PM
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Hard decision. If you are not going to hike Acadia, I would spend the extra day in Quebec. Add a tour of the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, They give a great tour with your guide dressed in period costume.
Quebec City is filled with cute little shops. I was there for two days and would have liked to spend more time there. Interspersed in the shops are outdoor cafes, etc. so there will be places to sit for your mother.
schmerl is offline  
May 22nd, 2009, 03:55 PM
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I agree with schmerl. If you're not hiking in Acadia, the extra day would be better spent in Quebec City. The two locations are so different, it should make a great contrast.
ceezee is offline  
May 22nd, 2009, 05:41 PM
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Thanks, schmerl and ceezee. I also have been leaning toward the extra day in Quebec. I know we can easily spend two full days in the city, so if we want to get out beyond it any, we will need a third whole day there.

But I also know there is a lot we can do in Acadia other than hike (besides whale watch, carriage ride, and ranger-led talk -- and that's most of a day right there, I imagine): visit touch tanks at MDI Biological Lab, town band concert one evening, ranger-led program one evening, drive (or ride shuttle bus - I've heard how crazy traffic can be) Park Loop Road, drive to top of Cadillac Mountain, popovers at Jordan Pond House, Wild Gardens of Acadia, Bass Harbor Light, visit the quiet side of the island, visit Schoodic Peninsula, whale museum (which she might like because of the whale watch), Thuya and Asticou gardens.

We could skip Schoodic, but not sure how much of the rest we could (or should) pack into 2 days ( or 2.5 if we leave after lunch on our last day and drive more directly back to Boston instead of dawdling back along the coast).

Hence my question about which should get the extra day!
Cranachin is offline  
May 22nd, 2009, 07:32 PM
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An extra night in Quebec would be nice - but here is a twist that your mom might like. Take a day trip to St. Jean Port Joli. There you will find a village of crafts, particularly wood carvings. It is a most interesting place to visit and pick up some unique souvenirs. The beautiful folk wood carvings that you see for sale in Quebec are mostly made by artists in the village. There are some excellent restaurants there too.
basingstoke2 is online now  
May 23rd, 2009, 03:15 AM
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Quebec for the extra time, definitely. It is more like Europe than any other place in North America, and there are lots of places that a person with limitations will enjoy.

I am concerned that you are underestimating your driving times, though. These places are a long way apart.

Google Maps shows 6 hours 35 minutes from Boston to Quebec City, and that doesn't include any time for eating, using the bathroom, or especially, clearing customs. It's another 5.5 hours to Bar Harbor from Quebec and 5 hours from Bar Harbor to Boston, with the same warnings about rest stops and immigration and, with the Boston leg, traffic. That's three full days in the car.
Ackislander is offline  
May 23rd, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Thanks for your concern, Ackislander. We are aware of the Google driving times, and we are used to car trips of that length, so in and of itself that is not a big deal. Mom just has to stop every couple of hours to stretch her legs or she gets really stiff. Time to clear customs is a bit of a concern both ways. Any idea how US 5 compares to I-91? Not much we can do about US 201 going to Bar Harbor.

I know traffic from Bar Harbor to Boston can be bad in summer (our destination is actually the North Shore, so that shortens the time about 30 minutes coming back). We will be traveling mid-week, so not sure if that makes it any better. I'm sure Mom would enjoy the coastal scenery over I-95, but she might be ready to get back by that time (and I'm sure traffic will be much worse on Maine 3 and US 1 than on I-95). I guess my biggest concerns other than that for the return trip are back-ups at the toll plazas on I-95.
Cranachin is offline  
May 23rd, 2009, 11:56 AM
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It is good that you are stopping "every couple of hours" but it is better to stop more often than that. The real problem is not stiffness, although that is an annoyance, it is to avoid the development of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that becomes more likely as one ages.
basingstoke2 is online now  
May 24th, 2009, 03:02 AM
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I wouldn't worry about mid-week traffic from Bar Harbor to the North Shore. I would worry a lot about it on Sunday evening (from experience). It is just a long, boring way.

Customs and Immigration is a toss-up. Completely unpredictable, mostly depending on what other traffic is on the road.

St Johnsbury or Lyndonville, VT, make nice stops for lunch northbound. Be aware that the area across the border in Canada, despite the English placenames, is almost entirely Francophone, so a stop there may require some linguistic acrobatics.
Ackislander is offline  
May 26th, 2009, 06:59 PM
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Thanks for the advice on how often to stop, b, and where to stop, A.
Cranachin is offline  
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