Tuesday, September 19, 2017

La Belle Quebec -- Travel Tips

Our trip to Quebec was tres magnifique! Here are a few tips that might be good ones to remember for your trip to Quebec -- or anyplace! Some of these may be familiar friends to you for any trip, but if nothing else, a good reminder!

Wear Comfy Shoes!

In some cities you can get by with fashionable footwear and be reasonably comfortable. Not me. I have orthotics that make even nice shoes look a little clunky. While we didn't plan to go about looking scuzzy, we did determine that this was a city where comfy shoes were a must and with the hills, I'm glad we did. Which leads me to...

Practice Walking Prior to Your Visit

This may be a given if you walk regularly but even if you do, if you know you'll be dealing with hills, you might want to get off the flats, whether it's on the treadmill or a real hill! Especially if you are wheeling your luggage up or down with you!

Currency Exchange

Some banks have reciprocal arrangements with foreign banks for no-fee atm money exchange. If not, pull what you think you'll need in cash all at once to save additional fees (and of course most credit cards are accepted). We knew our B&B took American checks or cash so I was covered there. Think about things you might not want to charge -- ground transportation, small purchases. Remember, many banks and credit unions have a credit card use fee for foreign exchanges, so factor that into your currency exchange rate before deciding whether to use cash or charge.

 Explore Alternative Transportation

Rick would tell you to ride, but if a 900-mile bike trip isn't your idea of a good time, there are other options! Feet are the obvious one here, but also be aware of bus or Metro lines. And I can't recommend the train highly enough. While in a tourist city with carriage rides? Well, if you can afford it, go for it -- looked fun to me!

Parlez vous Francais? Give it a try!

Quebec is a province where French is the primary language and English secondary. Pretty much everyone we talked with spoke English but it was fun and I think appreciated when we could at least be polite in French at the least and give a conversation a try as well. Menu French will be useful too -- most menus we saw were bi-lingual but not all. I think no matter what the country, even if you have a few words -- please, thank you, excuse me, hello, goodbye and a few others, it lets people know you are trying to be with them and part of the country you are visiting. (Most will immediately come to your aid, we've found, and between the two of you, all gets answered!)

Consider Buying Art

Quebec is an artist's mecca and there are loads of galleries. Some pieces are very high priced, others more reasonable. Galleries are very willing to compromise on shipping costs and there wasn't a one that didn't say "we will ship the painting after the first payment and the first ten months are interest free." The shipping helps skip duty taxes and you get to enjoy the painting in your own home. If the galleries are still too pricey for you, consider the street artists or a print from a shop.


If you have a good B&B, as we did, consider a mid-morning breakfast, mid-afternoon light snack like soup or sharing a sandwich and then a nice dinner.

Don't forget the Table d'Hote -- all three courses are included and you often have a variety of selections for your main dish and sides. It's an economical way to enjoy a lovely meal, versus ordering a la carte.

And speaking of being economical...

Consider What's free and What's Not

No one loves a good museum more than I do. But many have costs attached and if you commit to an indoor attraction that will take a couple of hours, that's two hours less to explore, which matters if your time in a city or country is brief. We chose to skip museums this time. (Next time, I'd take in at least one or two.) I'm glad we did. We covered a lot of territory and the art we saw, which, while not as famous as a great master, was delightful, diverse and fun for us to see. In addition, chats with a gallery manager gave us loads of information about technique or the artists we liked.

It's more than the museums. Major cities often have street performers and lots of them are fun and worth a watch. Check out the hotel lobbies. Some, like the Frontenac, have interesting displays that convey the history of the city or the building. And be bold! If you walk like you belong there, no one will much care if you take the elevator to the 17th floor, look out the window and get a look at the view!

Our ferry ride cost far less than a cruise and was both fun and gave us more time to explore. Souvenirs from the grocery store may be more fun (and less expensive in some cases) than one from a gift store -- and who needs another magnet? 

Local Favorites

Be sure to find out what events are occurring during your visit, if any, and plan for them. Your host at a B&B or hotel concierge will be helpful and there are newspapers and brochures that include this info as well in most cities.

Venture Outside the Wall

If you're in Quebec, the Vieux Quebec area is magical, old world and wonderful. I could stay there forever, I think. But we didn't see a tenth of the city. If your visit is short, limit your choices but if you have a longer time, get outside your residential area and see a little more.

And, say you're not in a walled city -- then what? Well, get out of your familiar neighborhood, take the bus or the Metro or the Tube and check out another area. Why not? You may only be there once.

Brush Up on Your History

If you are headed to Quebec or many European countries, you may not be familiar with their history and the names you hear may mean little to you. My knowledge of French  Canadian history, for example, came courtesy of "Bury You Dead," a Louise Penny mystery into which explorer Samuel de Champlain played a major (albeit posthumous) role. And we all know how history and fiction can get mixed up in our minds! I'm not saying you have to be a scholar, but your experience will be a bit richer if you have a bit of a head start!

Pace Yourself!

There is nothing worse than being on holiday and trying to do it all -- and then the next day you can hardly move or you're really wiped out -- and there is still loads to do! Of course you want to make the most of your time but those places will be there should you love them enough to return.

I tend to favor not being with a tour group as it gives me time to make my own choices and my own timetable.  More than once I've heard someone say "we only had fifteen minutes to shop before we had to go back to the bus." Sometimes (and some places) that's the only way to go, but I heartily recommend giving a try to going alone, maybe booking a tour for a special place that might be out of your zone.

There's something nice about a leisurely lunch in a cafe or taking a long time in a store that appeals to you or simply sitting and enjoying the scene. If you do your homework, you may well discover that this is the way to go!

Most of all, Have Fun!

That's what travel is all about. Meeting new people (we met a couple at our B&B from Cleveland where my family is and it turned out their son dated my cousin's daughter in high school!), chatting with your B&B host or waiters, trying a new local food or making a new discovery is part of what travel is about for me!

Thanks for joining me on this recap! I hope you'll give Quebec City a thought when planning an exciting holiday!


Mae Travels said...

That's a great and useful list! Quite a few of the suggestions are good for any visit, not just the one example. Walking-appropriate shoes: ALWAYS! Checking out cheaper ways to see the same things, like a ferry ride rather than a pricy tour: ALWAYS! Trying the local language: Mostly. Figuring out public transportation: YES!

I find that it's not worth worrying about the credit card charges: at least in my recent past they have been pretty nominal, and the convenience is worth it.

The idea about skipping museums is really a good one for small cities. Especially where you find a lively art scene, the museums can be pretty boring. (Maybe not so much for other places, say, Paris!)

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Joanne Huffman said...

Very good advice. Comfort is a tourist's friend.

Linda @ A La Carte said...

Life has been so crazy I have 'saved' all your posts to enjoy soon. I think this is all great advice and much like the way I prepared for my Paris trip. I told my daughter that Quebec is my next bucket list trip! Hugs!

Sandra Cox said...

These are great tips! Thanks, Jeanie. I'm so glad you had such a wonderful time. After reading your posts, Quebec really intrigues me.

Valerie-Jael said...

What a wonderful trip you had, thanks for the travel tips! Hugs, Valerie
And I always wear comfy shoes!

Marilyn Miller said...

Great tips! Love the piece of art. I brought home a print on our last trip and loving it. I love traveling independent, but then maybe find a day tour for some things. It works very well. Comfy shoes for sure! Then I pack my slip on flats because they don't take much room and might put them on just for a special dinner. I am finding as I get older to travel lighter and lighter, so I don't have the hassle of heavy suitcases.

Katie Clooney said...

Jeanie - another fun-filled post! My favorite tip is: practice walking together. The Mister and I need to put time into that one - he is usually 12 steps ahead of me. Even the people that work with him say he walks fast! It has NOTHING to do with my short chubby legs!! Love all your pics.

Joyful said...

Wonderful tips Jeanie. I think practicing walking is a good one too because one doesn't think of such things. If you don't generally walk up hills it best to practice and gain stamina.

Carola Bartz said...

I think these are tips that go for any travel, no matter where you go. I've traveled all over the world, and one of the tips I think is the most important is to learn a few words in the language of the country you want to visit. I did this even with countries like Egypt and Israel (and am quite happy that I know to say a few things in both Arabic and Hebrew) and it was a real door-opener.

Elizabeth at Eiffel Tells said...

Thanks to your posts, I've put Quebec on my travel list! Great advice for travelling too. xxx

My name is Erika. said...

Nice reminders. I especially think it's good to do some walking before the trip. So easy to forget that one and then end up just sore and exhausted on the trip. Sightseeing is hard work, but oh so much fun! Hope all is well. Hugs-Erika

Sandi said...

Speak French?? Sigh...Can't I just speak English really, really loud?

Just kidding, lovely photos! ;-)

Kitty said...

Wonderful tips from a wonderful writer about what must have been a wonderful trip. A wonderful way to start my day! I'll take your tips about the shoes as a warning as my old bones don't handle that sort of walking any more. I'll opt for the carriage ride. Did that once in Greenfield Village and it was a great overview of the place.

Kitty said...

It took 3 tries before my computer would take my comments. This last time I did a "copy" so I wouldn't need to retype. Wouldn't you know this is the time it worked!

Victoria Zigler said...

I especially like that final bit of advice: Have fun!

The French Hutch said...

Great tips Jeanie. I've gone strolling back through this post to enjoy the photos again. One very important tip I always do is walk and exercise, more that usual before a trip. Especiallly the hills. Seems everywhere you go there are hills to climb, being prepared makes a lot of difference! Good advise.......

Jenny Woolf said...

I'm sorry I never got to spend time exploring Quebec city in any of our times in Canada. I thought your tips were really good, well thought out and highly practical. I always feel encouraged to be advised to wear comfy shoes, because that means that there'll be things to see if you rely on travelling under your own steam. My idea of a not-fun trip is to go from one "attraction" to another and not really see anything properly. Your posts have now made me feel that I'd love to visit Quebec. I do have tentative plans to visit Canada actually, so we'll see...

Pam Richardson said...

Jeanie, these are excellent traveling tips. I definitely enjoying going at my own pace, but sometimes a tour is the best way to see, especially in a place like St. Petersburg. You are well traveled and have figured out what works best for you! I really enjoyed your trip and thank you for allowing me to tag along! Merci!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I love the tips you've shared...brush up on the history of an area is my favorite. To me, that's a lot of the fun! Researching an area before your go. This would be a dream come true for me. Thanks for sharing sweet friend. Hugs, Diane

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

This is a great list of recommendations! You've covered it all and covered it well! Having the right walking shoes is sooo important as you will pay for a poor shoe choice and it would be a shame to be in pain from day one when you have several days of walking ahead of you!

I definitely try to learn some of the language of the area I am visiting and I bring a phrase book along with me. It establishes so much good will if you attempt to converse in the native language. They usually will quickly detect that you don't speak the language but I think the locals appreciate the effort!

Mary@mydogsmygardenandmary said...

Everything is so useful, thank you so much for the tips. Your photos are stunning. So glad that you and Rick had a wonderful time. Thank so much for sharing.


Pam Jackson said...

Such a wonderful trip to have taken and to share with us all. Thanks for sharing.

Lynne said...

Excellent post of tips, ideas, best hints.
Great for someone who has not traveled and
perfect reminders for those who have.
Foot Comfort is paramount!
Where to next . . .

Katie Mansfield said...

It sounds like fun and a great place to practice my French. Thanks for sharing.

Tammie Lee said...

Wonderful tips, they sound wise to me.
Beautiful glimpses of your time there.

Sally Wessely said...

Great sensible tips. I like that.

Jann Olson said...

Such great tips cute friend! I do so many of the same things. We walk a ton while vacationing, so no heels for me. :) About 10 years ago we started buying a piece of art from wherever we travel. Not always a painting, but some little thing to remind us of our fabulous adventure. I always want to eat where the locals eat and skip the chains. Oh, and yes; check into local events. I love it when I find a garden show going on. Thanks for sharing with SYC.

Sketchbook Wandering said...

That was a fantastic all around guide and memoir too! We go there twice a year, until this year, and you really did show some great high points. I do go there to speak French, to read French, to listen to French. We have a favorite library where we hangout, it's in a church on upper St. John St!

La Table De Nana said...

I loved your posts about your trip..

travel can be so wonderful..Paris left us not that excited because of all the trouble we ran into..and we can cope..it was just too much.
Provence brought the love back:)♥

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