Something you don’t experience on every cruise: crew member shoveling snow on the pool deck. We awoke to horizontal sleet which soon turned to snow which, in 35mph winds, made traversing the gangway to go ashore, a challenge. But being a Floridian, this was an opportunity not to be missed.
Dashing and Darting Through the Snow in Quebec
While in Portland, I was fortunate to have found a lovely consignment shop where I purchased a winter coat. Hat and gloves were from Boston. Today all would be put to the test.
Dressed in layers and looking like the Michelin (wo)man, using two hands on the railing and walking sideways down the icy gangway, I proceeded to follow the crew members to the terminal for the almost-free wifi.
After walking in the sleet and snow for what seemed like forever, but was actually only ten minutes, I looked up to realize that the Princess ship in port took the prime docking location; directly in front of the terminal. We were forced to walk three blocks in the wintry weather to get to the terminal. I returned to the ship, offloaded my backpack, electronic gear and laptop and made my way back out into the weather.
Quebec City is a beautiful city best explored on foot…in the warmer months. There are two levels to Old Quebec, Lower and Upper. Looking up, way up, from the street at the historic Chateau Frontenac Hotel, my only choice to get to the upper level was to take the 130 year old funicular or walk.
Neither seemed appealing in the now blizzard conditions, so walking the lower level would be the plan. Maybe I could find a water-repellent hat or warmer gloves. Or hot soup.
An hour of traipsing around in the cold and damp and I was ready for a nice hot lunch in a cozy French café. Deciding between lapin or cochon (rabbit or pig) I opted for the pig. At least that reminded me of a piggy bank and not some poor cute bunny on a plate.
Seated at a table for two with a prime window view of the snowy street, I felt as though I was in a movie scene. When I looked to see what the woman at the next table was eating, all I could say to the waitress was, “I’ll have what she’s having” a la “When Sherry Met Sally.”
Tourists and locals were walking through the cobblestone streets while looking down at their shoes so as not to slip on the ice or step in a gray slush-puddle. Apparently, Quebec City does not shovel the streets or sidewalks until November 1.
This being only October 22 brought out the shopkeepers to scrape away the early season snow and ice. Halloween pumpkins, dressed in their finery, dotted the doorways of the stores, each looking more adorned than the ones before.
It was called a Seafood Pot Pie, but it was so much more. Large pieces of lobster, scallops, salmon and potatoes in a fabulous cream sauce were topped with an oh-so-flaky puff pastry. Not too salty, with a slight taste of tarragon and pepper. A dark leafy salad with homemade vinaigrette and French fries complimented the already ample pot pie. I asked the waitress to choose a Sauvignon Blanc for me.
My first of two days in Quebec City was highlighted by an unexpected snow storm which I was able to observe from inside a warm and cozy French café sipping a crisp, chilled glass of wine. How anyone could be grumpy to experience this weather anomaly was beyond my comprehension.
Back on the ship, everyone was looked cold, wet and miserable. Most of the tours went out despite the weather. I was scheduled for a late afternoon shore tour to Montmorency Falls and St. Anne’s Winery. Meet at the pier at three o’clock were the instructions on the tour ticket. I arrived five minutes early and waited ten minutes past…no one in sight.
Not knowing if my tour had been canceled, I boarded the ship to inquire. The tour was not canceled, but no one really knew where the meeting point had been. By now I had missed the bus (not the boat, thankfully). Surprisingly, when I asked the person at the shore excursion desk for a refund, she graciously credited my onboard account.
Due to the inclement weather and probably not wanting people to get sick or slip and fall, no one argued if you wanted to refund a tour at the last minute.
The window at our dining room table gave us a beautiful nighttime view of the Chateau Frontenac and the lights of the upper level. There was entertainment planned for the evening, but low-key as many passengers had opted for dinner ashore or were staying overnight at the Chateau Frontenac. I love spending a night in port; the ship isn’t moving, all is quiet and no rushing the next morning to head ashore.
I’m the editor and creator of CruiseMaven.com, a solo traveler cruising the world on waves and wheels. I hope my articles and photos entertain, advise and inspire you to travel the world without flying. Take a breath… stop for a meal and a glass of wine along the way.