“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Quebec and Saguenay

Thursday in Quebec

It was an overcast day when we set out around 9:00 a.m. but the day turned into a lovely sunny one –sweater weather! Quebec is simply beautiful, lots of fieldstone houses and streets of quaint shops. It was amazing to think some of the structures have been in use for four hundred years.

Instead of going on the included bus tour, we headed out after breakfast on our own. We walked along the river in search of the funicular to take us up to the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. This most-photographed hotel in the world overlooks the St. Lawrence River. $3.50 got us a ride up the mountain in a glass-enclosed car with panoramic views of the city.

Once atop the mountain, we walked around admiring the view, listening to the street busker singing on the plaza and attempted to get into the hotel — unfortunately the hotel is only open to guests. We leisurely walked around the park and nearby shops. Spying an old church – the Anglican Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, built in the 19th century – and, being inveterate church-o-philes, we decided to peek inside. Small and intimate for a cathedral, it exuded a feeling of comfort with lovely, well-worn pews illumined by a translucent dome above the altar, backed by vivid stained-glass windows. There was a cluster of tents adjacent to the church where local artists were selling their wares –mostly leather goods, jewelry, and knitted items.

We continued our walk and discovered the main shopping area, where we window-shopped, admiring the window displays of women’s jewelry, clothing, and shoes. We stopped at one of the outdoor cafes along the boulevard, and decided to try poutine, a dish which originated in Quebec. This version consisted of sliced roasted potatoes on a skewer atop cheese curds and diced hard cheese, topped with a delicious, brown gravy.

Now refreshed, we continued along the boulevard, which ended at the historic stone walls that surround the old city. It was beginning to get crowded, so we headed back to the ship, having seen done everything we planned. At the bottom of the funicular, we walked through another shopping area and on to the Viking Sea.

We joined our Travel Haven clients–Bill & Joanie and Grant & Libby, who we’ve cruised with before—at Manfredi’s (the alternative Italian restaurant on the ship). Unlike many cruise ships, there was no additional cost at the alternative restaurants. An abundant selection of fine food, great service, and many laughs and reminiscing about previous trips.


Friday in Saguenay

In the morning we arrived in Saguenay to rain and blustery winds with a temperature of just 36 degrees. What a change of weather! But, being intrepid travelers, we decided to take the enclosed tender to the dock and brave the elements (also we were in search of wine). Waves and white caps rocked us on the short ride, making it more like a roller coaster than a tranquil crossing. When we got off the tender we were nearly blown off the pier. The winds and slashing rains were brutal, but we raced up to the terminal where there was a small restaurant, tourist information and kiosks selling local products, like jewelry, knitted items and leather goods. We browsed their wares and then hit the streets before we lost the will to face the elements again.

We hadn’t gotten very far when we encountered a local fellow who was quite chatty. Dave retired to Saguenay about fifteen years ago. Since he is one of the few people in the area whose first  language is English, he comes down to the port when the ships come in to help people navigate or answer questions they may have about the area. Until we met him, we assumed the main industry was tourism, but he told us that there is a bauxite plant across Ha Ha Bay {yep, that’s the real name) where many residents work. The second biggest employer is the Canadian Naval Base.

The houses were mostly frame and clapboard siding with some triplexes among the mix. Most were very well kept and many had porches or balconies with window boxes full of geraniums, ferns or other plants. Dave was more than helpful (and we think just a guy who enjoyed talking with people — maybe a widower or with a wife who wants him out from underfoot for a while). Whatever his reason, he took us to the local church, Eglise Sainte-Anne, and we went in to look around. As we entered, we were greeted by two lovely women who welcomed us and said we were welcome to take pictures.

Next, he showed us a couple of outdoor kiosks that sold handmade items. It was still very cold, windy and rainy, so we politely bid Dave good-bye and thanked him for all his help and scurried back to the ship. Glad we got back when we did, because at that point they halted the tenders due to the rough seas.

We spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying our cozy cabin and the amenities aboard ship. Tomorrow is a day at sea. Our Captain assured us we would be in protected waters and should have a smoother transit.