The first word that comes to mind when I think back to Quebec City is charming… Historic buildings, colorful homes with colorful doors and flowers on window sills, outdoor tables of numerous restaurants along both sides on a narrow street, cozy alleys with evergreen ivy creeping up the trees and utility poles and further down the power lines… To me, Quebec is also our lovely Airbnb hosts that knew every conceivable way of making a good cup of coffee, very tasty sweet strawberries and toasts with tofu spread for breakfast, a lot of tourists in central areas, and not being able to understand conversations because I don’t speak French.
One of the brightest memories from Quebec is Féria l’attraction - a circus show by Flip Fabrique, recommended to us by our hosts. It was an outdoor show that a group of very talented people put on almost every day during the summer for FREE, rain or shine. The show was well beyond my expectations. I enjoyed it as much as (if not more than) Cirque du Soleil that I attended a year earlier. It was so mesmerizing… And it’s not that their performers did something that hasn’t already been done before. I think I just really felt the atmosphere that was so skillfully crafted by the entire circus crew, and especially the light and sound people. The lighting was impeccable: it created the right mood and emphasized performances in all the right places to keep the audience drawn to the show. The sound was simply the best. I felt I could just watch the person in the sound booth, ignore the rest of the show, and still have a great time. You could see how the sound person was creating sound loops in real time, using his electronic equipment, drum set, and a few other small instruments (mostly percussion, as I recall). The major advantage of using live music is its ability to very precisely emphasize each performance’s climaxes. For example, as the bikers do tricks in the air, the music builds up the tension and releases it with a powerful drum beat upon their successful landing. Pure joy.
Féria l’attraction. Note the sound booth underneath the ramp!
An anecdotal story from the show. For one of the performances, they had an announcer that spoke… (drum roll, please) Russian! Isn’t it weird? It must have been very confusing for that one volunteer who was invited onto the stage to be given instructions (in Russian, as well) to hammer down on “один, два, три” (“one, two, three”). In between the hits, the announcer kept on talking and entertaining the crowd, although I doubt many people understood anything. Amon and I exchanged looks and some remarks about this Russian emceeing and the guy in front of me turned back to jump into our conversation. Very enthusiastically and with a smart look, he raised his finger and said: “Oh yeah! It is not English and it is not French! It’s not Latin too!” (Latin? Huh? Or at least that’s what we heard.) I was both amused and surprised by his intervening. Then (kind of matter-of-factly) I said: “Oh, it’s Russian.” He was seemingly taken aback and responded with an embarrassed smile. Woops!
Quartier du Petit Champlain, one of the oldest commercial streets in North America
Among other things, I enjoyed window shopping at Quartier du Petit Champlain, having a nice picnic at Montmorency Falls, imagining the fight between the British and French forces while taking a stroll through the Plains of Abraham, and observing a lot of tourists climbing on top of cannons for a memorable picture at Fairmont Le Château Frontenac - a large old hotel in the Châteauesque architectural style (first opened in 1893 and now a National Historic Site of Canada).
A separate mention goes to Maison de la littérature, probably the most photogenic library I’ve been to. The interior of the library has a contemporary bright design while the exterior retains its original appearance of the former Wesley Temple, the first neo-gothic church in Quebec. Tall windows allow for plenty of natural light and I really really liked this mixture of contemporary and neo-gothic design.
Maison de la littérature. This picture doesn’t do it justice.
These are my notes and memories of Quebec. We travelled here back in August 2019, and recalling our adventures from our post-graduation cross-Canada train trip, I feel privileged for having been able to make that trip a reality, and even more so in the light of the global pandemic that we have today. I hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy. Take care!