Thursday – So today we headed up to the Jacques-Cartier National Park. My hatred of Quebec intensified greatly today as the stupid piece of crap satnav somehow couldn’t manage to find ‘Jacques-Cartier National Park’ and send us on some random ass routes until we managed to get it to find ‘Parc Nationale de la Jacques-Cartier’…it genuinely nearly got thrown out of a window. Neither G or I have ANY patience when it comes to crap like this! Anyway, we finally made it to the world’s rudest National Park at lunchtime, managed to sort a camping spot (no thanks to the EXTREMELY UNHELPFUL information centre) and decided on some hiking routes for the afternoon. Once we got away from the Quebecers though we had a lovely afternoon! The park was absolutely stunning. We decided to do ‘Les Loups’, an 11km long hike up to a height of about 450m to some observation decks where we could see the view across the park. It was a long trek and we were absolutely knackered afterwards but the views were STUNNING. The forest was beautiful but eerily quiet, there weren’t really any animals about, no birds singing or anything so the only noises were trees creaking and water from the little streams and tiny waterfalls we came across. We literally saw one squirrel and one rabbit the entire trek!
After the trek we headed back to the van for dinner, G had a major freak out about losing her computer, which I found in the exact place she had left it AFTER running half a mile to the information centre and back to see if it was left there…joy…and getting back to the van to find her spiralling into depression and eating her feelings. Idiot.
Friday – The plan for today was to spend the morning in the park and then drive down to Montreal, stay the night as close to the city as possible and then spend the whole of Saturday in the city.
We did a lovely trek all around a ‘babbling brook’ and both got COVERED in insect bites despite being completely covered in repellant! I have no idea what the hell kind of bugs they have here but they are little bastards, we both have massive swelled up lumps all over the place…horrific. Once again though, the scenery saved Quebec. Everything is beautiful.
Then off we headed to Montreal. I can’t even bring myself to talk about how stressful this goddamn afternoon was trying to drive through the city covered in road works. Overall I think myself and G handled it pretty well, albeit with intense, consistent swearing throughout and we finally parked up at a Walmart just outside the city centre, grabbed a burger at Wendy’s and had some much needed vodka!
Saturday – Turns out we picked an amazing spot last night. We had breakfast at the Tim Hortons across the street and used their wifi to find out how to get into the city. We were right across the street from a Metro station with an all day carpark for $7. Perfection. So we jumped on the train and headed to the Information Centre where we got loads of useful info and maps of the city.
We had a great day! We explored the old town which has some beautiful churches and garden, had an amazing brunch at Tutti Frutti, headed down to the harbour where a massive yoga festival was in progress and then took the Metro over to Isle de Saint-Helene where they have an amazing bio-sphere and some beautiful gardens and art exhibitions, including some great wildlife photography. What we didn’t realise was that there was a heavy rock festival being held on the island that weekend so the place was full of sweaty goths and rockers and smelt heavily of weed and beer! The bio-sphere was cool though. G had a whale of a time in all the science exhibitions…I did an excellent job of faking enthusiasm for an extended period of time. They also had a fascinating recycling fashion exhibition, making dresses out of everyday landfill items.
We headed back to the mainland and decided to wander over towards the Gay Village for dinner, hilariously marked in pink on the map and in real life with pink bunting EVERYWHERE! We went through China Town – exactly the same as the one in London, proving my theory that all cities’ China Towns are identical – and through a street art dance festival with some awesome graffiti work being done, before grabbing a beer at Jardin Gamelin, an open air bar surrounded by homegrown fruits and vegetables. Then it was off to a steakhouse for some dinner and a cocktail bar for some well earned Gin & Gingers!
It was lovely walking through the city as it was all lit up and it was a beautiful warm summer’s evening and we made it back for our last night in the van!