13th September 2014
Saguenay – Quebec….small town with a big heart
Saguenay is at the top of a high sided fjord off the St Lawrence river. It’s made up of three towns linked together and we’re berthed in La Baie which appears to be the one in the middle (I think)
Now you immediately get the impression that this town has attitude, and it hits you the moment you leave the ship. There is a lot of activity waiting to greet us with fire-breathing, dancing and singing, displays of local crafts, historical cars and a tepee resplendent with two occupants dressed to impress as Native Americans (which of course they are!!)
The dancers are part of the ‘Fabuleuse Cultural Show’ that is put on for the tourist which is filled with horses and magnificent costumes. It depicts the history of Saguenay and demonstrates the growth of their unique culture.
And all this is free!! No requests for tips or demands for some kind of offering from the assembled that are enjoying the entertainment, or for taking photographs. For me this is the definition of good community spirit, the people of the town all working toward one single goal, keeping the tourist smiling and making them feel good about the day ahead. That in turn promotes the town and its traders and I’m sure as a result more money was spent in the shops and market stalls by the happy cruisers (well most of them were happy, some wouldn’t crack a grin on laughing gas!!!!)
We indulged in our usual activity of walking all around the top of the fjord which was very pleasant as once again the weather gods were smiling on us. The church was very reminiscent of a theatre with its huge stage and bright white and blue painted walls. It was a very relaxing and peaceful place to be (even better was it was free to enter) and we were made to feel very welcome by the warden.
In the square outside the church was a craft market and for those members of our family who are reading this you’ll be pleased to know you have at least one Christmas present all the way from Canada.
A late lunch and beer (always following our dreams) was taken in a large bar on the quay side and it was very nice (again)
So Saguenay has made an impression on us, and a very good one at that. Once again we didn’t venture too far out of the town itself, but there is plenty to do in and around (and on) the fjord. Our only real disappointment was that it was dark both when we entered and departed the entrance to the fjord, which is reputed to be one of the very best places to see whales………oh well, maybe next time.
Quebec – Quebec (so good they named it twice)
Well the good fortune has finally run out and taken the good weather with it, and this morning there is quite a persistent downpour of the cold wet stuff. As there’s so much to do and see in this wonderful city there is a growing sense of disappointment, however……are we going to let that spoil our day?
Answers on a postcard please…….
We set off anyway, waterproofs and shorts being the dress code of the day. Within minutes we’re soaked right through, but in true ‘We’re British’ fashion we keep going, on up the steep hill to the Chateau Frontenac and a wander around the citadel walls and into the arboretum. It was an enjoyable walk but as we’re so wet we didn’t feel it was very fair on the local traders to wander in and out of their shops and galleries, as we would normally do, dripping all over their priceless wares, not a very good idea really. So on we trudge, well squelch really as by now even our waterproof shoes aren’t waterproof anymore. Finally we reach a point where we can no longer ignore the growing numbness in our frozen limbs and reluctantly we head back to the ship demonstrating the gated walk we normally display after several hours of horse riding.
After an hour or so of drinking coffee and doing the English thing by talking about the weather, the skies clear and the sun almost comes out. Now resplendent in our fresh and dry change of clothes we head back into the city and this time we troll in and out of everywhere looking at all the soggy stuff on display (obviously our fellow cruisers didn’t feel the same as ourselves about dripping around the shops) what great fun. With the threat of more rain we decided to change our plans to stay in the city to eat and headed back to the ship once more as the evening approached.
The second day dawned bright and cheerful and today there’s a cycle race in the city, the ‘Grand Prix of Quebec’ is an 11 lap race around an 18 kilometre course and will dominate the activities all around the city today.
Now we’ve never really been ones to attend live sporting events (unless you include the countless duties at the football and cricket for St John Ambulance) but I have to say we really enjoyed the atmosphere and the excitement this race generated among the spectators. I personally was amazed at just how quickly these guys race and as they passed by us each time they were followed by an entourage of vehicles laden with spare bikes, wheels etc. But following right at the back were three large ambulances ready to pick up the pieces if anything untoward happened, trouble was they struggled to keep pace and at each corner the squeal from the tyres was deafening. At one point we were sure one of them was about to leave the course in a very dramatic fashion, and we could clearly see the terror in the face of the paramedic sitting in the passenger seat. He looked quite pale and maybe needed to go suck on the oxygen for a while to recover, that’s if was able to prise his fingers from their death defying grip on the dashboard.
Anyway, after a hard few hours of walking around the walls and watching the race from the high vantage points we made our way back onto the main street and enjoyed a very nice boozy lunch at a place called ‘Bello’ a very stylish Bistro/wine bar that served really tasty pizza and risotto.
Then a quick hunt around the souvenir shops for some pen’s for our friend Polly and back to the ship for a lively sail away party on deck.
Quebec is definitely one of our favourites, a truly cosmopolitan city with many interesting things to see and do. A little disappointed that we were here earlier than last time and all the Halloween festivities and displays hadn’t really begun yet, but hey ho there’s always be a next time……..hopefully.
Thanks Quebec, great visit, great city 🙂