Friday, 19 July 2013

24/06/2013 - 17/07/2013 Montreal, Quebec to Shediac, New Brunswick

24/06/2013 Montreal - Travelling to Montreal we drove though major wind and rain. The 50mph rain/wind squalls tested Stubbie's roof.  No leaks so all good. (It turned out to be a very simple fix.  Replace approximately a metre of sealant on the awning seam...$80)

The campground was straight out of a movie set.  It had a lake with a lifeguard tower and a wooden pontoon in the middle.  The water was about 19 degrees (The ice has just finished melting) and there were adults and kids wearing lifejackets.  (The French don't swim well.) Everyone in the campground speaks French (no English at all.) so it was an interesting few days.  Also this RV Park wasn't far from Lac-Megantic where Quebec had the major train disaster recently.  From the RV Park we did some lovely little drives through the French speaking countryside.

We have decided to use the public transport system to get into the city of Montreal rather than drive Shooter - apparently it is called the LimoCar and will take approx. one hour to deliver us into the Bus Station.  Not sure exactly what to expect as we drive to the Station and eventually purchase two adult return tickets - our French is not improving, but our sign language is, we will make a great team for charades.  We are told where to wait and within 10 minutes we see our Bus arrive, whilst not the Limo that we would of liked, it is very comfortable and does have free wifi.

Montreal (Note: the Montreal and French Flags)

We have tended to do a lot of the hop on hop off city tours to give us a feel of the city and also get the lay of the land (definitely helps with our sense of direction as well).  Normally I have a map of the city and know where to go to get the Hop On Hop Off Bus, and / or alternatively we head for the information counter.  So as we haven't had very good wifi reception, we head straight for information to find out where the nearest stop for the Hop on Hop Off Bus is (remember this is the main Bus Depot for Montreal) whilst, the lady behind the counter did speak some english, and after us trying with our english / french to ask for directions she did not know what we were talking about and couldn't help us out at all.  There was a huge poster and advertisement of the Hop on Hop Off Buses right beside the counter.  Oh well we have our newly bought navigation system, and we have a brochure of the route for the Hop On Hop Off Bus, can't be too hard to find for us season travellers.  Unfortunately, we have no idea where we are and the brochure only has the main tourist attractions on their route listed on the map.  So we decide to enter in the address for the first stop of the bus tour - only 2.5 kms away, nice day for a walk so off we head.  I have tried to turn the navigation system onto walking rather than driving, but our new wonderful navigation system is only compatible for driving - you learn everyday.  So after walking up and down one way streets we do find our destination, I'm sure if we headed there directly it would of been less than one km.


The bus tour shows us the highlights of the city and surrounds and gives us a bit of information, and of course as we are on the bus, we drive about 100 meters away from where the Bus Stations was.  We normally do a full loop and then decide what we want to see more of.  Our first visit is to Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mont Royal.  The basilica is dedicated to Saint Joseph to whom Brother Andre credited all his reported miracles.  These miracles were mainly related to a kind of healing power.  On display in the church is a wall covered with thousands of crutches from those who were supposedly healed.  Pope John Paul II deemed the miracles to be authentic and beatified Brother Andre.  Pope Benedict XVI then canonised Brother Andre the saint.  Inside the Church there is an area which contains Brother Andre's heart, which he requested as a protection for the basilica. St Joseph's is Canada's largest church and the world's 5th largest.  It is also the largest shrine dedicated to St Joseph.  It really was very majestic.  

St Josephs

Outside the church, the steps are divided into three sections, the middle section has been covered by wood which is set aside for people who wish to climb up on their knees.  The Old Section of Montreal was really quaint and I imagined it was something like a wee street in France.  We had a lovely meal in an Italian Restaurant, yes we ate Italian whilst in Canada in the French Province. We had a nice day in Montreal and enjoyed this city a lot more than Toronto.  

St Josephs

Time to move as we need to meet Dad and Heather in Quebec.

28/06/2014 - Quebec City.  We have arrived at our RV Park and have secured the last site, it is the long weekend celebrating Canada Day.  

I decided that after about 12 weeks it was time to get my hair done.   First challenge making an appointment.  So I go to a shopping centre and suss out two hairdressing salons, make up my mind which one I would like to go into and walk in to try and make an appointment - a little bit challenging but I get an appointment for the next day.  Not sure if I'm doing the right thing going into a French Speaking Salon to get my hair done - feeling a wee bit nervous - Dave no worries it's only hair it will grow back / out - thanks Dave fills me with a lot of confidence.  So the next day I wander into the Salon get seated and my hairdresser walks on over and starts speaking to me in French, I ask in my best French if she speaks English - a little bit she replies - great.  Now I need to explain what I would like done - I look around for some magazines - but can't see any, then I see one of the other hairdressers walk past who has a similar cut / colour to what I want - surely I can explain this.  Well after a bit the hairdresser wanders away to mix up some colours - let the show begin.  At first she applies a colour to my part, then goes back into the back room and comes out with a damp towel - she has decided to do it differently and starts wiping the colour off - okay now I'm getting really worried - perhaps I should just get up and walk out now - no it's only hair.  So after a few attempts at having a conversation - we settle into silence as I watch her work on my hair.  I have tried to explain that I want a very similar hair cut as the lady in the Salon but not as short.  Well lets say that the clippers didn't come out but the back of my hair is about 1 - 3cm in length - not quite what I was looking for.  Oh well after she has finished blow drying it is looking ok - at least it is better than when I went in.  So I get back to Stubbie and ask the Big Fella how it looks - yes I know silly mistake - to which he replies mmmm I will need a bit of time to get used to it.  I have decided to reserve my judgement until after I wash and blow dry it myself.  Mmmm I have a golden stripe down the middle - I'm assuming this was the first attempt, and whilst I normally use a brush to blow dry the back of my hair, my hair is no longer long enough to do that.  So I have decided that whilst I thought I was being very brave going into a non-english speaking Salon, it may not of been one of my best decisions, to go in unprepared with no photos or french hairdressing terminology - oh well it's only hair and it will grow out (in a year or two).

30/06/2013 - Quebec City.  Dad and Heather arrived safely yesterday - perhaps with a few more grey hairs than when they left.  We had planned on going into Quebec City, but as the Big Fella has done something to his back, we have decided that he will stay home and the Turtles and I will go on to see the Montmorency Falls.  When we arrive we notice that there is a cable car or a huge number of stairs to get to the top of the falls, mmm didn't take us long to decide that we are all happy for the cable car.  The Falls were quite spectacular and we had a lovely meal on top of the mountain.  
Montmorency Falls

01/07/2013 - Quebec City.  The Big Fella's back has improved but is still a bit sore, but he has decided to soldier on and come with us into Quebec City.  The drive took us a bit longer than expected, I wasn't thinking that just because it was Canada Day and their week long festival was due to begin next week that some of the roads would be closed - ooops.  Oh well we managed to park at the Hilton Hotel very close to the Old Quebec City.  I fell in love with Quebec City, it has a huge amount of character and is very clean.  The one thing that we have noticed is that whilst we have found the people in Canada and USA to be very helpful, polite and happy, that is not completely true over here in the Province of Quebec.  They Quebecians do say that they are more French than the French, and whilst I haven't been to France, if what I've heard about how arrogant some of the French can be is true than it is true that the Quebecians are more arrogant.  It has come as such a huge shock to us all.  Dave and I have been really taken aback, they certainly don't go out of their way to help and when you do ask for help, it seems to be such an inconvenience to them, and just the overall feeling of Quebec is a bit unfriendly.  

Royal 22 Regiment

As it is Canada Day we have decided to go to the raising of the flag with the Royal 22s regiment.  It was interesting to see the regiment in all there gear.  

Then we are off to the Hop On Hop Off bus to do our little tour.  Well we fell in love with the old city of Montreal and are now falling in love with Quebec City, the character and architecture is really amazing.  Old Quebec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is North America's only walled city outside of Mexico City.  The Citadel is North America's largest fort and Le Chateau Frontenac is said to be the world's most photographed hotel.

Le Chateau Frontenac

The Citadel (Cher Impersonator)

Outside Parliament is a statue of a very colourful former Premier of Quebec - Rene Levesque.  He is considered sovereigntism's spiritual father. His fingers on his right hand are slightly parted so that people can take a photo of him with a cigarette.  Quebec has voted twice about seceding from Canada.

Rene Levesque - (now who's got the Big Head not to mention hands)

02/07/2013 - Quebec City.  Because we enjoyed the city so much we have decided to go in for another day and have a look around.  Dave and I have decided to go and walk the wall, whilst Dad and Heather have headed off to the church we will meet back up for a late lunch.  This is Dad and Heathers last night before they head on home.

Old Quebec City

03/07/2013 - Quebec City.  Well it was time to say goodbye to Dad and Heather, after a little bit of trouble booking them in, we say our farewells.

It has been interesting talking to travellers / non-Quebecians around the area, it is common knowledge that the Quebecians don't really want to be part of Canada.  The Quebecian flag is flown so much more than the Canadian flag.

04/07/2013 – St-Mathieu-de-Rioux, Quebec. As it’s the Big Fella’s 60th birthday I have picked this particular RV park for Cable TV.  We knew we were in a French speaking province but were still hoping that there would be 50/50 of English / French speaking channels – we were soon disappointed it was about 30 / 70.  We were able to watch the tour de France (in French) and we did get snippets of the golf channel so overall it was better than nothing.  We are set-up on a hill high above a lake.

 RV Park - St-Mathieu-de-Rioux, Quebec.

05/07/2013 – St Mathieu-de-Rioux, Quebec.  The Big Fella’s Birthday.  We have headed off into the town of Rimouski, about 45 minutes away, so we have a nice drive through the countryside and into the city.  We have stopped at the Marina to have Lobster and Corona’s for his birthday, which I’m pretty sure he enjoyed – the Lobster was devoured very quickly.   

My Big Spunk on his Birthday

One of things we do like about Quebec is that you can buy live lobster in the grocery stores – they are around $6 – 7 a pound.  They are swimming around happily in a huge fish tank in the middle of the store.

09/07/2013 –  Rimouski, Quebec - Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick.
We were originally planning to spend a bit more time in Quebec, but have decided to head on over to New Brunswick.  We are looking forward to getting into a friendlier place.  We have spent the night at Walmart and have woken up to a flat tyre on Stubbie.  After a few hours we have finally got the tyre fixed so off we go.  We soon notice the high number of mosquitos – oh well we have insect repellent.  

We go to the dump station first and when Dave is dumping I let him know that whilst we don’t have a dump spot at our site, we do have electricity and water. We have been given a huge space, I did read that the sites were 20 x 20 (meters) – but to be honest I didn’t really believe it – but ours is well over that size. (More like a typical house block.)   Well as we are setting-up Dave comes inside says there is no water connection – oops got that one wrong.  As Dave thought we had water he didn’t refill our tanks – looks like we are on water rations for a while – or we need to pack up and go and get some water.  We have decided to be on rations. We are soon looking for the mosquito spray - I am slapping myself more than a Sumo Wrestler.

Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick

After dinner and a few drinks Dave has decided to look at the map for our hike the next day (we have been looking forward to getting back into our hiking) and with a few beers under his belt he has decided that we should do the perimeter of the park – 30+ kms, I said you have to be kidding that’s a long way – he says we have all day, we’ll just pack a backpack for the day and head off, I have reiterated that that is a long hike to start with, perhaps we should cut it down, to which he reluctantly reduces the hike to about 22km’s – (I was thinking 10km’s would be more than a good start).  I’ve agreed to go for 22km’s especially since we are in a National Park so we should get to see a few critters and have some lovely scenery.

10/07/2013 - Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick.  The next morning it is a slow start, not quite a panadol party but we have decided to wait a bit and head off after lunch – we know we have plenty of sunlight hours, it doesn’t get dark to well after 10:00 pm.  So after lunch we pack one of the backpacks (which I carry) and head off with a little pep in our step.  The hike is actually quite boring the scenery is exactly the same and our expectation of the ‘Beach’ that we have come to see is diminishing from what we have seen so far.  We hit our first beach and Dave’s comment ‘You are Kidding – this can’t be a beach’ - Well 4 hours later we arrive back at our site with no pep left in our step.  As for the wildlife we saw one bird that we hadn’t seen before and other than that just some of the local birds – that we have been seeing everywhere. We have been eaten alive, we did apply plenty of  insect repellent before we left and also on our little hike, not happy.  One thing that I really look forward to after a bit of exercise is a nice shower, but because some Goose (me) has put us on rations, that’s not going to happen.  As we are getting ready for bed – there is a rabbit just outside our door – didn’t see one of these on our 4 hour hike.  The Big Fella is a little sore, his back, his knees, his thighs etc. etc. – he did comment that perhaps that was a bit far to go, since he hadn’t really done any exercise since we left home – really.

Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick

11/07/2013 – Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick.  I’ve decided to keep my walk to inside the camping area, and around 5km’s - I see Groundhogs, squirrels and woodpeckers, certainly more than I saw yesterday.

We have learnt from the adds on the TV (the one station that we get) that you can buy Lobster at McDonalds, SubWay, Pizza Delight (similar to Pizza Hut)– so who knows where else you can buy it from, I’ve never heard Dave say before that he wants to go to McDonalds.

12/07/2013 - Shediac, New Brunswick.  Today is a small drive to Shediac our next stop, the self-proclaimed Lobster Capital - yummy.  As we drive into town we have realised that we have arrived in time for Lobster Festival - Bonus.  We are in a great park, the staff are extremely friendly and can not do enough for us.  The people in the park smile and say hello - oh it's so nice to be back into the friendly Canada. We have a view of the bay and the sun is shining. So after getting ourselves organised we set off on our walk to the Lobster Festival - it's only about 1.5 kms away and on our way we walk through the little town, really cute with lots and lots of restaurants - and of course, they are all advertising Lobster, can't wait to explore this town (okay restaurants).  Well the Lobster Festival itself wasn't exactly what we had thought it would be, more like a mini mini mini Ekka.  A couple of rides including the Zipper, a couple of food stores and a restaurant selling Lobster Supper - so that's were we head. $30.00 for a full lobster, salad, bread roll and a glass of australian white wine, I'm in my element.  

Shediac Lobster Festival

13/07/2013 - Shediac, New Brunswick.  We had originally planned to stay two nights, but I have already booked in for another 5 nights.  Today we are heading off to a restaurant that has been recommended to us by the owners of the RV Park (we later find out, it is his brother).  But this time we order the special, full lobster, prawns and oysters all for $25.00 - does eating (a huge part of my life) get any better than this.  The restaurant is right on the Bay, we have few drinks then head on home. As we are driving into the park I see a band setting up, so I find out that they will start playing around 8:00pm, I did ask them what type of music they play - Rock N Roll and Country.  So we settle outside of Stubbie and have a few drinks -  must admit I am getting a little bit happy.  I have met a friend who is going over to listen to the band, so I have decided to go and join her, the Big Fella has decided to sit quietly.  Well lets just say I got home around 1:30am, the band played a fair bit in French, but after a few drinks (ok a lot of drinks) I didn't care. I have realised that I can shake by booty to any music in any language (well I call it dancing).  Oh I love it here, the women that drink wine pour it into a Grande Sized Coffee Stainless Steel mug and drink from there.

14/07/2013 -  Shediac, New Brunswick.  Well the morning is starting very slowly for me.  I had planned on having a rest day today and thank goodness I had, I'm really not up to doing much.  I'm lucky I have a loving husband who is also happy to take it easy today.

15/07/2013 - Shediac, New Brunswick.  After going into the little downtown area for a lobster roll for dinner, we have decided to check out the beach area - Parlee Beach (apparently, one of North America's finest beach).  It's just after 8:00pm but we know we still have plenty of time as sunset isn't tell well after 9:00pm.  Well, when we hit the famous beach area Dave was in stitches, not only do you have to walk out about 200 meters to get the water up to your waist, there is no surf, not even a little swell and there are people absolutely everywhere.

Parlee Beach

16/07/2013 - Shediac, New Brunswick.  Instead of going out for dinner I have decided to go and buy a couple of cooked lobsters from the Seafood Markets.  I was going to make-up some garlic butter, but instead purchased some from the Supermarket.  Mmmm - life is fantastic.

17/07/2013 - Shediac, New Brunswick. We listened to the State of Origin this morning.  Another Queensland win.....Another couple of lobsters today and tomorrow and then off to Prince Edward Island....