Friday, September 21, 2007

Voyage to Quebec - Part Trois (Sept. 19)

We started the day by visiting the Parliament. The building is impressive from the outside, detailing various eras and figures from Quebec's rich past.

Everything in the building reflects the 3 main periods in Quebec's history: the French dominion, the British occupation and government (the parliament is styled after the British model) and finally, the Corporation of Canada period (they are still a part of the commonwealth, with Elizabeth as their queen. She actually has a representative in Ottawa, the Governor-General).

Interesting tour, during which we've learned that the major problem of the province right now is population, or lack thereof. Not enough children are being born and immigration is checked by the government trying to keep the province French-oriented. Therefore, whatever immigrants do choose Quebec over Ontario, British Columbia and the other English-speaking provinces, make it as far as Montreal - a very language-tolerant city (compared to the rest of the province, that is). In the main assembly room they were debating a law that will encourage people to immigrate to Quebec, while still maintaining their unique culture. We therefore had to skip that room in the tour.

From there, a short ride from Quebec would get you to a wonderful hanging bridge over the St. Laurent river that will take you to Iles de Orleans (Orleans Island). This Island measures 75km (40 miles) in circumference. All of it is made of farms set in a picturesque background, with the river and the mountains as a backdrop. There are several vineyards and plenty of places to pick apples, raspberries, strawberries and pumpkins. At the far end of the island there's a tower, allowing for an undisturbed view of the island, the river and the St. Anne Mountain.

video

We finished our visit with a nice lunch at one of the abundant picnic locations and headed back to Montreal.

Tips:

  1. Do not return to Montreal between 4-6pm, unless you like being stuck in traffic.
  2. Just one tiny sample on how today's travel restrictions ruin all fun: you taste a great local wine. You want to buy a bottle or two. You remember that you'll now have to check in your luggage (unless you want someone from the TSA to drink your wine for dinner tomorrow). You also remember that your flight back has a short connection - virtually guaranteeing your luggage will not meet you at the end point.
    End result: you give up on the wine.

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