Day Thirty-Nine

I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in quite a few, but still tankful that I had chosen to take the 1:00 pm train rather than the 9:30 am. I checked out and threw my things in storage, then walked down to have breakfast. I hung out with James and Matt for a bit, talked to Gabrielle about the slight possibility of me being able to volunteer at the hostel if there’s a delay in me going out on the ship, then played a quick round of billiards before making tracks to get to Central Station in time to get on the train.

I’m pretty proud of myself for finally getting on the train to Québec City today, but I’m sad to be leaving all the incredible people I met in Montréal. The city itself has been fantastic, but the people I met here are what helped shoot Montréal into serious contention for the “favorite stop” title. Seriously, if you are ever in Montréal and looking for somewhere awesome to stay, you have to stay at HI- Montréal.

The train ride to Québec City was short and uneventful. The walk from the station to the hostel wasn’t very far either, but it was totally uphill, and there were multiple points where I thought about just lying down on the street and camping out there just so I would able to stop moving. I did eventually make it, and after a brief discussion wherein it was revealed that my cancellation request had been misunderstood, I was given a key to one of HI- Québec’s private rooms in their beautiful 18th century building. The hostel itself is inside the walls of the Vieux Québec fortifications, which is a gorgeous area of the city to see.

I got myself unpacked and cleaned up, then started looking at my map for one sight to go see before the sun went down. I saw staircases all over the map, which jogged my memory about the “Breakneck Stairs” we’d talked about in high school French. I figured they would be a good thing to check off my list, so I went down to the desk to ask where they were, since of course they were the one staircase I couldn’t find on the map.

It was a short walk to L’Escalier Casse-Cou from the hostel itself. I made my way down the stairs without falling, which is more than could be said for most of the middle schoolers I saw running around in the area. Where their chaperones were, I have no idea, but the city was teeming with them. When one kid fell, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to say, “And that’s why they call these the ‘Breakneck Steps.’”

At the bottom of the stairs is Rue du Petit-Champlain, which I walked down for a bit as the sun started to set. That walk confirmed the rumors I’d heard about Québec’s appearance: if you had drugged me, spirited me away to Québec City, then told me I was in Europe when I came to, I would have believed you. Everywhere I looked, the city clashed with my idea of what North America looks like.

I started to feel pretty hungry, so I looped my way back up into the Upper Town and found Pub St-Patrick. I had a few pints of Smithwicks and a fabulous Irish stew, just what I needed on a somewhat chilly night.

After dinner, I went back to the hostel to shower, do a quick quick load of laundry, and get to bed. I signed up for a guided tour of Québec tomorrow, as well as the ferry ride over to Lévis. Andrew told me that while Lévis isn’t much to look at, the view of the city and the Château Frontenac is worth the ride.

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