I’ve been in place for nearly a month and have made three crossings to visit Quebec City; staying away my first week as the Pope arrived with an expected crowd. This marks my fourth visit to Vieux Quebec since the late ‘70s so I’ve witnessed both the preservation of this beautiful city, and the cultural changes over a number of decades.
On my first day, I felt a little bored and a little stunned. Bored may be the wrong word versus feeling I’d “been there, done that” regarding the sites to see. The awe of seeing Le Chateau Frontenac, Petit-Champlain, Place Royale, etc. has worn off, though thankfully they’re still beautifully preserved. Unfortunately, what I did see is the degradation seen in Dubrovnik – overtourism – too many visitors and a deterioration of cultural quality. Yes, I’m going to rant, but yes, my time here gets better.
There’s a Starbucks at the Chateau with a sign facing the Dufferin Terrace near the tour bus congestion. Rue Saint-Jean is filled with places serving pizza, burgers and Italian food, and as I walked by the Irish pub, the guitarist was singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads”. I saw a McDonald’s, a Subway, and multiple Boutique Mary’s Popcorn shops, as well as redundant souvenir shops within the walls of Vieux Quebec. And while I understand the need for multilingual tours, most of the signage is now in French and English.
J’ai vomi un peu.
Thankfully, I've learned when to take a deep breath and how to hit the restart button. So I left the neighborhood to sit outdoors at a quiet epicerie with a tarte au citron and ponder the map. There were indeed places I wanted to revisit, areas I’d never passed by, and a public art circuit of interest. And so it began...
My original plans were to return to the USA in 48 hours and be in New England for my birthday. I've now decided to stay in Canada a few more weeks, and head to New Brunswick then Nova Scotia. More on that later as a bike ride along the river is calling me.
Cyclist, writer, teacher, avid reader, bike/ped advocate, nomad, pie lover