August 1, 2013 17:19
This weekend I took a trip to Tadoussac, Québec.
I arrived at night, and knew that this would be a great opportunity to see the sky without light pollution. I didn't want to wander too far from the road, since I had no idea where I was or what the terrain was like. But wow, even so, the sky was breathtaking! I've never seen so many stars in my life! I also saw two bats hunting moths, making high pitched squeaks. That was when I really thought "this is what I've been missing out on for all these years without traveling."
The next morning I was shocked to discover that the great black expanse I had been looking at the night before was not a forest, but the bay! I can't tell you how many times I had my mind blown on this trip.
I went down to the bay and got suited up for a boat ride. It was a little cloudy, grey, and drizzling, so everybody donned rain suits and split up into three Zodiac boats. The Zodiacs are smallish, fit 12-24 people, and are pretty low to the water. We then went out to the bay.
I was afraid we'd only catch a few glimpses of whales, but from a distance we could already see a lot of them spraying, and I knew immediately that I was wrong. We saw a few minkes, 3 fin whales (the second largest whale) who came up frequently but only showed us their backs. The most incredible were the humpbacks, who showed us their tails a few times. It was just incredible how massive and yet graceful and beautiful they were. A couple seals floated around, and on the way to the fjord we saw a pod of belugas, two of which got very close to the boat.
The water was mostly very choppy, but in one area of the bay it was completely still. Not a single wave, and you could see the ripples from the rain drops. It was so freaky and cool.
In the fjord we stopped close to some rocks where two seals were hanging out. They were really cute. The rocks were also covered in kelp and algae. Then the guide showed us a waterfall pouring from the top of massive 300+ foot cliffs. He said it swells after the winter when the ice melts, but it was impressive nonetheless. I think I lucked out getting on this boat because the captain seemed to give us a longer and more interesting tour than the others.
When we got back, I got lunch, and then looked at the tourist map. I noticed that instead of taking the street, I could take a "path" through the forest. On the map it was a straight line so I assumed it'd be a nice nature walk, but nothing particularly interesting.
I was so wrong. It turned out to be a mountain trail, with lots of wooden staircases, twists, and turns, and it took me to the top of a mountain, probably half the height of Mont Royal, but with an even better view. The view of the bay and lake was breathtaking. And since the map gave absolutely no indication of how nice this trail was, I only saw two other people.
I took a panorama of the bay, but then noticed some storm clouds, and it started to thunder. It was pretty terrifying being on top of a mountain with nothing but my camera, feeling the wind pick up and seeing the clouds approach very quickly. But I made it home before it started to rain.
I was planning to stay another night, but the forecast said it'd be rainy, so I decided to take the bus that had just arrived. On the way home, close to Québec City, it was drizzling on the left over the river, but the sun was shining on the right. And there was a beeeautiful rainbow stretching across the river. I could see both ends of it. A perfect end to this life changing trip.
July 16, 2013 04:55
On my connecting flight from Toronto, one of my favorite artists of all time Stevie Wonder was sitting in the row in front of me across the aisle. There was a period in college where his songs were literally the only music I listened to.
I learned that he was the closing act for the Festival d'été de Québec the following night. I would have paid the full $76 price for a 2-week pass just to see him but my kind hosts found me a ticket and I got to see him perform live for free! His voice is incredible and seems as strong as it was in the decades-old recordings I have. My favorite was "I Just Called to Say I Love You", he also played "My Cherie Amour", "Superstition", and many others of course.
Before the concert, my hosts also took me for a little walking tour of Vieux-Québec. C'est très charmant! It's so beautiful and clean, and feels very European. The view of the Fleuve Saint-Laurent was breath-taking, especially at sunset. I really love this city; it may have replaced Boston as my favorite. I'll definitely come back again.
For now I am stuck in Montréal, which so far reminds me very much of Chicago... dirty and crowded. I'll give it a chance though.