Friday, 29 July 2011


Montreal was a real treat (albeit completely different than Quebec City). Quebec City has that certain "European-charm"--clear streets, gorgeous historic buildings, horse drawn carriages etc. Montreal is a more diverse city and comes with a side dish of steaming hot metropolitan culture. After taking a walking tour of Montreal, we visited the Notre Dame Cathedral of Montreal. BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful interior. After indulging on this architectural delicacy, we took a bus out to the Biodome where were visited the 4 ecospheres: tropical, temperate, coastal and arctic. I actually already visited the Biodome the first time I ventured to Quebec 11 years ago (but it was still nice to re-explore the Biodome). After we made our way back to the city center Alanna and I met up with our host family and had dinner in a charming little neighborhood just outside of the city center. Our host dad is a professional photographer and he showed us his amazing work and he also gave me tips on how to use my DSLR camera.

Later that evening we met up with Alanna's cousin and found a good spot to watch the fireworks competition that's being held in Montreal this entire summer. We saw Canada's official entry into the competition. It was an amazing show based around the theme of "love." The fireworks lasted for 30 minutes, and our view from the bridge was just spectacular :)

The next morning I headed uptown to meet up with my friend Catherine who was in the same residential college as me at Yale. We grabbed brunch at a wonderful restaurant called Lawrence. I opted for the d'oeufs champignon--yum! The mushrooms were so rich and buttery, and the iced cafe au lait was to die for.

After brunch, Catherine and I decided to take a mini-culinary tour of Montreal. We grabbed Montreal-style bagels at Fairmount Bagel (they hand roll the dough, soak the bagels in honeywater, and then bake them in a brick oven over an open flame. HEAVEN!) The bagels are much smaller than New York style bagels and are quite sweet. Fairmount Bagel coats there in poppy seeds, and when you order one at the counter, it comes piping hot out of the oven and into your hand (all for 75 cents).
After our trip to the bagel shop, we made our way to a patisserie which as "better Croissants than Paris!" I opted to get an almond croissant to go. It was delicious, but I have to admit that I am a diehard fan of Croissant D'or in New Orleans.
Finally, we made our way to Shuartz's--famous smoked meat establishment in Montreal. The line outside the diner was 2 hours long! Luckily for us, there is also a take-out counter adjacent to the diner. After thirty-minutes in line, we finally ordered our smoked meat sandwiches on white bread with lots of mustard, and a black cherry cola on the side. Perfection!
After lunch, I said goodbye to Catherine, and headed to the large city park to meet up with Alanna, our host family and Alanna's cousin for the weekly musical gathering: Tamtam. For an hour or so we listened to the syncopated rhythms of African drums echoing throughout the park. There were a few hundred people enjoying the music, basking in the sun and dancing. After a while we walked a bit further into the park to check out the life action role play (people who dress up in mediaeval garb and fight one another with faux weapons).

All in all a wonderful experience in Montreal!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Parc National de la Mauricie

Yesterday, we all headed out to Shawinigan for a day at Mauricie national park. We took a group hike, swam in the lake, sunbathed and made our way to a cascading waterfall to cool off. It was a stunningly beautiful day, and I think we all were appreciative of the natural landscape that Quebec has to offer.

Here are some photos from the trip:


A few weeks ago Trish, Amanda and I decided to attend the music festival in Trois-Rivieres. We opted to see Inxs, perhaps best known for their 80s pop hits like "Never Tear Us Apart:"

The concert was good, and we couldn't help but laugh because the new head singer of Inxs was Russell Brand reincarnate a la Forgetting Sarah Marshall. After the concert, we agreed to have a girls night in later that week and watch Music and Lyrics.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Chez Dany

The original maple syrup cabin:

Playing spoons!

Do you like maple syrup? Then you will certainly like Chez Dany--a sugar cabin restaurant near Trois-Rivieres. Yesterday, we headed out to have dinner and dance at Chez Dany. The food was traditional Quebecoise cuisine: consisting mainly of maple syrup, ham and peas. The meal started with yellow pea soup, moved on to roasted ham, ham quiche, ham and beans, fried potatoes, beets and meat pie, and finally ended with pancakes and coffee. Every course of the meal was eaten with maple syrup (except the pea soup). People love the maple syrup so much that they keep it in an easy-pour Tupperware container...!

While we feasted on ham and maple syrup, we listened to the Quebecoise chanteuse who was playing the wooden spoons and singing traditional Quebec songs. However, after the main course was served, the traditional Quebec tunes stopped and the DJ started playing a melange of the most bizarre dance songs including the Macarena and current pop hits by the Black Eyed Peas and other American artists. Everyone got up and danced and danced, and then danced some more. It was so great (albeit, the cultural melting pot was a bit strange!)

After we finished our dessert and coffee, we headed outside to eat maple candy (maple syrup cooled on ice and then twirled onto a wooden stick).

The singer and some of my fellow students:

Quebec Day 2

After enjoying a lovely breakfast with our host family, we spent the remainder of the day with Yvan (one of our hosts). We walked long the Plains of Abraham (where the British conquered the French in 1759, claiming Quebec as a part of Great Britain), we passed through the Jean d'Arc (Joan of Arc) park, we visited Parliament and took a guided tour, grabbed lunch at a falafel restaurant and went to an afternoon music concert. It was a great day in the beautiful city of Quebec.

Joan of Arc gardens:

Yvan, Alanna and Me:

View of Parliament:

Stained glass inside of Parliament:

Chambers inside Parliament:

I love the image of this boat and the flags (near a open air performance area):
At the end of our journey through Quebec, we met up again with both of our hosts and took a tour of the local farmers' market. Alanna and I bought some apple butter (delicious!) and tried some local Quebecois cheeses. A great adventure, indeed!

Quebec Day 1

The day after St. Quentin, we made our way to Quebec City. I absolutely adore Quebec City. The French colonial architecture is stunning, the city is impeccably clean and the weather on this trip was perfect. In the morning we took a guided tour of the city: we visited Parliament, the Vieux Quebec, and many other historic sights. There were many tourists in Quebec because there was a giant music festival that week (Elton John performed on Saturday evening).

After our walking tour, we met up with some of the other students in the program for a historic tour of the Chateau Frontenac, which is now a 5-star hotel. The tour guides who work at the Chateau wear historic costumes and are wonderful actors and actresses. On our tour we learned about the world class restaurant, the bee keepers who keep hives on the garden terraces of the Chateau, the special breed of hens that can withstand the cold of the Quebec winter, the general history of the founding of Quebec City and the hotel, and much more. The 40 minute tour was jammed packed with amazing details!

In the early evening, my friend Alanna and I met up with our hosts, who were incredibly kind and generous. They invited us to dinner at their home to meet their friends. Alanna and I were happy to accept.

Before dinner, Alanna, Amanda, Trish and I attended mass in Vieux Quebec, and then Alanna and I returned to our hosts' home for supper. It was wonderful practice to speak French with francophones! After our delicious supper, our hosts departed for the Elton John concert, and Alanna and I made our way to the center of town to get in line for the free Cirque du Soleil show. We met up with a few friends there and rushed through the gates with the rest of the crowd to try and hunt out a good spot to see the spectacle! After some quick negotiating with the neighbors to my right and my left I was able to get a half decent view of the stage (although I did feel a bit guilty for blocking the view of the people behind me...I'm a bit tall!) While we waited for the show to start, a few performers meandered through the crowd and interacted with the audience members (turning baseball caps backwards, miming at various people)--we were all so excited to see the show!

There were several parts to the stage, and a catwalk that stretched out into the audience right next to where we were standing. During the show, some artists would perform at the end of the catwalk (providing us an excellent view!) At one point there was a performer who was whirling 10 different hula hoops on her body at one time--she was the image of grace and strength. The show was also special because it was an outdoor performance so the entire arena was lit by the full moon (in addition to the stage lighting).

After the Cirque du Soleil, we visited la rue grande allee. It seemed that all of Quebec was hanging out and socializing on la rue grande allee that night! The best part? I saw the biggest mirror ball I have ever encountered in my life! It must have been about 8 feet in was suspended about Chez Dagobear (a dance club). I couldn't help but think of my Yale friends who have a thing for disco balls.

Horse drinking out of a special fountain for draft animals:

Beautiful flags:

I love this building (the red and white colors are stunning):

Heading toward the Vieux Quebec:

View of Vieux Quebec:

A church in the center of the historic district:

Scores of sailboats on the river:

Chateau Frontenac:

Alanna at at our host's dinner:
Cirque du Soleil:
Giant Mirror Ball:


The second Friday of the program we visited Saint Quentin island at the mouth of the river. We packed our lunches, bathing suits and beach reading (I had just bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in French, so I brought that along). The island was crowded with Trifleuviens searching for a respite from the summer heat. Once we got of the buses, we made our way to the far corner of the beach. We set up volleyball nets, played music and created a colorful patchwork of beach towels on the sand. Trish and I took a walk along the coast and tried our hands at amateur nature photography (traversing the precarious rocky coast to get decent shots of the coast line). After our little promenade we returned to the beach to enjoy the sunshine and catch up on reading. My friend Amanda was kind enough to buy us all a much needed beer.

Le Sanctuaire Notre-Dame-du-Cap

We also visited a local sanctuary on our guided tour of the downtown area. The sanctuary is situated about 20 minutes outside of the center of the city and has a beautiful view of the river. The architecture is fairly modern--the basilica was built in the late 1950s. I enjoyed walking around the sculpture garden where they had bronze depictions of all of the stations of the cross and other important biblical scenes.


Trois-Rivieres means "Three Rivers" in French. The city was named as such because at the mouth of the central river there are three isles which split the river into three parts. The original explorers of the city believed that there were three distinct rivers, but that is actually not the case (there is only 1).

The city is quaint with many meandering lanes and beautifully maintained gardens. The main part of town and most of the social life is situated on Boulevard de Forges. The first week we arrived in Trois-Rivieres there was a 10-day long musical festival called Festivoix ("Festivoice") going on in the center of the city.

In general, I really enjoy living here. The summer is splendid with temperatures ranging from 70-85 degrees. There are many bike paths throughout the city, and I rented a bike for free and like to go on rides with my friends. The Trifleuviens are very sporty and love biking, hiking, roller blading and many other kinds of outdoor activities. I've seen entire families using the bike trails and I have seen 85 year old men with walkers meandering along the paths here. In summertime, everyone takes advantage of the nice weather.