Montreal and Quebec City – July 2014
This year we decided to leverage national and work holidays to the fullest extent possible, and we chose US independence day to hit Montreal and Quebec City, two of the cities on our shortlist. We ended up spending 5 nights in Montreal and 3 in Quebec city (with a quick day-trip to Ottawa in between). However, we could easily have enjoyed a full week in Montreal and perhaps a little less time in QC.
Since our vacation did cross the 4th of July, it made for a strange visit at times. For one thing, I think that’s only happened once in my life before, and left me feeling somewhat deep down in my mind like a traitor (however irrational that seems). For two, since we were there for Canada’s independence day on July 1st, it was surreal watching celebrations that looked very much like our US celebrations but not. Like being in a parallel universe.
The good news was that I think we chose a wonderful time of year to visit, as Quebec was seemingly non-stop festivals. There was the week-long jazz festival, a circus festival, Canada independence day celebrations, international fireworks competitions (! where countries compete to put on the best fireworks display choreographed to music), performing arts exhibits and a music festival, all but the last one were free (although some of the lesser-known bands were free even in that). The weather was perfect in the low 70s and it only rained on us during the car ride from Montreal to Qc.
I think we will have to return one year in the heart of winter. Quebec has a fun looking carnival with ice skating, fishing, hotels, bars, fireworks, maple candy, sleigh rides etc., all in the quaint medieval town surroundings.
My impression of the people in Quebec was that they were exceedingly friendly to tourists and non-francophones. They’re a hardy sort and seem to take every advantage of nice weather to be outside (Montreal even has a man-made beach in its harbor – where else that far north can you think of that has the same?).