adventures abroad, exploring and revisiting, photography, travel

Quebec City and back again

I start my day around 9, coffee and Duolingo and Rosetta Stone in a corner of the Château.

Around 10:15 I go back up to make sure we get out in time for check out and get to our tour in time.

We do, with time to go get a little shopping in, and then we start our local walking food tour.

Poutine. I KNEW someone would make us eat poutine. Still, this version was WAY less gross than I’ve had before.

Our guide Florence is funny, friendly and informative as we trek through the old city, tasting and learning as we go.

Second stop includes pea soup. What the HECK have I signed up for? (No really the tour WAS really good).

The tour lasts a net delicious 3 hours of nibbling, and we get done in time to meet our tour of the hotel (another hour)

Funicular. Who wants to take that many steps when there’s a cool elevator thingy?

Then we take the funicular into the lower city to say we did– plus explore a bit and have a smidge of dessert, before we collect our bags and vehicle and trek back to Montreal.

That’s another three hours, plus check in, parking hoopla, unwinding time, and finally venture out into the evening drizzle to find a pub (full and loud as the locals watch the basketball game). The staff are nice though and the food is good. We share a Pad Thai with chicken (I add sriracha to my plate) and a cookie with cheddar and ice cream that we order on recommendation, but with doubts.

Our doubts are unfounded.

adventures abroad, exploring and revisiting, travel

Montreal to Quebec City

The mild headache is to be expected. I’m operating on too little sleep. If we didn’t have appointments back at the airport about security passes, we would both be inclined to sleep in.

But I’m on a morning schedule anyway so headache or no, I’m up early, dressed, packed, getting a coffee for me and hot chocolate for S, so that she can get up and get ready in time for our airport shuttle.

The appointments seem to go fine, car rental pickup is of course interminable (but that works out because a smaller call gets checked in while we are there, so they can change us from the undesirable minivan to a basic car).

Our plan for today into tomorrow is Quebec City. First we’ll pass QC to visit Montmorency Falls.

Between distance and traffic and stops it’s almost 4 hours to the Falls from Montreal. We laugh at ourselves when we end up stopping at two McDonald’s on the way – a lunch and a bathroom break. We pick up road snacks and I get something so spicy that even I think it’s too hot (still good!) and S laughs at me. Deservedly so.

A light rain breaks out as we arrive at the Falls but clears up to make a nice day.

We get checked into the Chateau de Frontenac and then head out to the Governors Promenade, walking the length to the Plaines d’Abraham and the Citadel, then stop for a simply delightful meal at Cafe de Paris. Top marks, highly recommended!!!

Then we scope out our meeting point for tomorrow’s tour, and it’s back for an early night and a good night’s sleep.

Heavenly!

travel, ups and downs

Rough beginnings

I go to check in, and can’t for reasons unclear.

I leave after work, and the travel to the airport is bogged down.

The airport parking is almost full (despite my prepaid reservation) and I miss the shuttle bus.

I get to the airport and can’t check in without intervention.

“Intervention” means a line 20 people deep of complex time- consuming issues serviced by a single counter.

Resolution does come, along with a 30 (no wait 25, no wait 24) minute delay.

We get boarded, finally, and then are all made to deplane because a security sweep of the plane was skipped.

We RE-board, and push off.

We sit on the tarmac for so long that I wonder if it’s possible I fell asleep and missed our takeoff. (I didn’t.)

The man next to me is slight but still can’t seem to keep from manspreading so that his leg is always touching mine. I push myself to the far side and he still shifts, maybe just falling asleep but still irksome, until I get fed up and shift so hard in my seat that he’s jostled and moves.

When we land, they instruct us to wait at the exit end of the jetway for the gatechecked bags, where a large shipping door will open to provide them. The door is jammed and after 3 attempts by two different staffers, they send us back to the plane end to wait for our bags to come.

I get my bag, walk the hundred miles through customs, and find a ladies room. It won’t dispense the soap.

I get turned around and end up at the wrong end of the universe to catch the airport shuttle.

I catch the shuttle and have trouble getting into my hotel room.

But finally, finally, there is a room and a friend and a shower and a bed. And the clock is past 2 as I wind down, and then at last I am asleep.

there is something wrong with me, ups and downs

In which I am my very worst self

I spent last week at a conference. I went last year too.

The content on the whole is great. They have amazing keynote addresses (which this year even managed to be on topic) and amazing tech presentations. The breakout sessions turned out not to be as relevant to our role but they set up a “garage” area that was more in our sphere and that was cool.

Don’t I sound positive, after the fact?

It was great… it’s great BIG. Estimates varied from 12-14000 attendees.

All in all the event is too big for me – I feel lost in conferences with several hundred attendees, let alone several thousand. And they had growing pains of their own, little nitty things that added up to not a great experience.

Things like asking the people who were in for Training the day before the conference to get there 1-2 hours before we needed to be there, and then not letting us into the training rooms on arrival because they were still being set up.

Things like simultaneously asking everyone to come in and register a day early to get better positions at the concert night, causing a huge rush during training registration and sessions.

Things like having that rush correspond with not just 1 registration line but also separate lines for swag and concert entry. The entire facility was just a sea of snaking lines, and that was just the prelude to the event itself.

Ostensibly the theme of the event was Breakthroughs but I would say the real theme was lines.

My second day (the first day of the event proper) didn’t go much better. The coffee reception didn’t exist because we all needed to queue up for keynote seating. (I didn’t grab the awful hotel coffee because I was headed over to the reception).

No. Coffee. For. Me.

That line:

  • Had us standing on a concrete slab for over an hour (my back and feet in agony before we were done.
  • Didn’t have any separators to keep people in queue, so later arrivers were able to swoop in and get ahead of people who’d been there longer, waiting.
  • Didn’t guarantee a place in the keynotes because they had either oversold the conference or not set up enough seating inside. I got in, barely, and ended up in one of the farthest back rows, with easily hundreds of people still behind me. Some of them ended up in an overflow room, watching the event via streaming video. They were not pleased.

Continue reading “In which I am my very worst self”

exploring and revisiting, there is something wrong with me, travel, ups and downs

Disembarkation, Departure and Disease

We have to be out of our cabin by 8am so the stewards can prep for the next people.

Breakfast is a simple affair- half staff at the kitchen and dining because this is their crazy day.

I’m not that hungry, and just want a bit of protein and caffeine and some water for my slightly scratchy throat. Continue reading “Disembarkation, Departure and Disease”