Old stuff, new stuff (yes, this is a terrible title) and a big green space

We really enjoyed our recent visit to Quebec City, such a friendly and lively place, with an enticing mix of the old and new existing comfortably side by side. Where to start? We have so many highlights. How about outside? One large space that we grew to love very quickly was the Plains of Abraham. Such a delight to wander, a place that has always held a fascination for me since childhood. Boredom alert! Not so interesting pieces of my past are shared below. Old stuff.

Leafy and lovely

I remember as a child reading about General James Wolfe and how he was victorious in battle on the Plains of Abraham against General Montcalm and his French forces. Those childhood primer history books were old even then, written and first published when Britain still clung to notions of greatness based on empire, and were British biased to say the least. They did not go into any great details beyond the triumph of Wolfe. Not much mention of the intricacies and dubious presence of two empires busily exporting their European wars to far flung places and messing things up there. Hmm.

Anyway, younger me wasn’t too concerned or aware of missing nuances – I mostly liked the maps showing how opposing forces were arrayed. Yes, I was a nine year old armchair general. Such a strange child… Getting back to the battle on the Plains of Abraham as told in my history book, I was always bothered by the thought it wasn’t much of a personal victory for Wolfe, given that he died in the battle. Come to think of it, older me still isn’t convinced that’s the best way to win…

Bloody history acknowledged, today the Plains of Abraham are a vast green space providing city dwellers and visitors quiet places to overlook the St. Lawrence River and the town of Levis on the far bank. It’s a busy waterway down there, so if watching boats is your thing, there’s always something moving.

I like this space!

Along with the rolling fields of grass and areas of military significance, there are hundreds of leafy trees, dozens of welcoming benches and tables, as well as planted garden areas where a person can sit and stare, or sit and doze. Or both, one after the other…

We did stay awake long enough to visit the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (MNBAQ) which is situated overlooking the park, and if we were slightly sleepy before heading in, the collection of contemporary Quebec art dating from 1960 to the present certainly woke us up. What a vibrant and thought provoking array of work it was. New stuff! Highly recommended if you get the chance.

These stairs lead up to a wonderful contemporary collection!

I’ll leave it here for this week, with my head mentally, if not geographically, still wandering the plains, and feeling much relieved my bloodthirsty battlefield map loving younger self grew up into a pacifist. What a site, though. Did I mention how much we enjoyed it there? Here are a couple more photos:

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

My Montreal morning…merveilleux!

Quebec! La belle province! Montreal! Don’t worry, this won’t be written in French, or my butchered version of French, that would be too cruel for lovers of language. This week, I’m writing an urban piece, but it has a flavour of the outdoors about it. So bear with me, and we’ll take a trip…on y va!

Leafy Montreal
Outdoor flavour
We were lucky enough to visit Montreal last week. Mrs. PlaidCamper was presenting at a conference, someone had to carry her bags, and I secured that prestigious gig (just to be clear, Dr. PlaidCamper is more than capable of carrying her bags, but I’ll do anything to visit somewhere new…) I had never been to Quebec, never mind Montreal, and was curious to explore a new (to me) corner of Canada.

A healthy start...
A healthy start…
While Dr. PlaidCamper was making her contribution to global health, I started the day by making a contribution to my expanding waistline. Although I do believe a cup of great coffee and a flaky croissant is a health food if consumed without a cigarette. Obviously, Mrs. PlaidCamper is the expert on the health front, but I want to help, and this next bit is for the smokers of Montreal – stop it! There are far too many of you doing this, and you are too pleasant a bunch of people to want to self harm in this way. I think I passive smoked my way through at least a pack and a half…

Beautiful buildings
Beautiful buildings
When the smoke cleared – to be fair, the smoking is all outside (but it is hard to walk down a street without passing through clouds of exhaled smoke near the entrances of many buildings) – I set off for Mont Royal. I knew this to be a delightful park overlooking the city. It’s a place where urban dwellers get their outdoor fix, so I decided to head there to get my first real impression of Montreal, geographically speaking. The route I chose was delightful; mature trees shedding leaves in front of buildings far older and more architecturally interesting than I’d expected.

Looking for Mont Royal
Looking for Mont Royal
It is easy to find the park, looming over the city as it does. You catch glimpses at the far end of streets that rise toward the heavily forested hillside, with the huge cross and communications towers perched on top. Earlier, I had smiled to myself at the description of the hill as a mountain in some guidebooks. That seemed too grand a description. By the time I’d slogged my way to the top, via winding paths and seemingly endless wooden staircases, I was very happy to concede the title of mountain. It is steep enough, and an excellent workout if you’re so inclined, which I wasn’t, but it was an unexpected personal mini-triumph.

Clean air and falling leaves
Clean air and falling leaves
The air was clean, and heavily scented with leaf decay – far richer and earthier than alpine Alberta. It seemed to me a more familiar autumnal tang, reminding me of London and the parks I played in as a boy. Aroma driven nostalgia…autumn does that.

To the city
To the city
The views back down to the city and the St. Laurent river were wonderful. As autumn had hung on a little longer here, the leafy trees provided enticing and beguiling natural frames for taking photos of Montreal. I spent a while at the top, wandering wherever, and really enjoying the feeling of being in an almost wilderness – the green heart of a great metropolis. How wonderful for the people of Montreal to have this pleasant place, a beautiful space in the middle of their city. It was such a marvellous and colourful Montreal morning!

Marvellous Montreal
Marvellous Montreal
We are always grateful for the opportunities we get to travel and experience new places – it is energizing and rewarding to be able to do so. Thanks for reading. As ever, please feel free to share a story – maybe you have visited Montreal? – or make a comment, as they are always enjoyed and welcome, and keep your guy ropes secure.

At the foot of the hill
At the foot of the hill

At the top of the hill
At the top of the hill

Montreal
Montreal!