|Holland-American lines: This|
ship was the Veendam.
|This ship held 1200 passengers and|
a crew of 400.
|My husband, Rajan. You can|
see from his size, the size of
the cruise ship!
|Ernie, his lovely wife, Liz, and their son, Anthony("Tony") |
You know that, traveling with these folks, nothing
but good times are ahead!
Getting to Quebec City was an adventure, however: In Washington D.C., just before boarding time in the evening, our connecting flight to Quebec City was cancelled. By the time we worked out standby status for the next morning, it was past 10:00 p.m., too late for taking taxis to and from a hotel with only toothbrush packets from the airline and no change of clothes. We decided to sleep in the airport. Long story short, we got on the standby flight and arrived at QC a little after 1:00 p.m.—but our luggage didn't. After lunch with friends and a quick shopping trip to buy a change of sweaters and some toiletries, we boarded the ship and went to our cabin, hoping our luggage wouldn't be chasing us from port to port. Never did a hot shower feel so welcome!
Afterwards, we spent the afternoon and evening socializing with friends from far and wide (this is an international company) and catching up with news. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the first evening, but Rajan and I had signed up for a shore excursion in Quebec City the next morning, a three &1/2 hour trip with two stops: The Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre (I've mentioned before that Rajan loves to photograph old churches and cathedrals) and Montmorency Falls, at a breath-taking height above the Saint Lawrence river.
First the Shrine of SainteAnnede Beaupre: Quebec City is a very Catholic city. Most of the churches are Catholic. I was used to seeing churches dedicated to St. Mary, but this was dedicated to Mary's mother (Jesus's grandmother.) The shrine is in a village of the same name about 23 miles northeast of Quebec City. The church was first built by shipwrecked sailors—sailors often became shipwrecked off a nearby island on their way to QC and Sainte Anne is the patron saint of sailors. It has been a major pilgrimage center for 350 years. The church has been re-built many times, since early versions were of wood and easily burned down. This one looks here to stay, though!
|The basilica, looking up from|
the front steps. How small I felt!
|The basilica seen from side & rear.|
|Scala Santa Sanctuary, a separate building.|
| As you can see, Quebec was |
enjoying a splendid Autumn.
We entered the building through doors that had intricately worked copper-bronze panels.
|Look closely at the scenes.|
Downstairs was the Immaculate Conception chapel with a statue of Mary, a low-ceilinged room compared to upstairs, decorated pale blue, studded with golden stars. In a special alcove we saw a replica of the Michelangelo pietà that is housed in Saint Peter's basilica in Rome.
|A closer view..|
|Notice the huge pipe organ.|
There were other highlights of the shrine, but there's not enough space in one post to show all of them. So. On to part two of the excursion—Montmorency Falls.
Montmorency Falls is roughly 7 & 1/2 miles (12 km) from the heart of Quebec City. It is 270 feet high, 98 feet higher than Niagra Falls, although not as wide. It is a remarkable force of nature to view up close, as you can see.
|The falls from one angle.|
|The falls from another angle.|
The bus stopped first at the Manoir Montmorency, an elegant former mansion that now has a restaurant, a bistro, and a gift shop. Then we walked up a slope until we came to the recommended point to see the falls above.
|The manor, shot from a gazebo|
some distance away.
To get a better view of the park surrounding the falls, we returned by way of a lower boardwalk. You can see how beautiful the scenery is. And then, at the little gazebo, from which I took the long shot of the manor, my husband also took a picture of the rock on which the viewing points are fixed. We were on a platform below those!
|Me on the the boardwalk, still|
innocent of wht the viewing
platforms look like from afar.
|Yup. We were on a platform below |
the ones you see here.
Whenever we were on the bus, our guide, Jacques Baillargeon, did a wonderful job of informing us about life in Quebec. Before this trip, I had heard of the French-speaking part of Canada, but I naively assumed French was a second language for locals. Not so. French is their first language, and their English has a pronounced French accent—although Jacques is quick to point out that they don't think so in Paris. He kept us entertained with stories of his visits to Paris, where every time he tried to ask questions in French, he was encourage to speak English. "Movies from Quebec are subtitled in Paris," he quipped.
|Jacques, a guide with a|
great sense of humor.
(good middle grade fantasy that takes place over winter holidays.)