Admittedly, being in the travel industry means we are used to travelling a fair amount, and the pandemic has meant we have been grounded since March.
We have two boys (10 and 12) and one of the great things about travelling is the opportunity to learn and discover. We had big plans this summer to head to Italy and experience a new culture and see some sights they had been learning about in school. Of course, those plans went up in the air.
Now that we established it was time to travel, our next task was figuring out what to do; we realized we had three options.
Our first option was to head over to Europe – maybe Greece or Italy – as previously planned. As Canadians, we were OK to travel to parts of Europe, but the dilemma was the mandatory 14-day quarantine once we return.
The second option was to head down to the Caribbean. There are a few islands we have been wanting to visit and they were starting to open for Canadians. However, we still had the 14-day mandatory quarantine upon return and since we were looking to travel in August, we had hurricane season to contend with.
The third option was to travel somewhere within Canada. Overall, the number of cases in Canada were trending in the right direction and there are lots of places across the country that we want to visit as a family – and no mandatory quarantine.
We weighed our options and made the decision to see Canada. We have family in Halifax, but since they had established an Atlantic Canada bubble, and we live in Ontario, this wasn’t an option.
We have been to quite a few Ontario destinations, so, this left us with two options: head out west to BC or Alberta or go east to Quebec.
The lure of the Rocky Mountains was strong – especially since our boys had not seen them. However, in the end we decided to visit Quebec City as it provided a learning opportunity for our boys and it was a destination my wife and I had talked about for the last few years.
We decided to drive so we could visit family along the way – Road trip!
We took advantage of an amazing promotion being offered by Fairmont and booked a room at the Chateau Frontenac. Since they had the promotion, we decided to book Fairmont Gold as it provided access to the gold lounge, which is very convenient when travelling as a family.
So, we loaded up the car and headed East. After a nice visit with family in Prince Edward County (another great destination worth a visit), we were on our way.
For those who have not been to Quebec City, it is spectacular. It was one of the first cities established in North America and it still resembles a European city. In the old portion of the city, there is a certain charm with narrow, cobblestone streets. The Chateau Frontenac is perched at the top of the hill in the centre of town and it is magnificent.
Upon our arrival, The Chateau Frontenac had all the health and safety precautions in place. Everyone was wearing masks, the valet attendant was wearing gloves and wiped down the driver’s side. Once we entered the lobby, someone was there to take our temperature and inform us of the measures they had in place for guests. Masks are mandatory inside and they had hand sanitizer stations throughout.
I was very curious if this would detract from our experience – something I think all travellers are wondering – and my answer to that question was a resounding no. I am used to wearing a mask indoors now and have made washing my hands (or using hand sanitizer) part of my routine, so it did not seem strange or annoying to take similar precautions on a vacation.
We soon learned that Quebec City was a great choice. From walking the wall to cycling in the Plains of Abraham (the Fairmont had complimentary bikes for guests) or just strolling though the streets, there was lots to do in and outdoors and when it came time to eat, we enjoyed poutine, crepes, and more poutine!
Quebec City has a rich history and as we visited the sights, our boys informed us that they had learned some of it in school. For them, it was an amazing experience to see what they had learned in class; it certainly, reinforced the decision to visit Quebec.
One of our days we hopped in the car and visited Montmorency Falls – a spectacular sight and a great way to spend the morning. They have a suspension bridge that allows you to walk over the falls and peer down – not something for the faint of heart, but certainly providing an interesting perspective of the falls and an incredible view of the St. Lawrence River. I learned that Montmorency Falls is higher than Niagara Falls. Yikes!
That afternoon we headed across the bridge to Ile D’Orleans, a large island in the middle of the St. Lawrence and drove up the north coast to a fromaggerie that boasts the oldest cheese recipe in North America. Yum!
Along the way, we stopped at local shops and food stands and bought a few things. As luck would have it, on our way back we found a local food truck with some outstanding poutine! What a day!
One of the unforeseen benefits of deciding to travel now was that a destination that would have been extremely busy under normal circumstances, was not overly busy. There were still lots of tourists enjoying the sights, but not to normal levels. It meant we could easily find a table on a patio when it was time to eat and we were not shoulder to shoulder with people at the most popular attractions. It also made us wonder if we should be heading over to Venice or Rome this fall!
As a family we wanted to experience something new and Quebec City did not disappoint. It was safe, people were friendly and appreciative, and everyone was respectful of personal space and the need for social distancing. How very Canadian!
After we pulled into our driveway after a long drive home, one of my boys got out of the car, stretched his arms and legs and said “dad, that was lots of fun, where should we go next?”