We arrived in Montreal on Monday night. Given our setup, stealth camping seemed the obvious choice, so we drove around the city trying to find a quiet spot. We had no luck around the Olympic park, so we decided to drive back to the city center to find a wealthy neighborhood with little traffic. Intuitively we went to the top of Mont Royal – where we found a great, central, quiet spot to park the van.
The next day we spent exploring the city. We took Leika on a long walk, passing by the Plateau (the “hip” neighborhood), old Montreal, and finally Atwater market. Particularly the market was great, with lots of fresh produce, flowers, cheeses and other food. Montreal is great – it’s bilingual, has strong French influences (great food, great coffee), it’s walkable, has tons of cyclists, and a beautiful mountain park in the city. In the evening we went to House of Jazz for a performance by Charlotte (from Luxembourg). It was our first jazz club visit, and great at that.
On our way out of Montreal the next day we stopped by Parc Jean Drapeau, the 1967 world fair grounds and former Formula 1 racetrack. Almost by accident we ended up on the racetrack with the Sprinter, and we took her for a spin. Leika enjoyed the aquatic park, getting more familiar with water. But she still hasn’t been swimming.
The road to Quebec City brought us back to the familiar look of a US interstate, with little to see on the way. However, the city is well worth a visit. Situated on top of a hill in the middle of the St Lawrence river, the city has stone buildings and cobblestone streets that make it seem like it’s somewhere in Normandy. Hotel Frontenac (apparently the most photographed hotel in the world) is impressive, overlooking the city and the river. We spent the afternoon walking around the old city and citadelle, and the drove on, further down the St Lawrence River.
One of the things we’ve spent a lot of time with during the long drives is getting a better understanding of the history of colonization of North America. It’s been great seeing these historical places and getting a grasp of the strategic importance they have played in the past. Endless debates ensued.
Further downstream (northeast), we ended up for the day in Tadoussac, located on the Fjord of Saguenay – the most southerly fjord in the northern hemisphere. We crossed over to the north side by ferry and camped for the night. This also marked the eastern-most point of our journey.
The next day was (finally) filled with more outdoor activity. We went on a whale watching tour in the morning, and saw our first beluga and minke whales. Whales come up the St Lawrence River in the summertime, in particular to the Fjord of Saguenay as the area is rich in krill. The belugas were really curious and swam right up to our boat, a really cool experience.
The afternoon we spent walking out to a few viewpoints of the fjord, and then continued on the drive up the fjord. We entered the national park territory to take a hike out to another viewpoint on the water. The night we spent on Lac St Jean, which seems overcrowded with camper colonies. The highlight here was a visit to the local microbrewery.
Friday we spent most of the day driving, back west. Our last stop in Quebec was Mont Tremblant. It was a long drive back, and to add to that it started pouring rain in the afternoon. We stayed at a nearby campsite (first shower in a while!!!) and planned our next steps. Unfortunately the national park of Mont Tremblant does not allow dogs, so that was ruled out for us. Instead, we went on a nearby hike up Mont Elephant a few kms before the park entrance, with beautiful views of the Mont Tremblant ski resort. After the hike, we went to the base of the ski resort – turns out we showed up just at the right time. The Quebec Cup for mountain biking was held over the weekend, and we watched part of it. We went mountain biking with Leika in the afternoon, and called it a day.
Quebec is reeaaally different from the US. People identify with their culture.
There are tons of lakes, everywhere.
The people are super friendly, active, and love camping. We stopped counting the number of RVs and trailers, but it was definitely in the thousands. You see cyclists everywhere.
Camping is really expensive here – typically close to $40 a night, regardless of amenities.