We got off the train in Quebec City around 5.30am and pitched up with Eliane and Guillaume at 7am (another warmshowers.org host). We then managed to spend the day sightseeing despite some exhaustion especially given the heat. The tour of the parliament building gave us a bit of insight into the history of the province. We heard a lot about the ba
ttles between the French and the British in the 1700s; the French ultimately retained control and the separatists movement has been alive and kicking ever since.
After a couple of days in Quebec City and various culinary delights including corn on the cob Quebec-style (thanks to Eliane and Guillaume) we headed out SW on the bikes. It took us 4 days to cycle along the St Lawrence river to Montreal past some of the oldest villages in the country. The terrain was flat but the road surface on some of the rural roads left a bit to be desired. Andy got the first puncture of the trip as a shard of glass made its way through his tyre. The scenery was pretty much crop-farms all the way often with field upon field of sweetcorn. Against the blue sky it all looked very beautiful. There was one day of rain which coincided with Fran having a very itchy skin reaction to something unknown. Thankfully we had some antihistemine which helped it dissipate by the end of the day.
At one campsite we met 73 year-old Jean-Claude and Yolande who were holidaying from north Quebec. They kindly invited us over for a beer - or at least that is what we finally understood Jean Claude to be saying in his incredibly broad french-canadian accent. This then extended to a meal of chicken pie which was far more delicious than the peanut butter sandwiches and instant noodles that had been on our menu!
Montreal (pronounced 'mon-ray-al' in French) is a very large city. It seemed to take forever to reach the centre. Unlike Quebec City it has a much more North American feel and is very much more bilingual. It is quite a funky place; great for wandering around and stopping for frequent refreshment. We also had a good dose of culture with a concert of opera arias, tour of Notre Dame basilica and a visit to the art museum which had many famous european works as well as some great modern inuit sculptures.
We also made time for some planning; so the next bit of cycling will take us across the US border to Vermont and up state New York where we will spend a few days with a friend who Andy first met in Vietnam in 1994! From there we plan to courier the bikes to Alberta while we head off for a few fun days in New York City.
Sorry there aren't any photos of the Canadian trip at the moment. The problem is software related (Off Exploring requires us to use flashplayer which isn't available for android tablets). So we need to souce another blog site - we just haven't yet got round to doing it yet!