Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Victoria Day or Journée des Patriotes: long-week-end in Quebec City

Finally! While Europe is almost as its 3th May long-week end, us, Europeans in Canada, have to get used to get just one holiday in May: Victoria Day. Actually two in one, as it is Victoria Day in English-speaking Canada and is the journée des patriotes in Quebec.

One holiday, many names:
- The official name: Victoria Day

- The official Quebec Name: Journée Nationale des Patriotes (National Patriots Day)(previously Fête de Dollard after Adam Dollard des Ormeaux...but apparently they discovered he was not so heroic, and they changed the name of the holiday in 2003)

- The slang name: "In some parts of Canada, the holiday is colloquially known as May Two-Four.[2][3] This phrase has two meanings: the holiday always falls on the Monday of or before the birthday of Queen Victoria on the 24th of May, and a two-four is Canadian slang for a case of 24 bottles of beer, the most common packaging of Canadian beer."
My advice: get as many holidays as names... or many holidays for one day (not the other way around).

Murphy's law
After analysing many options on where to travel for this week-end, we decided to visit again Quebec City, as last time we did not really have time to visit it properly. (post1, post2)

Of course, after weeks of nice weather, we prepared for our first kind-of-summer week-end, as you can see from the pictures below (that was our travel-Italian-style-picnic on Saturday - picnic but with style), there were no clouds around and the weather was warm. Of course, the day after it was super cold and rainy. (Thanks Murphy).


Therefore on Sunday... our plan B was to eat...(OK let's call it culinary tourism, which sounds better than the real reason for it: restaurants are usually dry and warm) and to visit Quebec City by bus, which was not in our plans at first (Quebec City is small enough to just walk around).


However, it turned out to be a savvy decision. Robert was our bi-lingual guide and driver.
We discovered many nice places, restaurants and interesting history of the City of Quebec,
Among them:

- Québec is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist (it was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1985)
- there are cannons all over the city
- the city main employer is the government
- the famous Hôtel de Frontenac actually is not that straight... Quebec has it's own Pisa tower (well, hotel)
- if you want to buy a church building.... go to Quebec City, there are many on sale
- You will always find people dressed up as in 1600 in Quebec (this time we found them in the Château de Frontenac)(see pictures from last year as well)


Monday: Sun!!!
Of course Monday was a sunny day (I guess the weather did not realize it was a holiday...otherwise it would have been another rainy day... is there something worse than bad weather during the week-end and good weather as soon as the working week starts? .... well I guess there is, but you see my point!)

Two realizations: Quebec people like castles and cannons :) (which in italian would be "alla gente del Quebec piacciono i cannoni"... which could be interpreted in many ways...that I won't translate -email me if you want to know)




Advice: best to visit
If you want to visit Quebec, do it next year. It will be the 400 anniversary since Samuel de Champlain founded the city in 1608 and they are planning huge celebrations.
Best dates:
- Birthday Of Quebec City Web site give place to family festivals of district in the districts of the city on July 3 of each year. Major demonstrations will take place all the summer 2008 for the 400th birthday of foundation of the city.
- Fetes de la Nouvelle France is a celebration in early August held in remembrance of the early French colonial times(However book your hotel well in advance)
- If you really, really, but I mean...really really like winter, there is also a famous Winter Festival held February: it's called the Carnaval de Québec (Website) and it is the biggest winter carnival in the world, (I should not tell you this...as it's the direct competition to Ottawa's Winterlude...where we also have a lot of snow).

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