Tuesday

[travel] Quebec City - Entertainment, or What We Came For

This is my last post about Quebec City and I want to try to share the feeling of being there. We went up for the last few days of the summer music festival. Back in February, I saw that Rammstein was confirmed to close out the festival and it would be the only show they were doing in all of North America. I booked a hotel straight away and told Dollar the news (while jumping up and down in the living room).

Driving up to Quebec City couldn't have been any easier. Seriously, if you live in the Upper Valley- you should go. I'm generally a chicken about driving new places but it was totally easy... Minus the annoying Quebec driving style of racing up to the ass end of your car, passing you, and then squeezing back in front of you with inches to spare, regardless of whether or not there are other cars around or you two are the only cars on an open three-mile stretch of highway. They must teach this as the proper way to drive because everyone did it.

Anyway, straight up I-91 to the border, then a couple straight/flat highways in Canada. Took less than 5 hours. We left early, so Dollar slept in the passenger seat (which makes me want to periodically punch him in the leg to wake him up) until we got to the border. Customs was a hassle (they searched our car- I blame my crazy eyes when they were questioning me about where we was going and how long we'd be there).

Thursday afternoon we arrived and had plenty of time before going to see Rush. For the music festival, they have several stages set up throughout the city as well as the large park, the Plains of Abraham, where the headliners play. We put on our micro-chipped bracelets and blinking pins, and heading down to the entrance. I didn't know this but Rush is a Canadian band and it's kind of their anthem band. Probably about 80,000 people there, all ages, singing along to Rush. It was nice.

The next night we saw the Black Eyed Peas. I'm pretty sure everyone was wasted for this show. I know I was. There were about 100,000 people at this show and yeah, it was crowded obviously, but I saw no fights and I didn't get puked on, so it was a winning night for me. There's lots of pushing from random people snaking in and out of the crowd, trying to find a better view, and it can drive you crazy if you let it. The best thing to do is ignore it and just rock out to the music.

Saturday night the headliner was Billy Talent and since we had no idea who that was, we walked down to a free show that Cirque du Soleil was doing every night under a highway on-ramp at 9:30pm. That's right- a stage, lights and sounds set up under a concrete highway. It was really cool. Stuff was going on on stage and in crowd. At one point a woman on stilts with a cage shaped like an ostrich body around her and a mechanical ostrich neck/head that she puppeteered came through the crowd by us. It looked like a futuristic, glowing woman riding an ostrich. Well, I guess Dollar was in her way because she stopped and the metal beak of the bird extended out to press against his sternum- and push him back. The she kept on going, slowly making her way through the crowd and interacting with other people. I was all, "OMG, she totally touched you! That was so cool!" I love Cirque du Soleil and it was really awesome to see it live and so close. Everything they they do is just a spectacle to behold.

Made it back to the hotel just in time to hear Jimmy Cliff sing "I can see clearly now the rain is gone..." from Stage 2 next to our hotel. People were singing along and dancing in the streets. I looked up to the 3rd floor of our hotel and saw a couple guys hanging out the windows, singing, smiling and waving down to me. Oh, you Canadians are so sweet.

During the day, just walking through Old Town, there's lots of random entertainment happening in the streets. We stopped by the tourist office by Le Chateau Frontenac to get some directions and saw a man cracking a whip and calling out that a show was about to start. So we went over to some metal bleachers to sit and watch.

He juggled some knives. He lit some batons on fire and juggled them. His female partner got on some stilts and he threw her some lit batons:

Street Performance


Which she juggled:

Street Performance


Then he climbed a ladder:

Street Performance


Then they juggled the fire batons:

Street Performance


It was crazy. The show ended with them locking all these knives onto a metal ring and then setting the ring on fire and then placing the flaming ring of knives upright on her stomach while she was in a reverse table yoga pose... then he backed up... ran toward her... and jumped completely through it- head to feet. I did capture a video of it and his jump was rather anticlimactic after all the set-up and suspense. I felt bad thinking, "This video would be so much more exciting if the performance ended in some kind of awful disaster..." Sigh, oh well.

We also saw three male break-dancers put on a performance. They ended up grabbing Dollar from the crowd, put him into a hot pink windbreaker, a silly hat and made him dance around with them. When he was done, members of the crowd were meant to hold up signs and one woman was given a bra to throw at him. Which she did.

It was just crazy and surreal, man. Everything. There was no one dull moment.

The final night- RAMMSTEIN. People were lining up at the entrance at NOON and the gates weren't opening up until 6 pm. We went at 6 and waited. And waited. And waited. In a huge crowd that moved 6 inches every 10 minutes. We waited in line an hour to get in. Once inside, we waited in line an hour to use a port-a-potty. Then an hour to get hot dogs and water.

We got in line for Rammstein souvenirs but the line was moving slow. By the time we got within 4 or 5 spaces of the front, we started to see them taking stuff down, which means they were selling out. Everyone started to freak out a little and I had Dollar pass me two $20 bills. I held them up above the people in front of me and got what was left (a pretty cool camouflage cap with a Rammstein insignia). Then we had to find a spot to stand for the show. I have to say that concerts are the one time I really, really, really appreciate my height. I feel bad for the people behind me who can't see anything but it allowed me to reach over people at the souvenir stand and I can see over most people during the show.

Here's the crowd and this is still probably only two-thirds full:

Festival Crowds


Festival Crowds


Festival Crowds


The show was awesome. Apocalyptica (heavy metal cellists) (seriously) opened. Then Rammstein came on at 9:45 and played for 2 hours. It was such an amazing show. The music sounded so good. Lots of fire (Feuer Frei BANG BANG) and fireworks; Till poured hot sparks all over Flake and then set him on fire. You know- the usual. The only disappointing thing (for me) is that they didn't play Los, which is my favorite song. Everyone was into the music and even though you were in a sea of > 100,000 people (multiple that by 6 and you've got the population of Vermont) in roughly 30 acres of space, everyone's just having a good time.

And in case you want to go next year but you're still not sure, check out this list: Ten Reasons Festival D'Ete Is Canada's Coolest, Best Music Festival. The sound quality and digital screens make the show awesome no matter where you are- standing up front or laying on a blanket way on the back slope.

I saw Rammstein. I freaking saw Rammstein. I still can't believe it.

Monday

[travel] Quebec City - Food

It was not hard to find food in Quebec, just hard to find a table outside. There were many cafes and restaurants to choose from, and many different types of cuisine. Some places had a limited menu, offering maybe 4 beers and 4 appetizers to choose from. After we got up to Quebec, checked into the hotel, we headed down Grande Allee for something to eat and drink...

Quebec Food


This place had only nachos, pizza and sausage on the menu. We ordered:

Quebec Food


And these were kind of... pizza nachos. That's pizza sauce and pizza cheese on them. Kind of weird it's not salsa but...

Quebec Food


We still slaughtered them.

Food in Quebec is expensive. Nevermind that during the music shows they sold only cans of Molson Dry at $6 apiece (that's right- a six pack of cans for $36, I shit you not), beers and food were set at tourist prices everywhere, so that our lunches of 2 beers each and a sandwiches came to around $70 Canadian (the meals come with two taxes added- a provincial tax and a federal tax). With the exchange rate at about 1:1, yeah- it's still like $70 American. Ugh!

Still, we're on vacation and we tried lots of bistros/cafes/restaurants.

At Le Conchon Dingue (The Crazy Pig):

Quebec Food


Quebec Food

Crispy duck confit spring rolls with cranberry/pesto sauce


Quebec Food

Mine: Pork skewers w/rice and veggies. Lookit the piggie plate! I want!


Quebec Food

His: Ribs. He has to get ribs at least once wherever we travel. The ribs got two sticky thumbs up. The homemade mayo as a dip for his fries did not go over well. Whatever, I thought it was tasty but he's anti-mayo.


Another day, another beer. Dollar liked Belle Gueule the best:

Quebec Food


On an evening walk from the hotel down to a free show that Cirque du Soleil were doing, it started to rain and we ran into a steak restaurant to eat and get out of the rain. I saw tablecloths and had that "uh-oh, expensive..." feeling. We ordered beers and appetizers.

Quebec Food

Mine: French Onion Soup. Best flavor ever.


Quebec Food

His: Seafood stew. He loved it.


For dinner, we both ordered steaks. Dollar has a small stomach and was pretty full after his thick soup. Two bites into his steak he couldn't have any more. I was like, "I don't care, that's a $30 cut of steak- You're eating it." Because I'm harsh like that. But we ate, paid (even though I was tempted to run out the door (a.k.a. Chew and Screw) after I saw the bill) and waddled down to the Cirque du Soleil show.

The one thing, the one thing I wanted to have in Quebec but didn't was poutine. I've never had it before and I only saw it on one menu when we were out. I didn't get it at the time because it was early in the day and I didn't feel like walking around in a greasy-gravy-cheesey haze. Je le regrette!!!

Friday

[travel] Quebec City - La Citadelle

One thing I was really excited about Quebec was the history.

The narrowing of the Saint Lawrence River approximate to Quebec City and Lévis, on the opposite bank, provided the name given to the city, Kébec, an Algonquin word meaning "where the river narrows". Founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain, Quebec City is one of the oldest cities in North America. The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec (Vieux-Québec) are the only remaining fortified city walls that still exist in the Americas north of Mexico, and were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985 as the 'Historic District of Old Québec'. (source Wikipedia)

We walked through the ramparts to Old Town:

Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


We walked up to La Citadelle de Quebec:

Tour of La Citadel


We bought tickets for a guided tour. You're not allowed to walk around unescorted since the fort is still an active military base. We actually saw some training exercises take place while the group was walking around.

Some basic history was covered- French arriving for trade and business, British arriving to expand their empire, Canada becoming it's own Province. I like that one of Canada's national symbols is a beaver- to signify the early pelt/fur and lumber trade that made the land so desirable, as well as their hardworking nature. The beaver is on Canada's nickle and various national emblems.

We walked around, visited buildings and on-site museums, seeing old buildings and cannons.

Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


The museum had some pretty crazy 3-D dioramas depicting relevant historical events. Battle of Quebec (1690):

Tour of La Citadel

Frontenac famously rebuffs the English envoys. "I have no reply to make to your general other than from the mouth of my cannons and muskets." Oh snap!


Battle of Carillon:

Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


Battle of Sainte-Foy:

Tour of La Citadel


Lots of stuff on the 78th Fraser Highlanders, which are Dollar's ancestors.

Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel

A future knitting project, perhaps?


An example of a soldier in the 22nd Royal Regiment and the goat Batisse...

The Royal 22e Régiment is an infantry regiment and the most famous francophone organization of the Canadian Forces. The regiment comprises three Regular Force battalions, two Primary Reserve battalions, and a band, making it the largest regiment in the Canadian Army. (source Wikipedia)

Tour of La Citadel


The first goat was given to the Regiment by the Queen, I think. There has always been a goat since and it's name is always Batisse. I think they are currently using Batisse X. The goat is always from the original lineage that the Queen gave. It is like a mascot but the guide stressed that it is NOT a mascot, which kind of plays down the goat's meaning and importance. Since this type of goat is fiercely loyal and will defend it's family and land to the death, they think of the goat more as a representation of their heart and mindset.

We went back outside to look out over the water and Old Town:

Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


Tour of La Citadel


As we were leaving, we saw...

Tour of La Citadel


A beaver! It's the animal of Canada! A beaver!

Tour of La Citadel


No. I think that's just a woodchuck. Oh well.

Thursday

[travel] Quebec City

We had a very nice vacation in Quebec City. We went up for the last few days of the summer music festival. Most of the music we wanted to see was at night, so we spent the days walking around the city.

This is the Grande Alle outside of our Hotel Chateau Laurier:

Quebec City Streets


Lots of restaurants and cafes along this street (which they would close to auto traffic around mid-day).

We walked down to Old Town:

Quebec City Streets


Quebec City Streets


Quebec City Streets


Quebec City Streets


We saw an amazing mural all over the side of a building:

Quebec City Streets


The city is lots of ups and downs:

Quebec City Streets


And it was pretty busy everywhere:

Quebec City Streets


It is a beautiful, old, clean, friendly city.

Quebec City Streets


Our days went pretty much: sleep in, get coffee, walk to Old Town, get lunch, walk and check stuff out, got back to hotel to chill, music shows at night.

Tuesday

[crochet] Mon petit coeurs

crochet scarf


Saw some crocheted scarves on Ravelry that drove me a little crazy with "must have". The pattern is free with a yarn purchase. A Japanese yarn. In Japan. So someone reverse engineered the pattern and I'm using that.

C'est tres jolie, non?

Monday

[misc] Murderface Monday

mf summer napping


After a week of 100F weather, things have finally cooled down. And you know it's a bad sign when you've got chills and rub your bare arms, like "Brrr" when it's in the 80s.

Dollar and I heading up to Quebec City this Thursday for a 4-night vacation at the Summer City Festival. Or, City Summer Festival. Maybe it's the Festival of the City in the Summer. I'm not sure. We're going to see lots of bands and close out the show with RAMMSTEIN. Ho-lee crap. It's the only show they're doing in all of North America and it's only a 5 hour drive away.

And yay- we finally get to use our Passport Cards! I knew we got them for a reason.

Friday

[knitting] The alligator scarf grows...

alligator scarf


Dollar, not really a scarf wearer, asked, "That scarf's for me, right?" I thought about the awesomely soft baby camel scarf that I knit for him. I think he's only ever worn it once or twice. I said, "Sure... as long as you actually wear it." He assured me he will because it's a freaking alligator!

Thursday

[misc] Traveling Woman

Traveling Woman shawl


Pattern: Traveling Woman by Feministy

Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery Cotton Comfort, yellow (2 skeins), purple (0.9 skein)

Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Traveling Woman shawl


Modifications: Lots. Here's what the original pattern looks like. My changes:

- striped the stockinette portion
- used a make-one left and right rather than yarn-overs along the spine
- did the double decreases in the lace section as: slip 2 stitches together as if to knit, k1, psso (makes a very nice straight spine)
- did an extra repeat of the first lace chart but didn’t have enough yarn to finish second lace chart
- And had to bind off w/the purple (ran out of yelllow)

Also, after I had cast off but before I blocked, I saw some shawls by a woman on Ravelry that had a pretty loopy edge. I asked her how she did it and she said she does a stretchy bind off (either exactly or nearly the same as the one I do) and threads her blocking wires through the purl bump of each stitch. I gave it a try:

Traveling Woman shawl


I love eet! The loops aren't very big (I think be/c I was using dk-weight yarn w/US 6 needles... or, I didn't thread the wires through the appropriate leg of the bound off stitches) but it's so pretty and a nice little detail!