Favorite doors of Shanghai

During my trip to Shanghai, I was able to find a lot of inspiration from the gardens, the architecture, and the overall sights and sounds of the city. Most of all, I found many wonderful doors!

Students, friends, and colleagues know I have a bit of a door obsession. I photograph them, write about them, and collect door knockers. I even have a trunk that is made out of an old door.

Here are some of my favorite doors and details that I was able to find during my recent trip to storied and exotic city of Shanghai. These come from Old Shanghai, Ancient Town in Qibao and the French Confession . . . or, otherwise, just here and there throughout the city.

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oldshanghai-doorlock

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qibao-red-door-lionknocker

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qibao-temple-exit-door-knocker

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yugarden-happydoorknocker

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A Magical Morning in Old Shanghai

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After spending a week in Korea to teach a creative writing camp, my wife Marcie and I have arrived in Shanghai for a bit of R&R.

The_Adventures_of_Tintin_-_05_-_The_Blue_Lotus.jpgThis is our first time in this city, but it’s a place I’ve long wanted to visit. I’ve associated Shanghai with adventure since I was kid, which I think is largely thanks to Hergé’s graphic novel, Tintin and the Blue Lotus . . . not to mention the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

Since Shanghai has been so romanticized in my imagination, it had a lot to live up to! Marcie knows how I’m wired, so she made sure to pre-book us a hotel just a few minutes away from Old Shanghai. This is a traditional section of the city, filled with beautiful architecture, history, and culture.

We headed over to Old Shanghai mere moments after dropping our luggage off in our room. This was mid-afternoon, and the place was teeming with tourists. We found the sights, sounds, and smells intoxicating. Incessant vendors were vying for our yuan, plying us with everything from cheap knock-off watches to luxurious jade necklaces. And, of course, everything in between.  We found that we were shoulder to shoulder in many of the quaint alleyways!

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The queues for the food stands were seemingly endless and there was a horde of people at the entrance to the famous Yuyuan Garden. Marcie and I looked at each other and knew at once what we needed to do: come back first thing in the morning.

We enacted our plan, arriving by 9am the following day. By comparison to our experience the previous day, we felt like we were ruling the old city. The avenues were clear, the lines absent.

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oldshanghai-pondpavilion

We headed straight for the Yuyuan Garden and at once stepped into a magical realm. I cannot express how much we love this place. Here is a perfect marriage between nature and human architecture, a harmony that is expressed through one scenic sight after another. Every time we turned a corner, we found ourselves gasping.

In one spot, a dragon swims across the top of a stone wall. In another, a spritely creature peers from the lip of a roof tile. Turn a corner and you find yourself glimpsing a lion state through a whimsically-shaped doorway. A walkway meanders across a serene pond where giant carp tipple near the surface. Rock formations with “spy holes” grant amazing perspectives of the pagodas and pavilions.

It’s hard to put into words, and the photos also barely do it justice. But, below, are a few images from our exploration . . .

First of all, I loved all the various doorways. I do not (yet) know the symbolism of the different shapes, but they were a variety of kinds. Aesthetically, my favourite one was what I call the “ice cream” doorway.

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Water is an important aspect of the garden’s balance. Many gates, bridges, and canals are featured throughout the space.

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Bats are a lucky symbol in Chinese architecture. You can find them on door latches, window shutters, and roof tiles.

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Throughout China (and the world, for that matter), you can find the pair of lion threshold guardians. The male has one paw raised and placed on a sphere. The female has her paw raised and placed on a cub on his back. I saw many of these on a previous trip to Beijing and there are many throughout Shanghai as well.

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Below are photos of a pair of stylized lions. They look different than the traditional ones, but the key elements (the sphere and the cub) are still there. The male represents the external world; the female, the internal.

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At one point during our explorations, I spotted Marcie sitting in a quaint pavilion . . . daydreaming, I suppose!

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I was quite intrigued by the holes through the rocks, which afforded interesting views of the garden architecture. So many children’s books feature items such as “seeing stones”, so I kept peeking through these natural windows to contemplate the garden details.

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I loved the sculptures that decorated the walls and roof tiles. I was especially enamoured with this dragon wall. You can imagine this magnificent creature oscillating along the wall. His claws are splayed, his maw is open, and below his beard is a delightful frog. This was my favourite place in the entire garden.

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Here is a traditional guardian figure decorating a roof. You can find these details throughout the garden.

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And, finally, here is our “selfie” in the garden, gazing into a mirror at once spot near the entrance of the garden.

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Of course, it goes without saying that we highly recommend this garden. Get up early to visit Old Shanghai and enjoy a magical morning!

 

Exploring Québec ~ Day 4

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Day 4 was actually the final day of my time in Québec City. Since it was a truncated day, with part of it spent getting to the airport and flying home (which actually also turned out to be a better part of the night—but such are the risks that go with trying to make flight connections across a giant country such as Canada), Marcie and I did not do a great deal, other than visit the Museum of Civilization, have a final lunch, and then wander the old streets one last time.

The Museum of Civilization is in the lower old town, but in a very modern building. The main exhibit chronicles the history of the province and is brimming with all sorts of interesting relics from the past. I highly recommend it.

Well, one thing we learned about this place is that people are extremely convivial, full of love, and very proud of their beautiful cities. And well they should be! Even wandering through the time-worn streets of Québec City one last time, Marcie and I discovered many lovely doors and details.

How did we miss these previously? I’m not sure! But here are some of the final things we noticed.

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olddoor-reddoorstones

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oldquebec-facedoorknocker

oldquebec-gray-door-handle

oldquebec-liondoorknocker

oldquebec-windowlattice

oldquebec-wooden-door-winebottle

Well, my next adventure, will be sticking my nose into my sketchbooks and laptop to work on the actual “writing” phase of my writing projects—and to teach some creative writing courses. One involves the theme of family history . . . but that’s a post for another time. In the meantime, I’m fuelled up with inspiration and ready to spring into a fall of creativity!

Exploring Québec City ~ Day 3

We woke up on the morning of our third day in Québec City feeling very sore, our legs reminding us of the amount of trekking we did yesterday. According to Marcie’s app, over 26,000 steps! So we decided to have a casual day.

Marcie spent the morning exploring the shops on Rue Saint-Jean, while I stayed in the hotel room, at the window seat, doing some writing. I had a goal to finish a particular chapter of one of my books before the end of this trip. The scene I’m working on is set in an old museum, a sort of cabinet of wonders, so this whole trip to Old Canada has been very helpful and invigorating. I’m not sure if I’m actually going to be able to complete this chapter before I’m back in Vancouver, but I’ve outlined the whole scene and now—ha, ha—just have to write it. Well, maybe I’ll complete the chapter on the flight home and that will give me some sort of sense of accomplishment. I tend to be a slow writer anyway, and am not one of those who forces myself to achieve a certain word count each day or week. It’s just not the way I create.

In any case, after Marcie returned from shopping, we headed out to the provincial parliament building and registered for the free tour. We had 45 minutes to spare, so we wandered around the neighbourhood, which we had some familiarity with from the previous day. We came across an old church on Grande Allée East that was for sale and discussed whether we would ever consider buying in it and living in it. We thought the turret at the top would make for a neat studio—but it would be one laborious walk each morning!

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It was actually sad to the church in a dilapidated state. Tall weeds were sprouting from the sidewalks and many of the windows were boarded up.

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Of course, the cost for renovating and up keeping such a building would be exuberant and, of course, we don’t have the money for such a venture. So we left behind our whimsical moment and took our tour at the parliament building.

Like so many of the provincial parliamentary buildings in Canada, it is a beautiful structure—and a little better maintained than the old church up the street!

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The 45-minute tour was excellent and we enjoyed the beautiful stained glass windows and magnificent chambers. Many of our fellow tourists were Canadian, so the guide made sure to keep testing us on Canadian history. (I feel like I did pretty well.)

After the tour, we decided we needed a leisurely lunch and headed back towards our church and enjoyed a couple of hours at Le 3 Brasseurs, which is a chain I was first introduced to in Montréal. I encourage Marcie to try the flammekueche, which I had tried previously, while I had poutine. Because, you know. You can never have enough poutine.

marcie-flamekueche

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Well, of course you cane have way too much poutine. I certainly have while I’ve been in this province, but, hey, I convinced myself that I deserved my poutine indulgence after walking 26,000 steps the previous day before. I’m not sure how we convinced ourselves that we also deserved a refreshing pitcher of sangria. We just did.

Well it was Monday, and that was the last day of the long holiday weekend in Canada, and we certainly noticed a difference in the city as we walked around through the afternoon and night. The streets were sedate, and we had many of them to ourselves! We enjoyed the frantic hustle bustle of the weekend, but now we were privileged enough to enjoy a more romantic experience of the city on a warm summer night. In particular, we enjoyed all the stunning lighting of the buildings, both modern and old.

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pridebuilding

oldtown-nightview-streetfromwalloldtown-nightviewturret

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As is always the case, I’ll end with a few doors and details that I espied during the day. My particular prize is the lion doorknob! I’m pretty sure this a portal to Narnia—but I posted it at the bottom of the photos, just so you don’t shun the others!

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olddoor-rottenkeyhole

pillar&stones-oldchurch

parliament-liondoorknob

Exploring Québec City ~ Day 2

Our second day in Québec City was another busy one. We woke up a little bit later than usual and decided we would go visit the Plains of Abraham, the site of the famous battle between the British and the French in 1759—a deciding moment in Canada’s history.

We ambled along the wall again, past the provincial parliament, and arrived at the museum’s office. The clerk there told us that, if we hurried, we could make it to the nearby “Le Citadel” to see the changing of the guard. So we abandoned the Plains of Abraham for the moment and charged off to Le Citadel, along with hordes of other late-arriving tourists, hastily purchased our tickets, and squeezed through the gates to observe the ceremony.

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I’ve seen quite a few changing of the guard ceremonies (London, Prague, Seoul, and so forth), but this one was the first one to feature a goat. And this is no ordinary goat, but one with golden horns!

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The goat’s name is Batisse. He is the regiment’s mascot and is an integral part of the changing of the guard.  The origins of the goat goes back to Queen Victoria, who in 1883 was given a goat by the king of Iran. Fast forward to the mid-twentieth century, and Queen Elizabeth II gave one of the descendants of this goat to the regiment at Le Citadel. Well, Queen Elisabeth II is still around, but the original Batisse is not. In fact, the regiment is now on the twelfth Batisse. According to our guide, the queen sent over a new goat each time one passed away . . . until number four. With that fourth goat, came a wife. So now the regiment is responsible for propagating its own line of mascots.

In any case, Batisse looked quite regal. I suppose horns painted gold will do that for you.

We really enjoyed the tour. Our guide was informative and humorous and we learned a lot about the history of the fortifications—namely, that it was built to protect the city from an attack by the Americans that never came. (They did attack Québec City, but only before the citadel was constructed.)

It was interesting to see the difference in construction between the original French buildings and the subsequent English fortifications.

French:

lecitadel-bricksfrench

English:

lecitadel-bricksbritish

The tour guide also introduced us to this twelve-tonne cannon:

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According to our guide, this beast once caused the destruction of a woman’s house on the other side of the Saint Lawrence River. They fired the cannon one winter, only to have its payload strike the frozen ice, ricochet off the hard surface and bounce forward to obliterate her home. Thankfully, she wasn’t inside at the time. Recently (and by recently, I mean within the last few weeks) many of the shells for this cannon were unearthed and were lying nearby for us to see:

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You can see my foot in the bottom of the photo, to show you how big the shells are. (Also, my foot is there because I didn’t know it was in the frame when I took the shot.)

Nearby was the building where they kept all the powder. There was a slot in the outside wall that most of us assumed was for use by soldiers inside to use for firing at enemies.

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Actually, it’s just a ventilation shaft. It zigzags into the building so that an enemy couldn’t simply stick his own gun through, fire, and easily explode the store of gunpowder. However, our tour guide told us that attacking soldiers sometimes used animals as incendiary devices. What they would do is take a rat, dip its tail in oil, light it, then send it scampering into the shaft to ignite the entire building.  Very cruel, but I suppose effective. This technique was never used at Le Citadel, but about a half hour later, I spotted a black squirrel scampering across the grounds and thought to myself that it best just keep moving in case anyone got any ideas . . .

Well, of course, they don’t store powder in that building anymore. It’s a museum where you can see plaques and relics from the Seven Years’ War, including a very cool original canon. (We weren’t permitted to take photos.)

Near the end of the tour, we got to stand on the battlements overlooking Old Québec City. The view was very impressive. Marcie and I had taken our tour of Château Frontenac the day before, but we looked upon it with fresh eyes from this vantage point—it truly is an impressive and magical building. I have to say, it’s just one of those buildings that no photo can really seem to do justice. It rises out of the cityscape like a castle.

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After leaving the citadel, we returned the Plains of Abraham, but thought we better get some lunch before we ran out of steam. We found a restaurant called “Cosmos” just past the statue of General Montcalm and enjoyed some crepes. You can see Marcie’s meal. It was like fruit exploded all over her plate.

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Our stomachs satiated, we returned to the Plains of Abraham and wandered across the grounds of the infamous battle. It was so verdant and peaceful that it was a bit difficult to imagine that this was once the sight of the grisly Battle of Québec, the deciding confrontation in the Seven Years’ War.

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Incidentally, this pivotal battle lasted all of fifteen minutes. It resulted in the deaths of the leaders on both sides, James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph Montcalm. Whenever I think of this moment in Canadian history, I am reminded of this pair of famous paintings:

The Death of General Wolfe, by Benjamin West (1770)

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La Mort de Montcalm, by Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté (1902)

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Just outside of the park, there is also a statue of Montcalm. I could not really get a good photo of it due to the position of the light at that time of day, but here it is anyway:

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The Plains of Abraham also features a famous statue of Joan of Arc. I guess she was kind of like a patron saint for New France.

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After exploring the park for a bit, we crossed down to the nature path and descended down a long staircase to the rue at the bottom. From there we gained a good vantage point of the cliff looking upwards:

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It was this type of cliff that a small contingent of British soldiers had to scale in order to surprise the French garrison at top. Once they seized the garrison, the rest of Wolfe’s 5,000-strong army was able to reach the plains via a road. (Let’s just say the walk down was onerous enough and we had the use of stairs; so I can only imagine how difficult it was for these men to climb up beneath the cover of night.)

We required refreshment after our long walk in the hot summer sun, so we decided to head back to Château Frontenac, where we had seen the lovely 1608 bar the day before on our tour of that hotel. We arrived just after the bar opened at 2pm, so were able to procure a table (the bar filled up very quickly afterwards). This is a beautiful, cozy location in the hotel, affording a great view of the Saint Lawrence, if you get the right seat. We sat next to the bookshelf, since we wanted to feel like we were in the old reading room—which is what this room used to be.

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Our next adventure for the day didn’t happened until later at night when we took the ghost tour through old Québec City. As I mentioned in my blog posts about Montréal, I really enjoy taking ghost tours, since it is a good way to hear about the history of a place.

This tour did a good job of trying to create atmosphere. Our guide was dressed in a cape and hat and led our way down cobblestone streets with a candle-fuelled lantern.

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Marcie and I appreciated the fact that the tour took us down several streets, back alleys, and courtyards that we wouldn’t have otherwise explored. In fact, there was a great deal of walking on this tour—it had some people puffing and panting, especially when we started climbing some of the steep hills. The grande finale of the tour was at the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity near the Château Frontenac. Here is my picture of it in the night:

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The guide led us inside—it was pitch dark with only the lights from the streets beyond to provide us with any illumination. We then sat in the pews as she told us stories about the ghosts who apparently haunt the cathedral, her candle light flickering and adding a certain macabre ambiance. That was certainly a lot of fun!

After the tour, we headed back towards our hotel and came up through the gate on St. Jean where raucous music was playing on the festival stage. It’s the Pride Festival here this weekend, so each night they have been having celebrations. On this night, it was drag queens performing. We paused to watch a bit of it. Marcie said to me, “That looks like Marilyn Manson on stage.” It was just a look-alike of course. Afterwards, faux-Marilyn stalked through the crowd looking grim and somber and people delighted in taking pictures with him. Faux Gwen Stefani went next. Well, it was a fun way for the night to come to an end.

As usual, I’m finishing off this post with a series of photos chronicling the doors and details discovered throughout the day. Every time I turn a corner in this city, there is a new treasure to find . . .

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oldtownquebec-reddorwithblackhinge

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Exploring Québec City ~ Day 1

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Technically, this was our second day in Québec City, but our first full one. We arrived late last night, and you can read about our welcome in my previous post.

We had a restful sleep in our gorgeous hotel, then after a quick petite-déjeuner, and with a spring in our steps, we entered old town Québec, ready to embrace all the new experiences awaiting us.

We started by walking along the old fortified wall and heading to get a view of the parliament building and, eventually, the Saint Lawrence River (pictured at the top of this post).

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We enjoyed the many gates, doorways, and bridges that afforded us the different views. They have many cannons along the walls, which especially caught our attention. See, after learning of our visit to Québec City, my cousin’s husband, Pat (a native Québecer) gave us a mission to find a cannon ball embedded in the trunk of a tree in the old town. We made sure to take pictures of the cannons—because we thought we could doubly impress Pat if we did so!

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Well, after surviving the cannons, we kept walking along the route, and eventually arrived at Dufferin Terrace and Château Frontenac. It’s here where you can see the beautiful monument to Samuel de Champlain:

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We had already pre-booked a tour for Château Frontenac, so decided to not linger there, but instead went up Rue Saint-Louis to gaze upon the beautiful architecture. We almost immediately were distracted by this side street where vendors were selling art.

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Marcie and I are not ones to buy a lot of souvenirs, except for artwork. We are running out of wall space, but I had no choice but to purchase this adorable print by Francois Thomassin. I think his artwork would be wonderful in a children’s book.

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Weaving up another side street, we came upon Chapelle des Ursulines, which is a Catholic Church with beautiful stained glass windows and many pieces of religious artwork that were saved from the riots of the French Revolution and brought to Québec. There was a very kind and knowledgable man outside the church, and he regaled us with the history and legacy of the Catholic church in Québec and encouraged us to go inside.

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We did take a quick peek, but did not spend much time there—after all, we had a cannonball to find!

And find it, we did . . .

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I won’t say WHERE we found it, in case you want to search for it yourself. Also, I’m not sure WHY there is a cannonball in the tree. One story claims that the cannonball landed there during the Battle of Québec in 1759 and then the tree grew around and over it. Who knows? Pat was very pleased that we found it; he immediately assigned us a new challenge, which we will try to undertake . . .

It was next time for lunch, and we overheard a tour guide waxing poetic about a restaurant we passed, so we decided to go in.

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We weren’t looking for an expensive or heavy lunch, but we did not regret dining at La Buche! It was pure Canadiana! To begin with, it is decorated with many items such as skates, skis, snowshoes, and . . . er, taxidermy.

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We dined out in the back terrace, where we enjoyed incredible food. I had tried poutine in Montréal, but nothing like what I was served here:

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Let’s just say that other bacon should go hang its head in shame. Because all other bacon has failed in comparison to this bacon.

As for Marcie, she had a grilled cheese sandwich unlike any we had ever seen:

labuche-grilledcheese

Yes, I know. It does not look like grilled cheese. I actually think it was battered and then grilled. Or deep fried. I don’t want to think about it too much, actually. I think we ate our calorie count for the day in one fell swoop.

Afterwards, we visited the bathroom. It was comprised of unisex stalls and every square inch was covered in graffiti. The sink was a bathtub:

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The faucets are actually the soap dispensers!

Well, it was time to make our tour at Château Frontenac. We found our guide, Michel, in full top hat and tailed coat waiting for us on Dufferin Terrace near the hotel.

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I ended up discovering A LOT of unexpected inspiration at Château Frontenac, this most historic of hotels. I’m working on a book that involves a hotel angle to it, and taking the tour got me rethinking a few details. (Alas, a writer is always at work . . . even when he is on vacation!) Mostly, this hotel allowed me to think about all the different services, details, and aspects of hotel life. I’ve read up on hotels of course, but nothing seems to top actually walking through one such as Château Frontenac and seeing it for yourself.

Well, there’s a lot one could tell about this hotel and its history, but suffice it to say that it was the largest hotel in North America for quite some time, and is still one of the most prestigious. It has had its ups and downs with fires, economic downturns, royal visits—you name it. The leaders of the allied powers even met here during World War II to plot their strategies.

Our tour included the grand ballroom . . .

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The ladies’ tea room . . .

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And the 1608 bar . . .

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The 1608 bar may have been my favourite place in the hotel. It was the old reading room, and we definitely want to come back here for a drink. In the adjoining room, where they serve the famous Château Frontenac brunch, we saw all sorts of taxidermy, much of it very strange . . .

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Yes, that was a two-headed duckling!

Here are a few other details I snatched from the hotel:

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chateaufrontenac-greenman

chateaufrontenac-mailbox

Marcie and I now harbour the fantasy of returning to Québec City one Christmas and staying at this gorgeous hotel. It won’t be this Christmas, but hopefully one holiday season soon . . .

After our hotel tour, we went below Dufferin Terrace to explore the Saint-Louis Forts and Châteaux national historic site, which is administered by Parks Canada and is underground. Similar to my experience at the Pointe-À-Callièreo museum in Montréal, we were able to explore the old rooms and gaze upon beautiful artifacts from this early period when Québec was New France.

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My favourite artifacts, of course, were this lock and key:

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After emerging from the past, we spent the rest of our afternoon ambling the beautiful old streets (some of them delightfully narrow) and squares, taking in the many sights, smells, and sounds.

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We did a little shopping (Marcie bought a pair of Québec-made moccasins!) and took many photos. Here are just a few of them, including the many doors and details that caught my eye . . .

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oldtownquebec-browndoor-keyhole

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oldtownquebec-fleurdelis-doorknocker

oldtownquebec-greendoor-handle

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oldtownquebec-griffinlantern

oldtownquebec-irondoor

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Well, that was our wonderful first day. We are next looking forward to exploring the Plains of Abraham.

 

 

 

 

 

Exploring Montréal ~ Day 4

My final day in Montréal was only a half day, the rest ear-marked to travel  to Québec City.

It was also the day that I would be finally joined by my wife Marcie, who had to stay behind in Vancouver to film a commercial. She ended up taking a red-eye to Montréal so that she could have at least the morning here before we moved on to Québec City by train. Her flight was due to arrive at 7:30 am. Originally, she planned to take a cab, but I convinced her to take the 747 bus, as it would be more economical (just $10) and a lot easier—since there is so much construction going on here, I figured a cab ride might take a long time, longer than the bus.

Well, a good idea in theory. Around 8:00 am in the morning, Marcie started messaging me to let me know that she found the bus ticket booth and the bus itself really quickly and was onboard as soon as she was out of the terminal. Then I suddenly received a message that said: “I think the bus just broke down. Stuck and not moving and people talking in French.” (Which seemed natural to me that people would be talking in French. You know, it being Montréal and all.)

Exhausted and out of  sorts, she eventually clambered off the (now smoking) bus and began a long trek to the hotel. I came and met her halfway, but it was still a thirty-minute journey for her! So instead of getting in around 8:30, it was more like 10:30.

Despite her fatigue, we decided to try and make the most of the morning and headed into the old city to get some crepes for breakfast. We had a lovely seat at Crêperie Chez Suzette, on the second floor. Marcie was enamoured with the view, looking across the street at the old architecture:

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She also enjoyed a very decadent crepe for breakfast, complete with ice-cream! I guess it was well deserved after her (mis)adventures.

I then took Marcie up to show her some of the sites I had previously explored. She instantly Marcified Place d’Armes:

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Yep, that’s my wife!

We headed back to the hotel, snatched a quick nap, then loaded up our bags and made the fifteen-minute walk to the VIA rail station. As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Montréal is at war with construction, so we had to dodge different areas here and there, criss-crossing streets to take the designated detours. It seems no street—major thoroughfare or side alley—is safe from renovation right now in this city. It’s really too bad, as I feel like all of the ongoing and very invasive work really detracted from my time here. However, I know it will result in a beautiful celebration for the city’s 375th birthday next year.

In any case, I was kind of glad to hunker down in the relative quiet of the VIA rail station and board our train to Québec City.

Marcie smiled graciously for the below photo, then slumbered her way to Québec City. After all, she had only slept two hours the night before on the plane!

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As for me, I ended up getting quite a bit of work completed on a chapter I’ve been struggling with for a book I’m tinkering with. It’s going to be a long work in progress. Let’s just call it the “dragon book” for now. Of course, I did pause from time to time to gaze through the window at the countryside rolling past.

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Speaking of writing, the other project I’m currently working on is a middle-grade book that involves a type of station. Actually, I’ve been working on this book for a LONG time. Which means for the past few years, I’ve wandered around a lot of train stations and museums to do research. Imagine my joy when I stepped off the train and into La Gare du Palais . . . I discovered a realm of architectural beauty and charm!

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My photos don’t really do it justice, but I consider this all just bonus research!

Well, it was pretty late, so we started slogging through the quiet Québec City streets, hoping we were taking the right way to our hotel. Our devices said it was only a fifteen-minute walk, but they don’t really show elevation and we suddenly arrived at a fork in the road, one leading up and one leading down.

We went up. Right choice! We soon found ourselves immersed in a bustling, lively atmosphere. So this is where all the people were!

Our hotel, Palace Royal, is located in the old town and is simply gorgeous. As we approached, we caught glimpses of the fortified wall with its ornate turrets. We checked in, dumped our bags, and headed out to grab some grub. Imagine our surprise when we turned the corner and found ourselves at the front of an exuberant late-night pride parade. It’s the city’s Pride Festival this weekend. We felt so much joy and camaraderie; it was quite a fitting welcome to this city.

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I didn’t get much opportunity to snap photos of doors or details, as it was dark upon our arrival in Québec City. However, I did purchase this cute fox handle-hook-thingie at a store in Montréal:

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I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do with it, but it caught my attention because of a couple of prop ideas I have. I always enjoy making props, and this fox reminds me of something that might be in the house of a character I’m developing for my book. (The “dragon book”. Not the “station” book.)