Our final stop of our Countryside Tour was Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica. This is one of the most magnificent basilicas I've seen to date. It is grand and highly decorated. The basilica is dedicated to St. Anne, Jesus' grandmother (Mary's mother). Near the front of the sanctuary is a golden arm statue containing a glass opening. Inside the glass is a bone which we were told is the forearm of St. Anne. Annually, nearly a million people make pilgrimages to St. Anne's Basilica for healing. Those who have been healed sometimes leave behind their canes, crutches, and other medical devices. These were on display at the back of the church. We were given 45 minutes to explore the basilica on our own.
left behind by those who were healed
forearm of Saint Anne
Traci and I were dropped off back at our hotel at 6 PM. It had been a great day of touring.
Traci and I did not get a chance to do any sightseeing in downtown Quebec City on Friday. We had just re-checked into the Courtyard Marriott that afternoon after spending a night at the Ice Hotel on the outskirts of the city. We did not sleep very well at the Ice Hotel. As a result, Traci and I napped most of the afternoon at the Courtyard and then had the concierge make us a dinner reservation at Le Cochon Dingue (The Crazy Pig) in the Lower Town later that evening.
Saturday was our last full day of vacation. Traci and I hit the streets by 9 AM. The city seemed rather deserted. This was sure to change in a few weeks when Quebec City celebrates its Winter Carnival. The 2-week festival occurs every year around the end of January or early February during which time, the city sees nearly a million visitors. Given it was early January during our visit, tourism was much lighter.
Traci and I began our day by walking to Le Cochon Dingue again but for breakfast this time. Reviewers on TripAdvisor.com raved about the breakfast there so we gave it a try. It did not disappoint.
Throughout the week, when the friendly people of Quebec found out Traci and I were tourists, they often offered suggestions on what to see during our visit. One of the suggestions we heard many times was to tour the Ice Hotel. We had already over-achieved on that recommendation when we spent the night there. The other suggestion we heard often was to take the ferry across the St. Lawrence River to the town of Lévis. We were told we could get a great view of Quebec City from there.
Since the ferry terminal was located just across the street from Le Cohon Dingue, we decided to buy tickets. The ferry runs every half-hour and costs $6 per person roundtrip. The high temperature that day was 1°F. Needless to say, we took seats inside the heated boat and admired the scenery through the windows instead of from the deck. The St. Lawrence was full of ice. We were told there are ice breakers further up the river working to keep the river passable.
The crossing only took 10 minutes. Indeed the view of the Quebec City with Chateau Frontenac standing prominently above the city walls was awe-inspiring from the shores of Lévis but Traci and I were wondering if there was anything to see in the town. There was a tourism office in the ferry terminal but it was closed. I stopped by an eatery in the terminal to ask if there were any tourist attractions nearby. I was told there was really nothing other than to walk up the steps to an old fort. Traci and I decided to pass on that and just take the next ferry back to Quebec City.
During the ride back, as Traci and I were discussing how we had basically paid $12 to take a picture of the city, we saw something that totally blew our minds - ice canoeing. There was a team of men rowing a canoe in the icy river. Each time they encountered a chunk of ice, they would all get out of the boat and carry it across the ice until they were able to put the canoe back into the water. I was surprised no one fell in. I don't know if they were in a race or just trying to get in a good workout. They were hustling. One of the men was constantly yelling out commands. Traci and I actually endured the wind and cold on the deck of the ferry for a few minutes to watch this team of ice canoers - fascinating!
Quebec City seen from the ferry - high temperature 1°F Brrr!
Quebec City seen from the ferry
Back in Quebec City, we paid $2 per person to ride the Funicular from the Lower Town to the Upper Town. From there, we killed some time in the lobby of Chateau Frontenac until it was time to walk up the street to the Citadel for the 1:30 PM tour. Along the way, we stopped into some of the souvenir shops mainly to warm up. The majority of souvenirs we found in Quebec City were maple products: syrup, cookies, candy, etc..
riding the funicular to the Upper Town
We followed the sign that pointed us to the Citadel (La Citadelle de Québec) but finding the meeting place for the tour was a challenge. We eventually found it and paid $10 per person to participate in the tour. continue...