Wednesday, December 27, 2017


Ciel was recommended by the same person who recommended Le Chic Shack. She hit another home run.

Ciel is a revolving restaurant on top of Hôtel le Concorde. You can park in the hotel's basement. Be sure and take your ticket with you since Ciel will give you a discount card that you can use when you leave the garage.

We made our reservation for about 30 minutes before sunset and that was perfect. A complete rotation takes 90 minutes. There are 2 rows of tables, an inside row and an outside row. We got an outside table but the views are great from either.

After our experience on Île d'Orléans we were thrilled with the food and service at Ciel.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Quartier Petit Champlain

Quartier Petit Champlain is the lower part of Vieux-Québec. Think of it as the French Quarter of Québec City.

You can get to Quartier Petit Champlain by L'Escalier Casse-Cou (Breakneck Steps) or Funiculaire du Vieux Québec. Spend your 3,00$ and enjoy the view during the ride.

As we strolled the narrow streets of Quartier Petit Champlain we came across Le Casse Cou. There is seating inside and out and is good for a relaxed lunch. Or a cold beer!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Île d'Orléans

It wouldn't be a vacation without a trip to an island. There's always something different to explore on Île d'Orléans.

La Nougaterie Québec

As we rode around on Île d'Orléans we passed by La Nougaterie Québec. We turned around and went back. Nougats remind me of France so we had to have some.

Vignoble Ste-Pétronille

We came across Vignoble Ste-Pétronille, a winery with a tasting room and had to stop. They were very helpful in selecting some wines and we left with a small selection.

The vineyards were a perfect place for a photo.

Promenade Horatio Walker

Horatio Walker was a famous Canadian artist who lived on Île d'Orléans. This hard to find street leads to his house but also was the terminus of the ice bridge that was used in the winters before the Pont de Île d'Orléans was built.

The Promenade has great views of Québec City and Chute-Montmorency.

Oh, how to find it? When you get to Chocolaterie de l'Ile d'Orleans, you just passed it.

Chocolaterie de l'Ile d'Orleans

Just beyond Promenade Horatio Walker is Chocolaterie de l'Ile d'Orleans. You can smell the aroma when you step out of the car. If the chocolate isn't enough to tempt you there's a restaurant that serves crème glacée.

Auberge La Goéliche

On the very tip of Île d'Orléans is Auberge La Goéliche, a hotel/restaurant. The views of Québec City and the St. Lawrence are incredible.

The restaurant caters primarily to the hotel guests. When we arrived we were asked what room we were staying in. The menu was very limited. We had the halibut and the lamb chop. The halibut was fine but the lamb chop was fatty and tough. And the table service was slow.

Enjoy the views from the parking lot and eat somewhere else.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017


Chute-Montmorency is a staple of our visits to Québec. We actually hadn't planned on visiting it on this trip but when we passed by we were just drawn to its awesomeness. It's so close that you can see it from Vieux Québec.

It's 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls and can be explored by foot, by cable car or even by zipline for the adventurous.

There's a great restaurant at the top where we have eaten before.

On this trip we just walked across the pedestrian bridge at the foot of the falls.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


Baie-Saint-Paul is about an hour outside of Québec City and an easy drive. You do need to watch out for the moose though. There are signs warning of moose crossings in the next 2 km followed by another sign warning of moose crossings in the next 2 km. Then they get serious with a sign warning of dangerous moose crossings in the next 4 km. They even have high fences along the roadway trying to stop the moose from entering the right-of-way. You're supposed to call 511 if you see a moose on the roadway.

The main street of Baie-Saint-Paul is a shopper's paradise full of artists' shops. There are enough restaurants and ice cream shops to keep the shoppers nourished.

We had lunch on the porch of Le Café des Artistes. The mushroom soup included in their lunch special was wonderful.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


As you walk along Rue Saint Louis heading from Rue d'Auteuil toward Château Frontenac you'll pass a small cul-de-sac known as Rue du Corps de Garde. In the tiny opening of this cul-de-sac stands a huge elm tree. Entwined in its roots is what looks like a cannonball.

The story as told by the Québec newspaper is that this is actually an ancient bomb. It was probably fired into Québec by the British in 1759. It didn't explode and was later used in the early 1900s to prevent wagons turning into the cul-de-sac from striking one of the buildings.

An elm tree sprouted in the cul-de-sac and eventually spread its roots around the bomb.

Only in Québec.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

La Citadelle de Québec

Since we had been to The Citadelle previously I was looking for something different to do there. I found it.

When I was researching what we could do differently in The Citadelle I came upon the Grands Feux Loto-Québec (fireworks). The Governor General of Canada has a residence in The Citadelle and would invite 100 people to watch the fireworks from his terrace. I submitted a request and we were accepted. We got a parking pass that let us park inside The Citadelle and pretty much had free run of the new part of the residence. We seemed to be the only ones there speaking English.

I got an amazing photo of the Château Frontenac.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Funiculaire du Vieux Québec

The Funiculaire du Vieux Québec is on the Terrasse Dufferin and will take you up and down between the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) and the Basse-Ville (Lower Town) for 3,00$. Well worth it.

The funiculaire opened on November 17, 1879.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Vieux-Québec Churches

Cathédrale Holy Trinity

Just across Rue Sainte-Anne from the apartment is the Cathédrale Holy Trinity. Built around 1800. it is the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Québec.

Its bell-tower is home to 8 bells which are the oldest change-ringing peal in Canada.

Each morning booths are set up in the garden offering art, clothing and crêpes. By the way, the crêpe booth opens at 10.

Chalmers-Wesley United Church

On one of our walks we heard organ music. We followed our ears and entered Chalmers-Wesley United Church.

It turned out we had missed the organized concert but there was a young parishioner playing the massive organ.

La Basilique Notre-Dame

Around the corner from the apartment was the incredible La Basilique Notre-Dame.

There has been a church on this site since 1647. One of the earlier churches  was destroyed during the Siege of Québec in 1759.

Cour intérieure du Petit Séminaire

While not actually a church Cour intérieure du Petit Séminaire fits in this group.

Next door to La Basilique Notre-Dame, Cour intérieure du Petit Séminaire has a striking entrance and courtyard.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Epicerie Richard

I broke my toothbrush the first morning we were in Vieux-Québec and struck out looking for a grocery store. Nearby (well, everything in Vieux-Québec is nearby) I found Epicerie Richard. From the apartment it is just past Monument aux Communautés Religieuses Enseignantes.

This is a little grocery store right out of France. There are even flower boxes on the upstairs windows and chairs out front to rest in.

During our visit we got everything there from a toothbrush to Cokes and snacks.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Aux Anciens Canadiens

We had eaten at Aux Anciens Canadiens before and wanted to go back. Like most of Vieux-Québec it was just a short walk from our apartment.

The building was built in 1675 and still has that ancient feel with low ceilings and narrow stairs. There was a mix of tourists and locals the night we were there.

Don't miss the maple syrup pie.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Le Chic Shack

We had lunch at Le Chic Shack which was recommended by a friend of our daughter.

Le Chic Shack is in the front of the Le Musée du Fort at 15 Rue du Fort. It has outside seating but we were glad to take an inside seat looking out the front so we could people watch.

While the recommendation was for their lobster burgers we had a regular burger and a chicken sandwich. We shared a "small" order of fries and left half of them.

They have wonderful milk shakes and locally made colas. I had the cola and it tasted like a mix of Coke and a fruity tea. Very good.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Pub St-Patrick

The night we arrived in Vieux-Québec we set out looking for Chez Boulay but ended up at Pub St. Patrick's due to the rain. Just as well as the Harp was great!

Pub St. Patrick is a very Irish pub near our apartment at 1200 Rue Saint-Jean. I couldn't find a date for the building but from the appearance it must have been 1600s or 1700s.

We had fish and chips and bangers and mash. With the rain outside we felt like we were in Ireland.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Vieux-Québec Monuments

Monument de la Foi

In Place d'Armes directly in front of Château Frontenac is Monument de la Foi (Monument of the Faith).

The park drops downhill from Château Frontenac to Rue Sainte-Anne and provides a shady spot to rest and soak in the activity.

Monument de l'UNESCO

Just across Rue du Fort from Monument de la Foi is Monument de l'UNESCO.

We took lots of photographs of the landscaping surrounding Monument de l'UNESCO but they don't really do it justice. The park crests a small (for Québec City) hill and the ground falls away from the photographer standing on ground level. This would be a perfect opportunity for a drone.

Monument aux Communautés Religieuses Enseignantes

On the short walk to the neighborhood grocery store I came across Monument aux Communautés Religieuses Enseignantes.

It's in the middle of a tiny roundabout (I told you Québec City feels like Paris).

The houses surrounding it remind me of a village outside of Lyon.

Monument Samuel-De Champlain

Near the Chateau Frontenac is Monument Samuel-De Champlain. Champlain was the founder of Québec City. Often there are street performers there that draw a crowd.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Château Frontenac

Château Frontenac is an icon of Québec City. It rambles across the highest point of Vieux-Québec and is visible from all over town.

Its very presence creates a focal point for activity and excitement in Vieux-Québec.

While we were in town there was an exhibit of  Salvador Dalí artwork in the Château Frontenac.

We can only afford to eat crème glacée there. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Terrasse Dufferin

Terrasse Dufferin is an expansive wood plank walkway that wraps around the Château Frontenac towards the Citadelle, overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It's full of gazebos and benches and interesting people. I took my walk here each morning.

Beneath sections of the terrace are the remains of Saint Louis Forts as well as Château Saint-Louis, residence for French and British Governors. Admission is free.

The wikipedia article is here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Old Quebec Airbnb

This was our first Airbnb experience and we were thrilled.

Old Quebec Airbnb was really nice. It was built in 1654 but has been remodeled since then. The millwork is awesome. The door locks are still the old metal latches. Our apartment was on the 2nd floor (US counting) and there's one above it. We heard occasional footsteps and noises but there was never a problem. The first night we kept hearing a irregular beeping like a truck backing up. Turns out it was the Québec flag squeaking on its post just outside our window.

You can park in the Hôtel de Ville parking garage but the entrance to was hard to find as the street (Rue Pierre Oliver Chauveau) was closed (just drive around the signs). When you exit the garage at the Rue des Jardins exit you are directly across the street from the apartment.

The Airbnb host owns a couple of shops downstairs, a gift shop (Le Sachem) and a coffee shop (La Maison Smith). The coffee shop also has wonderful pastries and we had breakfast there each morning.

Just down the street was a little neighborhood grocery (Epicerie Richard, 15, Rue du fort) that has enough of a selection to get you by. It also looks so typically Québec.

All the appliances were fresh stainless. There wasn't a dishwasher nor an ice maker but we weren't planning on washing dishes anyway. The washer and dryer were nice to have and we used them.

The Wi-Fi is the gift shop's business network so its speed is good, 10+ Mbps both ways, but only reaches the living room. In the bedroom you can sometimes get the guest network from the coffee shop.

We visited in late August and the temperatures were never above the high 60s. On one day and night the apartment was muggy. There is a small section of each window that will open and there are fans.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017


We've been to Quebec City several times before and thoroughly enjoyed it each time. For this trip we had a couple of "favorite" things to do but there we had some new things on our list as well.

In spite of the negative press we had great flights on United. Budget even upgraded us for free to get us a car with a built-in GPS.

We always stay in Vieux-Québec, the old walled city. We tried an Airbnb (Old Quebec) for the first time. Built in 1654, it was just across the street from Hôtel de Ville (town hall). The host has a coffee shop (La Maison Smith) with pastries next door and a gift shop downstairs (Le Sachem).

I took my morning walks on Terrasse Dufferin, just up the hill beyond the incredible Château Frontenac.

Vieux-Québec is full of monuments. Some are surrounded with gorgeous flowers. Some are used by street entertainers. Some are just pretty.

The night we arrived it was raining so we ducked into the first pub we saw, Pub St-Patrick. That was not a mistake.

Just a block in the other direction is Le Chic Shack which came highly recommended. It was amazing.

Two blocks away was one of our favorite restaurants, Aux Anciens Canadiens.

On the way to Aux Anciens Canadiens was a little grocery store, Epicerie Richard, that made us feel like we were in Paris.

Like any European city Vieux-Québec is full of churches that are open and alive. We dropped in several and stumbled on an organ concert.

Quartier Petit Champlain is the lower part of Vieux-Québec and best reached via the Funiculaire, reminiscent of several I've ridden in France.

La Citadelle de Québec is active military installation and the official residence of the Governor General of Canada. We got to watch the Grands Feux Loto-Québec fireworks from there.

On the way to the Citadelle you pass an old tree with a cannonball entwined in its roots.

We took a day trip to Baie-Saint-Paul, about an hour's drive out the St. Lawrence. It is known for its art galleries, shops and restaurants.

On the way back to town we made an unplanned detour by Chute-Montmorency and then explored Île d'Orléans.

We topped off (literally) our visit with a sunset dinner at Ciel, a revolving restaurant.

This won't be our last trip to Quebec City.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Ireland Dashcam

I don't know how I overlooked adding my Ireland dashcam videos to this blog.

If you want to know how I did this here is my blog on the camera itself.

Here's a sample. Don't worry. I've bleeped out the expletives.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Huntsville Space Center

We stopped by the Huntsville Space Center on our return leg from Chattanooga. My first impression was that there was a SR-71 Blackbird out front. It wasn't a Blackbird but an A-12 OXCART which was a predecessor to the Blackbird. Still pretty interesting.

There are 2 buildings open to the public. The first one has the gift shop and ticket counter. There is an IMAX that we didn't visit. Generally the first building seems somewhat rambling. The second building is the Saturn V Hall and is centered around a Saturn V on its side. To get from the first building to the have to go through the first building and walk across the Rocket Park which includes a vertical Saturn V.. There are good photo ops in the Rocket Park as you walk.

You could spend hours in the Saturn V Hall. Everywhere there are interactive exhibits, videos and gadgets to see and play with.

We timed it so we could have lunch there. This facility is a working research center and there are a number of full time employees so they have a nice snack bar that even has a salad bar.

We spent about 2 hours including lunch but could have made an entire day of it.

Their web site is here and the TripAdvisor reviews are here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Tennessee Valley Railroad

It was a cool weekend in Chattanooga so we were looking for warm activities. The depot is only 10 minutes from downtown.

The area surrounding the depot is full of engines and train cars.

When we arrived the steam engine was nearby and fired up giving off smoke and steam. What an exciting sight. I took our granddaughter to stand in front of it for a picture.

The depot is authentic and fun to just browse around in. There is a nice gift shop and a sandwich bar.

We took the 12:05 Missionary Ridge Local that lasted 55-60 minutes. We called ahead and they said we could buy sandwiches there and take them on the train.

However the 60 minute trip is really in 3 segments: an outbound trip for about 15 minutes, a turntable demonstration and shop tour for about 15 minutes and an inbound trip for another 15 minutes.

We didn't have time to eat before we arrived at the end station and were told to get off the train. In actuality you don't have to get off unless you want to see the turntable demonstration and the shop tour.

I would encourage taking the turntable demonstration and the shop tour and eat elsewhere.

Their web site is here and the TripAdvisor reviews are here.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Tennessee Aquarium

This is an incredible aquarium. I just want to share a tip or two to help others.

We visited with our daughter and her 2 children, 8 years old and 11 months old, so we were using a stroller. My wife and I took the 8 year old up the loooong escalator and my daughter and the 11 month old took the elevator.

The issue is that the route starts at the TOP of the aquarium and flows downward. This is fine but the elevator had stops at each level and didn't indicate to my daughter where to START.

So she got off on the 2nd level and was dumped into the middle of the route. She called me and we figured out what had happened to her. She opposed the traffic to rendezvous with us near the top.

While it appears that there is a zig-zag ramp from the top to the bottom the route actually diverts into galleries that wrap around the central core.

The whole aquarium is DARK and the intended route is poorly marked. The route markings aren't normally so important but were with our confusion.

Their web site is here and the TripAdvisor reviews are here.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

DoubleTree Chattanooga

We spent 3 nights here in early March 2017. The rack rate was almost $400 for a suite but a phone call got it down to $209! The location is perfect, close by the Tennessee Aquarium and the Creative Discovery Museum.

Valet parking was $15 per day and the valet staff was exceptional.

The bartender in the lobby bar bent over backwards to help with milk for our toddler.

But they drop the ball on the details.

The clock in each bedroom was wrong and had a screwed down cover over the Time Set button.

The lamp between the beds in one room didn't work at all.

The thermostats were flaky, i.e. the technique to change the temperature wasn't intuitive.

The cable box in one room didn't work. After 2 days I discovered it was just unplugged from the power.

All of these could have been identified by housekeeping in less than a minute and readily corrected by housekeeping or maintenance. They just didn't care.

Their web site is here and the TripAdvisor reviews are here.