The red room and the blue room

Quebec City, Day Two

The mattress is a tad hard and uncomfortable. The bed frame also makes a lot of noise whenever either of us rolls over, and being on a double mattress, I think I woke up every time we moved. Still, we managed to get some sleep, even a bit of a sleep in.

We went down for breakfast at 9am. Very simple. Carb heaven, really. Toast, bagels, muffins, cereal. There was fruit and hard boiled eggs though. We didn’t eat much but it was enough to line our stomachs.

First stop of the day was the parliament building. We walked past statues/sculptures of Churchill, Roosevelt and Gandhi, then took photos at the fountain in front of the parliament building. The building itself is very grand, reminding me of the Louvre and the buildings that surround it.

A free guided tour inside the building was starting at 10:30 so we went inside and joined that, going through security and all that. We heard a bit about the building and its design, then more about Canada’s system of government, and more specifically, the Quebec parliament.

Then we had a look at the two chambers, one in raspberry for what is the Senate, and the other in blue for the Legislative Assembly. Until 1968, Quebec had a senate but they abolished it, the last of the province’s to do so. The senate was similar to the House of Lords in that the 30-something “senators” weren’t elected and they had the job for life. Since getting rid of them, the room is now used for parliamentary standing committee meetings and special occasions (Celine Dion received an award in there, as did William and Kate).

The blue room, the Legislative Assembly, seats the 100-and-something “deputies”. Each of them has their own desk and chair. It looks quite different from what you see in Australia and in London. I found it hard to imagine MPs leaping to their feet without hitting their knees on the desks.

Both rooms used to be painted in different colours. The senate room was grey and the legislative assembly was green. The colours were changed to raspberry and blue respectively with the advent of colour television. Apparently the previous colours didn’t look too good on the box.

I was interested to hear that their Speaker has been an MP for thirty years and been the speaker for quite a lot of that time. Must do a good job.

The tour lasted about forty minutes. I’m glad we went. I like parliamentary buildings for some reason. I want to take Glen to see the Houses of Parliament in London as I found them fascinating. While on the tour, we also learned the public can go have breakfast and lunch in the dining room. We’re going on Wednesday.

After the tour we headed down to Rue St-Jean to check out the gay pride community fair along the street. But first we stopped off for a late breakfast/brunch/early lunch. Glen ordered a massive meal that contained bacon, sausage, a meat pie, ham, two fried eggs, a crepe, French toast, fruit, beans, toast and potatoes. Massive. I had an omelette. It was a pretty good lunch and reasonably priced.

We then went down the street to have a look at what stalls were on display. We were given packets of condoms by two people dressed as condoms. There was a TD van giving out free icecream (we didn’t get any because we’d got a hot chocolate from the shop down the road. That’s enough sugar). Everything was in French so we struggled to really understand what was going on. We could pick which ones were political, which ones were services, and which ones were there for the ride. We got to one end then turned around and walked back. It wasn’t very busy which was good.

As we walked back, we were stopped by a guy and a girl with a videocamera (and they were wearing official looking shirts). I thought they wanted to interview us but instead they wanted to get footage of us walking away. Glen and I had been holding hands so I assume it was because of that. We obliged and walked away. We don’t know when they stopped filming. We have no idea where the footage will appear.

On the way back to the hotel we walked along the battlements for a bit (Old Quebec is still  surrounded by a wall, though it doesn’t do much in the way of protection anymore). It’s cool that you can walk across the top of the walls.

We went back to the hotel for a bit of a nap, though I’m not sure if I actually fell asleep. When we got up, we headed out to find the Basilica of Notre Dame and the Town Hall, only to realise we’d walked past them yesterday. We ducked into the Basilica where a mass was being celebrated in front of a tiny congregation of about twenty people. The tourists outnumbered the parishioners. The inside was beautiful though. Full of light and with this alien-like sculpture made in gold looming over the altar.

We then walked past some more sculptures outside, looked over some walls towards the harbour and a cruise ship ready to set sail, before descending to Lower Town and Place Royale. Lots of artisan shops and tourist shops down there, heaving with people. A magnificent mural on the side of one of the walls, another church, and a bust of Louis XIV. We caught the funiculaire up the cliff and emerged in front of Chateau Frontenac.

The busker there today was an acrobat and we were catching the end of his show. One final act. He asked if there were any people in the audience from Quebec, Canada, France, Russia, America and…Australia. Glen and I were the only two. I was given a flag. And then asked to come forward. He only needed four guys for his trick and I got to be one of them. First we had to do a little dance in front of everyone and then we were given a structure to balance on our shoulders. He would then jump up, balance on two more struts upside down and that was the trick. Went well though my shoulder was so sore by the end of it. Fun!

Went inside Chateau Frontenac for a look in the foyer…along with a million other people. Checked out the shops inside, went towards the bar, then down to the terrace and saw they had buffet lunch and dinner, which we would return for. If I can’t stay in the hotel, I can eat in the restaurant at least.

We went back to our hotel then, changed and got dressed, before heading back out to Rue St-Jean for dinner. Along the way we walked past a traffic accident. One car had turned into another, one or both going at speed, and the two cars had smashed and locked together. They weren’t coming apart without some major assistance.

Dinner tonight was at La Pizzetta. We sat outside which was nice as we got to watch the people going by. The only downside was the chilly wind going down this wind tunnel. The temperature had dropped quite a bit in the afternoon and evening. We shared a small lobster pizza, then Glen had veal schnitzel and I had chicken penne (with two glasses of red). A really enjoyable dinner.

Place d'Youville
Place d’Youville

Next we went to Place d’Youville to watch a free outdoor drag performance. We stood in the chilly breeze for a while listening to jokes we didn’t understand because they were in French. Shame we don’t understand the language because they sounded good. A heap of performances one after the other, some good, some not so good. We stayed for most of it but then went back to the hotel so Glen could get a jacket.

We then went back to watch Mado’s show from 9pm to 10:45pm. More drag performances. A little bit of English this time. They sure do love their Celine Dion. The finale was a medley of about 15 of her numbers. Our legs and back were so sore from standing by the end of it. We considered going out somewhere afterwards but we’d seen and done enough for one day. Bed was calling.

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