There was one place I felt completely at home among an entire group of French speaking locals: the pool. Lap swimming etiquette is the same throughout the world, and it took no time at all to size up the situation when I arrived for a morning training session. Lanes were designated by speed, and although I can’t read French, I knew what the red, yellow, and green signs meant: no-go, slow-go, and go-go! I hopped into the lane with the green sign (for fast swimmers) and fit right in with three swimmers who knew what they were doing (circle swimming counter-clockwise). We all went about our business and were right in sync, never getting in each others’ way.
Two of us ended our session at the same time, and we got into a conversation. He spoke to me in French, and I replied, “Parlaz-vous anglais?” In perfect English, he repeated his question, “Are you new here? I’ve never seen you before.”
After explaining that I was American and had competed at the Masters World Championships, he welcomed me to Quebec and said, “I may be partial, but I think Quebec is the most beautiful city in North America. You are really going to enjoy it!” I don’t think I will ever forget that conversation, because it was the end of that day I came to the same conclusion.
San Diego, the city I called home for 24 years is wonderful in so many ways, and San Francisco is magical. Portland and Seattle are two beautiful cities, and I absolutely loved Chicago. Savannah is incredibly charming and picturesque, and although New York is HUGE, it also has a place on my favorite cities list.
In Canada, Vancouver topped the list for me and Bruce—until we stepped under the arch of the walled Old City of Quebec. It was love at first sight.
During our two full days in Quebec, Bruce and I enjoyed our quickly-established routine of swimming in the morning and sightseeing in the afternoon. While he lounged in the apartment, I made the five-minute walk to the community pool for the morning lap swimming session. (U.S. Master Swimming Summer Nationals was coming up in just a few days, so it was important to keep a feel for the water after Worlds concluded.)
This facility was excellent. Not only was it free (thanks to the taxpayers), it was clean as a whistle and well-maintained. The locker rooms were large and well-equipped, and the 25-meter pool was kept at a perfect temperature.
After my swim, I was curious to see who was pictured on the wall next to the posted information. As it turned out, it was the local Masters team, and I recognized several of the swimmers from World Championships!
Following my morning swim sessions, we ventured into the Old City and Old Port to explore.
The iconic centerpiece of the Old City is the Fairmont Hotel. Below are some photos I shot of the hotel and a parade we enjoyed the previous afternoon. It was a bit gloomy; however, we were fortunate to have perfect weather the remainder of our trip.
Our first meal in Quebec was at Casse-Crepe Breton, a highly rated and reasonably priced recommended on my go-to travel site, http://www.TripAdvisor.com . We enjoyed our crepes there so much, we returned for more on our last day.
Ditto for our pitas at La Galette Libonnaise, a tiny takeaway tucked in between posh restaurants on swank Grand-Allee est. We each tried a different pita during our two visits, so we tasted four in all. It was difficult to choose a favorite, because they were all so delicious!
In my next post, I will share more about our Quebec experience. Until then, au revoir!