Sorry for the delay in updates -- I've been in a haze of exhaustion since getting back from Quebec City last week. Two major trips within a couple weeks of each other is just one too many for me these days, I think. I don't know how people who travel for a living do it.
Anyhow, we loved Quebec City to the point that we're sort of only half-kidding about eventually emigrating there someday. We liked the climate (it's a bit colder and less humid than it is here in Virginia), and we loved the way of life, which seems considerably less tense, fast-paced and frenetic than it is here. I can't remember if I've ever seen my husband so depressed to leave a place. I put together an album of some of my favorite photos from the trip: have a look if you're interested.
I cannot recommend the place enough if you're looking for a vacation opportunity. The city itself is stunning, the people couldn't possibly have been nicer, and although I was thrilled by how much French I remembered and how well I could read street signs, almost everyone we encountered could switch easily between speaking French and English, so there wasn't even a language issue for us. Even though I studied French for several years in school and could read it well enough to get around, I've always been lousy at speaking it. However, by about the third day of our trip, I found that I could understand what people were saying to me if it wasn't too complex, although I couldn't always summon the words for a correct response. I did do a happy dance when I was able to conduct an entire transaction in French without getting hopelessly confused, and without the cashier switching to English.
Although my husband and I never did try out the fitness center in our hotel, exercise really wasn't a problem. Quebec City has one thing in common with my old college town: You cannot get much of anywhere without walking up either steep, steep stairs or a steep, steep hill. I'd remembered this from the last time I visited QC in the early 90s and I'd been trying to build up my walking stamina in the weeks before we left, but even my reasonably-fit self had to pause for breath halfway up one stairway near the Chateau Frontenac. The views from the areas outside the hotel make the hike totally worth it, though.
As for food, I'll say straight out that I had no intention of depriving myself while I was there. There are people who seem to take pride in visiting new places and refusing to deviate from their eating plans. I am not one of those people, and don't particularly want to be. Even so, I didn't do badly. Aside from our first and last nights in QC and the night before in Maine, where we ate dinner at a local restaurant that had unexpectedly fabulous food, we got into a fairly comfortable routine: a big breakfast at a nearby cafe that served up tasty fritattas and great coffee, and then relatively light lunches and dinners. Even on our lavish nights, my "Eat only until you're satisfied" training kicked in and I'd leave food on my plate, a habit that got me scolded by one server who thought I didn't like my food. (Yes, I liked the entree. I also like not feeling like I'm going to explode after I eat.)
My one not-so-secret (now that I'm mentioning it here and all) shame: for the first -- and likely last -- time, I ate poutine. This was utterly premeditated; I've been seeing Canadians talk about it online for years, and my curiosity was piqued. It sounded like one of those things that's really disgusting, horrifically bad for you, and yet really, really good. And while I didn't generally bother with the arena food at Skate Canada, figuring that there was much better food around for me to use up my calories on, when I saw that the food stands sold poutine, it was only a matter of time. And, well ... let us never speak of it again. (OK, it wasn't bad. I won't be lamenting the fact that it isn't sold in the US, though. Aside from the fact that my stomach was upset for hours, eating it just seemed *so* outrageously wrong that I felt as if I had a scarlet "P" branded on my coat for the rest of the day.)
So anyhow; I'm back, I think I'm finally fully-rested, and I promise that the next update won't be so long in coming.