Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 5 - $293.48 - Like the Ritz, With More Concrete

Now, we all know that travel isn’t all glamour. It’s hard work to be on the move, and it can be very tiring.

But sometimes, friends, we get lucky. We are in the right place at the right time, and the fates smile down upon us.

I’m referring, of course, to my sleeping quarters in Quebec City. Originally, I had planned on getting into town sometime in the early morning, stowing my pack in a locker in the bus

station, and wandering around town for the day. However, Acadien bus lines had other plans in store for me. The bus schedule was revised just a wee bit, and I ended up arriving in the city at roughly 3:30 AM. And I don’t speak French.

What’s a good traveler to do? If you’re like me, you wander around for a few minutes, and then, when no one is looking, you unroll your yoga mat under a chair inside the bus station and hunker down for a few hours of sleep. And might I just pay a few compliments to the cleaning

staff of the Quebec City bus station? The smell of ammonia, the chewing gum glued to the underside of chairs, the thin film of dust in the corners…what inspired decorations! What character! This building also had a hard-as-a-rock concrete floor and limited heating, which all combined to create a sleeping experience I won’t soon forget!

I did manage to get a bit of sleep before waking up at 6:30 with a large boot in my face. Apparently, this man didn’t see me lying under that chair, but thought it was the most hilarious thing he had seen in a very long time. He even bought me a muffin for breakfast. Now, I don’t want people to think I’m a vagrant, but when you sleep in a bus station, who are you to say no to free food?

After I got cleaned up a little, I started wandering around the city, which is just gorgeous. I saw the old walls of the city, and all of the streets are tiny and cobblestone. The houses and shops are all jammed on top of one another, and

everything looks like you’ve gone back in time.

I was lucky that there was a free bus that ran right from the train station to the centre of downtown, I hopped on and off that bus all day in an effort to see as much of the old city as possible.

After wandering around for an hour or two, people started waking up and the city filled up more. I was looking at some sticky buns outside of a patisserie longingly, when a young couple stopped by me. They started arguing about whether the shop was too expensive, and before I knew it, I was barraged with questions in French. After I looked very confused, they started speaking in English and I had made two new friends. While walking around with Luc and

Jacqueline, I got to explore more of the city than I would have been able to see by myself, and I

got the inside perspective. One of the best bars in town? Le Drague, the gay bar off Rue Saint-Jean, which specializes in drag queen karaoke. How can you not love that?

I also had quite a cheap day because Mike and Laura gave me a little care package of food to take with me on the bus, so I didn’t have to buy food. Although that sticky bun would have been sweet….

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