Sunday, August 4, 2013

Cities & Walls

I find a spot to camp on Mont Sainte Anne, an out of season ski slope about 20 miles outside of the city. I stop to get some gas on the way in and have to talk to the attendant after my credit card won’t scan. Through a combination of her limited English and my extremely limited French we come to an agreement on octane, quantity and pump number (“deux”) and I am on my way again.
A morning rain convinces me to sleep in and I don’t get into town until just before noon. The highway leads right into the city arching over the tenements below the wall and alighting in the upper city between the skyscrapers of banking headquarters. I walk towards the old city first and as I climb the fortifications at la citadelle a canon shot announces noon and the report returns shattered to a prolonged crackle by the skyscrapers that echoed it. Following the wall around the city I find my way down onto la terrasse, a wide boardwalk on the river side of the city. A man falls down some stairs and two strangers and I rush over to help him up offering support in Spanish, French and English. He responds “mare-see” so English is my guess.  
Tourists collect in the squares in the shadow of the massive Chateau Frontenac and at the center of each square is a troupe of street performers.  I stop to watch a duo performing a torch and knife act to a tango and then walk through an art market.  I walk down Rue Saint Louis through the wonderful smells of restaurants that I can’t afford. A block up the hill are empty streets with rooms for rent. These all have parking areas hidden between the buildings down corridors open to the street.
Hunger gets the better of me and to my delight I manage to successfully order noodles and a pint of beer from a cheap thai restaurant on Rue Saint Jean. I realize that I am missing out entirely on the restaurant portion of this trip but the fact is that I can’t afford to both travel and eat well, so my gustatory experience of these places will have to wait for another time. 

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