A Travellerspoint blog

April 2018

Quebec City-a gorgeous European experience closer to home

The ferry to Levis was a bargain at less than $3; definitely worth it for the spectacular views of Quebec City

The ferry to Levis was a bargain at less than $3; definitely worth it for the spectacular views of Quebec City

Quebec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that, in winter, is reminiscent of a Currier and Ives painting

Quebec City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that, in winter, is reminiscent of a Currier and Ives painting

The province of Quebec came close to seceding from Canada in 1995 when the referendum failed by less than 1 percent; secession is no longer an issue as the city embraces a global perspective

The province of Quebec came close to seceding from Canada in 1995 when the referendum failed by less than 1 percent; secession is no longer an issue as the city embraces a global perspective

The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico; there are almost 3 miles of walls

The ramparts surrounding Old Quebec are the only fortified city walls remaining in the Americas north of Mexico; there are almost 3 miles of walls

The only French-speaking legislature in continental North America; the building was completed in 1886 and lies just outside the city walls

The only French-speaking legislature in continental North America; the building was completed in 1886 and lies just outside the city walls

The Plains of Abraham were named after Abraham Martin who used them to graze his cows; in 1759 the battle here led to the end of New France and 100 years of British rule

The Plains of Abraham were named after Abraham Martin who used them to graze his cows; in 1759 the battle here led to the end of New France and 100 years of British rule

Parc Jeanne d'Arc stands where the French lost to the British in 1759; the Canadian national anthem, O Canada, was played here for the first time in 1880

Parc Jeanne d'Arc stands where the French lost to the British in 1759; the Canadian national anthem, O Canada, was played here for the first time in 1880

The Terrasse Dufferin was named after a governor of Canada from 1872 to 1878 who had this boardwalk constructed

The Terrasse Dufferin was named after a governor of Canada from 1872 to 1878 who had this boardwalk constructed

The Rue de Petit-Champlain is the oldest street in the city and attractively lined with shops and cafes

The Rue de Petit-Champlain is the oldest street in the city and attractively lined with shops and cafes

The funicular that links Upper Town and Lower Town opened in 1879; I chose to take the Breakneck Stairs instead

The funicular that links Upper Town and Lower Town opened in 1879; I chose to take the Breakneck Stairs instead

In Lower Town there are dozens of impressive art galleries; this was one of my favorite paintings there

In Lower Town there are dozens of impressive art galleries; this was one of my favorite paintings there

Model shows Quebec City on a peninsula between the St. Charles and St. Lawrence Rivers; you can clearly see the Plains of Abraham along the St. Lawrence

Model shows Quebec City on a peninsula between the St. Charles and St. Lawrence Rivers; you can clearly see the Plains of Abraham along the St. Lawrence

Styled after the Empire State Building, the Edifice Price was the city's first skyscraper when it was completed in 1929

Styled after the Empire State Building, the Edifice Price was the city's first skyscraper when it was completed in 1929

An oasis of peace within Upper Town, the Seminary de Quebec gave birth to the first Francophone university in Quebec in 1852

An oasis of peace within Upper Town, the Seminary de Quebec gave birth to the first Francophone university in Quebec in 1852

The 125 year old Chateau Frontenac has a storied past hosting guests including Lindbergh, de Gaulle, Hitchcock, Princess Grace of Monaco, Chiang Kai-shek, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion

The 125 year old Chateau Frontenac has a storied past hosting guests including Lindbergh, de Gaulle, Hitchcock, Princess Grace of Monaco, Chiang Kai-shek, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion

Champlain is known as the Father of New France; in addition to discovering Quebec City in 1608, he made more than 20 trips across the Atlantic mapping much of eastern Canada

Champlain is known as the Father of New France; in addition to discovering Quebec City in 1608, he made more than 20 trips across the Atlantic mapping much of eastern Canada

Built in 1694, the Cap Diamant Redoubt is the oldest building at the Citadelle

Built in 1694, the Cap Diamant Redoubt is the oldest building at the Citadelle

The Citadel hosts the popular Changing of the Guard Ceremony on summer days at 10am; the military guard speaks French but dress like the British

The Citadel hosts the popular Changing of the Guard Ceremony on summer days at 10am; the military guard speaks French but dress like the British

The 17 story, Art Deco Edifice Price; the top 2 floors serve as the official residence of the premier of Quebec

The 17 story, Art Deco Edifice Price; the top 2 floors serve as the official residence of the premier of Quebec

The only walled city in Canada, Quebec City gets at least 1 inch of snow approximately 150 days a year!

The only walled city in Canada, Quebec City gets at least 1 inch of snow approximately 150 days a year!

Maison Jacquet looks exactly as it did when it was built in 1677; it's the oldest house in Quebec City

Maison Jacquet looks exactly as it did when it was built in 1677; it's the oldest house in Quebec City

Jacques Cartier claimed Canada for France in 1534; in 2006 archaeologists discovered the location of Cartier's first colony which was the first European settlement in Canada

Jacques Cartier claimed Canada for France in 1534; in 2006 archaeologists discovered the location of Cartier's first colony which was the first European settlement in Canada

The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac no longer offers tours but I did walk around inside; it was nice but I saved lots of money by staying at the Best Western

The Fairmont Chateau Frontenac no longer offers tours but I did walk around inside; it was nice but I saved lots of money by staying at the Best Western

The Seminary of Quebec was founded by the first bishop of New France in 1663; today it's a Roman Catholic secondary school

The Seminary of Quebec was founded by the first bishop of New France in 1663; today it's a Roman Catholic secondary school

40 years ago Lower Town was run-down but today it's vibrant and full of restaurants, galleries and shops

40 years ago Lower Town was run-down but today it's vibrant and full of restaurants, galleries and shops

The French started the Citadelle but the British ended up finishing it in 1832; the city was never attacked after completion

The French started the Citadelle but the British ended up finishing it in 1832; the city was never attacked after completion

Just missed enjoying the toboggan run on Terrasse Dufferin; the city has a population of about 550,000 and a metro area of 780,000

Just missed enjoying the toboggan run on Terrasse Dufferin; the city has a population of about 550,000 and a metro area of 780,000

Franklin Roosevelt and WInston Churchill met at the Chateau for two wartime conferences in 1943 and 1944

Franklin Roosevelt and WInston Churchill met at the Chateau for two wartime conferences in 1943 and 1944

The Wolfe Monument marks the spot where, in 1759, British General James Wolfe extinguished France's dream of a North American empire

The Wolfe Monument marks the spot where, in 1759, British General James Wolfe extinguished France's dream of a North American empire

The queen's representative in Canada, the governor-general, has a residence in the Citadelle; it's home to Canada's most storied French-speaking military formation, the Royal 22nd Regiment

The queen's representative in Canada, the governor-general, has a residence in the Citadelle; it's home to Canada's most storied French-speaking military formation, the Royal 22nd Regiment

Canadian forces were able to defeat the Germans at this 1917 battle when British and French forces had failed; this symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice was part of the Battle of Arras

Canadian forces were able to defeat the Germans at this 1917 battle when British and French forces had failed; this symbol of Canadian national achievement and sacrifice was part of the Battle of Arras

The imposing turreted castle with a copper roof owes its name to the Comte de Frontenac, governor of the French colony between 1672 and 1698

The imposing turreted castle with a copper roof owes its name to the Comte de Frontenac, governor of the French colony between 1672 and 1698

Completed in 1813, this building was the first modern prison in Canada; now the Morrin Cultural Centre focuses on programs for the English-speaking population here

Completed in 1813, this building was the first modern prison in Canada; now the Morrin Cultural Centre focuses on programs for the English-speaking population here

Our Lady of Quebec Basilica Cathedral; this diocese used to stretch to the Gulf of Mexico; Champlain may be buried underneath

Our Lady of Quebec Basilica Cathedral; this diocese used to stretch to the Gulf of Mexico; Champlain may be buried underneath

A great variety of incredible artwork was displayed in the Lower Town galleries; as expected, the locals were incredibly friendly

A great variety of incredible artwork was displayed in the Lower Town galleries; as expected, the locals were incredibly friendly

The Fresque des Quebecois, a 4665 sq ft trompe-l'oeil mural, depicts 400 years of Canadian history; famous people are included in the impressive work

The Fresque des Quebecois, a 4665 sq ft trompe-l'oeil mural, depicts 400 years of Canadian history; famous people are included in the impressive work

Colorful, typical Quebec City building; there are tons of for sale/for rent signs around town, both on residential and commercial buildings

Colorful, typical Quebec City building; there are tons of for sale/for rent signs around town, both on residential and commercial buildings

17th century home of Louis Jolliet; he lived here before he set off to become the first non-native person to discover the Mississippi River

17th century home of Louis Jolliet; he lived here before he set off to become the first non-native person to discover the Mississippi River

Built in 1849, this Regency-style cottage illustrates how well-to-do English residents lived; guided tours of the Henry Stuart House include a cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake

Built in 1849, this Regency-style cottage illustrates how well-to-do English residents lived; guided tours of the Henry Stuart House include a cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake

The Quebec Winter Carnival is the biggest winter festival in the world; this winter was especially brutal with a record 220 inches of snow!

The Quebec Winter Carnival is the biggest winter festival in the world; this winter was especially brutal with a record 220 inches of snow!

Founded in 1871, Maison Moison claims the title of the oldest continually operating grocery store in North America

Founded in 1871, Maison Moison claims the title of the oldest continually operating grocery store in North America

The French colonized locations around the globe; Tahiti and Quebec City are about the most opposite destinations that exist

The French colonized locations around the globe; Tahiti and Quebec City are about the most opposite destinations that exist

Built at the city's highest point, the Citadelle is the largest fortified base in North America still occupied by troops

Built at the city's highest point, the Citadelle is the largest fortified base in North America still occupied by troops

The Art Deco Palais Montcalm was built in 1932 and hosts a wide variety of artistic events; Quebec City has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada (only 2 murders in 2015)

The Art Deco Palais Montcalm was built in 1932 and hosts a wide variety of artistic events; Quebec City has one of the lowest crime rates in Canada (only 2 murders in 2015)

The Quebec City train station; service is pretty limited with most trains going to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto

The Quebec City train station; service is pretty limited with most trains going to Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto

The Plains of Abraham and the St. Lawrence; more than 90% o citizens are Catholic; the city hosts a second tier WTA event annually

The Plains of Abraham and the St. Lawrence; more than 90% of citizens are Catholic; the city hosts a second tier WTA event annually

The Plains of Abraham Museum is extensive but is difficult to appreciate as a non-Canadian

The Plains of Abraham Museum is extensive but is difficult to appreciate as a non-Canadian

The Louis St. Laurent House was built in 1913 on the Grande Allee; St. Laurent was premier of Canada and lived in the house until his death in 1973

The Louis St. Laurent House was built in 1913 on the Grande Allee; St. Laurent was premier of Canada and lived in the house until his death in 1973

The original building of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec was built in 1933; a modern wing was added in 2016

The original building of the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec was built in 1933; a modern wing was added in 2016

Of the 16 Martello Towers in Canada, 4 are in Quebec City because the British government feared an attack after the American Revolution

Of the 16 Martello Towers in Canada, 4 are in Quebec City because the British government feared an attack after the American Revolution

The Promenade de Gouvernours begins at the west end of Terrasse Dufferin, skirts the cliffs, and leads up to the Citadelle

The Promenade de Gouvernours begins at the west end of Terrasse Dufferin, skirts the cliffs, and leads up to the Citadelle

I saw several of these public book swap kiosks along attractive Rue Cartier; the city's official name is Quebec but it is often called Quebec City to distinguish it from the province

I saw several of these public book swap kiosks along attractive Rue Cartier; the city's official name is Quebec but it is often called Quebec City to distinguish it from the province

Ferries cross the St. Lawrence to the city of Levis since there is no bridge; in the summer cruises ply the St. Lawrence down as far as Montreal

Ferries cross the St. Lawrence to the city of Levis since there is no bridge; in the summer cruises ply the St. Lawrence down as far as Montreal

From 31 stories up, you get an fantastic perspective of the city at the Observatoire de la Capitale

From 31 stories up, you get an fantastic perspective of the city at the Observatoire de la Capitale

Champlain is credited with founding Quebec City in 1608 but Jacques Cartier landed here in 1535 but didn't establish a long-term presence

Champlain is credited with founding Quebec City in 1608 but Jacques Cartier landed here in 1535 but didn't establish a long-term presence

Place Royale, a square graced by a statue of King Louis XIV, is considered the birthplace of New France

Place Royale, a square graced by a statue of King Louis XIV, is considered the birthplace of New France

Rue de Petit-Champlain was once the main street of a harbor village; now the touristy street is also one of the most beautiful in the city

Rue de Petit-Champlain was once the main street of a harbor village; now the touristy street is also one of the most beautiful in the city

The city's oldest church, Our Lady of Victory, was built in 1688; this church in Lower Town anchors Place Royale

The city's oldest church, Our Lady of Victory, was built in 1688; this church in Lower Town anchors Place Royale

Founded in 1637, the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec was the first hospital in Canada and is now the city's largest employer; Quebec City has the oldest average age of any city in Canada at 45

Founded in 1637, the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec was the first hospital in Canada and is now the city's largest employer; Quebec City has the oldest average age of any city in Canada at 45

Founded in 1639, the Convent des Ursilines is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America

Founded in 1639, the Convent des Ursilines is the oldest institution of learning for women in North America

Chateau Frontenac opened in 1893 as part of a series of hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage tourism; it's now a Fairmont with 600 rooms

Chateau Frontenac opened in 1893 as part of a series of hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway to encourage tourism; it's now a Fairmont with 600 rooms

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, completed in 1804, was the first Anglican cathedral outside the British Isles

Cathedral of the Holy Trinity, completed in 1804, was the first Anglican cathedral outside the British Isles

City Hall; the first language of 95% o citizens here is French, in Montreal it is less than 50%;  saw black squirrels

City Hall; the first language of 95% of citizens here is French, in Montreal it is less than 50%; I saw black squirrels

There aren't many Art Deco buildings in Quebec City but this was my favorite; the coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was -34 degrees in 1890 and again in 2015

There aren't many Art Deco buildings in Quebec City but this was my favorite; the coldest temperature ever recorded in the city was -34 degrees in 1890 and again in 2015

The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is perhaps the most photographed hotel in the world; the 20 story central tower was added in 1924

The Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is perhaps the most photographed hotel in the world; the 20 story central tower was added in 1924

Maison Kent was once the home of Queen Victoria's father, the Duke of Kent; like much of the city, scaffolding and construction mar this sight

Maison Kent was once the home of Queen Victoria's father, the Duke of Kent; like much of the city, scaffolding and construction mar this sight

Interior of Our Lady of Quebec Basilica Cathedral; the large crypt underneath was Quebec City's first cemetery with more than 900 bodies

Interior of Our Lady of Quebec Basilica Cathedral; the large crypt underneath was Quebec City's first cemetery with more than 900 bodies

Posted by RNRiggins 18:53 Comments (0)

The Museum of Civilization easily the best in Quebec City

Model shows Quebec City on a peninsula between the St. Charles and St. Lawrence Rivers; you can clearly see the Plains of Abraham along the St. Lawrence

Model shows Quebec City on a peninsula between the St. Charles and St. Lawrence Rivers; you can clearly see the Plains of Abraham along the St. Lawrence

1860 dollar bill; today, bills start at $5 CAD with coins for $2, $1 and smaller

1860 dollar bill; today, bills start at $5 CAD with coins for $2, $1 and smaller

1938 typewriter owned by poet Felix Leclerc, a famous French-Canadian singer-songwriter credited with reviving the Quebec folk song tradition

1938 typewriter owned by poet Felix Leclerc, a famous French-Canadian singer-songwriter credited with reviving the Quebec folk song tradition

Europeans realized snowshoes were essential to walk on the snow; the museum opened in 1988 and was designed by Moshe Safdie

Europeans realized snowshoes were essential to walk on the snow; the museum opened in 1988 and was designed by Moshe Safdie

This is a sock knitting machine from about 1945; the textile industry here has virtually disappeared today

This is a sock knitting machine from about 1945; the textile industry here has virtually disappeared today

1930's cotton swimsuit; the fabric was heavy and rough making the suit look extremely uncomfortable and impractical

1930's cotton swimsuit; the fabric was heavy and rough making the suit look extremely uncomfortable and impractical

1925 men's swimsuit; seemed just as uncomfortable as the women's bikini; the change did finally allow people to tan

1925 men's swimsuit; seemed just as uncomfortable as the women's bikini; the change did finally allow people to tan

The Dionne quintuplets were the first quintuplets known to have survived their infancy; they were huge stars in Canada

The Dionne quintuplets were the first quintuplets known to have survived their infancy; they were huge stars in Canada

1895 Underwood typewriter made in Canada; admission was $16 CAD with free wifi and guided tours

1895 Underwood typewriter made in Canada; admission was $16 CAD with free wifi and guided tours

You see the Quebec provincial flag much more frequently here than the Canadian flag

You see the Quebec provincial flag much more frequently here than the Canadian flag

1915 weaving machine to make sheets; textile production peaked here during WW2 but most firms went bankrupt in the 1980s and closed for good

1915 weaving machine to make sheets; textile production peaked here during WW2 but most firms went bankrupt in the 1980s and closed for good

Bombardier revolutionized snowmobiles; later he introduced a rubber track system that wrapped around the wheels

Bombardier revolutionized snowmobiles; later he introduced a rubber track system that wrapped around the wheels

19th century moccasins; the museum had plenty of focus on the native peoples of Canada before the arrival of Europeans

19th century moccasins; the museum had plenty of focus on the native peoples of Canada before the arrival of Europeans

The 1860 Scott phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound

The 1860 Scott phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound

1925 electric range looks very practical and has a nice design; temporary exhibits were less interesting to me than the permanent collection

1925 electric range looks very practical and has a nice design; temporary exhibits were less interesting to me than the permanent collection

19th century tennis rackets; tennis players from Canada are currently in a slump - Bouchard, Raonic, Pospisil

19th century tennis rackets; tennis players from Canada are currently in a slump - Bouchard, Raonic, Pospisil

1890 cash register; some of the museum items seemed to have no Canada connection

1890 cash register; some of the museum items seemed to have no Canada connection

1947 television made in Quebec City; the exchange rate now is 80 US cents for $1 CAD; despite this, prices for Coke Zero were high

1947 television made in Quebec City; the exchange rate now is 80 US cents for $1 CAD; despite this, prices for Coke Zero were high

This 17th century clock bears the signature of King Louis XIV's clockmaker who worked in Paris from 1660 to 1714

This 17th century clock bears the signature of King Louis XIV's clockmaker who worked in Paris from 1660 to 1714

In the late 19th century, footwear was an important industry in Quebec City

In the late 19th century, footwear was an important industry in Quebec City

An early cell phone circa 1990 and a 2007 Blackberry made by Canada-based Research in Motion

An early cell phone circa 1990 and a 2007 Blackberry made by Canada-based Research in Motion

18th c dome top chest; almost every settler's house had a chest; it was sometimes the only piece of furniture and the only place to store items

18th c dome top chest; almost every settler's house had a chest; it was sometimes the only piece of furniture and the only place to store items

1930 tape recorder; the museum is the most popular in town

1930 tape recorder; the museum is the most popular in town

Posted by RNRiggins 03:15 Comments (0)

Quebec's Montmorency Falls are higher than Niagara Falls

Montmorency Falls is 83 meters high (30 meters higher than Niagara!) and only 13 kms from Quebec City

Montmorency Falls is 83 meters high (30 meters higher than Niagara!) and only 13 kms from Quebec City

The pedestrian suspension bridge goes right over the top of the falls; it's a scenic view but to actually best see the falls you have to venture to the bottom

The pedestrian suspension bridge goes right over the top of the falls; it's a scenic view but to actually best see the falls you have to venture to the bottom

You can see the edge of a zipline platform and the line across the falls; it is closed this time of year but I bought tickets on it for Mike, Gary and Becky for their August visit

You can see the edge of a zipline platform and the line across the falls; it is closed this time of year but I bought tickets on it for Mike, Gary and Becky for their August visit

The water flows over the falls at a rate of 35000 liters per second; the river flow at the top looked lethargic but somehow transforms into this impressive sight

The water flows over the falls at a rate of 35000 liters per second; the river flow at the top looked lethargic but somehow transforms into this impressive sight

The cable car was the only expense I had at the falls; it dates from the early 1900s and took guests up to the Manoir Montmorency

The cable car was the only expense I had at the falls; it dates from the early 1900s and took guests up to the Manoir Montmorency

The first panoramic staircase was built around 1870; the current staircase has almost 500 steps; since I took the cable car down I took the staircase up

The first panoramic staircase was built around 1870; the current staircase has almost 500 steps; since I took the cable car down I took the staircase up

Samuel de Champlain discovered the falls in 1608 and named them for his immediate commander (brown noser!) Charles de Montmorency

Samuel de Champlain discovered the falls in 1608 and named them for his immediate commander (brown noser!) Charles de Montmorency

Quebec City is in the distance; the 800 bus from there goes right to the falls for 3.50 CAD, no change provided

Quebec City is in the distance; the 800 bus from there goes right to the falls for 3.50 CAD, no change provided

The falls became quite popular with Quebec society in the 1800s as shown in this painting by James Patterson Cockburn

The falls became quite popular with Quebec society in the 1800s as shown in this painting by James Patterson Cockburn

Spray from the falls creates the Sugarloaf; it reached a record height of 126 feet high in 1829; I had to climb to the top and had fun sliding back down

Spray from the falls creates the Sugarloaf; it reached a record height of 126 feet high in 1829; I had to climb to the top and had fun sliding back down

This fault line is the meeting place of 3 geological regions - the Canadian Shield, the Appalachian Mtns and the St. Lawrence Lowlands

This fault line is the meeting place of 3 geological regions - the Canadian Shield, the Appalachian Mtns and the St. Lawrence Lowlands

The falls are 27 stories high and were the highlight of my visit to Quebec City

The falls are 27 stories high and were the highlight of my visit to Quebec City

The Sugarloaf had a giant fracture at the top that corresponded with the 43 km long Boschatel fault

The Sugarloaf had a giant fracture at the top that corresponded with the 43 km long Boschatel fault

Imagine Champlain sailing down the St. Lawrence River in 1608 and coming upon this magnificent sight

Imagine Champlain sailing down the St. Lawrence River in 1608 and coming upon this magnificent sight

The zipline looked like it would be great fun!; I was bummed that it is closed this time of year but look forward to photos of it from Mike, Gary and Becky

The zipline looked like it would be great fun!; I was bummed that it is closed this time of year but look forward to photos of it from Mike, Gary and Becky

In the winter, ice climbers tackle the frozen rock faces of the cliffs on each side of the falls; would be interesting to watch how they do it

In the winter, ice climbers tackle the frozen rock faces of the cliffs on each side of the falls; would be interesting to watch how they do it

You had to climb over several locked gates in order to reach the Sugarloaf; fortunately Canadians use common sense and didn't get too close to the melting ice

You had to climb over several locked gates in order to reach the Sugarloaf; fortunately Canadians use common sense and didn't get too close to the melting ice

The Battle of Montmorency was fought on the plateau behind me on July 31, 1759; the French defeated the British in this battle but ended up losing the French and Indian War at the Plains of Abraham

The Battle of Montmorency was fought on the plateau behind me on July 31, 1759; the French defeated the British in this battle but ended up losing the French and Indian War at the Plains of Abraham

The Manoir Montmorency is an interpretation center and restaurant overlooking the falls; rumor has it that Queen Victoria stayed at the original manoir

The Manoir Montmorency is an interpretation center and restaurant overlooking the falls; rumor has it that Queen Victoria stayed at the original manoir

Rainbow at the base of the falls illuminated the layers of Sugarloaf; I was hoping to see chunks of ice calve off since it was well above freezing but without luck

Rainbow at the base of the falls illuminated the layers of Sugarloaf; I was hoping to see chunks of ice calve off since it was well above freezing but without luck

In the summer, a train travels from here north along the banks of the St. Lawrence River

In the summer, a train travels from here north along the banks of the St. Lawrence River

The Via Ferrata is probably beyond my capabilities; it is only open in the summer anyway

The Via Ferrata is probably beyond my capabilities; it is only open in the summer anyway

The hiking trails are popular with snowshoers in the winter; there are plenty of great places to enjoy a picnic in any season

The hiking trails are popular with snowshoers in the winter; there are plenty of great places to enjoy a picnic in any season

The falls are within 200 yards of the St. Lawrence River; in the summer the falls hosts an international fireworks competition

The falls are within 200 yards of the St. Lawrence River; in the summer the falls hosts an international fireworks competition

Vestiges of a hydroelectric dam from the 19th century at the top of the falls powered a tram and lit up Old Quebec

Vestiges of a hydroelectric dam from the 19th century at the top of the falls powered a tram and lit up Old Quebec

The Ile de Orleans Bridge is almost 3 miles long; bult in 1935, it connects Orleans Island to the rest of Quebec; Orleans Island is the Ellis Island of Canada

The Ile de Orleans Bridge is almost 3 miles long; bult in 1935, it connects Orleans Island to the rest of Quebec; Orleans Island is the Ellis Island of Canada

There are 48 dams along the 63 mile long Montmorency River; most are for flood control but several are for drinking water

There are 48 dams along the 63 mile long Montmorency River; most are for flood control but several are for drinking water

View of the Sugarloaf from the Baronness Lookout; the first owner of the manoir had the observation deck built in the 18th century

View of the Sugarloaf from the Baronness Lookout; the first owner of the manoir had the observation deck built in the 18th century

Posted by RNRiggins 18:18 Comments (0)

Gorgeous Tayrona National Park in Colombia

The park covers 30,000 acres and is roughly an hour by car from Taganga (either by car or by boat)

The park covers 30,000 acres and is roughly an hour by car from Taganga (either by car or by boat)

Four species of monkeys live in the park; Lee saw a couple but I never saw any; 400 bird species also live here

Four species of monkeys live in the park; Lee saw a couple but I never saw any; 400 bird species also live here

Some speculate that the 9 stones may have been used to view the cosmos; admission to the park is about $20 for foreigners and $5 for Colombians

Some speculate that the 9 stones may have been used to view the cosmos; admission to the park is about $20 for foreigners and $5 for Colombians

We rented a small room with a shared bathroom and spent 2 nights in the park; most people camped in tents but we decided we were too old for that

We rented a small room with a shared bathroom and spent 2 nights in the park; most people camped in tents but we decided we were too old for that

I explored the reef here at La Piscina since this was supposedly one of the few swimming beaches; it was only later than I noticed the lifeguards keeping everyone within 15 yards of shore

I explored the reef here at La Piscina since this was supposedly one of the few swimming beaches; it was only later than I noticed the lifeguards keeping everyone within 15 yards of shore

The further we got from Cabo San Juan the fewer people we saw; many beaches, like this one, have prohibited swimming due to dangerous rip currents

The further we got from Cabo San Juan the fewer people we saw; many beaches, like this one, have prohibited swimming due to dangerous rip currents

The beaches at Tayrona were so unlike any we saw anywhere else on mainland Colombia; their remoteness has helped the water clarity and lack of development

The beaches at Tayrona were so unlike any we saw anywhere else on mainland Colombia; their remoteness has helped the water clarity and lack of development

Spanish hogfish was one of the brighter sights underwater; TV actress Sofia Vergara was born in Barranquilla

Spanish hogfish was one of the brighter sights underwater; TV actress Sofia Vergara was born in Barranquilla

Posted signs say more than 100 people have drowned in the waters of the park; currents are deceptively strong and variable

Posted signs say more than 100 people have drowned in the waters of the park; currents are deceptively strong and variable

We agreed that Tayrona National Park was our favorite destination on this trip; locals we spoke to urged us to visit Medellin and Bogota on a future trip

We agreed that Tayrona National Park was our favorite destination on this trip; locals we spoke to urged us to visit Medellin and Bogota on a future trip

Colombia is home to more bird species than any other country on earth; geographic areas range from rainforest to the Andes mountains

Colombia is home to more bird species than any other country on earth; geographic areas range from rainforest to the Andes mountains

The few beaches OK for swimming were sandy meaning the snorkeling wasn't very good; they also tended to be on the far west side of the park

The few beaches OK for swimming were sandy meaning the snorkeling wasn't very good; they also tended to be on the far west side of the park

The park was established in 1964; species found in the park (that we didn't see) include the boa constrictor, condor, green turtle, lone eagle, hawksbill turtle and white eagle

The park was established in 1964; species found in the park (that we didn't see) include the boa constrictor, condor, green turtle, lone eagle, hawksbill turtle and white eagle

The reef at La Piscina was the best in the park but had been severely trampled/destroyed; there was little trash in the park or in the water

The reef at La Piscina was the best in the park but had been severely trampled/destroyed; there was little trash in the park or in the water

The entire park closes for one month a year (usually February); the indigenous people here think the development of the world is ruining it so the government allows the park to 'breathe' one month a year

The entire park closes for one month a year (usually February); the indigenous people here think the development of the world is ruining it so the government allows the park to 'breathe' one month a year

There are 30 beautiful beaches in the park but the waters are rough and snorkeling was limited to 1 or 2 small areas

There are 30 beautiful beaches in the park but the waters are rough and snorkeling was limited to 1 or 2 small areas

Our campground did have a small outdoor place to eat but it was expensive and Lee said it took forever to get your food; he never got sick though

Our campground did have a small outdoor place to eat but it was expensive and Lee said it took forever to get your food; he never got sick though

Supposedly jaguars, ocelots, panthers, sloths, toucans, macaws, anteaters and armadillos live in the park but we didn't spot them

Supposedly jaguars, ocelots, panthers, sloths, toucans, macaws, anteaters and armadillos live in the park but we didn't spot them

Mysteriously not all of the holes in the 9 stones were uniform; some were the same dimension through the stone while others might be larger on one end than the other

Mysteriously not all of the holes in the 9 stones were uniform; some were the same dimension through the stone while others might be larger on one end than the other

Many beautiful butterfly species in the park; this was the most common species but I saw many others including a large blue one

Many beautiful butterfly species in the park; this was the most common species but I saw many others including a large blue one

The most famous hike in the park is to El Pueblito, an indigenous settlement; unfortunately, it's 90 minutes each way from Cabo which itself was more than 2 hours each way from our campground so we didn't do it

The most famous hike in the park is to El Pueblito, an indigenous settlement; unfortunately, it's 90 minutes each way from Cabo which itself was more than 2 hours each way from our campground so we didn't do it

Leaf-eater ants were common; it was surprisingly easy, efficient and cheap to get from the park back to our hostel in Taganga

Leaf-eater ants were common; it was surprisingly easy, efficient and cheap to get from the park back to our hostel in Taganga

I was curious about the history of the 9 stones but could find little information in English; there wasn't much in Spanish either

I was curious about the history of the 9 stones but could find little information in English; there wasn't much in Spanish either

You are required to show your passport to enter the park; supposedly a yellow fever shot is required but we were not asked for proof

You are required to show your passport to enter the park; supposedly a yellow fever shot is required but we were not asked for proof

Had no idea that even Panama City is east of Miami; most of South America is well east of North America; Santiago, Chile and NYC are at roughly the same longitude

Had no idea that even Panama City is east of Miami; most of South America is well east of North America; Santiago, Chile and NYC are at roughly the same longitude

The locals we spoke to are not fans of Trump; wonder if this boat is a political statement since Hillary is hardly a Colombian name

The locals we spoke to are not fans of Trump; wonder if this boat is a political statement since Hillary is hardly a Colombian name

Tayrona is the best-known national park in Colombia; the park maps distributed to all guests were horrible as was the signage on the hiking trails

Tayrona is the best-known national park in Colombia; the park maps distributed to all guests were horrible as was the signage on the hiking trails

Beautiful creature is actually a feather duster worm; the limited reef in the park had a few interesting sights but wasn't all that impressive

Beautiful creature is actually a feather duster worm; the limited reef in the park had a few interesting sights but wasn't all that impressive

This coral formation looked like a potato harvest; prices for food and drink in the park were very expensive by Colombian standards but OK by ours

This coral formation looked like a potato harvest; prices for food and drink in the park were very expensive by Colombian standards but OK by ours

This is the last place in the world where the cotton-top tamarin still exists in the wild; the park is very humid; lowest temperature ever was 57 degrees

This is the last place in the world where the cotton-top tamarin still exists in the wild; the park is very humid; lowest temperature ever was 57 degrees

In Panama City you are not allowed to bring any beverage on a  flight to the US, even ones bought in the airport post-security; I was not happy since it was a 7hr flight to LA

In Panama City you are not allowed to bring any beverage on a flight to the US, even ones bought in the airport post-security; I was not happy since it was a 7hr flight to LA

The beach at Cabo San Juan is the most picturesque and most popular in the park; Lee and I found good snorkeling on the far side

The beach at Cabo San Juan is the most picturesque and most popular in the park; Lee and I found good snorkeling on the far side

After Tayrona, we flew back to LAX via Panama City which has a huge airport without a single book in English for sale; it did have 20 identical stores selling phones and accessories

After Tayrona, we flew back to LAX via Panama City which has a huge airport without a single book in English for sale; it did have 20 identical stores selling phones and accessories

Iguanas were common in the park; some of the smaller iguanas had bright blue tails but they were too fast to photograph

Iguanas were common in the park; some of the smaller iguanas had bright blue tails but they were too fast to photograph

The beach at la Piscinas was my favorite but it was a grueling 2 hour hike from our campsite (each way); we needed to visit outside of a holiday week because that is the only time the park has lifeguards and they won't let you swim far from shore

The beach at la Piscinas was my favorite but it was a grueling 2 hour hike from our campsite (each way); we needed to visit outside of a holiday week because that is the only time the park has lifeguards and they won't let you swim far from shore

Hammocks cost about $20 per night but sleeping crammed together like this did not seem appealing; they were also sold out when I looked for our dates

Hammocks cost about $20 per night but sleeping crammed together like this did not seem appealing; they were also sold out when I looked for our dates

70% o electricity generated in Colombia is hydroelectric; with decreasing violence has come a big surge in tourism with 3.3 million visitors in 2016

70% of electricity generated in Colombia is hydroelectric; with decreasing violence has come a big surge in tourism with 3.3 million visitors in 2016

French angelfish; this is one Lee and I saw in Cabo but they grow to a huge size as I saw 2 days later

French angelfish; this is one Lee and I saw in Cabo but they grow to a huge size as I saw 2 days later

The president of Colombia won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for brokering peace with FARC, a guerrilla movement espousing anti-imperialism

The president of Colombia won the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize for brokering peace with FARC, a guerrilla movement espousing anti-imperialism

The park has significant tracts of critically endangered dry tropical forests; it was very dusty for our visit but there are 2 rainy seasons per year

The park has significant tracts of critically endangered dry tropical forests; it was very dusty for our visit but there are 2 rainy seasons per year

La Piscinita beach in the distance; Lee visited the mountain town of Minca where he hiked to waterfalls, visited a local family and saw cacao being processed

La Piscinita beach in the distance; Lee visited the mountain town of Minca where he hiked to waterfalls, visited a local family and saw cacao being processed

In addition to climbing over boulders the hiking was made more treacherous by vicious tree roots that were often hidden under leaves

In addition to climbing over boulders the hiking was made more treacherous by vicious tree roots that were often hidden under leaves

The scenery at Tayrona National Park was spectacular when the sun was out; there are very few places to stay in the park with most of them being basic campgrounds

The scenery at Tayrona National Park was spectacular when the sun was out; there are very few places to stay in the park with most of them being basic campgrounds

Cabo San Juan is the primary destination at Tayrona National Park; the water was rough but the snorkeling surprisingly good

Cabo San Juan is the primary destination at Tayrona National Park; the water was rough but the snorkeling surprisingly good

Colombia ranked 3rd on the latest Happy Planet Index which is a measure of human well-being and environmental impact

Colombia ranked 3rd on the latest Happy Planet Index which is a measure of human well-being and environmental impact

There were lots of visitors from Argentina and Chile as well as a surprising number of Europeans; many had been backpacking across South America

There were lots of visitors from Argentina and Chile as well as a surprising number of Europeans; many had been backpacking across South America

Blue skies, gray boulders, green forest and turquoise waters made for a very photogenic panorama throughout the park

Blue skies, gray boulders, green forest and turquoise waters made for a very photogenic panorama throughout the park

Although you can't see them from the park, the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are only 26 miles away and 18,000 feet high

Although you can't see them from the park, the snow-covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta are only 26 miles away and 18,000 feet high

Ecologically, Colombia is one of the world's 17 most diverse countries, and the most densely biodiverse of these per square kilometer

Ecologically, Colombia is one of the world's 17 most diverse countries, and the most densely biodiverse of these per square kilometer

The Tayrona Indians arrived in the region around 400 AD with their descendants still living in small villages within the national park

The Tayrona Indians arrived in the region around 400 AD with their descendants still living in small villages within the national park

The 9 Stones hike; these egg-shaped rocks have holes through them but no one is quite sure what they were for but they may be 1000 years old

The 9 Stones hike; these egg-shaped rocks have holes through them but no one is quite sure what they were for but they may be 1000 years old

La Piscinita was one of the few beaches where you were allowed to get in the rough waters; lifeguards are not usually at the park but it was Easter week for our visit and they were on duty

La Piscinita was one of the few beaches where you were allowed to get in the rough waters; lifeguards are not usually at the park but it was Easter week for our visit and they were on duty

Throughout the park boulders were scattered everywhere; at times you would even see large trees seemingly growing out of them like the one in the background here

Throughout the park boulders were scattered everywhere; at times you would even see large trees seemingly growing out of them like the one in the background here

There is very little development in the park; most of the facilities look very dated except for the expensive EcoHab huts which go for $400  per night

There is very little development in the park; most of the facilities look very dated except for the expensive EcoHab huts which go for $400+ per night

This was a huge French angelfish that was easily the largest fish I saw; it was also too large to get all in one photo

This was a huge French angelfish that was easily the largest fish I saw; it was also too large to get all in one photo

School of Atlantic spadefish; finished 3 Greg Iles books on trip and ran out of reading material; hard to find books in English

School of Atlantic spadefish; finished 3 Greg Iles books on trip and ran out of reading material; hard to find books in English

Posted by RNRiggins 03:18 Comments (0)

Photogenic El Acuario was highlight of San Andres

Despite too many people, Haynes Cay and El Acuario were the highlight of San Andres; magnificent sea colors and crystal clear water

Despite too many people, Haynes Cay and El Acuario were the highlight of San Andres; magnificent sea colors and crystal clear water

This stingray hung around for a couple of minutes but never got super close; I guess the millions of feet warned the stingrays away since I'm not aware of anyone getting stung

This stingray hung around for a couple of minutes but never got super close; I guess the millions of feet warned the stingrays away since I'm not aware of anyone getting stung

San Andres is 119 miles east of Nicaragua; the governments of Colombia and Nicaragua have ongoing disputes over fishing rights in the neighboring waters

San Andres is 119 miles east of Nicaragua; the governments of Colombia and Nicaragua have ongoing disputes over fishing rights in the neighboring waters

There was literally nowhere to put your towel down on El Acuario; every inch of sand was taken; it was so hot that it felt much better being in the water anyway

There was literally nowhere to put your towel down on El Acuario; every inch of sand was taken; it was so hot that it felt much better being in the water anyway

Islets not far offshore from mainland San Andres; guidebook and TripAdvisor both tout swimming with manta rays here; there are no manta rays!, just regular sting rays

Islets not far offshore from mainland San Andres; guidebook and TripAdvisor both tout swimming with manta rays here; there are no manta rays!, just regular sting rays

San Andres has no industry of its own so everything has to be shipped or flown in; once served as base for notorious English pirate Henry Morgan

San Andres has no industry of its own so everything has to be shipped or flown in; once served as base for notorious English pirate Henry Morgan

We're standing on Acuario sandbar with Haynes Cay in the background; you could walk between the two but water was chest high

We're standing on Acuario sandbar with Haynes Cay in the background; you could walk between the two but water was chest high

Yellow tang; Coke Zero sold here but hard to find in larger sizes

Yellow tang; Coke Zero sold here but hard to find in larger sizes

Despite the crowds and lack of sea life I loved the gorgeous colors in the water and excellent visibility; plus no jellyfish!

Despite the crowds and lack of sea life I loved the gorgeous colors in the water and excellent visibility; plus no jellyfish!

This queen angelfish was the prettiest fish I saw; there are no sights of interest on mainland San Andres; all of the highlights are in the water

This queen angelfish was the prettiest fish I saw; there are no sights of interest on mainland San Andres; all of the highlights are in the water

Witness the super crowded El Acuario; no obvious easy solution since tourism is driving the economy here; maybe create some new tourist attractions and/or new beaches on mainland San Andres

Witness the super crowded El Acuario; no obvious easy solution since tourism is driving the economy here; maybe create some new tourist attractions and/or new beaches on mainland San Andres

The most peaceful and secluded spot on Haynes Cay; there are no true beaches on this tiny, rocky island; this sand was brought in and is protected by a sea wall

The most peaceful and secluded spot on Haynes Cay; there are no true beaches on this tiny, rocky island; this sand was brought in and is protected by a sea wall

I'm glad I didn't pay to touch or feed a sting ray here; I much preferred seeing them in their natural environment

I'm glad I didn't pay to touch or feed a sting ray here; I much preferred seeing them in their natural environment

Diving is supposed to be very good here but I never saw a single dive boat; there were just not many fish and very isolated patches of coral

Diving is supposed to be very good here but I never saw a single dive boat; there were just not many fish and very isolated patches of coral

The sea here is famous for being 7 shades of blue; many shipwrecks along the 9 mile reef on east side of San Andres

The sea here is famous for being 7 shades of blue; many shipwrecks along the 9 mile reef on east side of San Andres

The sandbar, El Acuario, is in the background; since there was no room on it people would leave their bags with an attendant and walk across the water to Haynes Cay

The sandbar, El Acuario, is in the background; since there was no room on it people would leave their bags with an attendant and walk across the water to Haynes Cay

Thong bikinis are very popular among South American women of all shapes and ages; no women went topless though

Thong bikinis are very popular among South American women of all shapes and ages; no women went topless though

White sea urchin; water shoes were essential all over San Andres; sharp ironshore, sea urchins, broken glass and other dangers everywhere

White sea urchin; water shoes were essential all over San Andres; sharp ironshore, sea urchins, broken glass and other dangers everywhere

View of Haynes Cay from close to mainland San Andres; San Andres popular with young Colombians eager to escape the cold of the Colombian Andes

View of Haynes Cay from close to mainland San Andres; San Andres popular with young Colombians eager to escape the cold of the Colombian Andes

Haynes Cay had more room than tiny Acuario; despite severe overcrowding I did see efforts to keep these little cays free of trash

Haynes Cay had more room than tiny Acuario; despite severe overcrowding I did see efforts to keep these little cays free of trash

San Andres airport is surprisingly busy for such a small island; plenty of flights to mainland Colombia as well as Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Montreal (winter only)

San Andres airport is surprisingly busy for such a small island; plenty of flights to mainland Colombia as well as Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Montreal (winter only)

The snorkeling around El Acuario is hyped but there was very little of interest to see and few fish; I think the hoards of tourists have scared the animal life away

The snorkeling around El Acuario is hyped but there was very little of interest to see and few fish; I think the hoards of tourists have scared the animal life away

Sandbar in background is El Acuario (The Aquarium); only issue here is there are no fish!

Sandbar in background is El Acuario (The Aquarium); only issue here is there are no fish!

No one lives on Haynes Cay; shacks are eateries or bars; excellent visibility and surprisingly little trash in the water

No one lives on Haynes Cay; shacks are eateries or bars; excellent visibility and surprisingly little trash in the water

Posted by RNRiggins 20:42 Comments (0)

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