I’m supposed to be in Dubai and India. This is what happens when standby travel goes wrong. No seats so you come up with alternative plan. Not ideal but you learn to adapt.
Thus my exactly last minute plan to check out Quebec. Now Quebec City has actually been on my list a long time. But my airline doesn’t fly into Quebec direct. So lo and behold my trip to Montreal. (Our subsidiary airlines fly to Montreal.)
I managed to score a first class seat from Laguardia airport to YUL, Montreal Trudeau airport. Airport is quick clean and efficient. I was looking for an Uber within 20 minutes of crossing the international terminal and clearing customs. But it was quite a long walk through the terminal if that is a concern.
As I walked, I booked a day tour to Quebec City for the following day. Twelve hour day trip with Grayline. Roughly $95. No boat tour is included in the fall season. I bet that’s fun in the summer. But still a great way to see the sites.
I then checked out hotels on the app Hotels Tonight. Since I never know if I’m going to make it on a flight, booking a hotel in advance is rare. Unless I have a couple days buffer. But I usually research general areas and hotels so I have an idea.
The Hotels Tonight app is great. It gives you last minute rates at hotels that haven’t sold out that night. I was able to book the L Hotel for $205 a night. On all other websites the hotel was $366 a night. I also managed to talk the desk girl into giving me that rate for two nights. Score! So I managed to hop on a plane, cross customs into another country, book a tour and find a hotel all within a couple hours.
L Hotel is a boutique four star hotel in the Old Town one block from the Notre Dame cathedral. Owned by Guess clothing founder, Georges Marciano who actually lives on the fifth floor. The hotel contains an eclectic collection of modern art ranging from famed Andy Warhol among others.
The room is a nice size with decent bathroom. Carpet is a little worn but it was clean. Bed was a little firm but linens were nice. Shower was fine. Overall a solid choice of hotel.
After checking in, i walked around old town and then headed to the Barbie Expo.
The Barbie Expo is located in the shopping area in a mall. And it’s got crazy overdone barbies. Like fantasy dolls. They had Barbies I never even heard about like the Twilight movie dolls. Every major designer had dolls dressed to the nines. Very cute.
Then I headed to an early lunch/ dinner at Bis. Check out my review. I really liked this whole area. Very busy with tons of shops and restaurants.
I then headed back to my hotel. I think my biggest complaint is the area. It’s dead here at night but for the cathedral. Granted it’s a Tuesday but all restaurants were empty.
Grayline Bus Tour to Quebec City
Pick up by mini bus at 7:25am from my hotel. A couple of stops to pick up some other passengers. Arrival at the main Grayline office. I got my tickets and boarded big bus for tour. Took off about 8:20 am for the tour. Luckily I got two seats. Driver/tour guide narrated as we went. His English was ok.
We watched candid camera type videos where the fool people on camera. Pretty funny. The drive was mostly trees and farmland with some sporadic buildings and towns after we left Montreal. But since it’s early October the leaves were changing colors so it was pretty. However don’t expect to be wowed by most of the drive.
After an hour and a half we had a 20 minute stop for bathroom and food to go. There was a mini mart with snack foods and coffees and drinks as well as a fast food type of counter with burgers etc. They also sold furs items like hats gloves coats and full skinned animals. Hmm. Now that’s different.
The next hour and a half we continued on the bus. This time we watched the best of Mr. Bean.
We then met a different tour guide and did a short walking tour of the lower half of Quebec City tour. The walk was actually more like a couple streets where we just stood while the guide talked endlessly about the history of Quebec City. We really should have had this dry history on the bus by the driver or via a movie on the tv monitors. We covered a couple streets in about 45 minutes.
We then got back on the bus and proceeded to head to Montmorcy Falls. It’s about a fifteen minute drive. The guide from Quebec City came with us and talked about the sites. So much better. We only had twenty minutes for this stop. There’s toilets and a fast food place in the building.
We got back on the bus and headed back to Quebec City. We drove past the citadel and around the park while our guide commentated. Then we drove around the upper part of the city with a guide.
We finished the tour and had about three hours free time. I immediately went up to chateau Frontenac and took photos. I then found a lovely restaurant for a late lunch. Lapin Saute. Very good. See my review.
Then we got back on bus for the drive to Montreal with the same stop midway. So roughly a three hour drive with a stop after an hour and a half. A movie was on but no volume. Second half our driver bitched about cost of living in Canada. And also made a hard pitch for a tip. Very desperate.
When we drove over the Saint Lawrence river we got some great views of Montreal lit up at night. Very beautiful.
I got back to my room at 8:30 pm. It was odd because even though we were all picked up at our hotels, the driver just did a few stops and we had to walk. It caused quite the uproar. I didn’t have to walk as far as some people did. But another unprofessional move.
Took an uber back to the airport on third day. $30. Security was a breeze. No one was there. Apparently the airport is busy in morning and evening but middays are easy. Cleared customs and was in the terminal in less than half hour total.
Overall, Quebec City was amazing. Montreal not so much. I’d skip Montreal and spend all my time in Quebec. I have to note that both cites were very clean. And safe. I also only saw two homeless people. Quite a difference from the big cities of the USA. But Quebec City is a must see! This was also a quick and easy trip for those planning a last minute trip.