This day, Saturday, was stunningly nice: a striking contrast to Friday. I like not having to peer through a zip-lock bag to read a guide book.
As I had to hit most of Quebec today (because Friday's rain slowed down my explorations), I had big plans. These started with getting energized with breakfast, this case at Chez Temporel, a short walk from our hotel. Here's my review.
We walked and saw a lot today. Consider my photographs and this route map primary references. This entry, like most others for this trip, only includes odd remarks that don't have an accompanying picture. You'll see once again through the pictures how great it is to visit this time of year: many flowers were in bloom.
Sometime in the morning, we stopped by a bookstore in search of pictures of Quebec. (I'm not sure why.) We flipped through some nice picto-travel-guides.
The Park de l'Artillerie (Artillery Park) by the old walls has interesting plaques about Quebec's history. I can say this because the plaques were nicely translated into English, not a common feature in Quebec.
Lunchtime found us outside the walls of Vieux Quebec (Old Quebec) and we rather haphazardly found ourselves getting food from a deli/market, Epicerie Europeenne. Here's my review.
We sat by an impressive church nearby and ate our lunch. The church wasn't in either of the two guide books we had. I believe one can judge the cultural and historical depth of a place by the number of cool unlisted places one finds during the normal course of exploring.
We noticed many traffic lights in Quebec display red in every direction for twenty seconds, thus allowing pedestrians to cross in any direction. It's either a testament to the number of people who walk or a courtesy to the tourists. In either case, I appreciate it.
Eventually, we made our way to the National Museum of Fine Arts of Quebec (Musee National des Beaux-Arts du Quebec). I wasn't sure if we'd actually go in. It turned out to be free due to some special exhibit so we did. (I don't quite understand it... I think there was a conference because of a particular exhibit and the museum was free as a courtesy to the conference.) Although I have photographs of and from the museum, it didn't allow me to take pictures of the individual pieces of art. Hence, I have many comments about what I saw:
- The museum has a really nice collection of Quebecois artwork, conventional and abstract.
- Fernand Leduc, an abstract Quebecois painter, had an exhibit with very colorful geometric art that I liked. However, he also did some weak pieces that were simply monochromatic swatches.
- One exhibit of portraits mentions how, for some of the subjects who were painted after death, the artists didn't have any older paintings or sketches or sometimes even descriptions on which to rely, instead painting the portrait from their imagination.
- A different exhibit of portraits in an impressively ornate room had paintings densely packed, literally to the top of the elevated ceiling. It's comparable with the Met's most crowded rooms.
- A special exhibit on the Intuit had cute dancing polar bear statues. Some were done by Qiatsuq Shaa. Sadly, I can't find a picture online.
- I liked the exhibit on Jean-Paul Riopelle, another Quebecois artist, especially his Pollock-esq painting Spain, which used so much paint as to be three dimensional. I also enjoyed his impressive Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg, a series of thirty paintings made from spray paint and a stencil. Oh, and in a move uncommon for museum, the museum also displayed his easel.
- Also in the vein of colorful modern art, I liked Marcelle Ferron's Return from Italy no 2.
- Jean Dallaire made an abstract art mobile titled Julie that reminded me of Chinese calligraphy.
- According to my notes, a piece Spirale 1 by Martin Pan was amazingly balanced. Sadly, I can't find anything online about the artist or the particular piece.
After the ferry, we had a difficult hunt for a dinner destination, eventually finding L'Ardoise. Here's a description of the hunt and my review of the restaurant.
I only have one observation to add: although it appears most tourists confine themselves to Old Town, the diversity of restaurants and stores outside the walls, especially along Grand Allee and Rue St-Jean, makes these neighborhoods great.
As I played with my computer in the evening to record the day's route, I realized I hadn't touched my ipod during the entire trip. It's quite a contrast compared to the tens of hours I spent listening to it as I walked around on my trip to Vancouver.