Sunday, 8 July 2018

Quebec City & Lavender Fields


As per tradition, last weekend for Canada day, we packed up our bags and headed out of town. It's been a busy year so far, and the last two major trips we both took were super action-packed and tiring. We decided that for this trip, we were going to take it easy and relax and drive to Quebec City. We both have been before so there wouldn't be as much pressure to do a bunch of the touristy things. The only thing on our list was to each delicious French food. And boy did we!

The Food

Our first stop was Ophelia for a quick lunch. We each had clam chowder (not pictured), octopus carpaccio, and fish accras (fritters). Nick really enjoyed the carpaccio but it had olives in it (which I don't like) so I steered clear. The fish accras were very fluffy on the inside and the flavour was yummy too. I think we both liked the clam chowder best, they were quite generous with the clam.

octopus carpaccio

fish accras

For dinner, we tried to go to L'Affaire Est Ketchup but it was booked full. The reviews mention they're a teeny tiny location (8 seats??) but highly rated so we'll have to try again next time! They referred us to a restaurant down the street called Patente et Machin which was another small hole in the wall. It was dark and gritty, with big hearty French dudes who translated and described the French menu in their fun French accent. I didn't get too many photos because of how dark it was but we had two appetizers ("machins"): the ceviche and mushrooms, and for mains ("patentes") we shared the piglet shank, which was incredibly tender, and a custom scallops dish since they ran out of pork belly for their usual scallops + pork belly.


scallops

The next morning, we returned to Le Billig, which we discovered last time we were in Quebec City. We loved it so much nothing else seemed like a good alternative so we went back. Their crepes are amazing and they have lots of options so there's always something new to try! 

carrot soup

artichoke hearts and prosciutto with salad 

chorizo omnom

For the last major meal in town, we tried a fancier place with an interesting menu. Graffiti was a super cool blend of pub-style take on fancy cuisine. We tried 3 different types of tartare and a seafood pasta. Everything was incredible and we'll definitely be back! 

tuna tartare and tataki -- Asian style

seafood scallop with lobster bisque sauce

Graffti's house beef tartare -- special salad and wholesome fries

salmon tartare with mango and pineapple chutney -- so refreshing! 

The Exploring

Since we've hit all the touristy locations previously, we took a more relaxed walk around town. First stop was the Old Port Market where we bought fresh local farm strawberries.

Yay strawberries! They were deliciously sweet
pigging out on strawberries
We noticed a giant cube outside the market and it turned out to be part of a city-wide public art circuit. Since we had no plans where to go, we grabbed a map and decided to check out all the installations. They were pretty interesting! Here's some of my favourites:

happy castaways

uh-oh car accident

"post-post modernism"
Following the art circuit, we ended up in Old Quebec, and I gasped super loudly when I saw that they replaced the previous spherical lantern with umbrellas. I always see pictures of umbrellas like this on Instagram but never in person! It was just as magical as I had imagined :3





Our last stop on our way back to Ottawa was a slight detour about an hour and a half out of Montreal, at the Bleu Lavande lavender farms.





It was a huge farm, unlike the one I went to with my parents a few years back in Prince Edward County. It's a little early for when lavender typically bloom but being a larger farm, they had different lavender intended to bloom sequentially so to attract as many visitors over as many months possible.

The Lavender












Travel tips

Lastly, I wanted to share a couple of tips for traveling, packing, and taking photos.


Packing: It was suuuuper hot (and the heat wave just keeps on going~) so I made sure to pack a couple of breezy dresses, a twirly skirt, and a pair of shorts. Summer clothes are light and since it's so hot, it's nice to have multiple options on hand. The trick is to be tight on bags and shoes since they're heavier. I tend to make sure I only bring one purse to go with everything and have a pair of flats that go with all the outfits I picked out, and then a pair of dressier heels for fancier venues. A sunhat and sunglasses are also a must on a summer packing list. Oh and of course sunscreen! Definitely make sure to protect your skin.

Travel planning: Usually our trips have more structure and a fuller itinerary, which is great for going to places you've never been before so as to get the most of the trip. For places you're returning to, I found that all you need is to make sure you have the basics: food, transportation, and accommodation. We booked our hotel, and when we arrived, we picked out where we wanted to eat. Then, since we were driving this time, everything else just fell into place. Plus, since the hotel was close by, we got to go back and take naps before dinner, which was just great :)

Photo taking: It's never easy trying to take photos as a couple and in our packing, we somehow forgot to bring the tripod. I've touched on this topic before, but it basically comes down to behind resourceful and creative. Try to look for benches or mailboxes or recycling bins -- flat surfaces to put your camera down on. Use things you have on hand like lens caps or wallets to steady or prop up the camera. For the lavender photos, I used my purse, which was perfect because of the rectangular shape, and the low angle I wanted to shoot at to get the lavender in frame. I prefer this method over asking strangers because 1) as it was the case with lavender, there might not be anyone around, and 2) you might feel frustrated if they don't take the photo you were hoping for (an emotion I'm all too familiar with). So it's best just to turn on the timer and do it on your own. If you don't have a remote, make sure you turn the shooting mode to consecutive shots so you can get a bunch at once. The important thing is to just have fun with it!

Hope you enjoyed these photos! Thanks for reading :)