Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Greetings from Old Quebec!
For the last two days, our footsteps have explored the walled city of Quebec. The first night we arrived, the Quebec Summer Festival was just coming to an end. All over the city, musical venues were open to the public. We listened to a hip hop band that rapped in French. The baggy pants, baseball caps, the screaming crowds. The band rapped in an "old school" style--kinda like the Beastie Boys. And like most hip hop bands singing in English or any other language, I couldn`t understand a word.
All around the old city, street performers plied their trade. We spotted fire eaters, bicycle stunt artists, and mimes. One artist dressed in blue silk and gold bangles combined her belly dancing skills with mime poses. This is fusion art at its best!
The streets of Old Quebec are lined with stone buildings, many more than 200 years old. We wandered around for two days gaping at the lovely cobblestone squares hemmed in by centuries-old churches, cafes, and private homes. The streets are narrow and twist and turn throughout the old part of town like the path of a drunken sailor. We`ve traveled to many historic sites around the US, and Quebec has the largest historic district we`ve seen. Savanna, Georgetown, Alexandria--these historic districts are charming, but they could fit into a hidden corner of the wall that surrounds Old Quebec.
To get a birds-eye view of the quarter, we climbed to the top of the garrison wall that defines the historic quarter. We were able to walk along the wall about a third of the way around. From the top, we could spy down curving streets, peer over rooftop gardens, and stretch our eyes to golden views of the St. Lawrence river in the evening light.
This morning, we are touring the Musee de la Civilisation (and this is were I found a free computer terminal to update the blog). The museum is dedicated to defining the Quebec sense of culture and identity. The unique Quebec perspective! I never realize the conflict between New France and New England raged on for nearly 200 years, and somehow I never heard before that American troops attacked Quebec during the Revolutionary War. How fascinating to see history from a different set of eyes.
Peoria has old connections with Quebec. Throughout the museum, we`ve found references to Joliett, Marquette, and Hennepin--those early French explorers that established a trading stations throughout North Amercia, including along the Illinois River in our hometown. This makes Quebec feel a little closer to home.
Our stay in Quebec ends tomorrow, and we begin our journey back to the Heartland. Au revoir!