13 July 2008

OOP: Capitale nationale!

I've just come back from a very quick visit to the region of the Capitale nationale (Québec City), so I thought I would share a little bit of what I did.

I took the train and, due to an unfortunate set of events that saw me taking a non air-conditioned train back from Toronto a few weeks ago, I had a credit that made it easy for me to book myself in VIA1 (first class) with all the attendant drinks and food. The picture above is of the Fleuve St-Laurent as we cross the bridge into the great void of the 450 area code. Eeek!

I guess we do need someone to grow our crops to feed us, and the countryside all the way was dotted with lovely green fields that will yield crops for our consumption later on.

I also tried my best to get a picture of the typical Québec farmhouse, which has a very distinctive shape. These were either too far away, as above, or so close with the train moving quickly that they ended up a bit blurry, as below.

I went for just a day, but with the goal of spending a little time with my friend Madhuri. I think the picture of her above is quite lovely, but you can see that I have not at all perfected the 'holding the camera at arm's length to take a self-portrait' thing. The one below gets a little more of me.

It's hard to believe that we have been friends for over thirty years, since we were both in high school. (For those with calculators, we were both in high school at age 3.) There is just something comfortable about our friendship that I really enjoy. We don't see each other a whole lot, but it is always very natural and easy when we do. I also enjoy both of her daughters, who are a credit to her parenting skills.

We spent some time wandering around the lower town, pictured above, and the upper town (okay, I only have the City Hall), pictured below. Québec, at least the old part, is an extremely beautiful city. They have worked hard to maintain its charm and integrity and it shows.

This is also the 400th anniversary of the founding of Québec City, so there are many delightful activities going on and little reminders of the occasion everywhere.

What I found funny was that these lights are all oriented in the same way: you can read them when you are heading east toward the escarpment, but if you go the other way, you see 'OOP' (hence my post title):

The other observation I would have to make is that there has been much criticism of how much space the federal government has been taking in this celebration — everything from sending the Governor General as the official representative to the kick-off ceremonies in France, to referring to 1608 as the founding of Canada (which is a bit of a stretch, to say the least). I found the ultimate evidence of their nefarious plot to take this over in the little badges that people wear to give them access to the concerts that are a part of the Summer Festival.

The badge seems innocent enough when photographed in the day or with a flash.

In the dark, however, the evil federalist plot reveals itself in the colour of the little flashing light on the badge. Red enough to provoke even the most mild-mannered of nationalists! Why-oh-why is this light not blue? I blame the lax attitude of our current Québec government, letting the Canadians usurp the festivities! ;-)

And, although this does not flow with the rest of my story, I must show the other reason I so love Québec City. Erico and the Choco-musée will always make a trip there worthwhile. Below, on a fittingly coloured plate, are the lovely products I brought back from there.


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