Jour 5 : Maple butter, rainy beaches, and la fête nationale du Quebec! Updated!

Apologies to all for the better-late-than-never blog post! We didn’t return home last night until almost 11 pm and had to be up at 6 am in the morning. In order to be the best and least grumpiest chaperone I could possibly be, I decided to turn in and work work work today on the bus and at the airport! Chaperone life can be difficile sometimes!

Realizing I had not included any pictures of the delicious pains au chocolat, I had to snap one this morning! While WHS travelers loaded up on all other types of nutritional foods as well, nothing can compete with this delicious pastry. Is this one travler’s plate or a plate to share? I’ll leave that one up to your imagination!

 

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Today was a day that was packed with activities– a day with a lot of cultural stops and tasty treats. As we hit the road a little bit later today, WHS travelers were well-rested and ready for another day in Quebec City. First stop, Chez Marie! The bakery has been  passed down from generation to generation and the specialize in baking bread. The cool part? The ovens are outside! Chez Marie is well known also for its homemade maple butter, which we got to enjoy on a slice of their homemade bread. This turned out to be Grace’s favorite part of the day, as she just couldn’t get enough maple treats from the sugar shack the night before.

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After Chez Marie, we were back on the bus to our next stop- St. Anne’s Basilica on the Saint Lawrence River. It is a Catholic Church that welcomes many pilgrims each year on a variety of different pilgrimmages all over North America. The decoration in the church reflected this to welcome pilgrims with lots of floral and fauna in beautiful tiles on the walls and on the ceiling. Why St. Anne, you wonder? Well, St. Anne is the patron saint of Quebec City, the grandmother of Jesus, mother of Mary. Rumor has it that this church has healed many sick people, from those on crutches to those in wheelchairs! There was even a display of medical equipment that people donated to the church after they were cured following their visit to St. Anne’s basilica. WHS travelers had some free time to roam around and discover the nooks and crannies of the cathedral before jumping back on the bus for our excursion to continue.

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Next stop? The Dollarama store! Why on earth would this be a stop on the trip, you ask? Well, for the Fete de Saint Jean Baptiste, of course! Quebec as a province celebrates its national holiday on June 24th, so the evening prior there is always a huge party! In order to be properly Quebecois, WHS travelers bought stickers, temporary tattoos, Quebec flags, hats, and t-shirts. We were pretty decked out afterwards – able to fool any Quebecois that we were one of them!

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Following Dollarama, it was time for lunch! This was one of my favorite restaurants because students had to interact in French with the wait staff! For lunch, we had a variety of things- Hunter had fried onions, Zoe calamari, Grace a sandwhich, and Maci a pizza! Success was had by all as we all ate and paid en français!

 

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Following lunch, we headed to another museum! This time, it was a copper museum. A pressed copper museum, in fact. What does that mean? Well, simply that to put designs into copper sheets, they applied pressure with tools to raise it up. Working on both sides of the sheets, sometimes the artists would have to stand with their tools in order to apply enough pressure to make the indentation desired! This was cool because we had seen copper doors at the St. Anne’s Basilica which had been done by the original owner of the museum! After going on a short tour of the museum, we got the chance to create our own designs with mini sheets of copper and miniature tools. Most of us used sketchs that were pre-designed to ensure our copper sheet would come out beautiful. Maci designed a beautiful fleur-de-lys, which is on the flag of Quebec, and represents royalty, proving to be her favorite part of the day. A few purchases at the gift shop (of course!) were necessary; Alisha bought an Aries necklace and Zoe bought a cute necklace! Afterwards, it was back on the bus for our next activity.

 

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After the copper museum, we had worked up a bit of an appetite with all that focus on our copper work! We took a stop at the chocolatier’s to buy ice cream and chocolates and spendd some time on a stone beach. While it was cold and rainy outside, WHS travelers were not bothered as they ventured out into the cove after enjoying a tasty sweet treat.

 

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Now, the legends and myths workshop that I told our travelers about in Wisconsin did not get much hype at the parent meeting pre-departure, but everyone participated and was surprised at how much fun they had! Essentially, two acting coaches worked with two separate groups of students in order to tell Quebecois legends. One legend, about a werewolf, cautioned people to always go to church. The second legend, about a flying canoe, warned people of the dangers of drinking and driving. Each student had a role to read in the telling of these tales and acted it out on stage for the other group, costumes and all. Alisha KILLED IT. She did an awesome job being the bitter and grumpy cook for the lumberjacks, and I fully expect her to go into show business and give this workshop credit for her success! Kitana, playing Pierre the lumberjack, found this to be the best part of the day, having a lot of fun and laughing a lot. This was also Zoe’s highlight of the day!

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Time for dinner! We headed to Spag&tini, an Italian restaurant which had three different pasta options- lasagna, penne with tomato sauce, or spaghetti with meat sauce. Collectively, again, we tried all three! Yay for diversity, WHS travelers! We also got to enjoy a green onion and noodle soup to start off with, and a light and fluffy caramel cake. Délicieux!

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Alright, time for the part of the blog which made out to be HALF of the squad’s favorite thing about the day: La fête Saint-Jean-Baptiste! Set up on the Plains of Abraham, the party was to take place all night and we were lucky enough to get to see a little over an hour of it! We were handed Bonne Fete flags to wave around, blue and white of course, as we entered the terrain. Then, parading up the Plains of Abraham, we found a space to call our own. A large concert venue, there were thousands of people in attendance! Zoe, Grace, Andrea, and Kitana decided to play it safe and stick up on the hill overlooking the concert, while Chaperone Ebling took Taryn, Sage, Alisha, Hunter, Maci, and Jaden to the front lines (okay, maybe not the front front lines, but we got up there!). We listened to Quebecois stars perform Quebecois and French songs for the crowd, cheering and waving our flags the whole time. Taryn liked going “down to the mosh pit,” but worry not parents, there was no moshing about. Alisha, Hunter, Jaden, and Sage all expressed how much they enjoyed listening to the concert from up close and how much fun they had! Andrea, though, particulary enjoyed the view and the sounds from up high.

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We danced and clapped, sang and swayed, and laughed and cheered all night! Well, till 9:45 to be exact…we had a long trek back to our hotel afterwards. And, we also celebrated Marie-Eve’s 30th birthday! All in all, it was a fabulous day, with lots of stops and lots to celebrate!

We’re headed to the airport as I type, to embark on our long journey home. Stay tuned for our final update (probably some time tomorrow… because let’s be honest… when we return home at midnight, we’re all going to be exhausted!). A toute à l’heure!

Jour 4 : Waterfalls, musket loading, and a sugar high to top it all off!

First things first – breakfast! The breakfast at this hotel was even better than the last! A huge buffet, we had the choice of fresh fruit, sausage, breakfast potatoes, yogurt, ham, croissants, or what proved to be many students’ favorite, pain au chocolat! These were so good Hunter devoured three of them! Following breakfast, it was time for our first stop – Montmorency Falls.

The waterfall is one that flows into the Montmorency River just outside Quebec City. Surrounded by a beautiful natural park that is protected by the government, it made for one of the most beautiful views that we’ve seen so far on the trip. A suspended bridge and staircases allowed WHS travelers to get up close and personal to the action! These huge falls are 84 meters high and 46 meters wide, proving to be 30 meters higher than Niagra Falls! We later learned about a historical battle that took place right here where the British tried to sneak up on the French, unsuccessfullly. The British captain, General Wolfe, did not take into account the tides and their ships became stuck! They lost 440 men at the foot of Montmorency Falls, and the French were victorious in this battle.

Sage, Taryn, and Hunter decided to descend the side of the staircase that went very close to the falls, in the mist. Little did they know that they would eventually become soaked! Taryn and Sage had a lot of fun, but Hunter became quickly uncomfortable in his wet clothing, prompting him to buy a super sweet Quebec sweatshirt.

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After the waterfalls, we headed into the city for a bit of free time before our next activity. Most of the group headed to one of Canada’s most famous department stores, Simon’s, to start out with! It was fun to see all the clothing that was written in French, and Maci was really impressed with how stylish and simple everything was. Too bad it was un peu cher or we would have bought the whole store! Some purchases were made, though! Kitana bought a shirt that had a picture of a cat on it and said le chat, Zoe got a super good deal on a sweater, Hunter got a slick tie, and Grace got a super cute skirt. Happy with our purchases, we headed for lunch!

At lunch, it was macarons galore. We went into a moderately priced French bakery called Paillard. While it was lunch time, some of the WHS travlers took advantage of the huge gelato selection that was right before their eyes. Hunter tried a gelato that had bits of macaronn in it (he said it was like eating ice cream with bits of sugar cookies in it), Alisha got a lychee ice cream, and many others enjoyed the delicious creamy treat. I purchased my favorite French cake la tropezienne which comes from Southern France and is a light cake filled with creme anglaise, and lots of it! The WHS travlers were also fans, and we devoured it!

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After lunch, we headed to an educational performance of the Battle of the Plains of Abraham at a museum. We were welcomed by “General Wolfe” and “Marquis de Montcalm,” two Quebecois who were dressed and acted these roles our with humor and wit!

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WHS travelers, throughout their performance, had many tasks to complete. They had to split into regiments, or four different teams, and practice saluting the generals, responding yes, general only when addressing them! Students learned how to load muskets and cannons and there was a fair bit of competition in completing these tasks!

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After loading cannons and muskets, WHS travlers were given tools that they had to guess the meaning of during their use in the Battle of the Plains of Abraham. We saw the likes of a tooth extractor, a drill to take out bullets if someone had been shot, a chain that would be fired outside of a cannon to take down masts of a ship, and small cannon balls that would be clumped together and fired all at once. WHS travelers then had to guess what order tools were used for in surgery. To figure out the answer? Hunter re-enacted a script that was led by the General Wolfe of an amputation! It was a lot of fun! Check out the pictures below.

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After we finished our presentation here, we headed for a bit more free time in the city! Grace, Alisha, Kitana, and Andrea did some shopping and Hunter, Jaden, Zoe, and Madame walked along the city walls and then headed for some… you guessed it! Poutine! Never a day in Canada without poutine!

Now that we had our snack and our historical walk under our belts, we were ready for the sound and light show at the Musée du Fort. This museum explained to us the Battle of the Plains on Abraham with a spectacle, as Hunter would say. A visual representation of the battle, this really helped solidify our new knowledge of what exactly happened then!

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Following the show, we headed to… surprise, suprise… the beach! Marie-Eve told us that this was where most Quebecois head to in the summer to take advantage of the warm weather and the beautiful landscape! We just made a quick stop, but it made for breathtaking photos and a great way to stretch our legs on the way to the sugar shack.

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Finally, it was time to head to the Sugar Shack! A sugar shack, in Canada (not in Lake Geneva) is where they tap trees in the forest to gather maple water and process it to turn it into maple syrup, maple butter, maple taffy, and all other kinds of maple treats! Here we got to listen to live music, performed by Daniel, and it kind of sounded like the music from down in New Orleans. It was very cool to be serenaded while we had lentil soup, sausages, ham, fried bacon, meat pies, eggs, and crepes. We also got the opportunity to learn how to DANCE! It was a little like square dancing, and almost everyone participated! Okay, you’ll have to imagine the classic Quebecois music playing while I explain the dance. Add some rhythm to it if you really want to feel like you were there! You would salute your partner, shake right hand, shake left hand, dos-e-dos (no clue how to spell that one!) to the right, dos-e-dos to the left, get back to back and 4…3…2…1…BUMP. Then, you would get with your partner to make a bridge with your hands and the girl at the farthest end would run down the tunnel. Everyone would shift partners, and you would do it again!

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After a few more WHS travlers partook in dancing around while Daniel played live music, we headed out to eat maple taffy! This was where little squirts of maple syrup would be spread in snow troughs, you would wait 10 seconds, and then take a popsicle stick and wrap up a maple taffy lollipop! It was SO COOL. And tasty. A short presentation on how sugar shacks work and process maple syrup and their history and we were treated to some time in the gift shop! Grace bought an awesome maple-syruper jacket, Hunter purchased some sirop d’erable, and Zoe got some maple butter! Many other purchases were made as no one wanted to leave this tasty treat behind!

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But alas, it was time to depart! Back to the hotel for a good night’s rest! We got to sleep in a bit this morning (8 am — wow!) and have another full day planned! Here’s to another beautiful day in Quebec City!

Jour 3 : Biodome, bussing it to Quebec, and a city tour!

Sausage, bagels, and yogurt in our bellies and we were ready for day three. Having to pack up late last night, we would head to Quebec City today after our morning visit in Montreal. So, taking our suitcases and our smiles, we headed out the door and to the Olympic Stadium for a group shot. Marie-Eve told us the legend of the Olympics in Quebec, that if a city would host the games, their hockey team would win the Stanley Cup the following year. It happened twice! But unfortunately the legend died when the third time a Canadian city hosted the hockey team did not follow through and uphold the legend! Tant pis!

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After taking a quick group pic outside the stadium, we went inside the Biodome, which used to be used for the 1976 Olympic games and then was converted to a living museum in 1992 for the 350th anniversary of Montreal. A combination of a botanical garden, an aquarium, and a zoo, we saw many specimens. One of the cutest ones, and Zoe’s favorite animal, was the capybara, which really looked like a gigantic guinea pig. We got to see a live one and Zoe loved it so much she bought a stuffed animal version at the gift shop! We named him Philip II and he is very soft and snuggly. Some of the groups participated in a competition to see how many responses they could find in the museum on a worksheet. Maci and Jaden won this competition, claiming the incredible prize of capybara and beaver posters! We saw jellyfish, penguins, fat raccoons, bats, poisonous frogs, fish, and many more animals! Overall, students had a great time exploring with their partners and learned a lot about specimens in different ecosystems. This made for Kitana’s favorite part of the day.

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After the biodome, it was time for LUNCH. We bussed outside the city to a rest stop with some Canadian fast food choices. Which one did we choose? A & W! Of course, Hunter shared poutine with Madame (he’s had poutine every day so far!) and most of us got burgers. Stopping in the gas station for snacks, Grace’s favorite part of the day when she purchased her first ever Kinder egg! These things are banned in the US because of small parts, so she was pretty pumped to unwrap her surprise inside- a plastic dog with a wig and dress that you could put on it. We named her Simone. So now, we’ve got two more travelers…Philippe II and Simone! Students loaded up on snacks (Hunter got turtle candies, Zoe and Maci got ice cream, and Alisha also got a Kinder egg) and it was back on the bus!

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The next stop, nature walk! Driving by a suspended bridge about a half hour outside of the city, Marie-Eve allowed us to take advantage of being early by letting us explore! Crossing the bridge, we saw a beautiful waterfall. There were some people who were camping and fishing down below and joggers running along the trails. Sage and Maci got the courage to overcome their fear of heights to cross the bridge, which led them to take some super sweet photos. We descended the trails on our nature walk and found lots of slugs! Alisha’s favorite part today was taking a picture of one of them, so cute! Check out her shot below.

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After getting back on the bus again it was not too much longer till we were in Quebec City. When we got off of the bus at our final destination (it took almost 3 hours to transfer from Montreal!), we headed to the terrace to snap some photos. We saw the beautiful Saint Lawrence river in the sunlight and the famous hotel, the Chateau Frontenac, was directly behind us. There was also a Salvador Dali elephant statue!

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After our photo stop, we headed to the Chic Shack for dinner. Taryn and Sage both loved this part of the day, as they enjoyed their meals in the open windowsill of the restaurant. They took some great pictures and enjoyed the cute atmosphere and food! For tonight, WHS travelers had the choice of either a burger, salad, or poutine. We collectively tried all three, but my favorite part was the warm chocolate chip cookie that came out afterwards!

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After dinner, we meet our tour guide for the evening, Samuel. He was a bearded young man with another great sense of humor (just like Louis!) and was very passionate and enthusiastic about everything Quebecois! We stopped first in front of the statue in the center of the square by Chateau Frontenac. This statue was of the founding father of Quebec City, Samuel de Champlain. What was a little funny was there was only ever one sketch of his face, so they actually used someone else’s face on the statue with a super cool mustache to represent him!

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We then walked around the terrace to a peace monument between the French and the English. It is the only obelisk in the world to have both the winner and the loser on the same monument. On one side is the English general, and on the other side is the French general of the Plains of Abraham. We saw also a statue and the school that Marie L’Incarnation founded. It was the first all women’s school in North America. Pretty cool if you ask me! In fact, nowadays she is canonized by Pope Francis, so she is actually a Saint! Afterwards, we headed to two libraries that stood next to one another- one French and one English. The interesting part of Quebec is how bilingual it is as a province! The English library, in fact, used to be the city jail. The windows have holes around the frames where bars used to be and were taken out. This was Sam’s favorite hidden secret of the city! Around this time, we also got to see some horse-drawn carriages taking tourists on visits of the city. Seeing the horses was Andrea’s favorite part of Quebec- I wouldn’t be surprised if she took a ride in one of those carriages herself!

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After a bit more touring, we ended up on in the Old Town, which was just like Europe. In fact, there have even been films that have taken place on this street and in this square pretending to be in Europe! The quaint houses and the stone makeup of this part of town made for a magical ambiance, and we can’t wait to go and visit this some more tomorrow.

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Today certainly was eventful, but also included a lot of transportation. We’re excited to really get to know the city tomorrow and test the waters at the Montmorency Falls! We’ll see you then! Bonne nuit tout le monde!

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Jour 2 : Montreal, Poutine, and the bowling match of the ages!

When I say continental, you say breakfast! Continental! Breakfast! Continental! Breakfast! So that’s how our day started, with a delicious continental breakfast! Sausage, eggs, more sausage, pancakes, yogurt, cereal, juice, coffee, the list goes on and on! WHS travelers were sure to fill up on good eats before heading off to our first adventure of the day. Unfortunately, it was gray outside due to the rain that had been hitting Montreal at 6 am in the morning. As we headed into the city, we kept our fingers crossed that the weather would clear up like it said it would in the forecast. Please let there be soleil! Spoiler alert : it was sunny for most of the day, so our dreams came true there.

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Our first activity was a tour of Montreal, led by a step-on tour guide, Louis. A bilingual Canadian with a great sense of humor, he took us around the city for two hours, pointing out landmarks and relaying their histories to the group. A couple of stories struck us as really interesting. For example, the cemetery of the city used to be in the city center, right where one of the main squares is today. As the city developed, the Montreal-ans (Montreal-ers? Montreal-ians?) decided that in case of an epidemic, they did not want bodies to be around where there were lots of living people. So, they shifted the cemetery up to Mount Royal. However, when archeologists came to dig to see if the original bodies were moved along with the cemetery, they immediately found human remains. So, if you’re ever in Montreal and standing in Dorchester Square, you are actually atop hundreds of human remains! Our tour guide took the opportunity here to make a zombie joke, which who wouldn’t!? How creepy is that!

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Because it is the year of Montreal’s 375th birthday, there were a lot of decorations that were lent from all over the world to the city. Taking St Catherine Street in the bus, we passed 192 flags that were hung up along the lampposts. These made for a beautiful display of unity and celebrated differences across the world for Montreal’s birthday. We also descended the bus to spend a little bit of time in le musée dans la rue, the museum on the street. Essentially, artists and museums from all over the world had loaned Montreal artwork to be displayed in the street for its 375th anniversary. We got to see artwork from all over North America. And it was right there on the street! A favorite was the design that was on one of the streets used from construction zone materials. Talk about turning one man’s trash into Montreal’s treasure!

We drove past a few other monuments, two of the four universities in town, the gay district on the other side of the river, and some of the oldest buildings in the city. We finished our tour with a guide of the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was built in the Gothic Revival style of architecture. It was beautiful inside, which is not typical of gothic style cathedrals, as typically most of the decoration is on the outside as to not distract from the purpose of the mass once Catholics are inside the church. Louis told us that the funny thing about the cathedral was that it was in fact built by a Protestant, who converted to Catholicism just before dying so he could be buried under the church. Why did a Protestant build a Catholic church? Well, apparently he was the only guy around who knew how to do the Gothic style, and that’s what Montreal wanted, so they put aside their differences in order to construct this beautiful building.

 

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After Notre Dame, we had some free time for lunch! Maci, Taryn and Sage found a cute café (eventually!) to eat some sandwiches, and followed their meal with dessert at the American Embassy. Just kidding, that’s just what I call Starbucks anywhere internationally (pretty dad-jokey, I know.). Taryn’s favorite part of the day was getting a free Starbucks drink after her order got messed up. Double Starbucks for Taryn meant double smiles! The rest of the group headed to get poutine. Alisha tried her poutine with fried onions on top (yum!) and Grace tried hers with Italian sausage. The rest of us? We went with the regular poutine. Zoe, Andrea, and Jaden realized they probably should have just shared one as they didn’t love the poutine enough to eat a whole serving of it! Poutine, if you didn’t know, is one of Quebec’s specialties. It’s french fries, covered in gravy, topped with cheese curds. Kinda sounds like a Wisconsin thing… but, nope! It’s a Canadian specialty! After poutine (which I forgot to mention we also ate on a beautiful patio!), we headed to get some ice cream and walk the streets a bit. We ended up walking the pier to catch a beautiful view of the river and relax on a bench for a little while before we had to head back to meet up with the group for our next activity.

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Another activity!? Can you believe how much we are getting into one day here, people!? It is quite amazing. So, oui, our next adventure was off to the 46th floor observation deck at a building downtown Montreal. After a 40 second ride to the 43rd floor, we switched elevators to continue our ascension to the 46th. Up above, there was a photo exhibit explaining what was surrounding the area and a BEAUTIFUL panorama view of the city. Thank goodness for no rain, again! We had clear, blue skies all around and this made it to be Andrea’s favorite part of the day. Check out these awesome pics of WHS travelers and the view!

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Following the observation tour, it was time for our first museum trip! We went to an archaeology museum of Montreal, where the city was originally founded. In this museum, WHS travelers got a tour of how the city developed over time, and what the context of the outside world had to do with Montreal. We learned that Montreal was actually a very important port for trade up until the 1960’s! While its port is still used for trade and tourism, it does not match up to what it was 50 years ago! Grace’s favorite part of the day was getting chocolate honey bread with Chaperone Ebling and Dominic (our stand-in tour guide for the day!) while the others were on the tour. Sometimes you just gotta eat! And best to do it with great company!

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Are your tummies rumbling yet after all these activities? Ours sure were! Next stop, the Port Steakhouse for, you guessed it, STEAK! Some of us got pasta (the vegetarian option), but man oh man was the steak delicious! Perfectly cooked and charred, it was just what we needed after the long day of walking and sightseeing. Followed by a scrumptious chocolate cheesecake, we were ready for our final activity…bowling!

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Alright, so, you have to be forewarned of the bowling dilemma. Unfortunately, Taryn, Sage, Maci, and Alisha’s lane kept breaking down, so they didn’t end up getting to finish their game (it was really frustrating…), but on the positive side Alisha’s favorite part of the day was unintentionally marking zeroes in every frame and resetting the lane a billion times (I’m serious guys, that’s what she told me!). I must say, she reset that lane like a champ. There must be something therapeutic about pressing a button and watching pins line up. In all seriousness, Alisha had a great time and definitely gets brownie points for keeping a smile on her face in the wake of irritation!

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The other bowling dilemma? Or should I say duel? It was Hunter vs. Madame, big stakes on the line. All day, Hunter and Chaperone Ebling were challenging each other to compete in the bowling match of the century. Jokes were made, anticipation was high, and the bowling was serious. So serious, in fact, that we actually had a wager. Kitana, Andrea, and Jaden helped Hunter think of a fair deal… IF and ONLY IF Hunter won the bowling match would Ms. Ebling put up a horrible picture of her sleeping on the trip. It was a grueling match… so close! Ms. Ebling definitely blew it when she tried to bowl between her legs and got a 0, losing the match by 6 points. If only, if only. So… for Hunter’s favorite part of the day and for your amusement, a photo will follow (tomorrow morning, because Hunter is asleep!). The bowling match was all in good fun, and we had a great time competing!

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What a beaut!

Overall highlights of the day for Zoe? Hearing her first Canadian say “eh?” at the end of a sentence. For Sage? Today it was really just hanging out with her best friend Taryn around the city. And for Kitana? She really enjoyed hanging out at lunch and after lunch, catching the city vibes and spending time with cool people.

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We have another full day ahead of us for tomorrow! We can’t wait for what Quebec City has to bring us…we’ll be transporting there following the biodome (I know, I know, you are on the edge of your seat!). Stay tuned, our adventure continues in the morning! Bonne nuit, tout le monde.

Jour 1 : Underground shopping malls and wax museums!?

It’s 8:30 p.m. and we are exhausted! Although it was smooth sailing while traveling, it still was mentally exhausting! When we boarded our flight at 7:20 a.m. it was lights out for just about everyone (except Hunter… who watched the first 30 minutes of Hidden Figures!). And by lights out, I mean most of us (chaperone Ebling included) were out before the plane even took off. We snuggled up in our as-comfortable-as-it-gets airline chairs and did not wake up until the wheels were hitting the tarmac and we were in a different country, a different city, a different world (okay, maybe not so far as that…we did see a Walmart almost immediately after getting on the bus from the airport).

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Customs was a breeze; we filled out a couple of forms, swiped our passports at the electronic kiosks, and chatted with border control agents before we were en route to the rest of the group. We are travelling with two other groups – one high school and one middle school, both from California, and both equally tired as us! Total, we are about 30 students and 5 adults.

 

On board the bus, we headed for the city center. It was kind of like BOOM. MONTREAL. THERE. Outside the bus, we watched the highway turn suddenly into busy city streets and shops, pedestrian walkways, old stone buildings, and fresh green parks. Zoe observed and commented on the beautiful architecture, and envied how such a big and crazy city (the 2nd biggest in Canada!) could have so much green space. The US has some real work to do if it wants to live up to Zoe’s standards!

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After our bus ride, we headed to our first stop : the Centre Eaton, a shopping mall that runs underground that has over 175 stores. We were all famished, so we decided to get some lunch in the food court. Alisha and Grace enjoyed some sushi and fresh made miso soup, Jaden enjoyed salmon and chicken, Hunter embarked on his first poutine adventure, and Kitana and Andrea stuck with a simple salad. Lunch was followed by bubble tea, which was a r

 

eal hit or miss amongst the group (some loved it, some could have done without it). Then, it was time for some shopping. Maci found some really cute Montreal-an clothes that she got for a great price (and she will be wearing later on the trip!) at a local shop, Zoe found ketchup flavored lays potato chips at the dollar store, and Taryn and Sage people watched and noticed how great the (general) Canadians’ style was. Hunter, Zoe and Chaperone Ebling went for a little stroll outside, leaving the underground city, and stumbled upon the Cathédrale Christ Church. An Anglican Gothic Revival Cathedral dating back to 1814, it had beautiful stained glass windows and chapel. What a find!

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After lunch and our free time, we headed up Mount Royal! Mount Royal is the only mountain in downtown Montreal! Go figure! Hiking up 764 total feet, WHS travelers got a beautiful view of the city. Photo cred goes to Taryn for these ones! Kitana was killin’ it up the hill. The middle schoolers were jetting around with lots of energy, and the gang was pretty tired- except Kitana! Students remarked at her ability to run up the hill like a champ. You go girl! Andrea was laughing as she got mistaken for Chaperone Ebling, after taking a group picture for one of the other schools. To the blog, she says “I don’t look like Madame….I am not Ms. Ebling!” We all had a good laugh about this, and Andrea may be referred to as Madame a few more times throughout the trip to keep the joke running!

After hiking up the hill, we went to dinner at Itali.co, an Italian gastro-pub where students had their choice of soda with either a burger, pizza, or pasta primavera. The food was delicious! We scarfed it down quickly, as the hike really tired us all out! The burgers were juicy and the fries were AMAZING. The pasta was very creamy and filling. The pizza was scrumptious and topped with delicious pepperoni and veggies. We all left full and happy, onto the next adventure!

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Musée Grevin, the wax museum, was our next stop. We captured very memorable pictures with multiple celebrities. Maci was lucky enough to meet the wax figure of the singer of her favorite song, Elle Me Dit… Mika! Check out this photo of their beautiful meeting! What a fan girl! There are awesome other photos down below as well… can you tell if they are made of wax? There are also some shots of students creating their own wax figures with the technology provided by the museum. They turned out to be kind of strange looking, but we had a lot of fun creating and playing with the costumes (my favorite was when Maci accidently selected a pirate-looking outfit for her wax doll).

Well, folks, we’re back at the hotel now. With horrible wifi. So, if your son or daughter hasn’t contacted you, the wifi is definitely to blame. Or the fact that they are so tired. In the words of Alisha, “Je voudrais mourir parce que je me prive de sommeil” (I want to die because I have deprived myself of sleep). Or Sage, who said, “I had fun… I’m just really tired.” Or Taryn, who dramatically declared “I’m deceased.” Oh, how we are all in need of a good night’s sleep tonight!

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Well this is Chaperone Ebling signing off for the evening. We have an early start to tomorrow – 6:30 a.m. and bed checks are coming up soon! Bonne nuit tout le monde! We will be dreaming of future adventures to come in our comfy wifi-less hotel rooms! Montreal, Day 2, you’ve got a lot to live up to!

 

 

At the airport!

Good news, followers! We all made it through security and are enjoying our last American meal for the next 6 days! Waking up early was definitely a struggle for some, but the will to travel prevailed and everyone made it on the bus right on time! We took off at 3am, and needless to say we were the only ones in the WHS parking lot. Tom, our amazing bus driver, took us swiftly and safely to O’Hare and one by one, we checked in and got our boarding passes with the welcoming AirCanada staff! Security was a breeze and now we are hanging out in Terminal 2, eagerly awaiting our 7:20 am boarding time. Some of us are enjoying a last breakfast at Mickey D’s and others are munching on snacks. Either way, it’s au revoir America and bonjour Quebec!

Getting ready for take-off!

WHS travelers have been waiting all year to embark on our Quebec and Montreal adventure. An early start to our trip, and a late finish, WHS travlers will take full advantage of our 6 day guided tour of Montreal and Quebec. Travelers include : Taryn Giese, Sage Spear, Grace Wood, Alisha Parboteeah, Hunter Martin, Maci Parrish, Kitana Volbright, Zoe Janke, Andrea Kuhl, and Jaden Henneman. We are so thrilled to be taking off tomorrow morning from WHS at 2:45 AM. That’s right folks, AM! Please follow along through this blog as we post pictures, stories, and our daily activities! A huge thank you to the students and parents who are making this international experience possible!

Bon voyage, WHS travlers!