Room of 10,000 Towels
We ate breakfast on the top floor. I modified my coffee with six or seven sugar packets, and it was still quite bitter. My dad drank it nearly straight, though I'm not entirely sure how. After this, we headed out into Old Québec again, just as we'd done yesterday.
But before we headed into the heart of Old Québec, we headed slightly south towards the Québec Citadel, a nearly impenetrable fortification that, like the Halifax Citadel, had served many different purposes over the years, and various structures on the site - the highest point in Québec City on this side of the St. Lawrence Seaway - have kept out invading forces for centuries. Today, it's still a military base, but serves more as a living history museum.
The Royal 22nd Regiment is still stationed there, continuing its long and gloried tradition as the only French-speaking regiment in Canada, and for its bravery in battle - specifically at Vimy Ridge during World War I.
We got a tour around the Citadel, seeing museums, the old jail, and general bits of historical interest. They had a full Sherman on display outside the old munitions building, and a large collection of bayonets in the jail - including a serrated one that looked to be a cross between a machete and a bread knife. Our guide had a thick accent but was understandable.
After exiting the Citadel (and avoiding the loud school groups that infest the historical areas) we walked down into Old Québec, where the European streets were not nearly as crowded as yesterday due to the rain that came down steadily throughout the day. We walked towards the St. Lawrence Seaway and took the funicular down.
The funicular is basically a box that's put on a inclined railway. While the box stays level, it descends on an exceptionally steep angle. The stairs are an option, but the nominal fee we paid to descend in the funicular was well worth it.
Our previous excursions had taken us around the upper city, but we were now down in the lower city, the oldest part of Old Québec. It was filled with tourists - mostly Asian - and featured shops. The architecture was not all that different from the upper city. We stopped in at a chocolate shop, where we each got two delectable morsels - I had a fairly large praline shaped like a large seashell and a much smaller bite of orange-flavored caramel, which I later found out was made from Grand Marnier - albeit without the alcohol.
Dad and I got some delicious, sweet gelato, then we went around the lower city, seeing the old town square and looking inside a very old church, which was not quite as grand as the one we saw in Chéticamp (or even the Old North Church in Boston, for that matter), but it was still serene and grand.
We walked around a little more of the old city, but the rain was getting progressively worse, the fog was rolling in, and our feet were getting sore from the sheer amount of walking that we'd done. We took the funicular back up - after some concern over maximum capacity after a bunch of Japanese tourists crammed into an already sardine-can-like environment - and walked back through Old Québec and out to our hotel.
From the topmost floors, we saw the fog get even worse. Despite the constant rain, we saw everything we really wanted to see in Québec City. In fact, the rain kept most of the large school groups off the streets, making getting around much easier on the whole. With no more towels and another night to spend in Québec City, my dad called the front desk to get six towels. Two people showed up no more than five minutes apart, each bringing six towels ... and then later, even more folks showed up with three more towels. As I write this, we have no less than fifteen sets of towels stacked around our room.
I've never seen this many towels.
With sore legs and continuously miserable weather, we nibbled upstairs, but our previous lack of food caught up to us and thus we headed downstairs for food. My dad had a flank steak with vegetables and a salad, I had a flat-iron steak, juicy and tender, with potato skins adorned with delicious and über-pungent blue cheese bits, and my mom got a small pizza, of which she ate two-thirds. Everything was flavorful and delicious. We all split a chocolate dessert and then went back up to the top floor. As I printed out directions in the business center, we entertained ourselves by trying to remember every trip meal we've eaten in the past three years.
Tomorrow: we get back to the United States, beginning the last leg of the trip.