Friday, August 10, 2012

Active tourism rawks!

After an enchanting day at the Stratford Festival on Saturday, July 28th, Tanker and I loaded up our motorcycles and headed out on Monday, July 30th for two nights in Quebec City, a night at Stoneham Resort, then two nights in Montreal.

My bike and my awesome touring partner.

We started off in Cornwall, just passing through - I managed to get a run in, though it took somewhat extraordinary means and a bit of pre-planning:

GPS? Whassat?
Then it was off to Quebec City, where our hotel was just around the corner from Parc les Saules, where a beautiful pathway runs through the woods along the Saint Charles River, crossing over it several times via footbridges. It made a beautiful, if very hot (30+c), evening run, and I even found a concert just starting up at an amphitheatre in the park!

View from a bridge.

Cooler than running on the street!

Lovely winding pathway.

Looking down into the river valley.

The run being approximately 6.75km from the hotel door, around the park and back, I was able to see much more than I would have if we'd just gone for a walk. Of course this came at the price of running several short, sharp hills as the trail thread its way in and out of the river valley.

That's as steep as it looks.

The next day we left the hotel room just after 9am and didn't return until after midnight. We parked the motorcycles in Vieux Quebec and proceeded to walk the Citadel, Battlefields Park on the Plains of Abraham, the old city and about a million stairs:

l'escalier Cap-Blanc, 398 steps

Stairs to Levis: unknown stair count

l'escalier du Casse-Cou: 59 steps
Not pictured: the stairway down from Levis, l'escalier du Faubourg (99 steps) down from Terrasse Dufferin, or the few other 10-15 step staircases we walked. Quebec is kind of all about stairs. After walking the best part of 15 kilometers throughout the day and being out very late to see the fireworks that kicked off Les Fetes de la Nouvelle France, I decided to forego running.

The next day saw us roll out to Parc de la Chute Montmorency to walk another bunch of stairs (mostly down) and another few kilometers to get all of the views of the falls.

Across the suspension bridge, down the stairs, along the basin and across the footbridge from which this shot was taken.

Both of us still being in our motorcycle boots and at the very limit of our comfortable walking distance in them, we decided to take the cable car back up to the top.


Then we rode off to Stoneham Resort in the Laurentian Mountains with the intent of hiking some of their trails, but we arrived around 6pm and were told that no maps were available (as the trail oversight is done by the town, not by the resort), and that the pool and hot tubs closed at 7pm. Given that the sun would set early nestled among the peaks, we opted to play it safe and go for a dip instead. It was the only pool on our tour, and it's still tri training, right?

It's a tough life, I tell you.

The following morning we were on the road to the jewel that is Montreal. We checked in at the Ritz-Carlton (don't ask - just roll with it), had the concierge make dinner reservations for us, then did some walking and a bit of shopping (I got new Chucks!). It was getting late, so we hopped on Bixi bikes to get back to the hotel. 

We paid $15 per bike for a 72hr pass, which includes unlimited trips up to 30mins.
You can end a trip at any of the 400+ stations in the city, wait 2mins, then start a new trip!

I managed to get a run in just before dinner - up Mont Royal! I started at the base of the trail on Avenue des Pins and ran up, up, up the switchbacks to the spot that overlooks the lake by what looks like a big cement inukshuk, then turned around and ran back down. It was pretty dark, so I got the crappiest photo of all time at the highest point I reached:

That's the lake in behind me, though it was mostly empty.

We spent all of the next day touring the city on foot and by Bixi - the bike lanes in Montreal are an absolute delight! The city truly is Canada's leader in using cycling to reduce traffic congestion in the downtown core.

Full dedicated lanes, separated from the rest of traffic.

While the photos don't show it, there are literally thousands of cyclists in downtown Montreal.
The cycle commuting culture is thriving in the city!

We hiked back to the top of Mont Royal as well (more stairs), for the breathtaking view that daylight affords:

The whole city at our feet.

We eventually made our way back to the hotel, cleaned up from a ridiculously hot day (35c with humidex of 40+!), then hopped Bixi once more to ride to our Saturday night dinner. On the way back, we even saw a police-escorted all-nude critical mass ride!

This doesn't happen in Ontario.

Sunday morning brought our exit from Quebec, through on-and-off rain (and even hail - ouch!) to Kingston. Fortunately we were off the road before the enormous thunderstorm hit and didn't get too wet walking to the LCBO or to the magnificent Indian restaurant where we had dinner, but I didn't feel safe running unfamiliar streets in chancy weather so opted to take the day off from any other activity.

The final total was about 41km of walking, 25km of cycling, 17.5km of running, a bit of swimming, and an incredible number of sights and experiences we never would have had if we'd simply acted like "regular" tourists. I also managed over 11.5 hours of aerobic activity during the week I was on vacation, so perhaps Mine Over Matter in just over 2 weeks might hurt just a little less.. 

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