Category Archives: Travel

5 for Friday: St. Patrick’s Day Edition!

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Taking a break from the books this week since it’s St. Paddy’s Day! I’m not Irish, but sometimes I celebrate like I am. ūüôā

Here are 5 of my St. Paddy’s Day Faves:

  1. Food:

    • Creamy Reuben Soup – I made this for the first time on Wednesday. My husband devoured nearly 3 bowls of it! (For the record, I loved it, too.) Okay, so Reubens are not technically Irish, but the corned beef and sauerkraut (cabbage), makes me feel like Reubens kind of are… ¬†Besides, a local bar always makes a version that Rob always dreams of this time of year. I wanted to see if I could do it justice. The verdict? This one might be better. Make it no!¬†Side Note: I never really had a Reuben sandwich until I met Rob. He and his parents always ordered them when we ate out!
    • Corned Beef and Cabbage – Truth be told, this is not a traditional Irish dish either! It’s more Irish-American. This was our go-to recipe every year, a few years back. I don’t think I’ll be making it again, though. The Soup has won out for eternity.
    • Irish Bread – I think Irish Soda Bread might be Irish-American, too. I don’t remember ever having that when I was in Ireland.I do miss their brown bread, though! Maybe I’ll have to try whip up a batch of that next year. Anyone have a fave recipe?
  2. Drinks:

    • Guinness – People think that Guinness is such a heavy beer because it is dark and maybe also because of the foamy head.¬†While it may be heavier than the lager you are drinking, Guinness really isn’t as think or full-bodied as you¬†may¬†think it is. There are several stouts that have much more flavor and richness than Guinness. So give it a try! Sometimes, I’ll drink a Guinness when I want something lighter – it has so¬†fewer¬†calories than many other beers! Plus, there are so many concoctions you can make, including the Black Velvet in this post.
    • Whiskey – I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, but my husband and friend Jen tend to like Johnny Jump Ups (a shot of whiskey in cider). But we did do a tasting while in Ireland. So much fun!
    • Irish Sangria – Want something a little nontraditional and fit for the beautiful weather we are supposed to have this weekend? Try the Irish Sangria in my Sangria post!
  3. Entertainment:

    • Irish Music – You can’t easily¬†find trad¬†in the U.S. but when you do, especially on this special day, it’s wonderful. We love the music at St. Paul’s FREE Irish Fair every August. And we go to see¬†the¬†non-traditional, but always fun Gaelic Storm whenever they are in town!
  4. Memories:

    • My friend Jen and I started a tradition when we backpacked Europe after college to find an Irish Pub in every country. My husband and I carry on this tradition to this day whenever we travel like we did here, here, here,¬†here, here and here.
    • Almost two¬†of those 10 weeks¬†backpacking in¬†Europe backpacking were spent in Ireland. I was most at peace in Dingle. I still remember that day and the calm I felt on the boat while in search of a the view of Fungie¬†the dolphin. Although, hanging with my friend Colm in¬†Dublin and Dundalk¬†was wicked fun!
    • Then we took a family trip to Ireland with Rob’s parents in 2012. Here’s a link to my last post¬†about that wonderful¬†trip. If you scroll down to the bottom of that post, you’ve got a link to all of my posts about that trip on the bottom. We were chauffeured around The Isle by Ray with Walk with Me¬†and made some friends with locals in Dublin. {Hi Ross!} We do need to plan a trip back. {Sigh.}| I haven’t seen the south yet!
  5. Lastly:

    • Our very own Shamrock:

 

Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

What is your favorite thing about this holiday?

Cheers~
Carrie

5 Incredible Experiences in the Twin Cities

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Not too long ago my wonderful Wineaux friend Katie, started a blog called Zen Life and Travel. Like me, she’s passionate about travel. She blogs about how to do so more often by accumulating points and miles and by living through experiences instead of things. She has lots of great tips that got me back to accumulating more miles so that we can go back to Australia next year!

I recently wrote a guest post for her blog on 5 Incredible Experiences in the Twin Cities.

Check it out. While there, be sure to sign up for Katie’s weekly newsletter for more tips and tricks!

Name one thing you recommend out-of-town guests to do when they visit.

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Quebec City: Observations & Next Time

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As a little endcap to our Quebec City scrapbook, I’d like to make mention of a few miscellaneous things we did, a few observations I made and a few notes for ourselves on what we’d do next time.

Not until I started writing this post did I realize that in our three nights in Quebec City, we popped into¬†three¬†Irish pubs! While it is the norm for us to find an Irish pub whenever we travel, our multiple stops in Quebec City were unintentional! In fact, none of them were planned.¬†They just happened to be in our path when timing, hunger or an inability to make a decision rose…

Irish Pub #1

First up is Pub Claddagh. Here, we decided to try an Irish-style Poutine:

I loved the concept of having an Irish-style version in an Irish Pub in Quebec City. In fact, we found out that nearly¬†every¬†bar and restaurant has their own take on poutine. It’s probably why Rob didn’t order it as often as he thought he would.

Irish English Pub #2

On another occasion, we were just stopping for a drink. This was at Pub Saint-Alexandre, which I come to find out now is technically English Pub.

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There is a Pub Chez Murphy’s now next door; but I just had the impression they were one in the same. We also got some fries to snack on here.¬†{Can you see why I got so sick of fries!?} They weren’t very good anyway. But it was also very close to the touristy area, so I probably wouldn’t ever eat here again. Or if I did, I’d go with their cheese plate, which hails cheeses only from Quebec. I wasn’t too hungry at the time; otherwise, you know that would have been my choice!

Burgers

Across the street was a restaurant called Les Trois Garçons which we noticed and were later recommended for burgers by an employee at Korrigane Brasserie. We learned that, especially in the touristy area, no one wanted you to walk in and try to find a seat at the bar. They had to seat you. It was a little annoying; but I had to realize it was part culture, part an attempt at crowd control.

I wasn’t too keen on going for burgers {more fries!}¬†while we were in Quebec City; but it was on a night that we couldn’t make a decision and just needed to stop walking. The burgers were okay, but nothing you’d have to make a stop for. In fact, I did take photos, but they aren’t blog worthy.

Italian

Because of Rob’s obsessive love of Italian food¬†{and my love for him}, we stopped on two separate occasions for Italian.¬†Italian food in Quebec City? Yup. Both were good. One had great service. The other did not. Another observation:¬†Service when you sit at the bar in Quebec is not at all like that in the U.S. Sometimes there is not a set bartender. Sometimes that bartender gets all the drinks and also has all the tables on the terrasse. So you don’t get a lot of interaction.

Irish Pub #3

Our last impromptu Irish Pub stop was probably our favorite of the three: Pub Saint-Patrick. We stopped here for a nightcap after one of our Italian dinners. They had such an extensive craft beer list! And I, not wanting anything too heavy after our Italian dinner, went with a cider instead…

IMG_7220Rob chose an absolutely amazing beer:

The Vache Folle {crazy cow!} Imperial Milk Stout is a high-alcohol creamy-goodness wonder. It was a perfect dessert!

Coffee

I wish we’d have found a better cafe for breakfast coffee and croissants. Our hotel offered them; but you had to let them know the night before. We popped into¬†Caf√© Paillard¬†one morning, as I had it written down as a recommendation; but it was more a chain type of place with absolutely no character. I was unimpressed.

However, what I do like are the espresso machines found behind nearly every bar!

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This is often the case in Europe, but rare in the U.S. I would just love this option, especially after a heavy meal and drinks or when I am designated as sober cab!

Hockey

I believe the whole world knows of the Canadians’ love of hockey. I thought I understood since I currently live in Minnesota, which is known in the U.S. as the “State of Hockey.” However, I did not. Keep in mind that we were in Quebec in July. Hockey news was displayed on every T.V. no matter where we went!¬†The biggest news at the time: the trade of Canadiennes’ P.K. Subban. There was quite the uproar!

Calèches:

I know that the horse-drawn carriages, known as cal√®ches in this quaint little town are supposed to offer a piece of history and a touch of romance to the visitor’s experience. You will also find these in the old part of town in Montreal. I read a few articles about them before our trip and I’ll have to agree. They are not exactly the most humane thing. I did see one driver having trouble “controlling” his horse and was beating him furiously, while the troubled tourists held on while their carriage went back and forth in every direction as the horse tried to evade each whip. NOT COOL.

Next Time:

I was really trying to be super relaxed about this trip and go with the flow. With a list of recommendations in hand, I thought we’d pick restaurants and things to do based on where we were at any give point in time. I regret this. There was too much indecisiveness on both our parts and it was just a little too relaxed. I also relied on my phone too much for maps and information when wi-fi wasn’t always readily available. I had a hard time keeping a charge on my phone more so than I ever had before.

So next time, I think we’d:

  • Enjoy Quebec City in the fall.
  • Get another hotdog at Inox.
  • Enjoy a cheese plate at the Chateau Frontenac with good wine or cocktails – worth the splurge!
  • Get more adventurous and try more traditional Quebecois foods like at¬†Aux Anciens Canadiens.
  • Get a queue de castor (beaver tail)¬†in Lower Town.
  • Book reservations at L’affaire est Ketchup – a popular restaurant that you need to have rez for at least several weeks in advance!
  • Eat less fries!
  • Try any, if not all, of the desserts at Pub du Parvis.
  • Wander the Parc de l’Esplanade or Plaines d’Abraham and¬†perhaps take a picnic.
  • Go to the Le Cercle Bar or Bar la Nankasi for music.
  • Or any of the places I listed at the end of this post.

We made our way to the train station for our 3 and 1/2-hour train ride to Montreal.

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The train ride was a much different experience from those I’ve had in Europe. There are actual car attendants that come around with food and drinks (for purchase). I felt more like we were on a flight.

I try not to have not to regret not doing something on my travels, but prefer to make notes for next time. That way, we learn from our mistakes and have some must-dos should we return!

What have you regretted when traveling?

My next post will be on Montreal, but until then, here are our other posts on QC, if you’d like to catch up!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

Quebec City: Breweries & Brunch

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Happy Thirsty Thursday!

We had heard that the Saint-Roch is kind of a hipster and happening area of Quebec City. In particular, I read about Korrigane Brasserie Artisinale online. An artisan brewery? Hell-yeah! Off we went.

IMG_7182I’m sure Rob ordered¬†Black Kraken IPA Noire¬†on that menu. At his point, I was confused because not everyone understood what we wanted when we were looking for a stout. And here, this Stout √† l’Avoine¬†was labled “Cream Ale”, which is totally different from a stout.¬†I later learned that Stout √† l’Avoine is an oatmeal stout! {More beer vocabulary!} Now I’m not sure if it was mislabeled, mistranslated or if it can have more than one meaning here.

But I didn’t try that one to find out. Instead, I was intrigued by the Emily Carter Pale Ale aux Bleuets – a Blueberry Pale Ale. So good! I don’t know¬†when nor why I so easily started shying away from pale ales. Because¬†I’ve been finding more lately that when a pale ale is infused with something, I tend to love it.

It was Canada Day and no one was really out and about yet. We hadn’t had breakfast, so we decided to split something for an early lunch:¬†a European Hot Dog.

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I think that Rob was expecting all hot dogs in Quebec to be like the hot god of his life at Inox. Alas, that was not the case. It was more a traditional Quebecois dog:

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The typical Quebecois hot dog is topped with a shredded cabbage/relish, almost like a vinegary coleslaw or sauerkraut. The bun was nicely toasted, but I only had a bite. I liked that mayo was served with the fries, but I was pretty sick of fries at this point!

Our server was fantastic. After learning how much we liked craft beer, she gave us a Drink Local Beer Map! Okay, so now we knew what we were going to do for the day. And we would have never known about these other breweries if it hadn’t been for her. Several of the breweries were right in the Saint-Roch area.

Our next stop was Noctem.

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This list really helped me learn more French beer vocab! I also like how the columns are labeled qui (who), quoi (what), and comment (how) to describe the beers on tap.
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Rob ordered a guest beer – the Frampton Brasse Stout Imperial Russe. (I think you can figure that one out.) I had Noctem’s own Belzebuth Stout Pamplemousse et piment-oiseau – a stout with grapefruit and chilis. Strange combo, but good.

While there, I noticed that there was a microscope in their tank room.I’ve toured enough breweries that I¬†should¬†understand the brewing process; but that is something I don’t remember seeing in a brewery before. Either they take their stuff seriously or I’m just ignorant. Do you see it?

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A tour group came in and got their samples. We finished our beer and decided it was time for a real meal if we were going to keep drinking beer – a late brunch next door at Pub du Parvis!

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I liked the idea of a Morning Poutine; but it just sounded like way too much. I had to go with something completely different… The St-Roch! It was only fitting.

St. Roch

The St-Roch Crêpe stuffed with scrambled egg, bacon, mozzarella, topped with hollandaise sauce with green onions served with homestyle potatoes and toast.

I just realized right now that I did not get the “smoothie of the day” listed on the menu. Obviously, I didn’t care! This was something I could never get at home and was so delightful. You guys know how I don’t like bacon¬†in¬†my food; but this was just fine. It was balanced enough that it didn’t overpower the entire dish. Rob even had a bite and did not decline when I offered him another!

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Per Rob’s usual (and because he ate most of that hot dog earlier), he went with a couple of side dishes: sausage and brie. Because when can you just order a side of brie on a menu!?!

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I’m sure the brie was more for my benefit; but the sausage was divine. And truthfully, we found that all of the sausages we tried in Quebec were tasty because they were free from grizzle and the weird textures you sometimes experience.

At this point, I was way too full. Otherwise, I could have totally gone for any one of these unique desserts!

I want one now…

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To be honest, we only did one more brewery stop of the day…

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We totally missed their extra terrasse out back until right before we were leaving, but had this nice seat at La Barbarie‘s bar.¬†This microbrewery has quite the little Viking theme. Check out those tap handles…

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Here, I wanted to try something different. I had seen it on a couple menus, something I’ve never seen at a brewery in the states: Sangri-Bi√®re. I had to ask if it was a Sangria made with beer instead of wine (no) or a beer made to be more flavored like sangria (yes).

It is definitely a fruit beer and I dug it. Not something I’d order often; but it was good on such a hot day. It was served with fruit like a glass of sangria would be, too!

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There were artists’ work for sale strung up on the walls. For some reason, I was really drawn to this one, though blue is my favorite color. I just love it!

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Do you seek out certain types of places to dine, drink or shop when you are traveling?

If you want to catch up on my previous posts covering our trip to Quebec:

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Ch√Ęteau Frontenac

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The Ch√Ęteau Frontenac is probably the most recognized building in all of Quebec. It’s certainly recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world!

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I think this is because of it’s monstrosity and how it sits elevated above the St. Lawrence River. But you can capture photos of it from so many different vantage points!

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I’m sure the views are breathtaking from the highest stories, too. Even if you are not staying in this hotel, it’s worth a look inside. It’s quite grand! And while we’re at it, we were told to stop for a cocktail in the bar or lunch in the cafe.

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I was not aware that this was a wine and cheese bar! If I had known that I would have made cheese my dinner. ūüėČ {Instead, this was a night-cap.} The bar itself is a beautiful site. We tried to get a seat near the window facing the St. Lawrence, but all were taken. ¬†To the bar it was!

There were a few different drink menus, but I liked this one which included the recipes:

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That ^^ is exactly the drink I ordered. Beautiful!

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As expected, the drinks were a bit spendy. But this was a special treat for us. Rob ordered a Stinger, which has 989+ different versions. But together with the ambiance, our cocktails and experience at the Ch√Ęteau Frontenac¬†were magical.

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What do you like to splurge on when you travel?

If you want to catch up on my previous posts covering our trip to Quebec:

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Terrasses & Salty Cheese

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I’m reminiscing about our summer trip to Quebec!

If you want to catch up, here are my previous posts:

One thing I read and we quickly learned is that the Quebecois love their terrasses (patios)! That is, in the summertime. Quebec has a whole different feel in the winter, of course. I had no intentions of making our trek to Quebec in winter. We get enough winter in Minnesota, thank you very much.

In fact, Minnesotans are quite fond of their patios, too. When the trees¬†start to bloom and you no longer need to wear a winter coat, I’ve even read in marketing emails and magazines, “It’s patio season!”

On our day out exploring the Rue Saint-Jean, outside the walls of the Old Town, we came across Bar le Sacril√®ge, written on my recommended list as known for “local brews”. It was a beautiful summer day – warm, but not too hot; no humidity and a slight breeze. As long as there were seats {most seats on the terrasse¬†are almost always taken}, it was the perfect¬†day to enjoy a Quebecois terrasse.

Keep in mind, many establishments’ terrasses¬†are located in a courtyard out back, which can be much nicer and more peaceful than facing the street. This was the case for Bar le Sacril√®ge. We walked through the door and asked to sit “au terrasses s’il vous pla√ģt.”¬†

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We hadn’t considered the fact that it was Thursday, around lunchtime and there would only be a few people out on the terrasse! It was a beautiful, tree-covered oasis.

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I can imagine this terrasse packed and animated on a Friday night, with those lights twinkling down.

I don’t believe they had a beer list, because we chatted with our server. We told him we were looking for an IPA and a stout and he gave us some excellent recommendations.¬†Since we were there around lunchtime, he also explained that they are a beer bar and do not serve food, well not a traditional menu. They just had a handful of snacks like chips, something else and salty cheese.

“Salty cheese!” Rob said emphatically. He thought it was funny that cheese would be described as such.

The server smiled and went off to fill our order.

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I will tell you that the Bor√©ale Stout was quite nice. And the¬†Bor√©ale IPA became one of Rob’s go-tos when he feared another beer was made with Belgian yeast. {The Quebecois love their Belgian-style beers and Rob does not!}

And that cheese really was salty! But very good. Here I was learning new vocabulary again: effiloché = shredded. Yes, this was shredded cheese! How strange to eat as a snack. They were big shreds, but shreds nonetheless. And made in Quebec!

Check them out:

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Speaking of French vocabulary, I was learning more and more words that I may not have learned in France otherwise.

For example, this:

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Rob asked, other than the Smoked Meat, what¬†the other paninis were on Bar La Ninkasi’s menu on the wall. Dinde Chutney = Turkey Chutney. But I didn’t know the word¬†cerf.¬†I had to look it up. Cerf = deer! Venison! This was a venison chipotle panini. Only in Canada! Sure, venison is common in the midwest, but not often in restaurants, nor on a panini, nor combined with chipotle. I had to photograph it because this is exactly what my dad would order if he were sitting beside me. We were there during the daytime. But Bar La Ninkasi is known for live music and karaoke if you are looking for some evening fun!

There were several other little establishments that we had listed as recommendations on Rue Saint-Jean. But we never got to those¬†because either the timing wasn’t right or we weren’t in the mood. I’m listing them here purely for my Next Time notes, or in case you’d like to give them a try if you are ever in Quebec City!

  • Fou-Bar (literally meaning “crazy bar”) – This was not on our recommended list. But I see it now on Google¬†maps and the interior looks interesting!
  • Le Moine √Čchanson¬†–¬†wine bar
  • Erico – chocolatier
  • Bistro Hobbit – also wasn’t on our recommended list, but the menu looks good!

How do you search for places to dine or go out while on vacation?

Cheers~
Carrie

Quebec City – Outside the Walls

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We loved exploring the city of Quebec! And although we loved staying in Vieux-Quebec, the vieille ville, some of the best little spots we found were located outside the walls of the fortified Old Town.

First up is Rob’s best hot dog of his life… {I can’t argue; it was pretty damn good!}

If you exit the Porte Saint Louis of the old town along Rue Saint Louis, the street becomes the Grande All√©e. It’s along here that you’ll find L’Inox Brasserie {brewery},¬†which we visited on our first day¬†after¬†we had lunch. Still, we perused their menu, on¬†which the Deluxe European Hot-Dog was highly recommended.

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After Rob saw one of those hot dogs served to another patron, he declared that we were coming back. It was almost as intense as Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy:

And so we did. And we were blown away. You see, this Deluxe European Hot-Dog {I love how they hyphenate it!} is not only made with specialty meats, but it is also served in a baguette. Yes, I said in, not on, like on a bun.

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This is because a hole is poked through each baguette with a warm pointy device {technical term}. The result is that warm doughy interior and the crunchy baguette exterior surrounding the entire hot dog. Genius.

We both tried to capture the guy prepping the baguettes on video; but it was challenging trying to keep all of the employees’ faces out of the shot. We didn’t get a good enough video;¬†but here is a teaser… It’s quick! So look carefully at the top of the screen and replay if you need to! Tee hee. I wish I knew how to make a GIF.

Inox has a few guest taps in addition to their own. That day, I went with the¬†Mystique Sparkling Cider. I love that they don’t ever put ice in the glass when serving cider, which is becoming more and more common in The States and was always assumed when we were in Ireland.

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Oh! There was also the beef jerky. Rob loved the fact he could find that on a menu!

After Rob’s epic hot-dog experience, we continued to walk along the Grande All√©e further away from the Old Town. We had intended to go far enough to take another street that intersects Rue Saint Jean. We had a list of little recommended hot spots we wanted to check out on that street. It was time for some hopping!

But along the Grande All√©e,¬†I spotted this cute little church with the doors swung open. It had a sign that read in French, “For Lease. For all types of business.”

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But the doors where open and from across the street I could tell that there some lights strung about. Was it a bar or restaurant? I had been to a church-turned-bar in Belfast back in 2000. I was curious…

But it was even better. Here is what we found:

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This was a secondhand book sale! I was in heaven. I could have spent hours in here just looking… There were hundreds and hundreds of books in this run-down church. It was really in need of repair. It would be so beautiful! Just look at the stained glass and tiles on the walls…

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There was a small section with books in English. However, most of all of the books and albums were in French.

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And when I found these, I just had to take a photo for my mom:

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Her favorite author’s books all translated in French. ūüôā Finding surprising things like these is why I love exploring new cities!

As we came up on Rue Saint-Jean and were about to take a right to make our trek down it back toward the old town, I¬†saw a sign to the left that read, Le Projet¬†–¬†Sp√©cialit√© Microbrasseries”.¬†I knew what each of the words meant, but I couldn’t determine what the building was.¬†My first thought was that it was a home-brew supply store called Le Projet¬†{The Project – great name} that specialized in microbrews.

But then I took a peak around the corner. The room was filled with people sitting at tables! It was a little bar, gastropub actually, that specialized in microbrews!

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I ordered the Boréale Concombre & Basilic (cucumber and basil) beer Рtap handle on the far right.

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It was a saison-style beer. Rob hates saisons and he hates cucumbers. So I guess it was kind of mean of me to offer him to try it without him knowing what it was. He hated it instantly! I just wanted him to have an open mind before he knew what the beer was!

I’ll tell you this, though, I do like cucumbers. In fact, I LOVE them. I eat them all summer long. But I’ve slowly learned that I don’t like cucumbers in my drinks. I made a mental note. Then I noticed any gin cocktails I saw on menus throughout the trip always had cucumber in them.

Have you ever discovered something surprising in an old building?

Cheers~
Carrie

Other posts on our trip to Quebec City: