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Day 1 in Percé

Day 1 in Percé

July 15 was our first official day in this lovely city. We woke up to a fascinating view. And to think, this would be our view for the next few days. Not bad at all. We woke up and immediately checked the time. We wanted to have breakfast, and we also wanted to go to hotel reception as we were advised the previous night. So, we called my parents and left for the reception desk. Thankfully, we met a receptionist who spoke fluent English. This meant I wouldn’t have to fake my way through “speaking” French. And it turned out that the gentleman we spoke with the previous night only asked us to go in the morning to make sure we’d be able to communicate with someone. We asked about breakfast and made our way into the dining area.

We were given a table by a window with a view of Pèrce Rock. Our waitress came over with the menu and I went straight for what I knew.


French toast and scrambled eggs, yum 😋. It was the best French toast I had ever eaten. And because I know what I like, I ordered the same thing for the next two days. My husband and parents caught on and soon all of them were ordering the French toast. The teeny tiny dish of beans was just part of the meal I guess. I asked the waitress if there was any meat in the beans because they looked a lot like pork and beans. She kindly told me, “No, there’s no meat. If you find a little piece of pork, you can just take it out.” Um, that sounds a lot like meat in the dish. And of course, it would be pork since I don’t eat it. But I’m glad I asked.

We finished breakfast, went back to the room, and then sat out on the balcony while we waited for my parents to finish breakfast. Once they returned to their room, we all decided to head into town. It wasn’t really a long walk, but it was downhill which would mean a walk uphill to get back to the hotel. I wasn’t really looking forward to that, and secretly I hoped we’d be able to teleport back to the hotel later on.

The weather was lovely, as you can see in the photos below. But, it wouldn’t stay that way. My parents had returned to the hotel, and we decided to stay in town. We stopped at a little cafe and had fries. My husband had coffee because he’s all about the coffee.

We were sitting outside until it started raining. If it were just a light rain, we could’ve handled it. But it was really coming down. We were forced to go buy an umbrella from the gift shop owned by the cafe owners. But, it wasn’t enough for the walk we had. So, I called my dad and asked him to pick us up. Look at that, I managed to not climb that hill afterall. 😉

 

Note to self: When traveling outside of Saudi Arabia, it might actually rain. So, be prepared! Carry an umbrella or rainjacket or something.

 

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Our First Night in Percé

In my previous post, I mentioned that we arrived late at night. We were extremely tired, but happy to have arrived. My dad, my husband and I all walked into to the reception. My dad ran off to the restroom as I walked in with all the confidence in the world and said, “We’re checking in.” The older man behind the counter asked, in French of course, “You don’t speak a little French?” I was so proud to say, “Non.” He then looked at my husband and asked, “And you?” My husband would be worse than me, but you can’t blame the man for trying. He continued talking to us in French, and I just smiled. What else could I do? I suppose I could’ve used Google translate, but it really didn’t occur to me. Actually I don’t trust Google translate because I’ve seen my students’ writing.

As I said previously, I do remember some things here and there and I was able to understand what he was saying to us. He knew we had two rooms. He asked me about the tall man, my dad. So, he wrote that one person would be in the second room and I told him that they were two, ma mère wa (Arabic for “and”) mon père. My husband said, “So you do speak French!” I laughed at this of course. What, I remembered two words and now I speak French? If that’s all it takes, I speak many languages. We were finally shown our rooms, and he showed us where to park the car. He asked us, “Combien nuit (How many nights)?” And I replied, “Quatre (four).” He told us bon nuit (good night) and we called it a night. Finally!

 

 

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The Importance of Trip Planning

The Importance of Trip Planning

We left Ile Aux Perroquets on July 14. And after that, we would be going to Perce in the Gaspesie region. I knew we’d have to take a ferry though I didn’t know how long the ferry ride would be. I also didn’t know that I should make a reservation to ensure we’d be able to cross. I assumed it would be like the ferry we took across to Tadoussac. And all I could think about was having to call to make reservations. Would I be able to communicate with the person? How much would this call cost me? I was using my Saudi number. Yikes! Louise, our hostess, suggested I also check the available trips. So I also wondered if we’d miss the ferry and therefore be stuck somewhere with no hotel reservation. I was calmly freaking out. When we got to the mainland and to the office, we asked Jeff to make the reservation for us. He did it. Yes!!! We had a reservation for 6pm which meant we wouldn’t reach Perce until well after dark. But, at least we wouldn’t be stuck somewhere.

I contacted the hotel where we’d be staying to inform them that we’d be arriving very late. The last thing I needed would be to get there and still be stuck because there’s no one there for us to check in. Whew!

We got in line to park the car on the ferry. It was a ginormous boat. Once we got inside, we paid the balance for the reservation and sat comfortably for the two-hour trip across. It began raining so the view from the window wasn’t anything to write home about. My husband got up in search of coffee because he’s a coffee junkie and it’s all that matters in life apparently. While he was searching for coffee, I sat watching “something”. That’s all I can say about it because I didn’t have a clue what I was watching nor did I understand it. 🙂 Good times!

Once we got closer to arriving, apparently announcements were made. We simply took cues from the people around us and followed along. We got up and headed to the car. When we reached the stairs and the elevator, we all debated about which level the car was actually on. While doing so, a man walked by and stopped. He was quite friendly. He was making a feeble attempt to talk to my husband. Oh the joys of not being able to communicate with someone. He was asking him if we’re going to Gaspe. I was able to understand that, but my husband was unable to understand even me at that point. He was focused on the man’s words and focused on telling him that he didn’t understand. I tried to tell him, but to no avail. The man was so enthusiastic as he asked, and I kept trying to tell my husband to say “Perce”. But they kept having the same exchange.

Man: Are you going to Gaspesie? But in French of course.

My husband: I don’t understand. I don’t speak French.

After witnessing this several times, I raised my voice to say, “Perce.”He was seemingly satisfied with that and wished us a pleasant trip. It was a view into what was to come. But, that was fine with me. I rather enjoyed our “adventures” with French.

We finally made it off the ferry and were headed toward Perce. It should have been about a 2-3 hour drive. But that’s for people who know where they’re going and what they’re doing. We got on the road, and we at least knew we were heading in the right direction. Miles and miles of coastline. It was beautiful. We were able to see one of the prettiest sunsets I’ve ever seen. It was not feasible to stop, so I took a picture from the window.

I did my best to make sure my dad was paying attention. My best wasn’t good enough. We missed a turn and instead of trying to turn around, he continued along the same road. It was foggy at times and foggy and rainy at times. On top of all of that, it was pitch black out. It felt like we were the only people on the road. Wait, I think we were the only people on that road. It was pretty scary. Being the paranoid person I am, I kept worrying that we’d find ourselves in the water and never to be found again. My mom was most definitely boiling inside, but I tried my best to convince her to just hold it in.

We managed to make it to the hotel around midnight. Maybe it was later. It was probably later. But who cared at that time? We were just happy that we made it there safely despite the scary conditions.

All of this might have been different if only I had planned things a little better. What’s done is done. What else can I say about it?

Live and learn, friends. Live and learn.

 

 

 

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Puffins!!!

Puffins!!!

Once we got off the speedboat at Puffin Island, my mother rode up the little hill with our hostess while my dad, husband and I walked. Puffins were flying around and I could barely contain myself. We were there because of my obsession with puffins, so I couldn’t wait to get inside and settled a little bit so that I could go out and attempt to take pictures. Once we got inside with all our things, we were more formally introduced to our hostess Louise. She had a lovely accent and very friendly demeanor. She explained the ins and outs of how things would work. First, we were asked to remain on the paths so as to not disturb or possibly harm the puffins’ nesting areas. Also, she would be staying in the house with us. We’d all be sharing a bathroom. Not something I’m too fond of, but it was necessary and I figured I could deal with it for a couple days to see puffins. 😀 The toilet was a composting toilet which I was admittedly afraid of. I have my standards! But again, I was willing to deal with it because I knew I’d be rewarded with the opportunity to observe puffins in real life. And it turns out it wasn’t as scary as expected. Our bedrooms were upstairs, steep stairs. So, we all decided that we didn’t need to take our bags up. We simply took what we needed as we needed.

Since we were basically settled in, I wasted no time and I went out. The weather was perfect. I heard that it had been miserable the day before. So we lucked out. I was shutter happy. “Shutter happy” is an adjective used to describe an individual who, when in the midst of a photo opportunity, can’t control the urge to push the shutter release button. I was like a kid in the toy store, grabbing every chance I could to snap. And, it probably comes as no surprise, but I was not always so successful. My heart raced from the excitement. Who gets that excited about such things? Well, I guess I do. They are magnificent little creatures, and I enjoyed seeing them more than they enjoyed seeing me.

I also got a few pictures of guillemots that were also hanging out on the cliffs with the puffins. But let’s face it, they weren’t my real interest though I appreciated the added bonus.

Later my husband came looking for me. As if I could go anywhere. We were on a teeny tiny island in the middle of the water. And, I had no intentions of swimming for it. He walked with me as I continued to chase puffins with my camera, and then it started raining. We stayed out as long as we could without melting and then went inside. Louise was preparing dinner, so we all sat at the table looking out the window. Even in the rain, it was a beautiful scene. The rain didn’t last long, so I went out again.

Because we were caught up in the scenery, the weather, and the birds, we opted to wait a little while for dinner. The sun was setting and it was absolutely breathtaking. It’s not that I’ve never seen a sunset, but this was one I was able to truly revel in. There were no loud noises, except the sounds of the water and seabirds. There were no street lights. No cars going by. Nothing getting in the way of the view.

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Eventually, we would have to go inside. And soon we were surrounded by darkness. Dinner was ready, and we sat down to a lovely table setting. We started with fish soup. Yuck! I am not a fish person. When Louise wasn’t looking, I swapped my husband’s empty bowl with mine. She saw me. Oops! We were then served grilled chicken bruschetta and vegetables which included broccoli, my favorite. 🙂 For dessert, we had strawberry mousse and there was something else chocolate, but I didn’t eat it.

Puffin Island really agreed with me so far!

 

 

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Aside

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not exactly an Olympic runner. Being a teacher in Saudi Arabia doesn’t give me many opportunities to get out a lot. I go to class, and then I sit at my desk working on things related to class. After that, I go home and sit some more except when I’m cooking or cleaning. I’m usually too pooped to even think about exercise. So when we go on vacation that requires me to do more than sit, it can be a challenge. Luckily, Tadoussac had the perfect solution. A trail for lazy people. One that wouldn’t kill us.

Sentier de la Pointe de l’Islet Trail. Even the name was music to my ears. It was an easy and relaxing walk. My parents sat this one out. So it was nice to take this little hike with my husband.

Many people walk the trail for the trail, but many more take it in order to reach the shore in hopes of spotting whales as they’re known to make appearances from time to time. We had the same hopes, but the walk itself was nice even if we didn’t see any whales.

We knew we had arrived when we reached a little bridge, the subject of many of my photos. Even the bridge tells a story of sorts, but you are the one who shapes that story. A part of my story began here looking out at the Saguenay River/Fjord.

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Ah, how marvelous Tadoussac is. Beauty surrounds you wherever you are. From every corner, the story is the same. Look at what is before your very eyes, take a deep breath and soak it all in.

Hiking for Lazy People in Tadoussac

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2016 in Roadtrip 2016, Travel Adventures

 

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Food Woes in Tadoussac

What anyone travelling to Tadoussac needs to know is that your food options are limited. It’s a village with some restaurants possibly only open during the travel season. One mistake I made when I decided to go to Tadoussac was not thinking about what we would eat. This can be really bad considering the fact that my husband and I have dietary restrictions and I am one picky eater.

The day we arrived, we decided to go out and look for something to eat. We found a restaurant which offered a buffet. My dad needs a buffet because the meals we get in most restaurants aren’t enough to sustain his 6’6″ frame. So, we climbed the stairs to the restaurant which has no name. Of course it has one; I just don’t remember it. We were obviously the first ones to arrive. That was probably because the dinner buffet wouldn’t open until 5. When we got there it was 4:30ish. We had nothing to do, the weather was ideal, for everyone except my mom, the view was remarkable, and the waitress spoke limited English. That’s all you really need for a good time ;).

Five o’clock, thank God, arrived. We proceeded to the “buffet” and as I’m sure you can tell, it was, well, meh. We hoped that what we saw in front of us wasn’t the full buffet and that they’d be adding more to it. I got a bowl of pea soup to start myself off. It was also a chance for them to add more FOOD! Alas, it was not meant to be. Of the available options, I was able to eat perhaps six and I potentially could like 3. The best thing I had was the soup. It inspired me to want to cook more soup. The worse part? It was over 100 dollars. We definitely didn’t get our money’s worth.

We ate in the hotel restaurant for breakfast the next morning. Luckily for my dad, it was a buffet. It was decent, but no comparison to the breakfast we had while in Niagara. My parents were happy though. Why wouldn’t they be? All the things they eat were available like bacon, sausage, ham. It’s a pork lover’s paradise. Our waitress stopped by regularly with a, “C’est bon?” I told my husband that she was asking whether it’s good. We often laughed at people’s futile attempts to speak to us in French. I wished like anything that I remembered more, but what can you do when it’s been so many years?

Since we all agreed the hotel restaurant was too expensive, we went out for all other meals. One day we went out in the late afternoon. We sent my father and husband inside. When they came back, my husband told the story about trying to order. They were given a menu which was in French of course. My husband told the guy he couldn’t read French. To my husband’s dismay, he proceeded to read the menu to him. In French! Dude, he’s not illiterate. He just can’t read French. Lol, good times. Fortunately, burger is the same in all languages. That’s what they ordered since they couldn’t be sure about other things on the menu.

The next day, my husband suggested we take the ferry across to another town. When we were going to Tadoussac, we saw Subway and McDonald’s in a town. Neither were our first choices, but we didn’t want to pay an arm and a leg and we also didn’t want any more drama trying to order in French. With these two, even if we couldn’t speak French we could point to food :p. So we went to La Malbaie. How excited we were when we saw Subway. I reached a new low when I started getting excited about Subway. We were in Quebec. It should have been an opportunity to experience something new and delicious. Instead, we were looking for the cliche, stereotypical American restaurants. Something we knew.

At least we got to experience more of this scenic area.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Roadtrip 2016, Travel Adventures

 

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Whale watching in Tadoussac 

Whale watching in Tadoussac 

If you’ve never been whale watching, I strongly recommend it.

Our scheduled trip was for July 10. The weather forecast was, well, wet. That it would rain wasn’t the issue. As I said in a previous post, the threat of rain or less than ideal weather conditions no longer fazes me or my husband. Even my mother wouldn’t be concerned as she knew she could stay dry and warm. Truthfully speaking, I hoped that it wouldn’t rain, though. It was already cool out, and it would be even cooler out on the open water. And, I wasn’t prepared for wet weather. A piece of advice for going whale watching, dress warm and take a raincoat just in case.

We took the shuttle to the pier where we would leave. It was dark, dreary even. It was raining. Not heavy rain, but still raining. We got on the boat and stayed on the lower level.

As we waited for the boat to leave the port, we saw 4 kayakers. All I could think of when I saw them was, “Are they nuts?” But they didn’t seem to mind, so why should I? And hey, their presence in the water made for a great photo opp. I wish I knew them so I could share the photo with them.

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Our guide, a biologist began talking so we knew we were about to move. Yay! This was the first part of our excursion. My husband and I and also my dad decided to go out. We didn’t let the cool wind deter us.


Even under the dark skies, the water was calm, serene. I thought it was wonderful. The guide started talking, in both English and French. But I’ll admit that I was still lost a lot of the time. I’m not proud of that, but oh well. I do recall her telling us about the area and the sea life we would possibly see. We passed an old lighthouse out in the middle of the water, and I wondered how anyone could live there. Wouldn’t it be scary to live in this? And wouldn’t it be tiring having to climb to get to your living quarters? Well, I guess that’s why I never became a sailor or anything like that.

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The biologist told us more about the lighthouse, but I don’t remember a thing. I was simply listening for the word “whale(s)” in her speech. I wanted to see, and that’s it. We saw gray seals and some birds. It was great to see them frolicking in the water. Free. I have to say that our first whale watching trip last year pushed me to decide on never visiting a zoo again. That and a safari in Sri Lanka a few years ago. I don’t believe that animals belong in captivity. It’s just not natural.

We moved along in the water with rain coming down from above. We saw other whale watchers. Two zodiacs were in the area.

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Can you imagine that I considered going on one of these rather than the full sized boat? I considered it because I knew it would mean getting closer to the whales. But, I also knew that my mom would have never agreed to that. And after seeing them, in the conditions we were in, I’m so glad I didn’t book a trip on a zodiac. Surely this story would have to be written by someone else because of the heart attack I would have had. Bravery has never been my strong point when it comes to these things.

We slowed down as did the two zodiacs in the area. I knew this meant that there must be some whale activity. The biologist explained how we could tell by noting the choppy water in the area. It meant that there was food to eat and that the whales were feeding. The excitement in her voice when she spotted a whale caused everyone to get excited I’m sure. What did we see? Minke whales. There was more than one, but I managed to get a picture of one.

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My husband and my dad were both out witnessing this magnificent creature just being. Living its life out in the open waters. Seeing whales or other animals like this way makes for a surreal experience. It was such a treat. I had worried that we wouldn’t see any whales because of the weather. But as the guide said, they don’t care about rain. They are home.

After we left the area, we headed back in the direction of the hotel through the Saguenay Fjord in search of belugas. My dream was to see one in real life. I had only ever seen them on National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. But this area is pretty much home to belugas. I am happy to report that I did indeed see belugas. Score! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a picture because I was worried about trying to take my long lens out again while it was raining. And I knew that if I went back inside, I’d miss the chance to see them since they weren’t likely to stop and pose for me.

All in all, it was a great trip and I’d like to thank AML Cruises for an unforgettable experience.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2016 in Roadtrip 2016, Travel Adventures

 

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