Day 5 – Curling, Underground, and Gare Centrale — ViaRail to Quebec City

After storing our luggage in a room at our hostel, we joined the throngs of Montrealers who were headed to work on a Monday morning in the subway. We then boarded bus 105 out to West Montreal for an introduction to the Canadian sport of curling with longtime curling instructor and expert, “Dave”. 

Julian said Dave was really nice and he really knew his sport! After a brief lesson about rules, equipment, and proper technique, we split into two groups and four teams and took to our respective “sheets” of ice in a curling club kept at 36 degrees F. We then took turns in the various roles of skip, sweeper, or player in charge of launching the stones down the court. We were surprised at how challenging it is to keep your balance as you crouch down on the starting blocks and push of down the sheet of ice with a plastic slider attached to one of your feet and the broom in one hand and the stone in the other. Maggie noted that she fell a lot but Lizzy said her favorite part was the sliding! Rivers said they make it look easy on television. You have to be sure to get your stone past the hog line (marked my small pig statues wearing collars and nametags) and consider that the stone always curls right or left. The sweepers are required if the stone doesn’t have enough momentum to make it to the target or the “house”. Abby said sweeping was very tiring. The skip is responsible for strategy for the team. Everyone said curling was a lot of fun!

After doing the same bus and subway trip in reverse, we landed at Place Ville Marie for a visit to Underground Montreal and lunch and then headed back to collect our bags and make our way to Gare Centrale to catch our train for the 3.5 hour journey through farm fields and small towns to Quebec City. The evil chaperones collected all cell phones for this part of the trip, so we had to do things like talk to each other, write in our journals, read actual books, play card games, answer Mr. Richardson’s riddles, snack, and look out the window at the Quebec countryside. Lizzy and Maggie both said they enjoyed not having their phones because it was much more fun.

We arrived at the train station in Quebec City and immediately realized it is nothing like Montréal. We had a short walk through the winding 17th century streets searching for our hostel with luggage in tow. The Auberge de la Paix is an ancient building located on a small street in Old Quebec. The rules make you leave your boots at the entry before you head up the narrow stairs to the rooms. The common area to meet as a group is a tiny but cozy parlor. After settling in, we raced to dinner, making a wrong turn or two because our google maps didn’t work properly in a city with walls and two levels! We arrived at 8:59 at a local diner-type eatery called Buffet de l’Antiquaire. Arriving a minute before closing, we didn’t know what to expect…but the hostess and chef were very welcoming and offered us a small but tasty menu and treated us well. Merci!

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