Au revoir Quebec

Well, well, I had another day to spare up in Quebec. For days my sister was begging me to stay longer due to the major Northeastern that swept through the east coast. I kept on getting messages from her and the Irish mother too, to say and not to waste my life driving in the storm. Well, staying another day actually gave me a chance to do something for me and only me alone. Let’s see, it’s January and not much is open up here this time of the year. The restaurants I wanted to go to were either closed or closed early and walking along the streets in the snow is rather challenging and takes longer than one expected. It’s a good thing that I brought my insulated Xtrstuf’s or “Juneau Sneakers” as they are called cos they saved me with the weather. 

Monday was a holiday back in the States, observing MLK, Jr Day! Loved reading about MLK Jr to kids last week. I just wished that kids would learn more about how remarkable and amazing man he was and what he really did for the country and the world. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” ~MLK, Jr. 

Instead of driving south through Western Maine back home, I actually had a spa day. Oh yes, an onsen day as we would say back in Japan. Oh yes, love me some spa action. I’m not too keen about driving in this city to be honest. So the other spa I found to the North was out of the question for this time around. I found a sweet spot in the city called  Strom Nordic Spa. I highly recommend it to be honest. I just remember that last weekend I went to  Float Harder in Portland, Maine. Love them there. Just tell them that I sent you too. For the past week, I have had salt stuck in my hair, oh well, it’s not the end of the world. I really needed to unwind from the heavy stress that I got going on in my life with speaking my truth and giving myself a voice with my photography and gifts. Strom was amazing. Who knew that walking around in a sweet bathrobe and flip-flops would be consider cool and sexy. The baths were amazing, not to forget the sauna and steam room. I took a nap in one of the quiet rooms too. Oh yes, I had the most delicious roasted cauliflower at the cafe too! Oh yes, wait I was there for a good part of the day, even better. I particularly enjoyed watching the ice float up and down stream on the St Lawrence, man oh man, it was beautiful. I haven’t seen ice float like that since Antartica. Nature, you are a wonderful healer. At the spa, I recall that I would always seek out onsens in Japan and by the way if you really want a treat, go to Spa World in Osaka. I loved going to them so much that I found the  Kabuki Spa in San Francisco to be nice and relaxing, but I wasn’t too keen on the chlorine smell to it. Ah, there’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a spa day. I remember a friend telling me years ago to make sure I pamper myself and I sure did that today.  Ah, I noticed that the storm still had a lot of clean up and I was happy that I didn’t take the drive home in it. Strom, I loved my time with you, hope to see you again.

My day really started off with a walk to North America’s oldest grocery store, JA Moisan. I have a thing for going to markets in my travels. They are just full of culture and a real hidden gem. For dinner, I had a fabulous meal at  Chez Boulay for a beautiful piece of salmon with a Nordic twist. Monday’s theme was really about Nordic style and it was amazing. 

“Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything (there is a crack in everything)
That's how the light gets in”
~Leonard Cohen 

My little stay at Hotel Le Saint Paul has been charming. I would put it up there with my stays at the House Hotel in Galway and the  Titanic Hotel in Belfast. I love the fact that I can park the car and walk everywhere. However, there’s a lot of hills in Old Quebec and you might not get it right on your first time around. Just be fare warn that snow, it will take a wee bit longer. Everyone has been very helpful and friendly. I have noticed in my travels that people really do love hearing from where you are from. I got a compliment on my  Sea Bags then I go into the small story that a friend of mine founded the company back in Kennebunkport with her best friend from Kindergarten. I love hearing those stories and I got chatting with the chef owner of the restaurant of where I ate breakfast, Le Veavin and I found out that he plans on opening up a seasonal one in Qgunquit, which happens to be two towns south of me in Maine. It’s those small interactions that make the day. A sense of belonging that we care and and can be kind to one another.

Well, well, on the way home, I didn’t leave as early as I wanted to due to the fact that IKEA didn’t open up early, it’s only on Saturdays that they open an hour early. I forgot from my last visit to the one in Brooklyn the hours, it’s not like LL Bean where it’s open 24 hours a day. Oh well, I took advantage of the experience when I could and it’s always worth it. I realize that going into IKEA I must not have a big list cos I never know what I can find. My inner artist always finds something. Did I mention that the prices are great and it’s European too. I had a laugh over the time I begged and demanded to go to the IKEA in Montreal with my grandmother and mother and they really didn’t understand the creativity behind it. In a way IKEA reminds me of being in a 

Getting home was rather easy in a sense with Siri leading the way on my iPhone, however somewhere in Quebec I got rerouted to another road and back again. A little nerve recking at times and I was grateful to see a sign that said Maine USA on it to be honest. Food options are not the easiest when you are picky and got some food allergies. I wished that I could eat stuff like I used to, but can’t or else it makes me sick. I wished that the market was open across from my hotel or I would had grabbed the fabulous salads that they had there. St George was the town before the border and the food selections were not too hot. I gave into stopping at St Hubert
 at a Comfort Inn. The only thing off the menu that I could eat was a salad and some fries. The women were very sweet to take care of me with their broken English. In a way it reminded me how I used to order food back in Japan. Also, it gave me an excuse to use my left over lonnie and tonnies for a tip. I love that Canada is like Europe and will bring the credit card reader to your table for you and you get to put the tip in yourself. The small things that make my heart sing while traveling. 

I will admit that I will miss the European friendliness when I’m back in Maine. It’s only a 6 hour car ride to get to a mini version of Paris to the Northwest of me and it’s gorgeous. It’s been enjoyable listing to French and seeing cafe’s. Ah, the streets are so charming and old world too. I loved looking at the buildings and the ice built up on the St Lawrence. Oh yes, you have been wonderful to me. Spas are a beautiful thing. American culture doesn’t allow for people to enjoy themselves as they should. Oh no, it’s the old world belief systems of slavery and we must work hard to get our needs meant. What’s so hard to go off to the spa for a good chunk of the day and to regroup and be surrounded by nature and beauty to nourish the soul. Oh yes come on, open up your eyes, the world is changing and we must be the change that we want to see in the world. It’s up to us to make the change by taking care of ourselves first, then our families, friends, and everything else. We need to reshape our view from the inward first and allow that the flourish to the outside. 

 Oh Canada, you did give the world SNL and great comedians. There’s an openness to the beautiful land to the North. I wanted to sign these lyrics as I crossed into your beautiful land: 

“You see you don't have to live like a refugee (Don't have to live like a refugee)
 No, you don't have to live like a refugee (Don't have to live like a refugee)
Now you don't have to live like a refugee (Don't have to live like a refugee)
Oww oww oww!”
~Tom Petty

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