When I crossed from theory to practical in this solo travel journey, I started weighing so many factors about possible destinations, that I was almost paralyzed. Literally, there’s a world of options. And for everyone who thinks ‘X’ is a great option, there’s someone else who will ridicule it, so looking for opinions began frustrating me, too.
After all my debating and reading, I landed on Quebec City, Canada. I’m still really happy with my decision. SO, let me share with you the factors that have made Quebec City a great choice for my first Solo Female Travel.
As I was looking for where to go, I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t want to spend all my time getting here and back. Or recovering from jetlag. As a homeschooling mom and a wife and a whatever else I am at the moment, I spend a lot of time feeling like I’m falling behind and trying to catch up, and I don’t want to just make that worse with this trip – at least as much as possible! Especially for those of you center-to-east in the US, Quebec City is really easy location-wise. One to two quick hops, and you can be here. Same time zone as the east coast, so zero jet-lag for me! I can fly out at 7am and arrive by 1pm, and that was with a comfortable length layover in the middle.
2. Quebec City is a Bit of Europe
I love Europe. I know, I know, Europe is so 1990s. Everyone’s doing really cool places like Southeast Asia & South America. Pffffft, whatever. I make zero claim to coolness, and I still love Europe. I love the food, I love the history, I love the architecture. I love any culture that values people-watching and chatting with your neighbors in a sidewalk cafe. In a perfect world, I’d get to spend an obnoxiously long time based in a European country, and then visit everywhere else by train. But, that’s not where I am in life (yet).
Quebec City was a relatively inexpensive and time appropriate way to get a bit of a fix. Plus, I have been amazed at exactly how European Quebec City is. We (the whole family) were in Paris in 2015, and the signage was much more bi-lingual there than here. Don’t let that comment scare you off, the vast majority here speak both French and English, so my not speaking French has not been an issue. But I’ve had far more people initiate conversation in French here in Quebec City than in Paris. In Paris, people would see us, and immediately greet us in English. (Ok, what about me screams American? I’m hoping nothing screams obnoxious American!) Here, people walked up and would just start talking to me in French, in full sentences. That may be more related to #5 than native French speaking percentages, but for whatever reason, it’s been very true. In addition to this, the food, the architecture, very Europe. Very. It feels, very much, like a little French city.
3. The Food is Very Yum.
The food is also very French, and that’s never a bad thing. I spent some time looking at “Top 10 Places to Eat in Quebec City” and things like that before coming, but also just randomly walked in to places when the mood struck, too. Crepes everywhere, macarons, pastries with your morning coffee. I even purposely went to one place that was consistently rated “meh” by a lot of lists (history of the location drew me), and even there it was pretty good. Again, throwback… We had one gentleman we were talking about restaurants with in Paris say, “Well, it’s Paris. Even when the food is bad, it’s still pretty good.” I started to think that carries over to Quebec City, too.
Quebec City is a very safe city, from all statistics and articles I could find. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s certainly better than most of the other locations I thought about. And, I can tell you, from walking around by myself for the past several days – even after dark, and using Uber rides – I was not once even a little bit uncomfortable. Everyone was friendly and helpful. It almost got to be a joke, something locals chuckled about in response if you asked about walking around in whatever area after whatever time.
The walking around alone concern is a very other-place concern to Quebec City residents. I was looking at a map with the front desk manager here in the hotel. He was pointing out places I should go, and what I should see. One area he marked off, and said, “Don’t go there, that’s the poor section of Quebec City.” But then he continued, “They would be polite to you, you wouldn’t have to worry. There’s just not much to do.” Not a comment you would hear in many US cities, that’s for sure.
(Sidenote: the very area he marked off is the area I took a food tour. Walked right through the middle of it on my own to meet the tour, and not a worry at all. And food tour was yummy – more later!!)
I had read about the friendliness of Quebec City before coming, and it was definitely in the plus column of my decision making. I hadn’t really expected just how very true this is, though. I have never had so many people just initiate conversation with me randomly on the street. Combined with the fact that the French-speaking population is so much larger than the English-speaking here, I’ve never had so many people come up to me and just start conversing – in paragraphs – in French with me! I’m having to learn at what point it is polite to cut them off to clarify I can’t understand a word they are saying. Is that an immediate thing? Do I let them finish their sentence? Oh wait, are we on to a new sentence now? Wait!
There is no dismissiveness about the fact that I do not speak French, thankfully, which can happen in France. The person simply switches to English, sometimes apologizing for the assumption and their own “limited” English (as apposed to my non-existent French?) and we communicate just fine. Stopping someone and asking directions or assistance is also happening all over the place, and no one is bothered by it.
6. No One Hates Canada
Whatever we think of our own country and the leadership thereof (I’m not touching that debate), the truth is that there are a number of countries and groups of people that really don’t like us right now. Heck, we don’t even like each other very much right now, and I see discussions in travel forums about lack of comfort going to a too-red-or-blue-state depending on your particular bent. Further, there are terrorist attacks happening in major European cities, and cities throughout the world, with heartbreaking frequency. While I’m not one to let that determine my travel plans, I know that is a disturbing factor for many (and for my extended family at times).
In the plus column for Quebec City, is that it’s kind of hard to hate Canada, and no one seems to be actively doing so. If you hate Canada, I really think it’s not them, it’s you. Canada isn’t immune to the sad trend of attacks in the world, and I wouldn’t imply such. But, it also doesn’t seem to be at the top of anyone’s list. Really, I’m probably safer from attack here than at home, especially as I watched the news here and saw of the shooting attacks in one spot near my home, and a girl brutally murdered even closer while I’ve been gone.
So, there you have it folks. That’s full answer to all the people who asked why I chose Quebec City for this trip. I’ve been drafting this throughout my trip, and as I sit here in the airport, waiting to come home, I’m very, very pleased with my choice. I kind of want to buy a Canada T-shirt before I leave.
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