from Saguenay to Øresund




18 August 2015

Map: Jacques Nicolas Bellin, Carte du Cours du Fleuve de St-Laurent, 1757

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Itinerary
Québec
18-19 Aug Chambly
20-21 Aug Île-d'Orléans
22 Aug Quebec City
23-24 Aug Île-aux-Coudres
25-27 Aug Chicoutimi
28-29 Aug Tadoussac
30 Aug Baie-Comeau
31 Aug Matane
1-2 Sept Rimouski
3 Sept Rivière-du-Loup
4 Sept Quebec City

Europe
3-4 Oct Malmö, Sweden
5-7 Oct Copenhagen, Denmark
8 Oct Stege, Denmark
9 Oct Ystad, Sweden
10 Oct Lund, Sweden
11-12 Oct Craigellachie, Scotland
13-15 Oct Plockton, Scotland
16 Oct Edinburgh, Scotland
17-18 Oct Seahouses, England
19-20 Oct Reykjavik, Iceland



I'm splitting my travel time between Canada and Europe again this year, as I did in 2012. This time the Canadian segment will be entirely in Québec, and the overseas voyage will take me to Denmark, Sweden, Scotland, England, and Iceland. The six nights I spend in Scotland, and eight in the UK, will be the shortest time I have spent there in eighteen trips.

Trip itineraries come about in odd ways. My friend Marc, who lives in Quebec City, used to be a bar manager. He was friendly with the folks at Unibroue, in Chambly, and we talked for years about spending a weekend there, mainly to eat at the brewery's restaurant, Fourquet Fourchette. We never got around to it. Early this summer, I suggested to him that we meet there on a weekend in August, when my work is usually slow. He countered with a proposal to spend a couple of weeks exploring the shores of the St Lawrence River, downstream from Quebec City. I accepted, and we worked out an itinerary, including a visit to the fjord of the Saguenay River, which has been on my list for many years. Ironically, I will start by staying two nights in Chambly without him.

Meanwhile, Win and I were tossing around ideas for a European trip at the front of my annual visit to Scotland. We looked at a number of Scandinavian destinations--Trondheim, Bergen, Stockholm. A major consideration for me was getting to the UK from wherever we went, and it was an $87 flight from Copenhagen to Aberdeen that sealed the deal. We'll fly into the Danish capital, and spend several days on either side of Øresund, the body of water that separates eastern Denmark from southern Sweden.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Tuesday 18 August 2015--I drive north this morning from my hometown of Springfield, Massachusetts, on Interstate 91 to White River Junction, Vermont, then northwest on I89. Just past Burlington, I pick up US Route 2 through the Hero Islands in Lake Champlain. I was planning to spend a couple of hours poking around these, but I started late, so it's just a drive-through. Pretty country, will have to return. Samuel de Champlain was the first European to visit this area, in 1609. He'd established the settlement that would become Quebec City the year before, befriending the local Montagnais, Algonquin, Wendat, and Etchemin, who were at war with the Iroquois. The trip here was part of a foray against them, during which Champlain impressed one and all by killing two Iroquois chiefs with one shot from his arquebus. Along the way, he found time to map the lake and name it for himself.

Cross the bridge to Rouses Point, New York, and turn north toward the border, less than a mile away. Canadian customs pulls me aside for a fairly thorough search. I suppose they wonder why a non-local is using one of the smaller ports of entry. When I'm driving the bus, I am obliged to use the large ones on the highway; on my own time, I just want to do something different. As well, this is the road that runs alongside the west bank of the Richelieu River, which I want to see as much of as possible. If I were inclined to attempt to smuggle contraband over the border, I'd never try it at one of these quiet little crossings--the agents have nothing better to do, I think, than rummage through the belongings of dodgy-looking characters like me.

Shortly I am rolling through flat Québec farm country, alongside the river. About twenty miles along, I pass through downtown Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, the largest city in the region, with a population pushing 100,000. I have only ever passed by it on the highway before now, with views of shopping malls and modern apartment buildings. The old center presents a very different aspect, one perhaps worth exploring another time.

Arrive in Chambly at quarter to seven. Check into my motel and saunter across the street to Fourquet Fourchette for dinner and a few pints. The restaurant is owned by Unibroue, the renowned brewer of such beers as Maudite, Fin Du Monde, and Blanche de Chambly. It's a very pleasant evening, and I join the other patrons on the terrasse out back. The meal is excellent, if a bit pricey--the mosquitos drifting in off the Chambly Basin are getting the best deal tonight. Rather than feed them further, I go off to see where else I might have a pint.

One of the restaurants along the main drag has a cozy-looking bar in back of the dining room, so I settle on a stool and order a beer. I'm well into it when I'm asked what I'd like to eat. Evidently, the establishment's license requires alcohol to be served with food, and the fact that I've already had dinner carries no weight. Annoyed, I order the cheapest item on the menu, a basic green salad. When it arrives, I finish my beer, leave exact change for my bill, and leave. It's not fair to stiff the servers, I know--it's not their fault--but I'm really peeved. Why have a bar if you can't simply order a drink? The waitress can eat my salad.

[Long after my trip, I discovered, to my great dismay, that I'd missed Chambly's brewpub, Bedondaine & Bedons Ronds, hidden up a side street off the main drag. I had a day free in Montréal the following May and took a bus out to Chambly to rectify my glaring error. I found a charming pub crammed with the proprietor's vast collection of breweriana, serving a wide variety of interesting beers. Let's pretend I went there after the salad incident...photos below.]

Next



Lake Champlain


Lake Champlain


Lake Champlain


Bridge To Rouses Point, New York


US/Canada Border


Farm Country, Québec


Downtown St-Jean-sur-Richelieu


Fourquet Fourchette, Chambly


Fourquet Fourchette


Fourquet Fourchette


Bedondaine & Bedons Ronds
May 2016


Bedondaine & Bedons Ronds
May 2016


Bedondaine & Bedons Ronds
May 2016

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