The Travelling Student – Accidental Tourist

My name is Philip Kirkbride. I’m a college graduate from Ontario studying at AU. I’ve always wanted to do an exchange program or study abroad but never found the right time to do so. This is part six in the story of how Athabasca University has allowed me to create my own study abroad program. In part five we dropped off Annie the hitchhiker and while Matt did a quick oil change I ventured off to find a washroom in the historical Old Quebec City.

The church parking lot where Matt was doing an oil change was bustling with tourist activity. Every few minutes a small group of tourists would walk in or out and quickly stare at Matt. In a lot of ways Matt looked like an authentic Canadian lumberjack, 6?2″ with big boots, a plaid pattern coat, and an SUV full of saw equipment. I like to think that he added to their experience.

As I walked through the church gates onto a narrow street there were several more tourists. It seemed like three or four tourists for every authentic Quebec resident. A group wearing matching red t-shirts ran by, stopping briefly to look at a sheet of paper. Likely tourists doing a scavenger hunt.

I had no idea where I was going but I figured if I walked in the direction that most people where coming and going from I would find something worth seeing eventually. The walk was slightly uphill but I could see a horizon approaching where the hill would stop. I started to get excited imagining that I would be in for an amazing view once the incline stopped.

I was not disappointed. When I reached the top there was a large statue surrounded by tourists and a few buskers. Behind the statue was an amazing view of the Vieux-Port (old port). Despite the name the port is still in use. There were hundreds of small personal boats as well as two giant cruise ships. To the right of the statue there was a giant beautiful building. I couldn’t tell if it was government owned or just a very fancy hotel.

There happened to be a tour guide talking to a group of people only a few meters away so I walked over to listen. The guide explained that this was the famous Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac. The site was originally used as a residence of the British colonial governors of Lower Canada and Quebec. Later the residence was demolished and an even more luxurious hotel was built on top of it. The Chateau Frontenac is considered to be the most photographed hotel in the world.

I probably would have taken a picture myself but at that moment I received a text from Matt “Where are you?” “On my way” I replied via text. But first I went to check out a building that seemed to be very popular. It ended up being a tourist center, but served for a quick washroom break. Soon enough I was back at the church and hopped into the car. After driving at a horse’s pace, literally?we were behind a horse?we exited the city walls. Soon we were back on the highway with another five hours to go. I laid back into the passenger seat with a Tim Horton’s sandwich in hand and wondered if we would find camp that night, and, just as important, where we would sleep.

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