This past weekend, S and I celebrated our fifth anniversary. It doesn't sound like much -- and indeed, it seems like just yesterday we were tying the knot -- but as far as modern marriages go, we are ahead of the curve. Case in point: we ran into a friend we hadn't heard from in a while in the Starbucks on our way out. He got married in 2010; they are going through a divorce.
So we decided to visit Quebec City. Or rather, we decided to visit Vieux-Quebec. Unfortunately, it rained on us. Fortunately, we make our own fun. Like Montreal, particularly Old Montreal, Quebec City has a decidedly European flair: cobblestone streets, small boutiques and markets, and lots of history. We stopped for coffee in a tiny bistro, and had dinner at Le Pain Beni, where everything except the pasta was available gluten-free!
S / Me: "Take a picture of me sticking my head inside!" / "Go stick your head inside so I can take a picture!"
Uttered at the exact same time upon seeing the cannon. Yet more proof that we are a match made in Purgatory.
We didn't do much in Vieux-Quebec, but we did get some good pictures despite the dreary day. Back at our hotel, we laid low and celebrated five years of deciding to make it extra-complicated to break up. I don't kiss and tell, but I will say it involved rum and the soundtrack of Braveheart.
There was a busload of German tourists staying in our hotel, and we all got up at the same time. We stood in line for coffee speaking a strange amalgamation of English/French/broken German.
The real gem and purpose of our journey was the Basilica at Sainte-Anne de Beaupre. A masterpiece of gothic architecture and one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in North America. We love churches, especially impressive ones such as this. (Remember, you're looking at the atheists who got married in a church.)
The Basilica grounds were impressive, sporting chapels, monasteries, and depictions of the Crucifixion. S and I did the walk, all the while praising Jeebus for his fortitude. It was a lot of work for very little payoff, as the monastery we reached at the top of the hill was empty and closed to visitors.
S: We should just stand there and knock until a monk answers.
Me: lol he would be stone-faced, like "Yes, child."
S: "Is Jesus home?"
Me: "... *door slam*"
If we had gotten a door-slam, we could have walked back down the hill at peace.
For the most part, we were entirely respectful and totally self-deprecating of our atheist status. When I happened upon the tomb of Alfred Pampalon, patron saint of alcohol and drug addicts, I had to wait a long time in order to snap the picture. See, for me, it was simple historical curiosity -- but for the genuine Catholics who were there ... well, I would have felt bad for intruding on their prayers by taking a picture of their dead guy.
The Basilica and its grounds are magnificent. We did not expect them to be so firmly entrenched in the city limits, however. In fact, we initially drove right past it because no way could that really be it; there's a McDonald's across the street.
In closing, on the road we kept seeing faded signs proclaiming Denny's was on the horizon. Since we had just come from a heavily Catholic experience, and since Denny's is the usual victim in our "white Christian status-quo" jokes, we decided to stop there to use the washroom.
Turns out we'd been misreading the old signs; it was Benny's. Disappointed.