My Quebec City Couchsurfing experience: the perfect solo trip?

While I have already told you about the different attractions and things to do in this charming old town, Quebec City Couchsurfing was an experience in itself. For 4 days, I stayed in a neighborhood north of Rue Saint-Jean and Avenue Turnbull (up the hill) and it was the perfect solo trip. And then some 🙂

Château Frontenac, Quebec City Couchsurfing

me in front of Château Frontenac, Québec City

My Quebec City Couchsurfing experience: The arrival

It was a gray, chilly, rainy summer day. “Worst day ever,” I thought. After being lost, wet, and cold for over 30 minutes looking for her apartment, I wasn’t in the best of moods. Until…

FOUND it! Not only that, but as soon as the door opened, warmth overtook me. My host, a Polish translator who also spoke Spanish and French, had invited over her best friend, who happened to be an Argentinian studying languages in Québec City, so she could meet me. The welcome included plenty of Spanish discourse, hot apple cider tea, and Polish beet soup. Suddenly, everything was all right. Everything was perfect.

Quebec City Couchsurfing experience, the neighborhood

Neighborhood I was Couchsurfing at in Quebec City!

Couchsurfing, I freaking love you.

What I experienced thanks to my Quebec City Couchsurfing host

Just about an hour into my warm Quebecois welcome, Kasia’s Argentinian friend had to go back to studying and my host herself had to get back to work (from home). Which meant only one thing: whether I wanted to or not, I had to go out and explore the city on my own.

“Oh, you must be cold dear. Here, take my waterproof parka, sneakers, and scarf. Oh! And don’t forget the city maps!”

Somehow, I was leaving my host’s apartment with a new wardrobe, scores of self-guided walking tour itineraries and maps to choose from, plus a full belly. AND I got to explore a new city and have the rest of the day all to myself.

my Quebec City Couchsurfing experience, portrait

My crazy layers! I wasn’t prepared for the cold…so Couchsurfer gave me what she had (sneakers included!)

I started heading south of Rue Saint-Jean and Avenue Turnbull, down the hill. The multiple cultures I encountered within the first five minutes shocked me. Why I don’t know, but it was wonderful. From an Eastern European international grocer to a French bakery and authentic Arab restaurants — it was a quaint version of a small New York City neighborhood. With much more character! And beautiful architecture…

cabaret theater, Quebec City Couchsurfing experience

the gorgeous cabaret theater by the entrance gate of Old Québec

Vieux Quebec, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

the charming streets and architecture of Old Quebec City

Within easy walking distance was Vieux Québec. I made it back to Gare du Palais (central train station), now able to truly take it in as I wasn’t running toward a bus as to not freeze to death. From there, I ventured into the Marché du Vieux-Port (Old Port market) and couldn’t help but stuff my face with sweet macaroons. Continued down picturesque Rue Saint-PaulChâteau Frontenac, all the way down to Basse-Ville — and North America’s oldest commercial street, Rue du Petit-Champlain.

macaroons, Quebec City Couchsurfing experience

MACAROONS, O heavenly macaroons!

Quartier du Petit Champlain, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

me walking around Quartier du Petit Champlain! Impressive Château Frontenac in the background

Around 5 PM I figured I would like some company over dinner, so I headed back to my Couchsurfing host (Kasia’s), hoping she would be done with work so we could check out the Tunisian restaurant I walked by on my way to Old Québec. I did so by taking the long way though: along Terrasse Dufferin, up La Citadelle, past the Parliament Building

Terrasse Dufferin, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

Terrasse Dufferin, the beautiful boardwalk with gorgeous views of the sound Lawrence River and nearby towns

 READ MORE: Paid + Free Things to do in Québec City

Tunisian dinner — and free BYOB! — at Restaurant Carthage

No corkage fee and an incredibly sumptuous Tunisian dinner in an unreal environment — plus an unexpected price! Little place I wouldn’t have seen unless I stayed with a local in Quebec City. Got some excellent, affordable red wine from a nearby shop and had a dinner for the ages: some relaxing hours talking about the beautiful world of translation, world affairs, and even got to practice my Arabic with the friendly server 😀 why don’t we dine like this in the U.S.?!

lamb couscous, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

Tunisian lamb…couscous underneath!

restaurant Carthage, Quebec City Couchsurfing experience

the ambience and architectural details: just so so gorgeous

Another day, another adventure: French-Canadian style

I spent the next 3 days walking alternate routes around Old Québec, paying close attention to and lingering around landmarks I only took a photograph of on my first day. Favorite experiences include playing a mural scavenger hunt along Base-Ville; spending hours learning about the ambiguous Quebecois culture & history thanks to the Musée de la Civilisation‘s “People of Québec…Then and Now” permanent exhibition; and of course, eating rich, creamy duck confit poutine at Le Cochon Dingue… *sighs*

poutine, Quebec City Couchsurfing experience

I want poutine. Right NOW…

Dinner would be even richer: traditional French-Canadian fare at the historical, fancy Aux Anciens Canadiens restaurant. Better yet, go between noon and 5:45 PM in order to get an incredible three-course lunch or early dinner (including a glass of wine or beer!) for a fraction of their regular prices. Game-stuffed pies, thick seafood bisques, sweet cream brulés, and a turnip soup that could lift the spirits of the dead–perfect for the unusually-cold summer I experienced:

Aux Anciens Canadiens, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

fancy fancy!

honey turnip soup, Quebec City Couchsurfing experience

the turnip and honey soup that could lift the spirits of the dead

wild game pie, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

traditional Quebecois pie made with bison, elk, and other wild game

Maple syrup pie, Restaurant Aux Anciens Canadiens

UNREAL maple syrup pie. OMG

SO! My Quebec City Couchsurfing review equals…the perfect solo trip?

I know many solo travelers overlook Couchsurfing because they feel they have to give up most of their independence during their trip. However, if you contact the busy busy bee as your CS host, you’ll get the best of both worlds! And so my Quebec City Couchsurfing experience was a perfect mix of self-guided walking tours, multicultural chatter, and exotic dinners shared only occasionally with someone just as passionate about languages and travel as I am.

River view, Quebec City Couchsurfing review

St. Lawrence river view from Vieux Québec

What a perfect trip: can’t wait to go back!

Have you ever gone Couchsurfing? What was your experience like?

10 thoughts on “My Quebec City Couchsurfing experience: the perfect solo trip?

  1. I was also on my own in Quebec City (partner flew home for a wedding). I walked everywhere and loved the parks, the market and the murals. We have tried Couchsurfing a few times over the past year of travel with no luck – but we’ll keep trying.

    Thanks for sharing your QC story. Here’s mine:

    http://slowlyglobal.blogspot .com/2013/07/youre-on-your-own-for-five-days-in.html

  2. Hi Maria,

    I came back again to see if I can comment. I’m having better luck this time, but still not easy.

    I used to travel to Quebec City a lot on business. It was one of those places that I could never get enough of. Your post brings back a lot of memories. The Aux Anciens Canadiens was always a favorite. I never couch surfed in QC, but was lucky enough to stay at the Hotel Frontenac. 🙂

    • yay! it worked! 😀 and ufff lucky you for staying at the Frontenac! I imagine those suites to be ultra-luxurious

    • indeed Marcia. I miss it so much! Although I certainly don’t miss the cold… haha 😛 Caribbean girl at heart!

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