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 🙂
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.
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.
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…
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-Paul, Château Frontenac, all the way down to Basse-Ville — and North America’s oldest commercial street, Rue du Petit-Champlain.
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…
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.?!
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*
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:
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.
What a perfect trip: can’t wait to go back!
How fun! I have never considered couch surfing before. But I might try it.
you should, Suki! So long you follow my advice on my Couchsurfing beginner’s guide, you’ll be good to go 😉
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:
hello Jen! I actually wrote another blog post where I highlight how one can have a better couchsurfing experience, check it out and let me know what you think:
Back to Québec City: I LOVED how walking-friendly it was. But then again, it mimics European cities, which ALL tend to be very walkable. Ah, if the Americas only tried to copy those good habits from the old continent…!
It sounds like you had a blast and a fantastic host in Quebec!
i DID! Thank you so much for commenting, Couchsurfing! 😉
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
Look at you in all those layers! Food looks amazing.
I love Quebec City, it’s such a cool place, isn’t it? I can’t wait to go back.
indeed Marcia. I miss it so much! Although I certainly don’t miss the cold… haha 😛 Caribbean girl at heart!