The first day of the conference today so I was busy catching up with everyone, listening to key note speeches, presentations and general conference type stuff.
In the evening I went out for a walk in Old Québec in the evening. In dock was the majestic RMS Queen Mary 2. I had visited the original Queen Mary back in 1988 in California when I was just a kid so it was a bit of a thrill seeing her successor.
Édifice Price, the tallest building in Old Québec and also home to the official residence of the Premier of Québec.
The Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec just across the square.
Capitole de Québec.
After an early morning run I had the tasty French raisin toast with maple syrup for breakfast at the hotel.
My presentation was first up this morning. A photo my colleague Michel took, looking a bit like Moses trying to part the Red Sea! The presentation went really well and it was great to present our successful project to an outside audience.
After another day of conferencing, I went for a walk out into the city again. A very tricked out Harley.
At the Musée du Chocolat at Érico, one of the recommended sights of Québec.
They also had a chocolate shop with the sweet, rich aroma of chocolate heavy in the air.
And which I couldn't resist buying few things to takeback to Dubai.
I then went for a stroll through Old Québec. The Queen Mary 2 was still in port, and was great to watch the different colours and lights appear as dusk fell.
Dinner was at Restaurant Le Grill Sainte-Anne, with the very tasty canard rôti (roast duck).
Oeufs au choix with bacon and toast for breakfast this morning.
I had to give another presentation today on behalf of a colleague who could not make it. I did reasonably well but choked a bit with questions afterwards as it was not really my field of expertise.
In the evening was the conference gala dinner in the main ball room.
Complete with a three piece band.
I sat at a table with a former colleague who had retired recently and was now living in Ottawa. We had a good chat about his new life in Canada after 20+ years working in Dubai and Bahrain.
Surf n' turf served for the main.
An interesting mix of people with some good conversation around the table, with myself (Kiwi), two Brazilians, a Colombian, a Canadian, an Indian and an Emirati!
And some tasty crème brûlée for dessert.
Dawn on the St. Charles river while on my morning jog.
A very tasty breakfast to fuel up after the run with the Palace Parfait with a Greek yoghurt martini with berries, melon and poundcake.
On the last day of the conference there was an excursion organised to Alma Aluminium Smelter. The autumn colours on full display as we drove along on the highway north.
On the way we took a slight diversion and stopped to check out Arvida bridge. Completed in 1950, it was the world's first aluminium bridge.
Boarding back onto our 'Rockstar' black bus to continue the ride to Alma.
We finally arrived at the smelter at about 12:30pm and were welcomed onsite by the Plant Manager. The smelter was relatively new, built as a greenfield site in 2000 with AP30 technology (photo courtesy of Rio Tinto Alcan).
Some of the Plant KPI's on display. Their operating strategy was quite interesting with some efficiency traded in exchange for higher production (and presumably greater profit).
The Plant manager giving us a short presentation on the smelter and necessary safety precautions before our tour. A very healthy lunch of tuna wraps and fresh vegetables too!
We were then split into three groups, with the Potroom manager taking our group for our tour of the Plant. Unfortunately no photo's were allowed on the Plant tour but we got to see quite abit, as well as have a good chat with our guide on the workings of the Carbon, Potrooms and Casthouse.
After a very interesting day we got back to the hotel in Québec City just before 6pm. I had to change rooms on my last night as I had booked an extra night on a separate booking.
And complete with a bust of Beethoven!
I then went out for a last final evening stroll through Old Québec.
Not before getting some Tim's and a sprinkle covered donut though.
Down the steps to La Basse-Ville (Lower Town).
It was great to simply stroll along the beautiful streets and alleys.
The MS Zuiderdam in port this evening.
Pumpkins out for Halloween.
For dinner at stopped at Le Lapin Saute, a top rated restaurant in Québec.
After browsing the menu I quickly settled on the very tasty Cassoulet de lapin braisé et saucisee de canard (braised rabbit cassoulet and duck sausage).
And I managed to make room for the delicious moelleux au chocolate, caramel et shooter de Boréale noire (chocolate mousse with caramel and black Boréale shooter) for dessert.
Enjoying a last stroll through La Basse-Ville.
And back up the stairs after a pleasant last evening in Québec City.
Pancake and maple syrup for breakfast before checking out of the hotel on the morning of day 8.
After a short walk I was outside Gare du Palais for the 8:05am train to Montreal.
And inside the train station, built in 1915.
We had to queue up to have our tickets checked before being allowed onto the platform to board the train (which was a bit unusual and unlike trains I had caught in Europe and elsewhere) for the journey south.
In the second class seats, which were actually quite roomy wth plenty of leg room.
Departing on time in the morning fog.
And travelling through the forest with the beautiful autumn colours out on display.
Some cheese, crackers, fruit and nuts to quell the hunger from the food and drink cart.
Blue skies now visible as we got closer to Montreal.
And arriving on time at Montreal Central Station at 11:20 am.
After a short walk from the station I arrived at La Conciergerie guesthouse for my two night stay in Montreal.
I was warmly greeted by Luc the manager and shown to my very homely and beautiful room. He said he had saved me the best room in the guesthouse and I was certainly impressed!
And just outside my own personal outdoor area to relax and chill out in. At $CA177 a night it was a very nice place in a great location for my two nights in Montreal.
I then went out to explore some of Montreal.
By now it was lunchtime so I stopped for a bite to eat at a Vietnamese restaurant, Cristal No 41. Shrimp spring rolls to start.
Followed by some tasty beef Phở.
My Lonelyplanet guidebook had an architectural walking tour which I decided to follow.
First stop was Place d'Armes, with the art deco Aldred Building looking out on to the square. Just to the left is also the New York Life building, Montreal's first skyscraper.
And just across was the very majestic Notre-Dame Basilica.
It is apparently possible to get married here just as Céline Dion did, but there is a two year waiting list though!
Looking up at the silver dome of Marché Bonsecours. It was closed in 1963 as a farmer's central market and is now an upscale mall.
The square was full of people out enjoying the October sun.
Montreal City Hall and the balcony where Charles de Gaulle shouted out his controversial Vive le Québec libre!.
Serenity. There was a busker just off to the right and the lady had her eye's closed, silently mouthing the words to the music.
And a mid-afternoon caffeine fix.
Place de la dauversière.
I then walked back to the guesthouse and relaxed on the terrace. The forecast for tomorrow was rain so I headed out again to make the most of the clear evening weather.
For dinner I went to Frite Alors on Rue St. Denis and had the Le Gros Machin, a double patty beef burger with Swiss cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes and with a side of poutine.
I then retired back to the guesthouse and enjoyed the last of the evening on the terrace.
After a morning run around the nearby La Fontaine Park, I had decent breakfast in the guesthouse dining room.
It was gently pouring with rain this morning, so after borrowing an umbrella from the guesthouse I went for a walk back into the city.
Just before 10:30am I then met up for an Old Montreal food tour starting at Brit and Chips on Rue McGill.
There was about 12 of us on the tour today, and Matt, our guide, got us to introduce ourselves. Most of the group were Canadians although there were a couple of Americans visiting from New Hampshire. Matt himself was born and bred in Québec City to German parents, and had spent four years living and working in Berlin.
We then started our first tasting with some fish n'chips.
The cod was perfectly cooked and the chips were delightfully crispy.
And the chef. Brit & Chips is amongst the most highly rated restaurants in Montreal.
We then headed outside for the start of our walking tour. Matt gave us a bit of the history of Montreal, and how it used to be quite divided between the Anglophone and Francophone sides, with the two communities separated geographically by Saint Laurent Boulevard.
Our next stop was Cantinho de Lisboa, a Portugese eat-in and take-out market and café.
And where we had some Portuguese soup, Caldo Verde, made with potatoes, kale, olive oil, garlic, onions and salt. The soup was also accompanied by the cod garbanzo (chickpea) salad.
We then continued our walk with Matt telling us about the unique history and culture of Montreal.
Next stop was Crew Collective & Café. The place was recently setup as an office for a tech start-up and a cafe for freelance workers by local architect Henri Cleinge, and was located in the city's old Royal Bank, built in 1926 on Rue St-Jacques.
And our PLT open sandwiches lined up on top of an old bank deposit table!
The PLT stood for prosciutto, lettuce & tomato.
We then carried on to Cookie Stéfanie, a pastry shop specialising in gluten-free food.
And where we got to try the tasty carrot and pineapple cake with cream frosting.
After a short walk, we arrived at Le Petit Dépanneur.
A dépanneur or dep is a convenience store in Quebec and other French-speaking parts of Canada.
Le Petit Dépanneur was a gourmet version however with lots of tasty food and treats for sale.
Here we enjoyed an apple and peach soft serve cone.
We then walked along the waterfront. In the distance is the old and now disused grain silo's from when Montreal used to be a bustling trade hub.
Our penultimate stop of the day was at Les Soeurs Grises, a brewpub named after Montreal's historic Grey Nuns.
Pouring their craft-brewed marguerite beer, described as blonde, crispy and awakened with aromas of flowers & peanut butter.
And which went well with some local cheese and cranberries.
At our final stop for the day, Soupe soup.
And instead of soup, we got to experience a Québécois classic, Pouding chômeur. Pouding chômeur, or poor man's pudding, is a dessert that was created by female factory workers during the Great Depression. The pudding is made from a basic cake batter with hot maple poured over before baking. Super sweet and a great way to finish our culinary tour of Old Montreal.
After thanking Matt for the excellent tour and bidding farewell to the rest of the group, I walked back through the rainy streets.
500 Place D'Armes, completed in 1968 for Banque Canadienne Nationale. The bank's safe was built above ground to thwart any tunnel-digging safe robbers!
Stopping at a souvenir shop to grab some stuff to take home back to Dubai.
I then retreated from the rain again into a nearby Starbucks for a hot coffee fix.
I then headed back to the guesthouse just before 4pm for the rest of the afternoon.
Outside Berri-UQAM Subway Station to catch the train to Le Plateau-Mont-Royal in the evening.
$CA5 for unlimited evening stops/trips.
And the rain finally stopping with blue skies overhead in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.
Rianda had wanted some Canadian maple syrup so I went to a local supermarket and got a decent-sized bottle to take home.
For dinner I headed to Tomato la boîte à pizza and had some authentic thin crusted Italian pizza with salami de genoa, mushrooms, green peppers and mozzarella cheese. I think my eyes were far too big for my stomach though, and after the all the food I had eaten today I barely managed to finish half of it!
And catching the subway back after a great second and final day in Montreal.