To paraphrase the “Most Interesting Man in the World” from all those Dos Equis commercials: “I don’t always travel, but when I do travel I do it right.” Maybe he didn’t say that, exactly, but it’s a rule of thumb I like to live by, and it was put to the test when I got to join Country Walkers Guided Walking tour through Québec City & the Saguenay Fjord.
I knew before I left that this was going to be an unforgettable experience—I share an office with the trip’s manager, Deb Emerson, after all—but even with that in mind I was quite surprised by the historical walks, over-the-top guest service, and overall ambiance I experienced while walking the cobblestone streets and rugged, mountain trails of Quebec. It seemed like each day of this six-day guided tour there was a standout experience I took away that left me feeling satisfied and fulfilled. Here are a few of my favorite highlights:
Close Encounters: As a first-time whale watcher, all I can say is, “Wow!” We took a three-hour zodiac excursion on the St. Lawrence River to visit with these majestic creatures, and it was truly unforgettable. One minute we were in the middle of hundreds of grey seals feasting on a variety of fish and the next our breath was being taken away by a blue whale breaching directly beside our zodiac boat. Not only was there endless activity all around us, but our guide was exceptionally attentive to our many questions and requests, leaving us feeling like we truly got the best seat on the St. Lawrence that day.
Anything You Want, You Got It: I’ll admit it: I can be a picky eater. Some days I claim vegetarianism, others the very thought of goat cheese makes me cringe and unless the flavor of beets are completely disguised then don’t even bother putting them on my plate. But, none of this mattered for six days; there were great selections during every meal, every day. If by chance you didn’t see anything you like then you could count on the impeccable restaurants we visited to go the extra mile to ensure your needs would be met. I feasted on spiced scallops, halibut with squash, braised pork, and a parade of perfectly matched desserts. For a girl with high standards, I was not just impressed; I was overwhelmed.
A Walk to Remember: Every day our group was presented with a walk—each one different than the last. From a city stroll to a walk in the woods, all offered a unique and a well-rounded view of Quebec. The one that I must revisit, however, was our trek through Parc National de la Jacques-Cartier. Located a little over an hour from Quebec City, it is the largest provincial park in a region known for frequent moose sightings. But nature wasn’t the only pleasure of this walk. As we spread out on the trail—each exploring at our own pace, taking in the beauty at our leisure and stopping at endless picturesque lookout points along the way—I had the pleasure of sharing the trail with a first time Country Walkers traveler. We had a great time, sharing stories, laughing, and taking in the scenery. That kind of connection added the perfect touch to a day already brimming with simple pleasures.
Being a first-time Country Walkers Traveler myself, I couldn’t have asked for a better week. From a vibrant group to some of the best walking excursions I’ve experienced to meals I must have again. Quebec is just one of those places that you must experience for yourself.