Quebec City: Budget Traveling

“The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they call

Gitche Gumee.”  

With a brilliant stroke of his pen, Canadian folk singer Gordon Lightfoot pays his haunting tribute to the crew who lost their lives in the 1975, “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” Lightfoot’s lyrics are simple, yet elegant. “The wind in the wires made a tattle-tale sound and a wave broke over the railing. And ev’ry man knew, as the captain did too ’twas the witch of November come stealin.” In his poetic and moving descriptions the writer, who has had five Grammy nominations and been the recipient of nineteen of Canada’s prestigious Juno Awards, personifies the winter gale that annually comes sweeping across Lake Superior, calling it the witch of November. Canada’s First Nation people, the  Chippewa, Huron, Algonquin, Iroquois, Athabasca, and Abenaki, to mention only a few of the 630 recognized tribes, understand only too well that the ancient boreal forest  that so richly blankets much of Canada is only half the story. As I learned very clearly during my housesitting position in Quebec in January, the other half of the tale is the Canadian winter.

Einstein said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Our free will allows us each to choose the option by which we will live. Amazing events in my life, which can only be attributed to the miraculous, have left me with no alternative but to choose the latter of Einstein’s choices. The strange thing about miracles is that once someone believes in them, they begin to multiply.

Winter in Quebec City

In 2008, I received an email from a friend. She had sent me a treasure in the form of a powerpoint filled with stunningly beautiful pictures of Christmas in Quebec City, Canada.  For six years, I kept “Winter in Quebec” on the desktop of my computer, periodically opening and viewing it. For a person originally from Texas, a state starved for moisture, its magnetism was irresistible,  pulling me closer and closer. However, I never once dreamed I would ever have the opportunity to experience this winter paradise. I never dreamed I would be writing about my visit to this amazing old city in A Pilgrim’s Parable.

 

 

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Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City, Canada

 

 

Quebec City Budget

Christmas in Old Quebec City

 

 

In October of 2013, I opened my email to find a response from an application I had submitted on www.housecarers.com. It was from a lovely teacher in Canada, inviting me to spend two weeks caring for her home and two Himalayan cats in the very place I had dreamed of. Yes! Quebec City! Using the time honored system of reciprocity, she offered me free accommodations only a short walk from Old City Quebec. In return, I would serve her with diligence, carefully and affectionately caring for her pets, and ensuring that her home was exactly as she left it when she returned.

The only expenses I incurred from this adventure were a $700 United Airlines ticket and my costs for food. I am a light eater and enjoy simple foods, so my total expenditures were less than $1,000. Although there are tourist sites in the city that are costly, with exceptions, I chose to enjoy the free attractions. This worked well for me since I am a history lover and most major historical sites do not charge entrance fees. For those who are still able to maintain a reverence for holy places in our chaotic world, it is also very inspiring to visit the shrines and cathedrals scattered throughout the region. Again, there is no charge and the rewards of a few quiet moments to meditate leaves one refreshed and filled with anticipation for the next “miracle” to occur.

Quebec City Budget

Side Entrance to the Notre-Dame de Quebec Basilica-Cathedral

Locating a Volunteer Positions in Quebec

House sitting is an excellent way to see the world on a budget. Travel websites such as www.housecarers.com, www.mindmyhouse.comwww.trustedhousesitters.com , and www.caretaker.org connect homeowners with sitters who are willing and eager to serve as caretakers. These owners are naturally apprehensive about leaving their homes unattended. Other homeowners choose to have sitters, whose references have been carefully checked, to stay in their houses and take care of their pets rather than leave them in a kennel. With the exception of owners who are gone for an extended period of time, most home owners cover the cost of all utilities and the only expenses are the transportation to and from the sitting assignment and one’s food during the house sitting period.

If you choose to house sit, keep in mind that when designing your profile as a house sitter, it should be completed to the best of your ability. If you are not proficient in grammar, it would be wise to have a friend edit it before submission. Although there are numerous sitters applying for each position, it is not difficult to be selected if you are willing to put forth a minimum of effort. Posting references from people for whom you have previously sat will increase your chances of being selected, as will completing a criminal background check. If you have had no experience with either pet or house sitting, talk to your friends and ask to sit their homes and/or animals while they are away. Then post the references they provide. If you have the time and skills to develop a blog such as A Pilgrim’s Parable,  then post the URL for it also along with you profile and references. It will give the homeowner a look into your personal world, allowing them to feel comfortable with the sitter in whom they are often entrusting their most precious friends, their pets. After you apply for a position, simply be patient. I have had better luck with www.housecarers.com than with the others and consider the small yearly fee as a good investment.

Traveling on a Budget

Few hotels near Old Quebec City cost less than $150 per night. Although the home in which I stayed had two bedrooms and two baths, I chose to estimate the savings on accommodations by using the $150 per night cost. Thus, my savings were over $2,400. When this is added to my savings on accommodations in both Alaska and Spain, my total savings in 2013 came to approximately $11,400. As one can easily see, house sitting is one of the best forms of inexpensive travel.

Things to Do and See in Quebec City

  • Visit the boutiques and restaurants of the Quartier Petit-Champlain, the North American continent’s oldest shopping district, located in Old Quebec City.
  • Visit the Plains of Abraham, often called Battlefields Park or Parc des Champs-de-Bataille , where the French were forced to cede Canada to Great Britain during the French and Indian War.
  • Don’t forget the Place Royale, the cradle of Canada’s original French American community.
  • Have a quiet moment in the Basilique-Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Quebec, which belongs to the oldest parish in North America.
  • Visit both the Quebec National Museum of Fine Art and  the Museum of Civilization.

 

Suggested Resources

House and Pet Sitting

House Carers
Mind My House
Trusted Housesitters
House Sit World

How to Save Money Using Points

Nomadic Matt
The Points Guy

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