Ok, it lost a bit of its shine since I've been there just a few times already, but eh I'm not going to complain about a day off and an excuse to drive across the Santa Cruz mountains through a scenic road :)
The most fun for me was playing lasertag with my coworkers, and the free play videogames :)
Too bad we didn't get free play on the claws :)
The Santa Cruz beach is otherwise same as always, nice weather and so so rides, but eh, it wasn't so bad :)
A nice friend of mine gave me a gift certificate for Mountain House, so that was an excuse to drive there via Page Mill and Skyline since it's on Skyline :)
This was also a good time to get Jennifer some driving lessons, so we did :)
After a few days in Montreal, the guide book also had a section on Quebec City, and I realized that Quebec City was fairly close, and it'd be stupid not to spend a little time to visit too, so I moved my return flight to spend a couple of days there before flying home (Jennifer unfortunately had to go home earlier, so she wasn't able to join for that bit).
Interestingly, getting to Quebec City was easiest and fastest by bus: they had a bus going there every hour, you could just show up and be there in 3H door to door (actually faster than a plane), and enjoy power and wifi during the trip. The bus was clean and enjoyable, that beats greyhound by a little bit :)
So, Québec City is a wonderful little city to visit. I can all be done on foot, no car required (there are buses, but you can do without them).
Eh, let's do like Montréal, and start with the many churches. The difference for Québec City is that all the Anglicans have left, so the Protestant and Anglican churches have become empty, one has become a theatre school, and another one a library. The Catholic ones are doing a bit better.
The biggest/nicest church is Notre Dame de Québec, for which I got to visit the crypt which is still being escavated in hopes to find the remains of Samuel de Champlain, regarded as founder of Québec and father of New France:
Bibliothèque St Jean Baptiste:
Notre Dame Des Victoires in Lower Town:
Other random churches:
First, quick map of Quebec City and surroundings:
Ok, so like Montréal, it wasn't just churches. Québec City is most known for its Chateau de Frontenac (which is actually a fancy hotel, not a Castle):
staff at the Chateau wears clothing from the period
Fortifications are still around the city, and it still has its citadelle that was built to defend the city from further attacks (after the British managed to take it from the French, they had to defend themselves from both the French and the Americans and won several attacks because their resupply ships got there faster than the enemy's):
you can walk all around the fortifications, it was fun
they were prepared for coming ships :)
yes, they were ready :)
More random pictures from around town:
Maison Jacquet, dating 1677
La rue Couillard, je connais bien :)
I had a few crepes too many :)
The plains of Abrahams, which is where the British attacked from
Funiculaire between High Town and Lower Town
more food, yeah :)
yet more yum :)
And after 2 days of intense visiting, it was time to go home:
So I'm not quite ready to buy a F458, but when I got an offer to drive one at the track, it was difficult to pass up :) (Ferrari has a program for its owners that allows you to learn to drive their latest car at speed on a nice racetrack).
Ok, so it wasn't cheap, but considering that changing tires is around $2000, and changing ceramic brakes is in the $10k range (not sure how many track days they last), once you add that you can drive a car you won't have to buy and can't otherwise rent for track use, the cost becomes more acceptable :)
They use a track in French speaking Canada @ Mt Tremblant which is one of the best ski resorts on the east coast during the winter (although they all suck compared to the Rockies and Sierras). I liked the track layout, it was challenging.
arriving at the hotel
lineup wasn't too bad :)
The 2 day advanced course had a mix of:
skid pad in a Ferrari California, where you were actually supposed to do full powerslides through an figure 8 at the end (I was one of the least sucky students, but still not good at it, because it's hard).
autocross around a section of track to see who got the best lap time (boy was that hard, especially since I've never been that good at Auto-X).
driving around the north and sourth sides of the track first.
Of course, we then got to drive the whole track, although we were always "tethered" in a lead follow pattern where the instructor would only drive as fast as he thought you should (based on whether you looked safe or not, and then it felt capped around 2:02 per lap kind of regardless).
A few pictures of the F458:
the LCD rendered speedo is cute
Ok, let's go, let's lap this baby :)
We used the Ferrari California for skid pad training:
Ferrari California in the simulated rain, ironic :)
inside is nice too
They had one F598, which was used by the intructors to give laps, and slow us down (unfortunately, it is heavier and slower in turns, so I did feel like it was slowing me when I was behind it in the 458 :)
598 interior isn't too shaby
The fun part for me was that all the instructors spoke French, so half the time they would instruct me in French, half the time in English depending on what we felt like.
So, the slightly disappointing part was that as I got better the 2nd day, my lap times did not improve since I was effectively held back in some places by the instructor driving in front of me (although in other places they were clearly still a bit faster, since they were obviously better than me).
We also had to drive with the traction control in street mode, which wasn't as aggressive in cutting me off as I was fearing it would be, but I'm sure it slowed us down a bit compared to race mode which I use on my car at the track (but eh, I was willing to live with that tradeoff for being able to drive those nice cars on a real racetrack).
So even if I don't feel I got to improve much on the second day due to being held back, it was still a hell of a lot of fun :)
part of the track tours
Jennifer is ready for a hot lap :)
A good coffee and desert with fresh fruit keeps a sweetie happy :)
and everyone is a winner :)
They had an in car video setup, but it failed miserably, so they lost all of it. Lame...
Thankfully, trusting person that I am, I took a few of the laps with my GoPro (yes, the camera isn't straight, I was trying not to block the main camera that never worked).
Longish session following an instructor as close as I could :) (yes, the camera was sideways, it had to be where I put it)
Another session where I was following a slower F598 (it has a lot more horsepower, but has a hard time putting that power down and has a harder time turning and breaking with its extra 1000lbs of weight). Of course, the instructor was still faster than me, but I had to brake to early in places because of him :)
One of the last sessions, which were getting shorter by then, and where I hopefully did better :)
Saint Joseph du Mont Royal was also nice, close to the Sacré Coeur in Paris:
but there were many others:
St Patrick's Basilica
nice inside too
Of course, there was more than just churches, but they were worth mentioning :)
First, quick map of Montréal and surroundings:
Food, yum :)
Place de Jacques Cartier is a bit like Place du Tertre in Paris
Bixi bikes (like Vélib in Paris), very handy to get around
After visitng the Biodome on Isle St Hélène, Montréal was starting summer festival season, and had an electronic music festival on Isle St Hélène, so we went to Piknicelectronik to see James Holden who was spinning around that time:
We then went to tour the Island on bixi bikes, and went over to Ile Notre-Dame
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on Ile Notre-Dame just before the Grand Prix
North of Isle St Hélène
Place de Jacques Cartier at night
The next morning we went to the Olympic Stadium and its tower, the biodome, and the botanical garden:
We went to the biodome next:
And the botanical garden was also quite a nice visit:
our cat would have been so happy in there :)
More random pictures form visiting the next day:
Rue St Denis at Night
Views from Mt Royal
Those birds are angry :)
picnic by St Patrick's Cathedral
We also had some nice meals :)
More Foie Gras :)
Many more pictures, but that's enough for this page, click on the link below for more :)
Long story short, though, we had a fantastic time in Montréal, it's a great city to visit.