06 November 2013

Culture Vulture Kids: Quebec Roadtrip

For our summer vacation we ventured north to Quebec. Having a nearly three year old while touristing around a foreign city wasn't easy but we made it work, we learned about our favorite era in history, scratched the Francophile itch and exposed our toddler to Canada's unique French culture.

I can't say that every moment was all smiles--limited public restrooms with changing areas, restaurants serving juice glasses as children's cups and, of course, the risk of public meltdowns. So naturally there were times when I wanted to forbid any future travel that wasn't 100% small child-friendly. But I won't. Going on a trip like this has been one of our goals for many years and I'm glad we went.

Here are our lessons learned and some highlights for fellow culture-loving parents nurturing little culture vulture kids:
  • In terms of visiting historic sites, we brought our pumpkin to several but didn't bring her to all of them. We couldn't realistically expect her to stay quite through multiple grown-up activities in a row (i.e.: museum visit in the morning, a sit down service lunch and then a tour). So we chose to "divide and conquer": one parent chased her around a park while the other participated in a cultural activity...or "actibity" as she says.
  • Family restrooms are nil and public restrooms are minimal, just like Europe. I anticipated this and didn't push potty training before the trip. 
  • When it comes to using a stroller, Quebec's hilly landscape and stairs makes it a tricky place for a "push chair". We brought our stroller and used it primarily for visiting the CITADEL, since that's a more stairs-free walk. When exploring the rest of the city, Upper Town and Lower Town, we made her walk (it's good exercise to run down her high energy level) or we carried her on our shoulders. If you choose to visit Quebec with a child and favor using a stroller, I wouldn't suggest using a jogging stroller. While it might make for a more pleasant ride, and be easier to push, the cobblestone streets and the wide base and wheels would make it difficult to navigate. I would also be mindful of using a stroller with plastic wheels, such as an umbrella stroller, on the cobblestone. I noticed several savvy parents with kiddy hiking backpacks. 
  • Since few restaurants offer plastic child cups with lids/straws so we learned to bring a clean sippy cup each day.
  • One of the nice things about visiting a city like Quebec, it has a wonderful European feel but a "Target safety net" is not far away for any necessities that might have been forgotten at home. 
A few happy highlights from our growing culture kid:
  • When we visited a house museum, our daughter knew that she was supposed to be excited that she was there. I don't think she quite understood why we were excited but something is rubbing off and she's understanding that a "history house" means something positive, which makes all the hassles worth it!
  • One of my favorite moments during the trip came when we passed by a museum that she enjoyed visiting a few days prior and she insisted "I want to go back to the museum!" 

 18th century architecture!

Les Musees de la civilisatrion a Quebec was the best family-friendly museum. It had traditional exhibits...

 The second floor view inside Les Musees de la Civilisation.

 Playing dress-up.

...and the basement is a hands-on history play center complete with children's and adult's costumes! Needless to say we spent hours there.

 Les Fetes de la Nouvelle-France

Climbing "Rapunzel's castle"

For more Quebec photos, check out my Instagram page and scroll back to August 2013.

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