Tourists in Quebec City get a taste of G7 fallout
Visitors discover empty streets and closed shops, and the occasional deployment of riot police
Romantic walks down cobbled streets, evening horse-drawn carriage rides, sipping coffee on an outdoor patio — all postcard images tourists expect to see when they visit Quebec City.
Instead, visitors to the old town during this week's G7 summit found a very different scene, complete with boarded-up storefronts and the occasional run-in with police dressed in riot gear.
The mostly deserted streets during the G7 protests stand in stark contrast to the usual frenzy that comes with the first warm days of June in the old city.
This year, it looks more like a "ghost town," said Gabriel Legal, who works at the Murphy's Irish Pub on Saint-Jean Street.
"Most people who are around here are tourists who didn't really know what was going to go down here," said Legal, who saw very few locals out and about.
"They almost scared people out of coming into the city," she said of the build-up in the weeks prior to the summit.
While many businesses opted to board up their windows to protect their storefronts from potentially violent protests, others chose to close altogether.
Deborah Greenaway, an Australian tourist who stepped off a cruise ship with just one day to see Quebec City, said she came a long way, only to find several locked doors.
"It's very disappointing," she said.
"The basilica is closed, all the churches are closed, but, c'est la vie," said her husband Mark Greenaway, who saw some comfort in being able to walk around without the usual crowds.
Exciting, if you're into politics
Others, like Joseph Babin and his mother Graciela Saldivar, visiting from Texas, saw the event as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
"We're really excited because we love following politics," said Babin, who had hoped to see world leaders from up close, which they found out would be highly unlikely, as the actual meetings were being held in a highly secured perimeter in La Malbaie.
"It's really exciting, we want to know what's going on here," said Saldivar.
Karen Lam and Menno Cheng, childhood friends from Hong-Kong, said they felt "special" to be able to witness what few tourists experience when they visit Quebec.
"We saw protesters, lots of police, it's not something normal tourists can see right?"