When you tell people that you are going to Quebec, Canada in the middle of winter the response is always the same. “I don’t hear that often, what are you going to do there?”
We didn’t know what we were going to do we just knew that we didn’t want a typical vacation. We wanted a different place with European architecture, a different sort of feel, and a great adventure. And that is exactly what we got when we arrived in Quebec.
Quebec is out of this world. And I mean it might only be a 4 hour plane ride away from Cleveland, but it feels like a completely different world. It almost looks fake, like something out of a movie. You know those Christmas movies, the ones about Santa and they show Santa’s Workshop? That is exactly what I see when I look at Quebec. Not even just that, but those little Christmas Villages that many people use to decorate their houses at Christmas time, shrinking yourself down and placing yourself in one of those villages is what it feels like when you walk through the streets of Quebec. They even have a designated spot in their city for street artists to create their art and in turn there is less graffiti throughout the city and it can keep that Christmas village charm. Canadians are so smart.
Pictures don’t do it justice, and neither do my words, it’s just something you need to see for yourself.
The first full day in Quebec we walked about 12 miles exploring every inch and every corner of the place. We strolled down the oldest street in North America, went inside a castle, and tobogganed straight down into the city. It was breathtaking in the sense that I was terrified and couldn’t breathe as well as being breathtakingly beautiful.
The streets are filled with snow, and it’s amazing that people still know how to drive properly. (Side Note: most every street in Quebec is a giant hill). The streets are also filled with amazingly friendly people, and that is something I will always remember from this trip. Specifically this story: it was later in the evening and the streets were becoming slippery because of the snow from earlier in the week turning to ice and the snow that was falling, landing on top of that. We were walking down a hill to get to a bakery at the bottom of the street, it was a really steep hill and we were wearing boots with traction that was not the best. A group of locals were walking up the hill as we were walking down, smiling and watching us struggle, so I jokingly said “Oh, you guys do this like you do it every day!” Next thing I know, this girl is wrapping her arm through mine, holding my hand, and walking me down the hill. [This was after a man came out of his apartment and laughed at us, proceeded to get into his car and drive down the hill, didn’t even ask if we needed help. He can move to the States with all of the other assholes.]
The hardest part about being in Quebec was eating. There were so many restaurants, so many different types of food, that you kind of just had to walk up and down the streets, side to side, menu to menu, until you found a place that had something you like. The other hard part about the food was that most of the restaurants only serve one type of food so its either, Quebec cuisine, Italian, Indian, Chinese, and if you aren’t in the mood for any of those, good luck finding a place that will serve something you like. [Side Note: if you want to visit Quebec, I definitely recommend staying in a hotel that serves breakfast every morning because that is one less meal to worry about. Le Grande-Alle Hotel and Suites is in a great location, the rooms are clean and a decent size, and they serve breakfast and have GOOD, free coffee 24/7].
On our second full day in Quebec we went dog sledding. And if you ever have the chance to do this, you must do it. It is the coolest experience you will ever have. The dogs are so cute and happy and they love to run so much that it’s hard to get them to stop. Not to mention the incredible views, dog sleds can go places that cars and even people on foot can’t.
Another quick story of the kindness of the people in Quebec; the day we went dog sledding we had to go out all the way into the mountains. Many dog sledding places offer tours and they send a shuttle to pick you up at your hotel, of course the place we chose did not offer a shuttle service so we called an Uber. Little did we know, Uber does not exist out in the mountains, it only exists in Quebec City itself. We were informed by our Uber driver. He even showed us a way to change the address we were at in order to trick the Uber app into thinking that we were in Quebec City, then when a driver picks your trip you just call them to let you know where you actually are.
Instead of leaving us stranded there to fend for ourselves he offered me his personal number and told us that when we are finished dog sledding, to just give him a call and he will come pick us up. Sure enough, he did, and he didn’t even ask for payment, but of course we paid him anyway for his services and for being a good person. We need more of that in this world.
After dog sledding we went to the Ciel Bistro Bar, which is on the 28th floor of a hotel and rotates around the entire city in an hour and fifteen minutes. This is a really great way to see all of Quebec from up high if you don’t have the chance to actually walk through it. I don’t recommend having more than one drink there if you get motion sickness though, because like I said, it rotates.
On our third and final day in Quebec, we visited Hotel De Glace, which is an ice hotel in the mountains. If you know me well, you know what a big fan of Disney’s Frozen I am, and this hotel looked like Elsa’s freaking castle. Everything was made of ice and snow! We even got a drink at the bar and our glasses were made of ice. This place was unlike anything I have ever seen before. Quebec in general was unlike anything I have ever seen before.
This is just a quick summary of my trip, if I went in to every single detail this post would go on forever. But I will just leave you with this, going to new places and experiencing new things makes me feel like a completely new person. It fills my heart and my need for adventure. It also fills my camera roll and my passport. The next time you think about going on vacation, look into an unconventional location. and when someone questions you and says “Really, Canada? In the winter, eh?” Just do it anyway.
This trip has left me wondering how I will ever top it. Now that I am back to reality it feels like I have nothing to look forward to, the reality of my life is that it is mostly work and not a lot of play. But something I have concluded is that life is too short to sit around and go through the motions or to spend the majority of your time dreaming about ideas. You have to make your ideas your reality and make your reality as good as a trip to a place that is out of this world.