As I sat in the backseat of our taxi, being chauffeured through the narrow streets of Quebec City, I was in love, before I even stepped foot into this city.
After quickly checking into Hotel Champlain, we headed out the door to explore.
Guided by the castle that dominates the city, we started our walk along Dufferin Terrace and ended up at the toboggan slide, spontaneous Husband proclaimed, we should go! The weather was perfect and there was no queue (a surprise since it was peak season).
Grabbing a wooden toboggan, Ryan headed slowly towards the slide, pulling the heavy sledge behind him whilst I took photos of every step. Once at the top Dear Husband hopped on and I proceeded to sit behind him, not knowing where to put my legs, they flapped about in the air like a tortoise on its back. Finally, I was instructed to wrap them around Dear Husband and then they released the brake.
The toboggan gained significant speed (70km an hour) and then started to hop along (we were no longer gliding) and I was convinced we would jump out the track and be severely injured! But we came to a safe stop, we survived fully intact. It’s not nearly as innocent as snow tubing.
After that spontaneous shot of exhilaration, we made our way down to Quartier Petit-Champlain. The little picture-perfect, winter wonderland with cobblestone paths, historical architecture, Christmas trees and fairy lights everywhere. The neighbourhood is as magical as it looks, the streets are lined with boutique stores, restaurant, cafes and galleries.
We then headed back towards our hotel, the evening fully upon us, now in desperate need of something to nibble on and a place thaw our fingers.
We set off in search of a restaurant for dinner. With no shortage of choices, we finally stopped outside a bustling Italian place Restaurant au Parmesan. I stepped inside, feeling like Mary asking the innkeeper to take us in for the night, asked for a table (praying they had space for us, as the thought of stepping back into the cold was unwelcome).
The restaurant resembled what I imagine an Italian nonna’s home to look like when all the extended family comes over. It was cosy, every nook and cranny filled with ceramic trinkets and memorabilia, nonno fussing over everyone ensuring they had enough vino and food and an accordion player walking around singing whilst we ate. The food was delicious, generous portions and it really felt like nonna had cooked.
Saturday – Ice Hotel and Valentines Eve
I awoke bright and early (7am) and it was SNOWING!! Like an excited little snow squirrel, I leapt out of bed, suited up and armed with my camera, headed outside whilst Dear Husband slept on.
A few hours later I returned to collect Husband so we could visit Hotel de Glace. After spending most of the day outside and in the ice hotel, in sub-zero temperatures, we headed back to the city to defrost and refuel.
Our fuel of choice, poutine, and what better place to have it than in Quebec, the home of poutine. Now for those non-Canadians, poutine is the comfort food for winter and a serious carb-fest made with fries, gravy and cheese curd.
As the day wore on, the temperatures plummeted and by evening it was officially -27 degrees Celsius outside. We decided that a night like this was best spent cuddled up in the hotel watching rom-coms whilst feasting on macaroons, cheesecake and pain au chocolat (a healthy dinner that encompassed all my food groups – cheese and chocolate).
Sunday – Winter Carnival, freezing our appendages off and lots of eating
Bright and early Sunday morning I awoke (again), the sun was shining, the sky was crystal clear and it was still -27 degrees! I once again suited up and left husband curled up in bed whilst I went on another photo-taking mission. It was bloody cold, the coldest I have ever experienced, my scarf grew frost, my hair froze (froze people) and my camera kept steaming up.
But I got some lovely people-free photos.
Quick Tip: When taking photos in sub-zero temperatures hold your breath. Breathing steams up the lens and it takes a while to clear and sometimes freezes over.
Annually Quebec City hosts the world’s largest winter carnival starting at the end of January and lasting 2 weeks. Since we were there we took a wander around in the freezing cold. Our main reason for going was to see the ice sculptures, but being the very end of the carnival they were no longer in pristine condition, melted slightly and dusted in snow.
But we were introduced to this miracle invention – disposable hand warmers. They are teabag looking things that you shake for a few minutes and they warm up (like magic), pop it into your gloves/ socks/pockets to keep you toasty all day. I put them between my 2 pairs of socks to keep my toes from getting frostbite (yes I was wearing 2 pairs of socks, also 2 pairs of pants – what do you expect, it’s winter in Canada, you have to wear everything you own). They are like tiny hot water bottles that stay warm all day.
Quick Tip: For any other humans that did not grow up in arctic climes but will be heading into sub-zero temperatures, bulk buy these magic disposable hand warmers.
It was time to eat again. Lunch at Paillard, a cafeteria style patisserie that has SO much good-looking food you have to stop yourself from drooling on the glass cabinets and ordering one of everything.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in a food coma, napping and defrosting our fingers before dinner at Sapristi, a modern Italian restaurant that had some of the best pizza toppings I have seen in Canada.
Quebec City definitely stole my heart even though there was arctic weather outside and we had to explore in relays between venturing outside and hiding in patisseries to defrost.
We stayed at Hotel Champlain
We were here 3 nights and it was long enough to see the major sights.
Highlight: All the food, there is so much good food
Tips: Pack everything you own, and then a bit extra, it’s cold – most of the time.
Anyone else been to Quebec City, what was your highlight?
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