I recently just spent a weekend in Quebec City for their annual Winter Carnival. We went not totally knowing what to expect, but we left with every intent to come back again. It was so cold, but so worth it. Here are my top 10 takeaways from our trip (not all necessarily related to Winter Carnival):
10. No matter who I’m traveling with, I will always, always fall asleep in a moving vehicle (unless, of course, I’m driving).
When traveling, I cannot stay awake for the life of me – by bus, train, car, or plane. It doesn’t matter how fun or awesome my travel buddies are. My eyes just shut and I’m out. The only time I didn’t fall asleep was while I was on a camel. I even fell asleep while traveling with my boss on a business trip. I still haven’t heard the end of that. Badly done, Elisabeth. Badly done.
9. No matter how cold you are, you can always feel colder.
Until, of course, you go completely numb, feel warm, and then die. But until then, just know that you can always feel colder. The worst is the “I-can’t-control-my-shivering-and-teeth-chattering” stage. That’s only “fun” if everyone else around you is also in that same stage. Otherwise you just look dumb. At this point it’s probably best to reevaluate your life choice to be outside.
8. Not all Canadians sound like they’re from Canada.
Most Canadian Provinces are English-speaking. I was talking with a couple of girls who were staying in the same hostel we were at. Until I asked them where they were from, I assumed they were from someplace in the U.S. When they said “Calgary,” it still took me a few minutes to register that Oh, they must be from Canada. I had no idea where Calgary was, nor did I know that it was a real place. Turns out it’s in Alberta. When I told them I was from Vermont, they gave me the same blank stare I had just given them. Yay for ignorance!
7. Free food tents are genius.
At Winter Carnival, there was a Kraft Foods tent that gave away free samples. One representative even told us “If you go around enough times, you won’t have to eat dinner!” We did not need to be told twice. We spent way too much time in that tent. We are of the strong opinion that this business marketing model should be employed at any and all possible venues. We’ll buy your food…eventually. Until then, just give it to us for free. Please?
6. Quebec does not particularly care to keep their roads clear.
I just kept thinking, “if we were in Vermont, these sidewalks would be spotless.” I don’t think Quebec even knows what salt or sand is. The roads (especially the sidewalks) were treacherous and in some cases unplowed. We were pretty much either slipping on a thick icy layer or sloshing through a slushy, muddy mess. I definitely hit the ground at least once, and had several other close calls. And I wasn’t the only one…one girl had actually gathered a small crowd because she didn’t move after she went down. She got up eventually…
5. Timeliness, efficiency, and accuracy are very American values.
The program for the Carnival ended up not being very helpful – the prices were often wrong, the event times were negotiable, and the signs were misleading. Also, the organization/execution of the whole deal was sketchy. The horse races were supposed to start at noon; instead, they started grooming the track at noon. We watched them groom the track for a full 40 minutes before anything started happening. The parade was supposed to start at 7:00 pm. We thought it would reach us at around 7:30 at the latest. It didn’t get to our location until about 8:45 pm. And it moved veeeerrrrryyyy slowly. I’m sure I would be fine with this if I was used to it, but I’m not. This is how I learned #9.
4. Quebec City is beautiful.
Especially the old part. End of story. It was like walking the streets of Paris. Also, the waterfront reminded me of Burlington. Beautiful.
3. Irish Pubs are awesome – until the live music starts to suck.
I don’t know if this is universal or not, but please try to keep the music classy. It doesn’t matter how drunk everyone is or how late it has become. No one wants to listen to someone shouting the f-word every other syllable. Until that point, the music was phenomenal.
2. Ice-toboggin slides are amazing.
If you ever have an opportunity to go down one, do not hesitate to take that opportunity and run with it. That is all I am going to say.
1. I love traveling with friends!!
I’ve traveled by myself a lot. It’s ok for the most part, but it is just so much more fun to be with other people! Plus, you get to build random funny memories that you can talk about for a long time.
Well, that’s my list. I highly recommend going to Quebec City…it’s awesome.