A Travellerspoint blog

Dogsledding!

sunny -11 °C

Today we did one of the most traditional Canadian activities – dogsledding! We took a taxi into the middle of nowhere to meet up with a couple who owned a dogsledding business. We were warmly welcomed into their home and were soon acquainted with their many pets – two dogs, five cats and a cute pig, who I affectionately named Babe! We were then led to the huskies. The couple own about sixty huskies who live outside on the top of a mountain but have their own little huts and are generally fed beef. As soon as I saw the huskies I fell in love. They were absolutely adorable! They were very human friendly, full of love, energy, excitement, jumping around and licking your face. One even got a little too excited and pissed on Yoselien!

After a brief introduction to dogsledding, we were given our dogsleds and dogs and started our epic adventure. Unlike a car or even a bike, there’s not much control in a dogsled. If the dogs want to take you one way, you follow. All that you can do to control the sled is to slow down and stop – the dogs do the rest. This made it difficult initially to turn corners. After falling off the dogsled on the first two corners, I quickly got the hang of turning corners, you need to shift your balance into the corner by swivelling your hips and sticking your bum out – a very pleasant sight!

We were on the dogsleds for about two hours and travelled over twenty kilometres through beautiful snowy covered trees, valleys, frozen creeks, forests and open land on a warm, sunny February day – we couldn’t have asked for better weather. The dogs were certainly powerful and strong animals carrying us up steep hills and bulleting down slopes, very obedient and loyal but sometimes naughty, for example, my dogs took me on the wrong track!

Clearly, we had one of the greatest experiences Canada and even the world can offer us – it’s something we will never forget. We’re already talking about doing it again sometime! It’s going to be hard to top.

During the afternoon, we returned to the Parliament Building to take a guided tour. We explored the Lower House, library and Senate, which was very similar to that found in Australia. The Parliament Building had a gothic architecture and was purely white – it was truly magnificent!

For dinner that night, I went to a Japanese restaurant. I tried sake (which is a hot alcoholic beverage made of rice, yeast and water) for the first time and quite enjoyed it and for main course I devoured grilled eel on rice, which was utterly exquisite.

Posted by mccardj 12:09 Archived in Canada Tagged dogs parliament dogsledding Comments (0)

Crime and Punishment in Ottawa

sunny -13 °C

My spring break began at Central Station, Montreal with Kristyna and Yoselien. We travelled to Ottawa by train, which was a very pleasant journey. As soon as we arrived in Ottawa, we checked-in to our hostel, the Ottawa Jail Hostel. The hostel was originally a fully functioning prison from 1862 to 1972 and was notorious in Canada for being the worst, most abusive and squalid prisons. Men, women and children were all thrown into cells together and were treated like animals. During its operation, three inmates were publicly hanged at the gallows, which still remain today, however, are no longer used obviously. Much of the original parts of the jail, such as the cells, still remain today.

In the afternoon, we hit the streets of Ottawa. Because Ottawa is the capital of Canada, it is mainly populated by government employees and officials, thus there isn’t much nightlife. We visited a pretty nice outdoor market and then toured the grand Parliament Building located on Parliament Hill. We took a lift to the top of the Peace Tower and marvelled at a 360 degree panorama of Ottawa. The Peace Tower also functions as a memorial because it houses the Memorial Chamber, which we visited too, that commemorates the Canadian soldiers who died during the wars, including the First and Second World Wars.

That night, we took a crime and punishment tour of the Jail Hostel where we learnt a lot about the history of the jail. We walked through death row where the three inmates took their last steps, saw the gallows and trapdoor underneath and were locked in our own cells. It was very fun!

Posted by mccardj 11:59 Archived in Canada Tagged ottawa jail Comments (0)

Old Quebec and the Ice Hotel

overcast -4 °C

After a buffet breakfast at the hostel, we headed to Old Quebec, which as the name suggests is an historic part of Quebec City marked by the city’s ramparts, fortifications and many houses and buildings dating back to the 19th century. Here we saw a billy cart race – in the middle of winter! – and toured through the magnificent Notre Dame Basilica. We walked along the massive walls enclosing the city stopping by the many canons that once protected the city from invasion.

We ventured out of the inner city and headed to Lower Town. The main street of Lower Town was a pedestrian-only street surrounded by shops. Here we tried the traditional maple taffy, which is a delicious and sweet dessert made by boiling maple from the maple tree and then pouring it onto snow to freeze and lifted onto a popsicle stick. I loved it so much I bought a whole jar!

After lunch and another short stop at the Winter Carnival, we drove to our final destination before home – the Ice Hotel. The Ice Hotel was first opened in 2001 and is rebuilt every year from 15,000 tonnes of snow and 500,000 tonnes of ice. It has 36 rooms, which are a chilly -5 °C, and takes about a month and a half to build. It contained a bar, outdoor spas and saunas and even a slide. It was purely breathtaking and a work of art – I’ll love to stay there one day.

Posted by mccardj 17:13 Archived in Canada Tagged ice_hotel lower_town Comments (0)

Quebec City and Winter Carnival

overcast -5 °C

Today I left Montreal for a weekend trip to Quebec City for Winter Carnival with friends. We stayed in a really nice and big hostel in the middle of downtown Quebec City, very close to all of the action. After settling in we went to Winter Carnival. It is a two-week carnival celebrating winter in Quebec City. We first walked through an ice castle and then marvelled at the brilliant ice sculptures. Afterwards, we walked to the main site of the carnival and soaked in the atmosphere. To get a better view of the city at night I went in a Ferris wheel. For some more adrenaline-pumping excitement, we tried out doughnut snow sliding and then snow rafting down a very bump hill – it was so fun!

For dinner that night we went to a Spanish restaurant. Being an enthusiastic taster of new foods I ordered snails (which was delicious) and gazpacho (which is a cold tomato soup) for entrée, and for main course I tried house paella, a seafood dish mixed with rice and saffron, which was exquisite and something I’ll definitely have again.

To cap off the night we went clubbing in the main clubbing district.

Posted by mccardj 17:11 Archived in Canada Tagged quebec_city winter_carnival Comments (0)

Beginner skiing accomplished!

sunny -5 °C

This morning I was more prepared to ski the green slopes but still felt a bit hesitant (and sore) from the day before. Despite this, I took the gondola up to the summit with Annabelle and Jayde and hit the green run. The first green run we skied was one of the easiest on the entire mountain and after a shaky start I skied pretty well. I skied a few more green runs going down different paths and gradually improved as the morning grew on. I felt like I was a totally different person from the day before! I was in control, safe and thoroughly enjoying myself. I was soon ready to ski with more speed and was enthralled by the wind whooshing past my face, hardly noticing the cold, as I skied down the slopes – it was exhilarating!

We decided to head back to the cafeteria for a well-earned lunch then hit the slopes for a final time. We did two final green runs, both were great fun, then reluctantly came back to the base to return our skis. We left Mount Saint Anne that afternoon saying goodbye to a wonderful weekend of skiing, friends, partying and adventure! I’m excitedly awaiting my next skiing adventure.

Posted by mccardj 14:57 Archived in Canada Tagged skiing mount_saint_anne Comments (0)

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