Sitting on one of the window sills in my apartment, I survey my surroundings. Black reusable shopping bags filled with food, books, and other household items are strewn around the floor in the kitchen and living area; two black and country style kitchen chairs waiting to be placed, a white laundry basket filled with cozy blankets; two large cardboard boxes from IKEA are ripped open on the ground. I have spent the last two and a half hours building a kitchen island/table and it is still not completed. I’m tired, and sore, and wishing their was an IKEA fairy who could make all my furniture-building wishes come true.
It’s not every day that one has the opportunity to visit Québec’s Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel), but when travelling in Québec City between the beginning of January and the end of March, venturing out to Hôtel de Glace is a must.
Oddly enough it took me three winters to finally make time to visit the ice hotel.
It takes fifty people about six weeks to take 500 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow and turn it into Hôtel de Glace — the only hotel in North America that is made entirely of snow and ice!
Vieux Québec, one of my favourite places in Canada.
Over the past couple years I’ve spent a lot of time in Québec City, even moving into an apartment in the Vieux Québec. Ah, I freaking love this city, the European feel, the history, the architecture, the croissants and chocolat chaud. All of it was delicious, and being an anglophone was never an issue. Sure, there was a language barrier, but visiting Québec is like visiting any other place where the main language is not English.
I will be the first to admit that my language learning has been slow. I do okay when I visit a restaurant or shop, but whenever someone engages me in a conversation I panic. I hear maybe two or three words, and I have absolutely no idea how to respond. If I’m eating out, I say ‘Oui’ in hopes that I have been asked a yes or no type question. While this most times, this is often a dead giveaway that I am anglo and the person I’m interacting with will either switch to English, or look confused and speak more French.
A château designed by Bruce Price as part of a series of luxury château style hotels (Banff Springs Hotel, Château Lake Louise) by the Canadian Pacific Railway company, Château Frontenac stands tall on a cape overlooking the St. Lawrence River, and is one of the most photographed landmarks in the world.
I look out my window and breathe deeply, taking in the view in front of me. For the last two months my view has been that of the parking lot, and the building beside mine – which was in such close proximity that anyone could see down into my apartment. But now, now is different. I’ve moved from the ground floor, to the fifth floor, and when I look out my window I can Château Frontenac to my left, and the steeples of Chalmers-Wesley United Church. I can see the curved tin and metal rooftops of buildings in my neighbourhood, tall wooden staircases, and one small patch of snow that refuses to accept that it is spring.
Over the past four years I’ve learned to appreciate the finer aspects of the world of food, mainly the benefit of eating in restaurants with chefs who create dishes using local ingredients, when they are season. It’s about freshness, flavour, and experimenting with food. And as a girl who likes to experiment and play around in my kitchen at home, it’s a mode of thinking that I can get behind.
One of Québec’s finest luxury hotels, Auberge Saint-Antoine is located in Lower Town (Old Port to be exact), and known for its collection of artifacts (which are displayed throughout the hotel), as well as it’s restaurant, Panache. However there is more to Auberge Saint-Antoine than fine dining, luxurious rooms, and ancient Québec artifacts, there is Café-Bar Artefact, one of my favourite workspaces, and the location for many of the hotel’s special events.