Goodbye frosty Europe, Hello frickin freezing Canada!
We said goodbye to Mum at Amsterdam airport boarded our plane to Canada! I was ready for the cold but nothing could have really prepared me for it. In words said more than once it was "f***ing freezing" or as the french say "Il fait frette"!
Anyway we were greeted by our friend and host Vanessa!
She took us up to her place in Sainte Adele which was about an hour north of Montreal. We had a great catch up and compared travelling stories over some wine. We met Vanessa in Nepal in 2015 and spend a total of five days with her paddling down a river. It's crazy how life works, we never thought we would be sitting in her lounge 2 years on. We were also pretty pleased her English was far superior to our French otherwise it would have been a quiet week!
The next day we tried a new sport and strapped on some snow shoes to tackle Quebec's biggest mountain. I was a bit nervous, until i realised that mountain in Quebec is more of a hill Mt Tremblant was smaller that Mt Te Aroha. Not that it was an easy day, snow shoes take a bit of getting used to and it was a fresh -18 °C outside.
The scenery was great, there was so much snow decorating the trees. From the top we had 360° views of the arear which was pretty cool, although we didn't enjoy it for too long as the wind was turning that -18 °C into a -40 °C.
That evening we met some of Vanessa's friends Sebastian and Ben and shared an evening of laughs and Chinese Fondue (which is the greatest thing!)
The following day on the way in to Montreal we went to Omega Park, which is a Canadian animal park. It was pretty much like a safari. So much fun, we had all the animals coming to the car and eating our carrots, we saw deer, elk, caribou, moose, ibex, bisson, wolves, fox, turkeys and pigs. The bears were hibernating (will have to go back).
It was really funny. One ibex even tried to enter the car through the window!
That evening we met up with some more of Vanessa friends and went to a pub which played traditional Quebecois music, I even got forced onto the stage and danced to a song I learnt the night before! Such a fun night!
We then ventured to Quebec City with Natasha (Vanessa's sister) and Jeremy.
Quebec was colder and deeper in snow than Montreal (a feat I thought to be impossible), but we had a blast!
We got involved in the Quebec festival which had us throwing axes, riding a mechanical moose (which looked like a hippo), visiting an ice castle, dancing to lots of music and a fantastic parade.
We went dog sledding which was a load of fun. The huskies were awesome, the place had about 180 in total and there were 6 pulling our sled. We learnt a lot about the dogs and how they work and train them. Our huskies were the kind that were mostly used for pulling loads and aren't all that fast, but we also saw the kind that pull sleds for racing and reach speeds of 50km/hr!
We ate at a Sugar Shack, where they make maple syrup (oh god I love that stuff), put on an ongoing meal (where the food keeps coming and maple syrup was poured over everything!) and provided entertainment in the form of a traditional band.
We had a blast tubing at Quebec's biggest tubing park, and we did it in style by trying out the retro gear we have collected for the Big White Wedding. Tubing was so much fun and we had an exciting day... Jeremy got a bit excited at one point and swung his tube around and knocked over a small child! Oops, lucky the kid was a tough nut and just walked it off!
Here we also visited the ice hotel which was pretty cool too.
In the evenings we sampled the local brews and particularly enjoyed the maple cream (similar to baileys) and the maple whiskey.
A really great dish we tried was the Poutine (chips with gravy and cheese). I could eat that stuff all day! We also had the yummy maple onion rings (Quebec wasn't great on the waistline!)
On our last day we headed back to Montreal, stopping at a waterfall on the way, which was partly frozen over and which people were climbing on the side.
We headed back to Vanessa's parents place which was closer to Montreal and had a lovely evening with them celebrating Lucie's birthday and indulging in cheese fondue which was also very yummy (but once again not great on the old jean size!)
A MASSIVE thank you to our fabulous friend Vanessa who went above and beyond to ensure we had a great stay in Quebec. We had the most amazing week and are so happy to forever have those memories with her! Merci beaucoup Vanessa!