We had reached a point in our lives where we didn’t need any more physical possessions, and if we did, we purchased the things we wanted or needed with our own resources. In other words, we didn’t need to exchange gifts during the significant occasions that occurred during the course of a year. Besides, I have always found it difficult to figure out what to give to members of my immediate family. So, I was delighted this year when my youngest suggested that instead of exchanging gifts we should all take a trip together.
We asked if she had some place in mind, and she responded that she had been thinking of Quebec City. Knowing a few friends who had visited the area in winter, we suggested visiting during Winter Carnival. Everyone seemed responsive to the idea, so after a few group chat sessions we had a date and hotel rooms booked.
Traveling by car during the winter always had the potential to be problematic in the state of Maine, but both travel days proved uneventful. I was not sure how the contingent that lived 2 hours south of us did it, but they left later and arrived at the hotel at the same time. Perhaps, they packed a lunch and didn’t stop for an hour to locate food. Then there was also the “quick” stop at the quilt store that I made along the way.
We had chosen a hotel in the middle of the old town, so everything we wanted to see was about a 10 or 15 minute walk from our home base. There was a nice sitting area near the lobby where we spent a lot of time enjoying each other’s company, or planning any group activities we might want to share. For the most part, the individual parties explored on their own and joined up for meals.
During our first full day, we tried to pick up our entry tickets to the Carnival itself, but alas, the ticket booth did not open until noon during the work-week. My husband and I decided to explore more of the old town until we could obtain the tickets. As we wandered around, we admired the ice sculptures located throughout town. We had no particular destination in mind, and just walked until we reached the toboggan run located near the Hotel Frontenac. From there, we walked along the top of the fortifications towards the Plains of Abraham. There were a number of stairs that were covered in icy snow and most people traversed these steps with both hands on the handrail.
Once we arrived at the Plains of Abraham, we made our way towards the now open ticket booth to get our tickets. Most of our group, explored the Carnival grounds during the afternoon. There were two venues for this festival. At the primary location, we inspected the ice palace, which was beautiful. From there, we made our way to the second venue, which had an ice mountain that one of my daughters decided to climb, and a few other activities. Perhaps because this was the first post-COVID Carnival, we found the festival to be disappointing. None of the activities discovered during our research were available; no sleigh rides, dog sledding, axe throwing, etc. I didn’t even enjoy the parade that much. It was the exploration of the city itself that was enjoyable.
The next day brought snow, so we bundled up and set out to discover different parts of the old town during the snowfall. It was pretty impressive watching the work crew clear snow off the roofs. They certainly knew how to clear snow. During this exploration, we found some more ice sculptures. I even found the 2 murals that I had been hoping to find when I planned my trip.
Overall, I think everyone had fun. They must have had fun, since the “kids” were already planning where we would go next year. Someone brought up scuba diving. My husband and I suggested there should be something else around that the old people could explore. In any case, it seems we have started a new family tradition.