Thursday, February 17, 2011

Quebec Winter Carnival

The gf suggested going to Quebec for their Winter Carnival - I saw the website and I was sold.  Its the largest winter carnival in the world and lasts 16 days in late January until mid February.  You buy a $12 figurine pass (that hangs from your coat and is valid for the entire carnival) and it allows you access to the ice palace for concerts, outdoor hot tubs (for the brave in -2 degrees), sled rides, dog sledding races, zip lining, a ferris wheel, impressive ice sculptures, parades, fireworks, horse sleigh rides (minimal additional cost), tubing / rafting (minimal additional cost), and tons of activities for kids.

In addition to the Winter Carnival, there are other great things to do to occupy a long weekend.  Old Quebec is a historically preserved walled city on a cliff facing the St Lawrence River.  It felt like Christmas as we walked around as it lightly snowed and the snow crunched under our feet.  There were plenty of quaint shops and a number of great restaurants: Panache, Le Patriarche, Savini, and my sentimental favorite Le Cochon Dingue (The Dirty Pig).  We stayed at The Hilton due to its vicinity to the Carnival, but next time I want to check out one of the boutique hotels that we ate at (Auberge Saint-Antoine).  Here are my detailed Yelp reviews.
 The famous Hotel de Glace (ice hotel) is also a short drive away.  It is a hotel made completely out of ice each year - everything from the beds, chairs, chandeliers, and glasses at the bar are made of ice. People spend the night on fur covered beds and sleep in sleeping bags.  It is definitely a place you have to see to believe.
The drive from the NYC area is supposed to be about 9 1/2 hours (535 miles), but I made it in about 8 hours.  I must be used to long drives (I did Niagara Falls last year) - it was tedious, but at least it was scenic (it  makes you want a rustic cabin in the woods with a cozy fireplace). Remember to pick up maple syrup from duty free when you come back.          
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