I had been wanting to visit Quebec City for a long time, and with the Canadian dollar being less than impressive these days-what better excuse to travel within my own country?! I have a strong obsession with the cobblestone streets of Europe, and through my extensive research and pinterest-ing, I had a pretty good idea that i was going to LOVE Quebec City!
My friend Natalie and I had been talking about Quebec City for some time now, constantly tagging each other in random people's magical instagram photos, finally one day we were like-what are we waiting for? Lets just GO!
Quebec Winter Carnaval is one of the largest carnivals in the world, and with it being right around the corner, we figured it was reason enough to book the trip in the winter! We rounded up two more of our friends and decided to make a girls weekend out of it! We flew there, since we didn't want the to waste 2 whole days in the car, especially since it was winter, and there may have been poor driving conditions.
We arrived at 11am after an annoying, DELAYED flight- the amount of time we waited at the airport, waited for the plane to be de-iced , MISSING OUR CONNECTION due to late take off, getting bounced around by airport employees not knowing what flight we should be getting on, finally getting on another flight- we could have probably driven there. But we MADE IT- and it was time for WINE-we were on vacation, as far as we were concerned!
First things first- we checked into our hotel "Grand Allee" which was just outside the fortified walls of Old Quebec and right beside the Plains of Abraham-where Carnaval was being held-Great location! We then walked down the winding, cobblestone streets to find Paillard- a SUPER bumpin' restaurant/cafe/bakery/bar or whatever you wanted to call it- but whatever it was, it was awesome. The best sandwich I had in a long time! We had some drinks to warm up during lunch and headed on our way.
So, I may have forgot to mention the cold. OHHHH the COLD. I had heard stories about Quebec City from people who had gone there. "Don't forget to bring snow pants!" was a line I kept hearing. Im like "oooooo-kay…. Im not rollin' out down the street wearing snow pants unless I'm at the ski hill. PLUS, I'm not going there to frolick around in the snow- we have snow in Toronto." Plus they will ruin my photos.
Well my friends-this was the weekend we learned a hard life lesson. I have NEVER. IN. MY. LIFE felt a cold like this. I don't know if it was the just THAT weekend or if that is how it always is during the winter, but dear lord… EVERYONE had snow pants on! I even saw some people wearing full ski masks and goggles walking down the street. Ive never wished I was another person so bad in my life! What ended up happening was I wore every piece of clothing I brought for the entire weekend at EVERY moment, rotating what was on the outside so I looked like I had new outfits on. PLUS my poor iPhone kept seizing up in the cold and would shut off at any moment- now that was crossing the line- how was I supposed to take PHOTOS???
Well, we pushed through- We didn't want the cold to ruin our trip. I am sure every weekend isn't like this in the winter, we really picked a winner!! Anyways, we carried on (stopping in every store we could find!) The one thing I will add about the winter time is that is is beautiful! Ice sculptures were built everywhere and the snow really looked magical along the rustic streets. One of the highlights was just strolling through the town, going into all the little alleys and checking out the cafes. Our fave was Smith- delicious pastries and specialty coffees-plus the decor was adorable!
Since we came for Carnaval, we bought the weekend pass for $15, which allowed us in the gates and access to the festivities. There were a lot of events going on, and some cost extra- before you go check the itinerary to see what you are interested in seeing/doing. Within the gates of the Plains of Abraham- there were rides, sledding, lots of food, a drink building (where you can drink out of ice glasses) and if you are lucky you will get to see Bonhomme! The people LOVE Bonhomme- every time he was walking around adults and children chased him, screaming like he was Justin Timberlake or something! We caught the fever and joined in- He is a hard snow-MAN to get a pic with!
We spent a lot of the time in the drink building, warming up with coffee (and maybe Baileys made its way into a few of the cups somehow) But there were a lot of fun events, like these huge clear balls you sit inside of at the top of a hill and they push you down-its basically a real life bowling game.
Don't forget to visit Bonhomme's ice castle! We sat on his ice chairs, played a game of ice pool- it was great! That night he even held a dance party in his front yard, with a DJ- he sure knows how to party!
The first night we had dinner at Taverne Grande Allee-tacos, nachos and jager bomb- all the makings of a balanced meal. After dinner we watched the big parade from inside our hotel room, since we looked out onto the street-it was perfect! We had a few more drinks then dressed in our warmest sexiest clothes (LOL) for a night on the town.
Another one of the highlights was the HUGE bobsled- type slide beside the Fairmont Hotel- you sit on a toboggan with up to 3 people (not strapped in or anything!) You can race other tobogganers. It was a BLAST- and a little scary, but you didn't hear that from me. We did it once at night and once during the day. SO fun.
Another huge bonus of going in the winter is being able to visit the Ice Hotel! I wasn't too into the idea of sleeping on an ice bed, so we decided to buy the visitors pass (about $25 if you want a drink at the ice bar!)
This ice hotel was crazy- there was an ice church, an ice bar, an ice slide and each room had SUCH detail. We took a cab from downtown Quebec City and it was about $30 each way.
The last evening we went for dinner at Bello, located on the main street once you enter the fortified gates. The food here was AMAZING. I had the braised beef risotto, I wish I could have ate 2 servings. After we ate we got some desert to-go, headed back to the hotel to sit in bed and watch the Bachelor. It really doesn't get much better than that.
Over-all we had a super fun weekend and will NEVER forget it, thanks to the cold. All joking aside, it was an absolutely beautiful place to visit with so many photo opportunites and I would love to go again in the spring or summer! Next time I might drive so I can visit some of the hikes and waterfalls located nearby.