Monday, February 28, 2011

Québec Glacé - or how these people really make the most out of winter

Last time I mentioned there were three particular things to see and do in Québec during winter, and they all offer you the wonderful opportunity to use your best winter gear head to toe!

Le Festival d'Hiver (The winter carnival)

It takes place at a couple of big parks in the middle of the city. To be honest, I wouldn't say this is a must, and the snow and ice sculptures we saw were in general nice, but not in the realm of the extraordinary (at least when you compare to winter festivals in other places, like China). What was noteworthy was the people: there they are, having an awesome time at absolutely freezing temperatures, enjoying slides, concerts, shows, a Ferris wheel, cross country skiing, maple taffy, and even open air jacuzzis. That's what I call showing winter who the boss is! Truely admirable and, from my perspective, fun to watch!

Le Défilé (the parade)

It's a night parade. And people (thousands!) happily endure the cold to see it and to wave hi to the carnival's mascot, Bonhomme. We completely miscalculated when the parade would arrive to the "perfect scenic viewing point" we had chosen, and very well nearly froze every limb off waiting there, but pride is more powerful than numb extremities, and we waited it out. Like the carnival, it was a nice thing, even quite entertaining. But what we really appreciated was celebrating along with these crazy Quebecers who are intent on having fun, partying and singing even in the coldest of winter! That's really cool.

L'Hôtel de Glace (The Ice Hotel)

Now, THIS is something you won't see anywhere else, except in some 3 other really remote places. A hotel fully and entirely made of ice and snow. In fact, it's a hotel with a bar, a cafeteria, a chapel, halls... You can spend a night there or, as we did, just pop in for a visit. This was, needless to say, a unique experience, which we definitely had to end at the hotel's bar, sipping drinks in ice glasses! I think I may say the photos are pretty eloquent:

The verdict:  Québec in winter?  Romantically and absolutely YES. 


Still playing at Toronto's TIFF Bell Lightbox. Étonnant. Frappant. Québécois. Will leave you speechless. No need to say more. Look for it.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yemen Blues @ Mod Club Theatre

You MUSTN'T miss them on their North American tour... if you like some Jewish yemeniteness mixed in your funky oriental blues, that is. ;-) AWESOME.

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Butoh on film: darkness and light

@Harboufront Centre, as part of the Canasian International Dance Festival.

Bizarre. Strange. Outlandish. Interesting.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

butoh death and whirling awareness

Part of the Canasian International Dance Festival, at Harbourfront Centre, we had the honour of seeing Jocelyne Montpetit perform butoh, incarnating Kazuo Ohno's death, and Ziya Azazi who, though inspired by Sufi whirling dervishes, is a breathtaking contemporary performer and artistic creator.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

a romantic winter trip to La Vieille Capitale: la Ville de Québec

Work had been horribly stressful and I needed a break badly. It was the last weekend of Québec City's Carnival. And there was this tempting offer online, leaving from the city airport (just 8 minutes from our place) and with a stay at a nice, old hotel in old Québec. I couldn't resist.  And, before I say anything else, let me tell you that this winter visit to this stronghold of French America was one of our most enjoyable, romantic trips.

Guidebooks usually recommend 2-3 days in Québec; we took FOUR FULL DAYS. That way, we had all the time in the world to "waste" exploring the city as we wished and at whichever pace we wanted. And for such charming city, that was the perfect way to do it.  In fact, this post is more about the city in general than about specific sights. Why?

Because Québec is the best of two worlds: French culture, including a much more relaxed pace and the quaintest streets ever, and the proverbial Canadian friendliness and civility.

Because it's priceless to stroll down an old street, stop at a café, have a "chocotine" (their pain au chocolat) and a "vin chaud" (mulled wine) or a coffee, relax and look out the windows to the snowy outside.

Because it's a pretty city from afar as well, especially from the Québec-Lévis ferry, on a sunny day, from the frozen Saint Lawrence River.

Because snow (and there was plenty of it) and cold (and man was it cold!) didn't detract from, but added to, the romantic experience (for me, at least).

Because we enjoyed theatre (Robert Lepage's "La face cachée de la lune", The far side of the moon), good food (including a very special dinner with Québec specialties), interesting bookshops, good museums, welcoming night-life, and gorgeous views from our cosy room at our lovely hotel on old and quiet Saint Pierre Street.

So, you get the idea, right? Loved it. On a beaucoup aimé, winter and all.

That said, there are some specific things I do want to mention, things you can only do and see in winter, like the carnival itself (including its parade) and a visit to the Ice Hotel, but that'll be for my next post.  À la prochaine!

unusual beauty @ Allan Garden's Conservatory

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

La Face Cachée de la Lune

By Robert Lepage, @ Grand Théâtre de Québec.

And so we gathered for an evening of storytelling and beautiful and creative effects.

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Friday, February 04, 2011

soothing sunset

much appreciated warm, relaxing orange-red light bathing my office after a tough work-day

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