Marchez dans une «wonderland» de l'hiver. Or ... you know ... however you say "walking in a winter wonderland" in French. This morning we checked out of the über-chic Hôtel Gault in Vieux-Montréal and rented a car for our (allegedly) 2.5 hour drive to Vieux-Québec in Québec City (By the way, if you're keeping score at home, there are three different types of accented letters in that sentence. Yay, HTML). Rural Québec looks amazingly like rural Pennsylvania, and if you were to add French roadsigns and frozen rivers covered with ice fishing shacks to Lancaster, they'd be indistinguishable.
For the most part, we enjoyed the drive except that I kept falling asleep and that it actually took 4.5 hours instead of 2.5. Plus, there was the half hour detour down a long country road with no place to make a U-Turn and without any driveways in which to turn around.
Despite the downsides of the drive, Québec City quickly made us forget all about them. In short, it's stunning. Our hotel, the fortress-like Château Frontenac, is a breath-taking castle high on the hill that overlooks the city.
The streets of Vieux-Québec are quaint, snow-covered lanes that look like colonial America or 18th Century Europe. They could have come directly out of a made-for-the Hallmark Channel Dickens movie, if the Dickens movie involves destitute orphans shopping in expensive boutiques.
Our hotel room has a riverside view which lets us watch the massive sheets of ice float down the St. Lawrence River. There are snow-covered cannons that face the river juxtaposed beside a circus tent-topped gazeebo and a tobogen slide.
As chance would have it, Amanda and I are honeymooning in Québec City during Carnaval, a massive two-week love letter to winter that Québec throws each year. There is ice sculpting and sled races and river races and more ice sculpting. There's an all-ice hotel, plenty of all-ice outdoor bars, and even an all-ice performing arts stage complete with its all-ice electrical room (don't ask me how that works). Amanda and I walked around taking in the fairy tale-like sites for most of the evening.
On our way back from an over-priced and lousy dinner (although, I did have the Bison Ravioli), we got pretty severely snowed upon. Its the first time in years that I've been caught outside in the snow, and I loved it. After catching snowflakes on our tongues and walking the gorgeous streets of Vieux-Québec at night, we returned home to our castle over the river for a well-deserved long winter's nap.