Saturday, February 17, 2007

honeymoon - day 6

-40° Fahrenheit. That was the temperature today with the windchill factored into the mix. As for the Celcius conversion, it coincidentally was also -40°. Turns out we found the one spot where Fahrenheit and Celcius line up. Way to go, Canadian Winter.

Rough day for a trip to the beach. However, it was the perfect day to check out the Hôtel de Glace - Québec's 100% ice and snow hotel. While the original plan was for us to check out the Valcartier Vacation Village, the low temperature made us rethink the idea of racing down innertube tracks in sub-zero winds. And good thing we did.

It was fucking freezing. Cold is cold and the Canadian Winter is really cold. But -40°? That's just insane. It'll be a while before I'm complaining about 50° nights in San Mateo again. Anyway, we got a slow start to the day, but eventually hit the road and stopped by Dunkin Donuts on the way.

When we finally made it out into the rural country side, the wind and the temperature were doing a number on us already. The car's heater was roaring as we pulled up into the Ice Hotel's parking lot. The hotel sits in a wide field, molded by power-blasted snow and chainsaw-carved blocks of crystal clear ice. And while it's freezing as fuck, it's absolutely beautiful.


Gothic-inspired arches and quasi-Roman statues, all carved from ice, are everywhere inside. The hotel has some 30 plus rooms, 10 plus suites, a wedding chapel, a bar, and a dance club - all made from snow and ice.


Interestingly, the bar has a refrigerator which sounds odd until you learn that it's set to 5° above freezing so that juice and soda doesn't freeze. Our tour guide informed us that the staff actually tosses their gloves into the fridge from time to time in order to warm them up.


The regular guest rooms are all identical and just look like an ice version of a monk's cloister with a block of ice, a thin matress, and some reindeer pelts for a bed.


The suites, however, are all carved into their own themes, each one different from the rest. There was the Igloo Room, the Medieval Room, the Native American Room, the Yeti's Cave Room, and the Chessboard Room.


Our camera was having trouble taking pictures. It runs on AA batteries and at sub-sub-zero temperatures, the batteries only lasted about a picture or two out in the open air before the camera would stop working. We had little hand-warmer packs in our pockets and we had to keep putting the camera in my pocket, warm the thing up again, and then snap some pictures until the batteries froze again.


We had a great time until we just couldn't take the cold anymore. Once we'd reached our breaking point, we retreated to the warmth of our hotel room, bought ourselves a pay-per-view movie, and holed up for the night as we tried to shake off the intensely to-the-bone cold that we had endured at the Hôtel de Glace.



EmoRiot said...

Is the opaque white stuff on the walls snow? The ice hotel in Sweden, we sadly found out, uses synthetic plastic faux snow to make the walls opaque.

rooni said...

It's definitely real snow. The man told us (on the guided tour in broken english) that, in December, they pump water from a nearby lake into a snow machine and direct it at wall molds for a few days until the snow is packed tight, then they remove the molds and call it a room.

In April, when things start to melt and lose structural integrity, they crush it all up and let the hotel melt back into the lake. They don't use any chemicals in the building of the hotel, so it's a quasi-natural process that doesn't hurt the environment.

BTW, the other evidence that we have that it's real snow is that it was freaking freezing.

EmoRiot said...

Who are these new people showing up in your blog? Is this some sort of image spam making it's way into your post? Or did you take a break from the ice hotel to go to a picnic jamboree where you met two nice people?

Bug said...

Refresh. Flickr's image cache's went wonky for a few hours. It's all better now.

rooni said...

It's doing it again.. that crazy pixelated girl who looks like the kid from A Christmas Story is back.. =( Creeeeepy.