I'd never been on a winter vacation before. I prefer heat to cold, and the charm of snow has always been a mystery to me. Yet here I am standing, at the airport of Quebec. It's the end of March, and although spring should be arriving it's still -10° C during the day and -20° C (and that's being optimistic) during the night.
A taxi drives us - my boyfriend is with me - to our hotel. In the streets we see people wearing snow boots, gloves and hats. Snow plows have created piles of white on or right next to the sidewalks. Piles that are easily as tall as I am.
Yet, everything and everyone seems to function perfectly here. In Belgium, the tiniest flock of snow can turn the country into chaos. Roads would become icy slopes, accidents would happen every hour and people would stay indoors because - you know - it's snowing.
The snow in Belgium isn't like the snow in Quebec, though. I learn this as soon as I've checked in. I put on some extra layers of fleece and wool and head out into the city. The first thing that catches my attention is the air. Yes, it is cold, but it's also fresh. Only now do I realize that I've been locked inside for at least four months and, finally, I get to wander around outside again. My spirits are lifted and, although we still feel the cold, we decide to start exploring.
We walk towards the Château de Frontenac, one of the most photographed hotels in the world. It sure is impressive, overlooking the Saint-Laurent river.
From the hotel we reach the Terrasse Dufferin, a promenade that runs along the water but is located higher, upon the cliffs that separate the city from the water. We follow it until we realize that it goes on onto the Promenade des Gouverneurs, which runs right past the Citadelle. Ahead of us lies the large Parc des Champs-de-Bataille - now a place where people can picnic in the summer and cross-country ski in the winter - which in the 18th century, as its name suggests, was the field of battle between the British and the French.
We learn this the next day, during our visit to the Citadelle and the 22nd regiment. That's right, the Citadelle is still being used by the Canadian army and that's why you can only go in with a guide. We don't mind though, as our guide Sarah teaches us about the history of Quebec and shares information about the life in the casern.
The Citadelle also marks the start - or end, depending from where you're coming - of the old city walls. During the summer you can walk on these walls, but now they're closed off and completely covered in snow. Too bad… but there is still plenty for us to see here, so we head towards the water and the Petit Champlain neighborhood.
Small alleys, car-free streets, souvenir shops and a trendy looking coffee bar. It's definitely nice wandering around here! Before we know it, the sun starts to set and it's time to have dinner and discuss our last day in the city. We decide to drive up to the Parc Montmorency to marvel at the frozen waterfall, but my body works against us.
The next morning I woke up terribly ill, and unfortunately my last day in Quebec was spent in bed. We haven't seen the waterfall, but isn't that the perfect reason to go back?