Friday, February 19, 2010

Quebec City!

This past weekend I went on the trip up to Quebec city. It was an incredible and diverse experience. I don't think that I've ever had the opportunity to participate in so many new experiences at once before. We had a comfortable bus ride up to Quebec on Friday morning and checked into our hotel.

 We arrive!

The hotel was inside the walls of the old city. The old city was built on a hill with defensible walls. It reminded me very much of Montreal's old city, with stone buildings and tight winding streets.

 The old city

Immediately, it was very clear that we were further north; Quebec city was noticeably colder than Montreal.

 You know it's cold when the signs are made out of ice

The hotel was quite nice and our experience was complemented by a beautiful view from our window of the old city. 

Château Frontenac from our window

Our first exciting experience took place at a local bistro. The restaurant's diverse selection of pizza's set it apart from others that I have been to. With an adventurous spirit I ordered their Cajun alligator pizza. It had a unique flavor and was very interesting; I'm glad I tried it.

  Alligator Pizza. . . .Yum!

Saturday began with a trip to the ice hotel. The Hôtel de Glace is literally constructed completely out of ice. 

 Inside the ice hotel

The furniture is also ice. Each room in the hotel has standard accommodations; beds, chairs, and nightstands (in ice of course). The hotel had an ice bar where patrons could order drinks served in ice cups. 

  Enjoying the comfort of an ice chair

High fiving an ice bear!

Later we visited the Quebec Winter Carnival. There were tons of activities for all of the visitors excited to be out celebrating in the cold weather. We all grouped up at one point to ride a giant raft down a snowy hill. In the cold air it was exhilarating. 

Ice castle at the carnaval

On Sunday, we visited the Château Frontenac. It is a historic hotel and cultural center in the Quebec old  city. We were given a private tour by a guide dressed in early 20th century attire. By the end of the day, we were all exhausted from our weekend of adventure. I will always remember my exciting visit to Quebec City and I hope to return in the future. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Dim Sum!

        I have come to realize, after spending more than a semester studying in Montreal, that the Champlain Abroad community resembles a family. The number of students studying abroad and distance we are from home allows us to learn more about each other than we would have had the opportunity to otherwise. Because we are such a tight-knit community, we love spending time together as a group. A  gathering that allows us to partake in new cultural experiences as a group is a truly special event; naturally we were all excited when the Montreal faculty announced that they would be taking us out to have dim sum at Kam Fung, a small restaurant tucked in the corner of a local commercial complex.

Dim sum is a variety of southern Chinese food. The term really describes more of an experience than a type of food. All of the food is different and served in small portions periodically throughout the meal. Chinese tea is also an important component of the meal.
        We all sat down at a huge table and were almost immediately served. Dim sum is served from carts on individual plates or in steamer baskets that servers push through the restaurant. Each cart has a different variety of food on it and they push it up to a table and state in several different languages what is on it. If the people at the table are interested in a specific item, they are served the plate, generally containing between three and five small servings of that particular food. The speed and volume at which this occurs makes dim sum outings interesting experiences.

        Dim sum certainly requires an adventurous spirit. It can be difficult to discern what each food item is made of until tasting it. Many of the various items were completely new to us. It was clear that everyone in our group was excited to try these new and diverse foods as we eagerly passed the plates of food to our friends after discovering how delicious they were. Dim sum is always a positive bonding experience and I'm sure that we all look forward to going again at some point during the semester.

Photos provided by Josh Terry and Chris Ferguson