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Ed Boitano: Canada Winter Festivals

Two Canadian Winter Festivals
By Ed Boitano

n uncle from Seattle likes to chide me that Southern California has only two seasons: The smog season and fire season. Sure, it's worth a laugh, but those of us who live in Southern California know that there are seasons – it's just that they are very subtle. Never the less, life in the California Southland generally means one does not have to leave the area to escape winter's snow, ice and cold weather. Truth to tell, we generally have to leave the region to find it. This last winter I did just that: I received a serious winter fix, plus got to explore two very unique cultures who embrace the hardships of the long winter months of ice and snow with celebrations that warm both the heart and soul.

ice carvings on display at night, Rogers Crystal Garden, Ottawa
Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Winterlude – Ottawa, Ontario

Every February, Ottawa is host to Winterlude; three weekends of excitement and activity that celebrates Canada’s winter climate and culture. The festival includes spectacular ice sculptures, ingenious ice slides, the children’s Snowflake Kingdom, ice mazes, food and music.

the Rideau Canal as skating rink in winter, Ottawa
Credit: Ottawa Tourism

The frozen 4.8-mile-long Rideau Canal is transformed into the world's longest skating rink. Located in the heart of Ottawa, between Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Château Laurier, seeing business people skating to work with backpacks and briefcases in hand is a sight that I will never forget. And I know that children on skates will never forget seeing a clumsy, terrified journalist trying to negotiate the ice.

Signature Winterlude Snack: BeaverTails are named after the shape of one of Canada's national symbols – the beaver. Made with fried whole wheat pastry, then tossed in a bowl of cinnamon and sugar, they are a popular treat when taking a break at one of the booths along the Rideau Canal. They can also be made with toppings of garlic, cheese, jam or chocolate sauce.

Most Winterlude activities are free of charge, but registration and admission fees may apply to certain events. Winterlude 2017 will run from February 3 to 20.

the Peace Tower and the Canadian parliament buildings, Parliament Hill, Ottawa
Credit: Ottawa Tourism

About Ottawa

Situated on the border of the provinces of Ontario and Québec in central Canada, the Ottawa area is one of Canada's most bilingual places with nearly half a million people speaking both English and French. As Canada's capital, it boasts endless tourist attractions and rates a visit regardless of the season. Your tour should begin with a trip to the observation deck of the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, which offers sweeping views of this world-class city. If you’re lucky, you may watch the proceedings of the Senate or House of Commons from the public galleries. Other attractions include vibrant neighborhoods, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian War Museum, which shows Canada’s history of war from the perspective of an average person. Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2017 and Ottawa, as the capital city, will be the epicentre of the celebrations. A series of seemingly endless blockbuster events are scheduled throughout the year. Check out the list on Ottawa 2017.

the Fairmont Château Laurier at night, Ottawa
Credit: Ottawa Tourism

Where to Stay: Fairmont Château Laurier
When in Ottawa, why not go the distance and stay in the legendary Fairmont Château Laurier. This palatial limestone structure with turrets is modeled after a French château and is located in the heart of the city, across the river from the Parliament Buildings. It makes a great place for warming après-snow enjoyment after a day in the cold.

sign for the Carnival, Quebec
Crédit: Carnaval de Québec.

Carnaval de Québec – Québec City, Québec

Nestled on the banks of Old Québec City, Carnaval de Québec is the biggest winter carnival in the world. Sixty-four years of history is reflected in this two-week festival that includes snow sculptures, an Ice Tower, night parades, concerts, giant football game, ice fishing, skating and other activities based on Québecois folkloric traditions.

visitors inside the Hôtel de Glace, the only ice hotel in the Americas
Crédit: Hôtel de Glace Québec-Canada inc.

Located just a short drive out of the city (10 minutes) is the Hôtel de Glace, the only ice hotel in the Americas. Entirely made out of snow and ice, this magical man-made palace features rooms and suites, exteriors spas and sauna, a bar, a café, an exhibition room, a chapel for weddings and a ice slide. Guided daily tours are also available.

Signature Carnival Snack: Maple Taffy ("tire d'erable") is made by pouring hot, thick maple syrup onto a board of fresh snow. When it begins to harden, you grab a popsicle stick and pick up the taffy in a rolling motion, wrapping it around the stick. Maple syrup is a staple of Québecois cuisine, reflecting the natural taste of the countryside, where "sugar shacks" in maple groves are used to boil maple.

ice figures at the winter Carnival, Québec
Crédit: Carnaval de Québec.

Most Carnaval activities are free, but admission fees apply to some events. Carnaval de Québec is scheduled January 27 to February 12, 2017.

view of Québec City, Québec with the St. Lawrence River in the background
Credit: Québec City Tourism

About Québec City

Québec City was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985 and is the only walled city in North America. The best way to explore this historic city is to stroll its narrow, cobblestone streets lined with stone houses, cathedrals and cafes. The city itself is nothing less than a living museum. Québec City has embraced its history, which is reflected with more than 32 museums, exhibition halls and interpretation centers. Pedestrian streets are populated with local artisans and musicians in this city were 95% of the residents are French-speaking. A quick journey down the funicular leads you to Lower Québec, the birthplace of the city. A ferry ride on the St Lawrence River is mandatory for stunning photo opportunities.

view of the Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in winter, Québec City
Credit: Québec City Tourism

Where to Stay: Fairmont Le Château Frontenac
Towering over the St. Lawrence River, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac is more than a hotel – it is quite literally the symbol of Old Québec. The castle-like property, with its majestic towers and turrets, evokes an era of time-gone-by, yet still serves as a center for what is Québec today. With the boardwalk to its front and the city to its rear, it offers easy walking access to Carnaval de Québec and Québec City’s countless attractions.

taking pictures from inside a VIA Rail Canada train
Credit: Ed Boitano

How to Make it Happen: VIA Rail Canada

Let’s see, two winter festivals in two different cities, two weekends and five mid-week days in between. Well, here’s how I did it: Fly Air Canada to Ottawa, on a Friday for Winterlude's opening ceremonies. Then, on Wednesday hop aboard VIA Rail Canada for an eight-hour train trip to Québec City. You’ll discover, as I did, that this is more than a mode of transportation for Via Rail is an experience unto itself. Between cities, you'll watch the Province of Québec’s snowy scenery roll past your window and discover the rich land that drew the first settlers there. VIA Rail's first-class service offers plush seats, regional cuisine and an attentive staff who never seems too busy to answer questions about your journey. Make sure you order a Caesar, Canada’s answer to the Bloody Mary. On your journey, there’s also a short stopover in the main Montreal train station, which will allow you time for a self-guided madcap A Hard Day's Night-style one-hour tour of this premier city. You will arrive in Québec City in the evening for Carnaval de Québec, then fly back at your convenience after your stay. Now, how’s that for a winter fix!

Go here for further information about Ottawa’s Winterlude

Go here for information about Carnaval de Québec


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Let Ed know what you think about his traveling adventure.

* * * * *

Feedback for "Spokane, Pullman and the Palouse"

Loved the Spokane article – my mom was born there and my grandparents are interred there. Haven't been back in decades.

--- Nancy, Hawaii

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Feedback for "Norway's Fjords"

Hi Ed. I was just reading your great story about traveling through the Norwegian countryside and the voyage along the coast - sounds amazing. I’ve been to Oslo, but definitely would like to return to Norway one day to explore exactly what you wrote about.

Cheers,

--- Sasha H.

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Feedback for "In Search of Movie Locations In the Land of Aloha"

Mahalo for your article on Hawaii film locations. You should check out our new "The Hawaii Movie and Television Book" at: http://hawaiimtvbook.weebly.com/

--- Ed Rampell (Co-Author), Los Angeles, CA

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Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us useful information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

--- Christian Louboutin, U.K.

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Cool site.

--- Donna Namaste', San Francisco, CA

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Great work as always.

--- S. Wyatt, Seattle, WA

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Hr. (Danish for sir) Ed,

Thanks so much for your article on Copenhagen, DK...loved it! Very well done actually I used to live in Christianshavn (just next to Christania) and Danish is my second language.

You really did a quite grand job and pulled me ALL of the way into your analogy and experience from my other home.

Just one detail that I thought might have been included.....the bakeries & cheese shops in the mornings in nearly every 5 or so blocks as they waft the incredible hypnotizing aromas of those amazing Danish specialties.

I most especially and absolutely love the fact that you included the "hyggeligt" element...wonderful!!

Another aspect of the Danish language that I have found interesting is that we only cuss to devil rather than the more typically religious icons and that love (elsker) is only very rarely used.

All-in-all you have me totally on your team and I will always look forward to your future writing.

Med venlig hilsen...(with kind regards).

--- Breeze

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Hi Ed,

Thank you for your article on the Cherokee Nation. I really appreciate the historical perspective and recognition of their contribution to American culture.

--- Nora Weber, British Columbia

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Another cool issue. You da' man. One question: Is that Mark Lindsay on the front page?

--- Brent, Seattle, WA

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This would be a fascinating place to visit. There is so much history within our reach that we don't often acknowledge in more than a token way. I am wondering if any individual or group has ever gone on a vision quest, or perhaps a memorial march, by retracing the path of the Trail of Tears? This would be a painful journey, for most, I imagine.

--- Sandra, Seattle, WA

Osiyo! From Cherokee Nation Cultural Tourism: What a great description of Kauai! The pictures are awesome and I loved reading your travel report! Keep pushin' on!

--- Lisa Long, Tulsa, OK

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I'm getting hungry again just reading your article! It's hot today and I could really use a shave ice right now.

Hope you're having a great day!

--- Melissa, Honolulu, HI

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Thanks so much for sharing! Wow. The beauty even from the few pictures here and your descriptions is breathtaking... I can't even imagine being there for real! The food looks and sounds exquisite, I'm not sure my kind of exquisite, but I do like to be adventurous on occasion :).Quite the story there.

--- Emily, Boise, ID

Great pictures!

--- Anna Harrison, Palmdale, CA

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Tough job, Ed! Thanks for sharing.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

Ed, Tim from the team of Jack and Tim - Star Clipper. Great trip. Always enjoy your postings.

--- Tim & Jack, Washington DC

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Hi Ed,

I really enjoyed your story on the Empress of the North. I was an Assistant Cruise Director aboard her in 2004, and you gave me a treasured walk down memory lane with her.You might know this, but if not .... you can cruise the Columbia again late this summer and early fall. The Empress' sister boat, the Queen of the West, was purchased by American Cruise lines and will offer a Columbia River itinerary which almost mirrors the one my Empress used to travel. Just thought you'd like to know.

--- Paul Penta, 2004 Assistant Cruise Director, Empress of the North, Copperas Cove, TX

Ed, you are by far the most interesting of all the Boitanos. Your coverage is extensive and captivating. It's a real treat to read your blogs. Your article on the Baltic Sea Nations is no exception. But don't get me wrong, the other Boitanos have their own charm and perspective. Thanks for all your articles. I can see it's a work of art. I just now noticed your Dog Quotes --- what a great collection! Keep up the good work. Keep on sharing your travels! This is better than the more popular travelogues.

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA

Hi Ed,

How's life? Hope all's well in sunny Cal.

Having just received the latest issue of the Traveling Boy newsletter I popped back over to your site to take a look around and came across this article which I had not previously read: www.travelingboy.com/archive-travel-ed-baltic.html

Loved it! First of all, this is a part of the world that I absolutely adore so reading about it is always a pleasure. Secondly, I'm happy to see you crossing things off your Buck with such gusto! Myself, I have already been to Stockholm, Helsinki and Copenhagen, and Tallinn, St. Petersburg and Moscow are all on my Buck. After reading through the article I reminded once again why!

One of my favourite lines in the piece is:

"Granted, eight to twenty-fours in world-class cities like Helsinki and Tallinn hardly does them justice, but a sketch is always better than a blank canvas."

So very true. I'll take a sketch over a blank canvas any day! Besides, sketches often lead to full-blown paintings anyway.

Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed this story. Hope there are many more fun adventures awaiting you soon!

Cheers,

--- Ashley, Toronto

Thanks for a great trip, Ed - such a comfortable way to travel, particularly to several cities i knew very little about. I've had only one sea voyage - crossed to G.B. on the United States in the early 60s - no balconies, etc. on that ship, as she was prepared to be stripped down to carry troops in event of WWIII, but still luxurious in her own way.

Bumped into a documentary recently on PBS re the old lady who is now docked in Philadelphia, I believe with peeling paint on her sides and funnels and of course the interior stripped and auctioned off of everything...periodic moves to rehabilitate her, but so costly people back off. She was the largest and fastest - still is. Her record was 3 days crossing - we did it in a little over 5 (cruise speed I guess!). They showed regular passengers like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor who happened to be on board when I was, as well as gazillions of stars who traveled on her. Charles Boyer was the only one on my crossing - we were alone in the library one time, but I didn't say anything. He looked immersed in his pursuit of a book. The Windsors were tiny little people, as was M. Boyer (and this comment from a 5'2" observer!). How's that for an ancient history lesson? Anyhow seeing the ship like she is now made me almost teary - surprised myself somehow.

--- Brenda Hughes, Richland, WA

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I loved this article!! Kept me in rapt attention, felt like I explored part of the world myself ;) nice way to start my day, sounds altogether amazing and unforgettable!

--- Emily, Boise, ID

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Great writing!! Reading, education and fabulous locations! All around WOWS!

--- E Dava, Burbank, CA

What a wonderful assortment of travel destinations. I have always been drawn to islands, and as a Pacific Northwesterner, dream from time to time about settling in the San Juans someday (like a lot of us here visualize for ourselves). Hopefully, travel will occur before this particular dream comes to pass. I enjoy reading about the connections you have with the places you write about. I will visit that fishing village in Norway, someday, just because of the photograph. Who wouldn't, after seeing it. Thanks, Ed

--- Sandee, Seattle, WA

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Another great edition!

--- CG, Central California Coast

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Hi Ed,

I sailed into Sooke on my way to port Ludlow from Portland, Oregon in my sailboat few years back. It was interesting port. The entry is snake like channel with local fisherman's local markers only to guide you into the port.

--- Larry, Portland, OR

Wow. I want to go to Vietnam! It's beautiful! Those are amazing pictures!

--- Archie, Pasadena, CA

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Kudos to Mark Twain. He knows how to honor a dog, and kudos to Cedric for all he was and still is and kudos to you for another edition of www.traveling boy.com. Peace and Love,

--- Joel, Pasadena, CA

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Ed, I really enjoy your traveling adventures. Your stories are so well written and the photographs are amazing. Thank you for letting us in on your adventures. You bring the adventure to those of us who aren't able to go. Thank you.

--- Cheryl, Pismo Beach, CA

Amazing story and pictures. To think that 40 years ago we were all terrified at the prospect of going there... what a difference a few decades makes. Fantastic article!

--- Roger, Puyallup, WA

Thanks for your expert insight, Jeremy. Have you ever lived in New York? Don't tell me you are one of those tourists or former transplants. It's a very different experience when one lives here. Unlike Los Angeles, there really is a sense of community. New Yorkers love and care about their city... and, yes, their neighbors too.

--- Lisa - New York, NY

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NY sucks. It's now nothing more than a Disneyland version of its former glory. It city filled with tourists and transplants, and no longer the center of the universe. The WEST is the best. Everyone is moivng to the Coast. Even NY fashion designers check out the LA street scene before launching their new designs. Plus no one in NY knows real pizza. Take a trip to Naples sometime and try the real thing.

--- Jeremy - Los Angeles, CA

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The economic boom is what drove all the changes in New York. The mayors were in the right place at the right time, and to their credit, handled things well. It's easier to clean up the city and cut crime when you have more money to spend. The economic outlook for New York is bleak now with unemployment going up. Bloomberg already is short money and will be cutting services across the board. If things don't turn around, people may not be as friendly in a few years.The idea that New Yorkers are not nice is just a myth; people in L.A. are much more distant and shut-off.

--- Michael, Native New Yorker

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I think that overall, Manhattan has become friendlier in the last few years, not sure why but don't think Giuliani or Dinkins can take credit. There was definitely a surge of NYC solidarity following 9/11, and Giuliani was extremely popular during that period. When he supported Bush so strongly in the election that followed, his popularity plummeted, though. Bloomberg has definitely done a good job with making a lot of bike lanes, blocking off large areas of what was previously street and putting tables and chairs for pedestrian use. Not sure how this economic downturn will affect local attitudes, though....

--- Sue, New York

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This is the best. Keep them coming.--- Paul Ash

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Ed, thanks for putting the Holland button on your site.

By the way, your images really work! I opened the newsletter and was immediately tempted to click on an article. Love it. And also love the fact I can click on images in the articles to enlarge them. The short headline on the image makes me curious. Well done.

--- Bianca Helderman

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Thanks Ed, for this delightful view of this wondrous city! The first time I traveled with a husband to NYC years ago, it was for an Orchestral Conductor's conference. We lived in Newfoundland at that time, so you can imagine my shock of coming from isolation to the big apple!My heart began beating as I looked out of my hotel window at the figures of humans below, scurrying like ants, I was up so high. It wasn't the height, rather, the invisible buzz, that urgently beckoned me to go outside! But when I reached the sidewalk, the rush of pedestrians made me wonder "where's the party?" Friendly? Yes! I lived in NYC for 5 years with a later husband and loved every minute! Being an artist, I could not relax enough to paint, so I took up acting and worked with "Children In Need" a charity, instead and partook of everything NY had to offer from opera and Off Broadway plays and such to ballet and wholistic healings....a city full of everything one could imagine! I truly love NYC and years later am grateful to live in a quieter area of California so I may relax and paint and do my healing work...going back only to visit my delightful haunts. There is nothing like NYC!.

--- Yoka, Westlake Village, CA

Ed,

Great issue. Well done. They keep getting better! --- Grace Conlee Micetich, San Diego, CA

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I loved all of the traveling news! It’s good to know you are still out there in the world. --- Judy Vincent

Ed,

Thanks for getting me back on the Traveling Boy newsletter mailing list- I have missed it!

I do believe we need contributions of the ‘road less traveled’ in the US for those of us whose feet never leave the ground… Ahhhh… the Badlands... Two Medicine in Glacier… the Lava tubes in central Oregon… my next destination wish: Monument Valley.

--- Lorrie Sjoquist

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The photos and descriptions of this trip are wonderful. I love the idea of the slowed down pace of the train. Kind of a throwback to the "good old days." --- Larry Lombard, Puyallup, WA

I think you outdid yourself with the "Two Cities" article. I'm ashamed to admit that I knew so little about these two cities. I learned so much. Your article was jampacked with very interesting trivia. Surprised the Jazz greats and Walt Disney came from practically the same area. And those pictures --- especially the WWI museum --- what an incredible shot --- almost like out of somebody's Satyricon dream. Bravo!

--- Rod, Glendale, CA

What a great article! --- Michelle, Torrance, California

Ed,

The photos are spectacular. I can envision many a romantic novel inspired by these majestic sceneries. Makes me want to do a little more research on Norway. John Lenon must have been one of the converts when he wrote "Norwegian Woods."
--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena CA

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Peter,

Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to write. Indeed, Norway was paradise on earth, and I dream of returning again and again. You had a funny line about John Lennon being so inspired by the beauty of Norway that he composed the song, "Norwegian Wood." If I'm not mistaken, his reference to "Norwegian Wood" is just that: an inexpensive pine wood from Norway that was becoming popular in the UK. I did read somewhere, though, that "I Want to Hold Your Hand" was inspired by Norwegian fjord trek.

Thanks again… and please keep writing.

Ed

Ed,

Reading Peter's implication that "Norwegian Wood" was based on a trip that John Lennon took to Norway led me to do some research.

According to Paul McCartney at a press conference in Los Angeles: 'Peter Asher [brother of McCartney's then-girlfriend Jane Asher] had just done his room out in wood, and a lot of people were decorating their places in wood. Norwegian wood. It was pine, really, just cheap pine. But it's not as good a title, is it, "Cheap Pine"? It was a little parody, really, on those kind of girls who, when you'd get back to their flat, there would be a lot of Norwegian wood. It was completely imaginary from my point of view, but not from John's. It was based on an affair he had. She made him sleep in the bath and then, finally, in the last verse, I had this idea to set the Norwegian wood on fire as a revenge. She led him on and said, "You'd better sleep in the bath." And in our world, that meant the guy having some sort of revenge, so it meant burning the place down....'

Of course, just cause it's on the 'net doesn't mean it's true.

--- Jeff M, Tacoma, WA

Weird piece on Copenhagen (Cosy in Copenhaggen). Do you think now that Keefer’s in the slammer in Glendale for DWI he’s experiencing any hygge? I bet some of those jailbirds would like to see how touch he is.

--- Adam S., Glendale CA

I loved your intro and the way you set up the article. It immediately set the tone of an action-paced adventure. I imagined Annette as a spy in a trenchcoat feeding you top secret information. I'm surprised you didn't get lost. Do they speak English over there? Are the street signs in English? Does a GPS work over there?

I never heard of "hygge" but, like you, I think I've felt that sensation everytime the cold wind blows here in South Pasadena, CA. When I sit beside a warm fire, sipping my hot chocolate, I will remember this article. Thanks!

--- Peter Paul, South Pasadena, CA


Stay tuned.


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