20 Centimetres of Snow

Saturday afternoon hit a temperature low of -18 degrees yet it was supposed to feel like -28 degrees due to wind and humidity. It was all good then since Dan and I were taking our time waking up to the gloomy sky and having our brunch at a placid pace. However, we had a Christmas party that evening which meant that we had to leave our cozy nest. With the extreme cold in Quebec and the inconvenience of staircases in metro stations, I have long ditched heels and fancy shoes. Flats, snickers and boots have been my top picks. Yet for that faithful evening, I wanted to dress up. Vanity overpowered comfort. I headed out with four layers of top (sufficiently warm), a pair of skin toned stockings and a pair of winter boots. We had to walk to a friend’s place for a car ride which was a stone’s throw away. Within thirty seconds, my legs were numb from the cold and a minute later, an uncomfortable sizzling sensation coursed through my almost naked thighs which made me squirm in agony. Fortunately, we managed to reach our destination before my pair of legs was a goner. *exaggeration*

The Christmas party was great fun with the usual gang of people who hung out till late. The dance floor ‘stopped’ at about 230 a.m. The snow storm had probably started while we were feasting like hungry animals. By the time we left the place, we could barely see the roads. As we made our way to the car, beautiful flakes were showered upon us while we used what’s left of us to plow through the snow. In a car pool of four, we drove at a turtle speed of 45km/h as driving visibility was not more than 50m to 80m.

The snow did not take a break for a good whole night and the following day. That resulted in a city covered in white with cars disappearing under the blankets of snow while residents busied themselves with clearing their walkways and balconies.

On my end, I remain fascinated with the snowfall. As a tropical girl, I feel like I am in a fairytale!  As I walked down the streets snapping some photos, some people greeted me with warm smiles before resuming their shoveling. With a little more time at hand, I would definitely love to head up to Mount Royal to do some magic carpeting!

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Signing off with love,

Esther 

A Road Trip to Gaspésie

A rejuvenation for the body and soul.

We decided on this one week road trip quite randomly. Dan said that he needed to disconnect hence a holiday far away from home is ideal. Our far away equates to more than three hours drive from Montreal. Since I have not visited the region of Gaspésie, Dan thought it would be a good place to visit because he enjoyed his previous trip there.  We decided to camp at the National Park of Gaspésie.

Our total drive time was approximately eight hours (one way). We broke down the travelling time into two days where we stayed over at a hostel in the city Rivière-du-Loup for a night. This is the longest road trip I have done thus far and I have learned certain important lessons during the journey.

Be mentally prepared – Anything can happen during a road trip, whether it is human created chaos or Mother Nature taking her course. We should definitely have an plan for our trip but we need to be mentally prepared for things to happen unexpectedly and adapt accordingly. In our case, we had a flat tire just after 45 minutes of car ride. Under the hot, sweltering summer sun, Dan had to change the tires and we had to send the car to the nearest mechanic right after. We got delayed up to four hours.

Give sufficient travelling time – Due to the flat tire, we reached the hostel at 8pm. Imagine if we were ambitious and tried to reach our destination in a day. We would have reached the park at midnight where we would be buried in darkness, feeling tired and frustrated.

With abundance of time on hand, we had the luxury to stop over at places of interest. We were drawn to fromageries (a place where they produce and sell cheese) and the one that blew us away was Fromagerie des Basques at Trios-Pistoles. They are known for selling a type of cheese which makes the sound ‘kwick kwick’ when you chew on it. I was definitely in cheese paradise.

Cheese from Fromagerie des Basques at Trios-Pistoles

Cheese from Fromagerie des Basques at Trios-Pistoles

Check the condition of your car – We forgot about this totally. Since we do not have our own car, we missed out the important routine of checking the condition of a car before heading out on a long drive.  Areas of inspection include the wipers, fluid levels, the car battery, the rubber of the tires and the car’s brake pads.

Dress comfortably – Whether you are the driver or the passenger, you are going to be in the car for a long time so put on clothes as comfortable as your pajamas!

Once we reached the park, we set up our tent and got ourselves installed. We were blessed with good weather as it was sunny until the day where we were supposed to depart. Situated near a lake, we took daily dips in the chilly water where freshwater leeches hid under rocks. We did not know about the leeches until one day, a family with two kids warned us of leech sighting in the water. I was afraid of going into the lake initially but when we caught a leech in a small scoop and the little girl fondled it curiously, I realized that they were not so dangerous after all.

Sunset by the lake

Wanting a challenge, we did a five hours hike up Le Pic du Brûlé. We were rewarded with a magnificent view of an array of mountains but at the same time, we were exhausted at the end of the day. I was reminded of my first and last half marathon where my knees and ankles throbbed with unpleasant sensations at the end of the race. We took three days to recover from the fatigue before doing our second hike which was only two hours. The view was no less satisfying. We also managed to catch sight of a female moose with her child.

Right on top

Overseeing the mountains

 

Le mont Ernest-Laforce

The moose on the trail

Last but not least, Gaspésie has fresh seafood everywhere! Back in Singapore, I did not really crave to go a restaurant just for fresh fish, prawns, crabs etc because you can always buy them at the market. However, in Montreal, it is almost impossible to find fresh seafood (or it is really pricey) since the cargos have to be shipped from other cities, provinces or countries. We feasted on various types of fishes, prawns, scallops and lobster. Enough cholesterol for the next few months!

Fresh scallops and prawns with garlic

Signing off with love,

Esther

Endless Amazement with Snow

I kind of understand now why some people in Montreal do not like winter. When winter stretches almost six months long, it can be frustrating. We are in March and everyday I wonder if spring is here. Despite my one month escapism to a tropical island, I still look forward to put on a fancy outer layer instead of my same old winter jacket.

Last week we had a snow storm. Snow still amazes me a lot especially when there is whole lot of them; when they cover the roads and eventually the cars along the roads. Hopefully that’s the last snow storm we are having this winter as it needs to makes space for other seasons!

A snow storm in Montreal in mid March.

A snow storm in Montreal in mid March.

A street full of snow.

A street full of snow.

Signing off with love,

Esther

La Cabane à Sucre

Quelque Chose de Sucré; Something Sweet 

Pour ce blog, je vais essayer d’écrire une version française.

Le week-end avant, Daniel et moi avons visité la cabane à sucre avec ses collègues. Nous avons eu à conduire pendant environ une heure pour y parvenir. Le nom de l’endroit est Erabliere St-Henri (http://www.erabliere-st-henri.qc.ca/anglais.htm). L’endroit est magnifique et j’ai adoré la nourriture. On peut manger de tout avec le sirop d’érable. J’ai mangé tellement que j’etais si pleine. Après cela, j’ai eu la tire d’érable. Je l’ai aimé! Aussie, j’ai faire une balade en cheval. Dans l’ensemble, c’était une bonne expérience!

Qu’est-ce que la cabane à sucre? (Je dois expliquer en anglais)

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The weekend before, Daniel and I made a trip out of Montreal city to have my first sugar shack experience. A “sugar shack” is a cabin where maple sap is collected to be boiled until it becomes maple syrup. The cabin is exclusively reserved for that purpose. As the production of maple syrup requires special equipments, the sugar shack needs to be localised in the middle of the sugar bush and it remains unoccupied for the rest of the year. Apparently, maple syrup can only be collected once a year (during spring time) because of the conditions needed. The temperature at night has to be below zero degrees and the temperature at night has to be above that. This year, the weather has been erratic in Montreal hence the supply of maple syrup had been reduced significantly.

At the cabin, we were served with local Quebec food which included pea soup, maple syrup ham, deep fried pork, sweet dough with maple syrup, maple pie, sugar pie, egg custard pie etc. As you can see, the menu is highly unhealthy but without doubt, amazingly delicious. We ate so much that we could barely walked from the table yet thereafter, we still went for le tire d’erable (maple syrup on stick) which is solid when you take it off the ice and melts right away in your mouth. The day ended with a horse ride through the maple syrup production group. Nothing fancy but a good bonding time for people on board to chat away. Visiting the sugar shack is a definite must try experience if you are heading over to Montreal during spring time.

Signing off with love,

Esther