Day 7 – Dog sledding & crepes

Today’s blog is brought to you by the students themselves! Check out their quotes below!

“Today we got to head out dog sledding. We started out our morning with a bus ride, and then we met our tour guide Jade. We all mounted our sleds, led by three or four dogs and one person sat while the other “steered”, aka stepping onto brake pedal when need-be. It was surprisingly not freezing, and it was actually a lot of fun to be riding along the winding paths. I did, however, discover the struggle with breaking, but towards the end I eventually got the hang of it. Overall, dog sledding was lots of fun, and I loved seeing the puppies afterwards.” Olivia


“After a long bumpy bus ride, we arrived to see many happy huskies waiting for us. The dog sledding was very fun, even though our dogs kept getting tangled. Following the dog sledding, we went snow shoeing. We had to climb up a steep hill, to get to a great lookout overviewing the whole complex. It wasn’t much fun climbing up, but it was great at the top and on the way down. It was a day of new things, that I will never forget.” Rivers 


“Dog sledding has been my favorite planned activity so far. The best part was when we stopped and got to play with the dogs. The dog I was playing with was named Kawa and was extremely hyper and playful. When we finally tried to get back on the sled he jumped up and hugged me and brought me back. The worst part was when Shane thought he was in Tokyo Drift going around a slope bank and flipped us getting only me covered in snow.” George


“Today was one of my favorite days. The dog sledding was the best part because of the beautiful view we encountered through the woods. When it was over, we got to see the puppies and hold them which was very fun also.” Sam S.


“Today we went dog sledding through snow and forest. Me and Julian had our own sleigh being pulled by 3 dogs. Julian drove the sled first while I sat in the front. Later we alternated places and during our break we had cookies and hot chocolate. We were fortunate enough to not tip our sled unlike some other people. This was definitely the highlight of the day and my favorite part of our trip so far.” Bates 



“Our lunch today at the Sugar Shack was different…apparently, they have maple syrup at every meal! The lunch food was a very interesting combination of meat pie, sugar glazed sausages, pea soup, bread, home fries, a jello like drink, and a Quebec version of Chicharrons. Also, during lunch, we had a live performer and he had Sam and Steven go up in front of the whole room and perform with the spoons (wooden spoons that hit each other to make a loud noise). It was very entertaining and funny.” Lizzy 



“At lunch Steven and I got called up for making music with a spoon which was very funny to watch after it was over. We then went outside to eat iced maple syrup on a stick…or what they call “sugar on snow”! The man poured the syrup on a line of snow and we used popsicle sticks to pick it up. It was delicious!” Sam S.

“After lunch, we went snowshoeing up a hill to see a great view of the trails that the dogs took us on!” Shane

“After dog sledding and the sugar shack, Mrs.Hermosillo, Lizzy, Maggie, and I went on a walk around the upper part of Québec. All the people who chose not go on the walk missed a lot. There were many great views as we walked along.” Abby



“For dinner, we went to Billig Crêperie and ate a delicious dinner. We walked a short distance in the warmer-than-usual weather to the quaint and dim restaurant. We started our meal with savory crêpes of our choice. At my table, most of us ordered egg and cheese crêpes. They were delicious! Our entrée was paired with a small salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing. After devouring our meal, we had sweet crêpes for dessert. I had a chocolate and whipped cream crêpe and it was wonderful! After filling our stomachs, we left the restaurant to head back to our hostel.” Sara

Day 6 – Quebec City, Ice Fishing & the Mega Parc

The Pace Quebec team had a very full day today! When we woke up, we saw Quebec City for the first time in the daylight. It is beautiful! In Montreal mostly everyone we met was bilingual, but in Quebec City there are far few English speakers. French culture is everywhere.  It feels like a quaint European town, but it still has the North American way of living prevalent throughout. Canadians are so kind!

We began the day with a scavenger hunt throughout Quebec City searching for historical monuments and sites. We stepped out of our hostel confident that at 25 degrees, we would be totally warm enough. After all, we had just ziplined at 1 degree weather. Oh, we were very wrong! It quickly began snowing and we forgot to take into account the wind chill from the St. Laurent River. Even with bitter winds, snow covered hair, and many falls on ice, we bravely finished the scavenger hunt. Woohoo! 

We then walked over to the Quebec City boardwalk for their staple toboggan ride. It was even colder than the scavenger hunt, but boy, it was fun! Madame Hermosillo definitely thought she was going to fly off the toboggan. We all screamed in delight, and had sore bottoms from the toboggan…a true Quebec experience. 😊



We ate lunch in downtown Quebec City, and then headed over to the frozen lake at the port to begin ice fishing. The frozen lake had dozens of igloos (they were blown up with air; a normal igloo would have collapsed the ice beneath). Each igloo had holes for ice fishing. We grabbed our mini chairs, fishing poles, and bait, took a seat by our fishing hole, and then dropped the line in. There was a ton of anticipation at the start, but we quickly realized this would not be an exciting endeavor.

A few of us got bites, but no one was able to catch a fish.  Some of us even took our fishing skills outside the igloos and broke down existing ice holes to see if we would have better luck. Ice fishing is TOUGH, and takes a ton of patience. Later in the day, we talked about how difficult it must have been for the Inuits and other tribes whose only food source was ice fishing. We all agreed that they had a lot more resilience than we do! 



We admitted defeat in the battle with the fish, and headed over to the Museum of Civilization for a warmer and more educational atmosphere. There were some very cool exhibits exploring optical illusions (see picture  of girls hanging from buildings below) and cats and dogs (see picture of Abby talking to a person dressed up as a dog). 😊

We then hopped on our school bus and headed over to the Mega Parc – the second largest indoor amusement park in North America. Madame Hermosillo bought us all unlimited rides, and for the next 2.5 hours, we exhausted ourselves with spinny rides, carousels, roller coasters, and more! We all had fun. 



We finished the day with group time writing in our journals about what we had experienced the past 48 hours – particularly reflecting on the role of patience in our travels and in what we are learning in Quebec. 

Tomorrow, we head off to go dog sledding! We are all very excited! Goodnight to all!

Day 5 – Curling, Underground, and Gare Centrale — ViaRail to Quebec City

After storing our luggage in a room at our hostel, we joined the throngs of Montrealers who were headed to work on a Monday morning in the subway. We then boarded bus 105 out to West Montreal for an introduction to the Canadian sport of curling with longtime curling instructor and expert, “Dave”. 

Julian said Dave was really nice and he really knew his sport! After a brief lesson about rules, equipment, and proper technique, we split into two groups and four teams and took to our respective “sheets” of ice in a curling club kept at 36 degrees F. We then took turns in the various roles of skip, sweeper, or player in charge of launching the stones down the court. We were surprised at how challenging it is to keep your balance as you crouch down on the starting blocks and push of down the sheet of ice with a plastic slider attached to one of your feet and the broom in one hand and the stone in the other. Maggie noted that she fell a lot but Lizzy said her favorite part was the sliding! Rivers said they make it look easy on television. You have to be sure to get your stone past the hog line (marked my small pig statues wearing collars and nametags) and consider that the stone always curls right or left. The sweepers are required if the stone doesn’t have enough momentum to make it to the target or the “house”. Abby said sweeping was very tiring. The skip is responsible for strategy for the team. Everyone said curling was a lot of fun!




After doing the same bus and subway trip in reverse, we landed at Place Ville Marie for a visit to Underground Montreal and lunch and then headed back to collect our bags and make our way to Gare Centrale to catch our train for the 3.5 hour journey through farm fields and small towns to Quebec City. The evil chaperones collected all cell phones for this part of the trip, so we had to do things like talk to each other, write in our journals, read actual books, play card games, answer Mr. Richardson’s riddles, snack, and look out the window at the Quebec countryside. Lizzy and Maggie both said they enjoyed not having their phones because it was much more fun.


We arrived at the train station in Quebec City and immediately realized it is nothing like Montréal. We had a short walk through the winding 17th century streets searching for our hostel with luggage in tow. The Auberge de la Paix is an ancient building located on a small street in Old Quebec. The rules make you leave your boots at the entry before you head up the narrow stairs to the rooms. The common area to meet as a group is a tiny but cozy parlor. After settling in, we raced to dinner, making a wrong turn or two because our google maps didn’t work properly in a city with walls and two levels! We arrived at 8:59 at a local diner-type eatery called Buffet de l’Antiquaire. Arriving a minute before closing, we didn’t know what to expect…but the hostess and chef were very welcoming and offered us a small but tasty menu and treated us well. Merci!

Day 4 – Mount Royal & Ziplining

We braved our second day in 5 degree weather today! As we were leaving the hostel this morning, we felt like pros at this cold weather stuff. I mean, who cares if you have to wear five pairs of pants?

We began the day with our Australian tour guide who led us on a hike up Mount Royal. “Montreal” was named after “Mount Royal”. In 1642, Maisonneuve planted a giant cross on the top of the mountain and prayed to the Virgin Mary to stop a flood…and Montreal was born! In order to preserve the historic and cultural meaning of the Mountain, government law says that no building in Montreal is able to be taller than Mount Royal. Very cool!



When we got to the top of Mount Royal, we found a beautiful view…and an ice covered area in front of the Chalet! Our tour guide says that typically groups just stand in the corner and look at the view, but our group was very different! They immediately hopped out on to the ice and began a game of ice soccer. At one point I heard Shane exclaim, “Guys…why do we make up games like this?!!”




After over an hour of playing on the ice (the kids could have gone a lot longer), we visited the infamous cross that Maisonneuve laid all those years ago. Turns out it had been redone in 1991 and now holds some pretty impressive LED lights! 


As we made our way down the other side of the mountain to our new destination, we ran in to a few obstacles. Many paths were shut down due to ice issues. We found an open path and quickly realized why so many other paths were shut down. It was one giant slab of ice and almost impossible not to fall down! Even Ms. Eckhardt wiped out! 

The kids had no fear, though. They said this was the most fun part of the trip so far. We resorted to sliding down on our bottoms. ​​


We survived sliding down the mountain and headed to our very Quebec lunch! We tried the classic Quebec food – poutine. This is French fries drowned in cheese curds and gravy. It was delicious…and unhealthy. 😊


Next up – we headed to the opposite side of town to do our second zip line in 24 hours! It was still under 10 degrees, but we all had fun and were amazed at seeing the port of Montreal from a great height.




Afterwards, we split up into groups to explore Old Montreal. Some of us went to spend time at the beautiful Cathedral of Notre Dame, while others went shopping through cobble stone streets and enjoyed the lovely cafes.


We ended the day by watching an IMAX movie on national parks. It was very impressive and felt like we were there!

Now we are home and packing up to head to Quebec City tomorrow. We can’t wait! But first, we go curling in the morning! Sending our love to ATL ❤

Day 3 – Animals, Escapes & Festivals

We began day 3 at subway stop Viau in the Olympic Village, visiting the 4 ecosystems of the Biodôme (and especially enjoying leaving our heavy jackets in a locker for a few moments to bask the balmy weather of the tropical rain forest). Making our way from tropical to the Laurentides of Quebec and eventually to the sub arctic, we were able to see capybaras (R.O.U.S), macaws, parrots, sloths, crocodiles, snakes, frogs, three lynx hunting and napping, bats, sharks and fish, penguins playing tag and many other animals in their natural habitats before suiting up again and heading through what seemed like our own Arctic tundra to cross the Village and see the Insectarium (thanks for the suggestion, Steven!). The Insectarium was full of giant and colorful jewel-like beetles, hundreds of butterflies, terrifying spiders, dangerous scorpions and other fascinating insects from all over the world. We ended our morning tour at the Botanical Garden with a brief stop at the temporary exhibit called Butterflies Go Free! We walked through a beautiful indoor garden full of captivatingly vibrant papillons flittering around our heads and occasionally landing on flowers, cut fruit, or lucky visitors.
           

Next up, was a quick subway trip for lunch in small groups on Boulevard Saint Laurent, also called “The Main”, and a session at Ezcapaz where we broke into three groups and then used teamwork and logic to solve three different sequences of puzzles to “escape the room”. The students impressed the chaperones with their cleverness and ability to collaborate to solve the problems at hand. Go Knights!

  
The day’s adventures continued as we headed to Bonaventure station for a warm-up with some indoor ice skating. Sam S., Bates and several others showed off their fine skating skills while others took to the ice for the first time and bravely completed their tentative laps around the rink.

   

Then it was back to the hostel to gather even MORE warm clothes (think intrepid arctic explorer) to face the winter festival Montréal en Lumière. We were planning to hit the Urban Winter Toboggan Run but there were too many people ahead of us so we instead queued up to do the Zipline high above the illuminated Place des Festivals. Despite the bitterly cold weather, we were prepared to have some fun!  

​​

 ​We headed back home around 10:30 tonight, tired but looking forward to more Montréal adventures tomorrow! À demain!