Sunday Special – Quebec City, Canada


I could not let “Q” go by without showcasing Quebec, “la belle province”. On my list of places to see in my own country is the province’s capital of the same name: Quebec City/Ville de Qu√©bec (or simply Quebec) and it’s annual winter festival of Carnaval de Quebec. I want to meet Bonhomme, the mascot of Carnaval.

Quebec City, from what I have heard, is a wonderful gem. Overlooking the St. Lawrence Seaway the city was settled by Europeans (France) in 1608 with First Nations people living in the areas for centuries before. One of the oldest cities in North America, Quebec also also retains its ramparts around the Old City (Vieux-Quebec) to this day. In 1985 the “Historic District of Old Quebec” was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

An annual and much loved event of Quebec City is its annual winter Carnaval, which runs from end of January to mid-February each year. Growing up I became familiar with images of Bonhomme and his bright red toque. Many events and activities are yours to enjoy during this 100+ year old celebration. Some things to look forward to include:

  • The International Ice Sculpture Competition – amazing creations by artists around the globe
  • The Snow Sculpture Competition – its not just ice that gets turned into art
  • Various Night Parades throughout the weeks¬†– with Bonhomme often leading the way
  • The much loved Canoe Race on the icy waters of the St Lawrence where 60 teams in several categories compete
  • Visit Bonhomme’s Ice Palace and the art it houses
  • How cold can ya handle it? Find out by partaking in the Snow Bath with nothing on but your swimsuit
  • Carnaval related shopping, dining, concerts and more
  • Check the website on January 12, 2018 when the official program will be posted
  • Don’t forget to use #CarnavalQC when posting on social media
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Bonhomme!! – Photo credit –¬†Laserpdb, Carnaval Qu√©bec 2011, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Ice sculptures at Carnival РPhoto credit: Matias Garabedian from Montreal, Canada, Le 60e Carnaval de Québec (12665475763), CC BY-SA 2.0

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Ice canoeing competition at Carnaval de Quebec РPhoto credit:  Cephas, Ice canoeing Quebec 2016 2, CC BY-SA 4.0

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Sunday Special – The Pantheon, Rome


I decided to round out letter “P” with an ancient landmark in the Eternal City – Rome’s Pantheon. This remarkable building has some interesting details, as one may expect from the best-preserved ancient Roman building within Rome. The current building was completed around 125 CE, during Emperor Hadrian’s reign. Two previous incarnations of the building existed prior, at the very same site. The first one was commissioned by Marcus Agrippa in 25 – 27 BCE yet burnt down in 80 CE.¬† It was rebuilt during the time of Domitian, was struck by lightning in 110 CE and subsequently burnt down as well. Initially built as a pagan temple it has been used as a Christian church since 608 CE (Saint Mary and the Martyrs). Having been in continuous use since it was built has aided in its ongoing survival.

One of the most striking features of the Pantheon is its incredible dome. It is the largest unsupported dome in the world. A large circular hole or oculus marks the top which is its primary source of natural light. A unique feature of this oculus is that only on a equinox (April 21) during noon does the light enter at such an angle that it hits a metal grille thus bathing the courtyard with light. Another aspect of dome is that the distance from the floor to its top is equal to the dome’s diameter.¬†

The Pantheon is open to visitors most everyday (closed on several holidays) and there is no fee to visit. Guided tours do have a fee involved. Tours or visits to walk around are not allowed during mass. Although I have walked past and admired the outside of the Pantheon many years ago I regret that I did not go inside. In my defense I was merely 21 years old and did not know much about it. I guess I will have to return to Rome soon.

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The Pantheon interior and oculus РPhoto credit: Tomi Mäkitalo, Pantheon Рpanoramio (15), CC BY-SA 3.0

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Rome’s Pantheon at night – Photo credit:¬†o2ma,¬†Roma-pantheonnotte,¬†CC BY-SA 2.0

Sunday Special – Okavango Delta, Botswana


The 1000th UNESCO World Heritage site is Botswana’s expansive Okavango Delta. This delta, deep in the heart of the Kalahari Basin, is fed by the Okavango River which has transported sand through its waters from Angola for centuries. The uniqueness of the Okavango Delta is that one would not expect it to exist in such a parched land, yet its waters collect with flooding from the river in January and February and rains in April and May.  Hot temperatures result in evaporation of 36% of the water. All this produces varying levels of water through an area of 250 x 150 square km / 155 x 93 miles and an elaborate and extensive eco-system. Wildlife abounds here with mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and plants species each into dozens and hundreds. It is a world in and of itself, often dry and often wet. It has been declared one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.  

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Group of Lechwe, Okavango Delta – Photo credit:  Original uploader was PanBK at en.wikipedia, Group-of-Lechwe-at-dawn, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Zebra’s of the Okavango Delta – Photo credit: diego_cue, Zebras in the Okavango Delta – Botswana – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

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Water lilies growing in Botswana’s Okavango Delta – Photo credit: diego_cue, Water lilies in the Okavango Delta – Botswana – panoramio, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

 

Mixing Business With Pleasure


My work rarely takes me away on business yet this week was an exception. I decided to attend a one-day course in Victoria, BC – the capital city of the province of British Columbia. Located on the southern end of Vancouver Island it is a quaint city of 85,000 that I find it fairly walkable within its city core. Taxis and public transit are available as well.

Even though this was a work trip I added an extra day (Friday) to explore and invited my BFF Cat to join me. She was cool with checking out the city on her own while I was at my course on Saturday. For one to make their way to Victoria there are a few options. Of course there is flying as they do have an airport, particularly common if you are coming from further away. If you are heading over from Vancouver there is the added option of taking one of the sea planes with Harbour Air (and possibly the quickest option). Though the most common route¬†is taking the ferry. BC Ferries has regular sailings from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry terminals, transporting both vehicles and foot passengers. Being the latter, Cat and I both used Vancouver’s and Victoria’s transit systems to arrive at the respective ferry terminals as both of them are a decent drive away from the cities.¬†

We had both decided on some of the things we wanted to see and proceeded to head out as soon as we arrived at our hotel. We lucked out that the rain in Greater Vancouver did not reach Victoria and we were able to meander the town without need of umbrellas, at least on the Friday. As both of us had visited here before we had a bit of an idea of where we were going (okay, actually Cat did as her sense of direction is far superior to mine. LOL). Some areas were planned and others were found by chance. I will show you most of the trip by way of photos yet list a few of the places (with links if applicable) that we saw.

  • Fall colours at Beacon Hill Park where we hung out with both peacocks and Canada Geese
  • Admired the First Nation’s totems and buildings at Thunder Bird Park
  • Strolled along the streets of the downtown core, popping into shops and admiring some of the character of the buildings
  • Walked down Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown, snooping around all the cute shops and then took in the rest of Chinatown
  • Stopped in for shopping and tea at Silk Road Tea (my fav – take my money!!)
  • Popped into Munro’s Books, a beautiful store that has served Victoria for over 50 years and started by Jim Munro and his then wife, author Alice Munro
  • Quenched our thirst at two local craft beer breweries: Vancouver Island Brewery and Phillips Brewing
  • Perused the artisan shops at Victoria Public Market (again, take my money!!)
  • Bought some yummy bread to take home at Fol Epi Bakery (Yates St location)¬†

All in all a good weekend. Not a bad way to spend a partial work weekend (even if it rained part of the time). Victoria, I’ll be seeing you again.

All photos taken and owned by Eeva Valiharju / Wanders the World.

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Panorama of Beacon Hill Park

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First Nations totems at Thunderbird Park

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The entrance to Chinatown’s Fan Tan Alley

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British Columbia Provincial Legislative Assembly  lit up at night

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Witches in Victoria! LOL