The International Office here at Queen’s runs regular bus trips throughout the term to different cities and places of interest around the region. Yesterday I was lucky enough to have the chance to go to Ottawa and sample the “Winterlude” festival; a celebration of all things wintery and cold and I mean COLD!!
Ottawa is about 2.5 hours from Kingston, so the journey went relatively quickly. On the coach were international students from all over the world; Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Switzerland, Poland, Britain, France – so there was a babble of differing languages and accents to keep you entertained.
The festival involved differing parts of the city exhibiting or holding events to do with winter. Basically a bit like the Edinburgh Festival but more to do with snow and ice. At Confederation Park there were hundreds of ice-sculptures, ranging from the very small to over 20ft high; from dragons, fairies, ships, animals, houses. Each were so ornate they looked like, they were made from glass or plastic.
While walking round it began to snow, so it kind of felt like Christmas but as I mentioned before, it was so cold. My layers consisted of: a camisole top, t.shirt, 2 long sleeved tops, 2 hoodies, a gilet, a waterproof jacket, 2 hats, 2 pairs of gloves, 2 trousers, 2 pairs of socks, scarf and thick boots (there is a theme of two yes, and I understand this may be too much information) but I was STILL COLD – RIDICULOUS!!! Add to that a red nose, numb lips and the inability to speak properly because you can’t move your chin and lips properly – I looked like a proper foreigner! All part of the “Winterlude” experience though!
Next stop was a trek across the Pont Alexandra Bridge over the frozen Ottawa River to Jacques-Cartier Park: a homage to everything snowy.
The park contained snow slides, sled rides, horse rides, fishing, professional snow sculpture workshops, snow sculptures, a snow maze and igloos. The scene was a feast for the eyes with snow sculptures everywhere.
The winter fun continued with a walk to see the . . . . .
. . . . The frozen Rideau Canal, which in the summer runs through the centre of Ottawa. The ice-rink is 7.5km in length and you can either skate or walk along its frozen-ness! I decided to walk, images of a broken leg while on exchange haunted me – plus I’m a skater who needs a bar to hold onto for dear life.
The rink was packed full of people, and the sides were lined with wooden huts selling hot snacks to refuel the skaters.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the Byward Market which is the oldest part of Ottawa and contains, you guessed it, a market. The stalls ranged from selling woolen garments to maple syrup and honey to meat to jewellery.
The day was a great chance to see how other countries appreciate their weather and how snow and ice are an integral part of being Canadian!
In the next few posts, I plan to condense past and present time, if that’s okay. So you will get a recap of the madness of the fall term with the fun of winter term.
Talking of fun I have an essay to write! So I better get cracking with that. On a positive note – I have tomorrow off for Family Day. As do all people in Ontario as it is a state holiday, only just added 3 years ago to provide a break between Christmas and Easter for families to spend the day together. And on an even more positive note, on Friday I break up for Reading Week which is a week off for studying and reading, of course 😉 . Many students go travelling to escape the cold and are off to places such as Cuba or Mexico. The student union actually organises an all-inclusive holiday to somewhere hot and beachy each year. So, hopefully I can see travel plans looming! Though I don’t think I’ll be heading to a warm climate, I’m going to be brave and keep embracing the cold.