Travel Guide: Québec city

Québec city is a beautiful and charming city. It reminded me strongly of Europe with it’s old buildings, cobblestones streets and French language. The city is one of North America’s oldest settlements and it’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. In Winter the Christmas spirit seems to live on with fairy lights covering everything, the snow and even the decorations left on the street. I went the first time for the Québec  Carnival but when I visited the second time there was still plenty to do!

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Old Town

Every trip to Quebec City should begin with a walk around the Old Town as it was my favourite part of the city. It’s a sprawling network of narrow cobblestone streets laden architecture up to four centuries old at the base of the city. I would recommend wearing comfortable clothes and shoes as although the city is walled in, there is alot of it to walk. The city is very uneven and there are a few small hills trek up. In upper town you can find the Hôtel du Parlement, La Citadelle which sees a changing of the guard ceremony most mornings, and the Plains of Abraham Battlefield Park. In the lower town you can find the Notre Dame des Victoires church, the Musée de la civilisation, and Petit Champlain, the oldest commercial district in North America and foot of the aptly named Breakneck Stairs.

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Musée de la place Royale

The Musée de la place Royale is an interesting museum that shows the history of New France and the Royale. It is located in a charming courtyard in lower town. Admission cost $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for students and 11years and under go free. It’s also good to know that admission is free from 10 till 12 on Saturdays if you visit in January or February. There is also a free cloakroom for all those pesky winter layers

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Château Frontenac

The Château Frontenac was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1893 as a luxury hotel to attract wealthy travelers and now stands as a landmark institution. The most photographed hotel in the world, the Frontenac can be seen from nearly every vantage point in Old Quebec and it truly is a sight to see

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Musee de la civilisation

The musee de la civilisation, located right off the Place Royale, is an outstanding museum and I would recommend taking your time when you visit as there is a lot to see. There is also a free cloakroom at this museum which I advise using. Admission for adults is $10, seniors is $9, students is $8 and 11years and under go free. It is also free for all on Tuesdays between November 1 and March 31 and from 10 a.m. to noon every Saturday in January and February

Life Lessons Learnt From Snowboarding

Whilst I was in Canada I tried snowboarding for the first time. It was a lot of fun and as a longboarder I knew it was going to be something I enjoyed. However, I didn't realise how difficult it was going to be! 

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Snowboarders have this amazing freedom and flow of movement and watching the more experienced riders I was determined to learn. However, I quickly realised that this was not going to be something you can just pick up and do brilliantly, Olympic athletes definitely don’t learn double back-flips overnight without breaking a sweat. But like all great things, it’s worth it! During my lesson while I was listening to the instructor, it occurred to me that a lot of what he was saying could be applied to life. So here are a few things I picked up while learning to snowboard

1. You are going to fall down

When you learn to do any board sport, the first thing you have to learn isn’t how to go or how to stop, it’s how to fall. You are going to fall down and the fear of falling is what stops most people from learning. We are scared of getting hurt and we let that fear hold us back from taking risks or doing the things we could really enjoy.

2. Persist with patience

However after a few falls you realise that it actually isn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be. And even if it was as bad as you thought it was going to be, get back up. Get right back up each and every time you fall.  Be patient and know that within time those falls will happen less and less and you’ll only gain more and more confidence as you ride. Try not to take those falls as a direct hit to the ego either, nobody knows how to everything straight away.

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3. Confidence! 

Attitude and mentality really does mean everything and having confidence changes the way you feel and the way you act. This applies especially when fear, anxiety or risks are involved. Most of my falls happen from mental moments of weakness. Psyching yourself out is a phenomenon that is so common — fear just loves to creep up into the crevices of our minds — yet so easy to fix because your mind has the power to push those fearful thoughts away. Falling over hurts but I know that if I have confidence in my abilities that I’m not going to fall.  I like to envision myself ending it with sheer satisfaction… hitting every turn, every jump with pure ease… helps to regain my confidence. Dare yourself and eventually you will conquer every trail on the mountain

4. Find your rhythm

When you start learning to ride, you don’t have a rhythm or your own “flow.” Flow is the rhythm you obtain from sequentially carving and connecting turns. Once you have the basic mechanics of a turn, your rhythm will naturally develop. When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, strap in and start the descent, your flow will take control and gracefully glide you all the way to the base. My favourite thing is carving, I love the feel of my hips moving and the ease with which the board moves with me. I also like speed. I love the adrenaline and fear of going fast. Once you find your rhythm, confidence will follow and there’s nothing like it!

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5. Embrace your surroundings

When you start learning to ride, you don’t have a rhythm or your own “flow.” Flow is the rhythm you obtain from sequentially carving and connecting turns. Once you have the basic mechanics of a turn, your rhythm will naturally develop. When you’ve reached the top of the mountain, strap in and start the descent, your flow will take control and gracefully glide you all the way to the base. My favourite thing is carving, I love the feel of my hips moving and the ease with which the board moves with me. I also like speed. I love the adrenaline and fear of going fast. Once you find your rhythm, confidence will follow and there’s nothing like it!

6. You can always do better

Some of the best riders I’ve seen never stop pushing themselves to be better. No matter how good you get at something, there are always more things to learn and practice does make perfect. The more you ride, the more you learn, and taking each time you go to the mountain as an opportunity to focus on a new area is one of the best ways to actively improve. That’s not to say that you can’t have fun either!

Off Grid in the Sahara

Going off the grid isn't something that we get to do often - rarely is there a place to escape to in our modern society of social media and smartphones. Every once in a while an opportunity presents itself and the rewards for taking yourself offline and into the moment are certainly worthwhile!  I was lucky enough to spend a night in Sahara desert on my recent trip to Morocco. 

I walked the desert and slept under the stars like a true Berber nomad. The Berbers lived in north Africa long before the arrival of the Arabs, and their culture probably dates back more than 4,000 years, today the Berber people live a nomadic life wandering the Sahara desert. 

Getting There

To reach our camp in the Sahara desert we had to cross a large portion of the desert - the best way to get across the sweeping sand dunes is to ride camels. You can ride a camel for around 200 dirhams or you can do what I did and walk. My guide and I walked alongside the camels barefoot in the sand and then left the group to explore the sand dunes. It can be tough to walk in the desert and the sand switches between hard and soft but it can also be a free massage for your feet! 

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Berber Camp 

We reached the Berber camp after two hours of travel and stayed at a traditional camp alongside the camel drivers. The sleeping tents at the Berber desert camps are made of the traditional Saharan ‘haimas’ materials and were actually quite comfortable! There were beds with plenty of blankets and pillows for the cold night and there was a toilet facility on site. There was a separate dining-salon tent and outdoor space for relaxation and enjoyment of the camp-fire.

At the camp we enjoyed the sunset before tucking into a traditional Moroccan tagine. Afterwards we gathered around a campfire to enjoy some drumming from Obama and El Med Juba. 

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Fun In The Sahara 

The sahara desert is a giant play area! Let loose - jump, roll and leap! Run up and down the sand dunes until you are too tired! Here is a place to be free. 

Sleeping Under The Stars

Nothing can prepare you for the experience of sleeping under the stars in the Sahara desert. The night's are cold and harsh but more than worth it for the view of the night sky. Far from the light pollution of the city, the sky explodes with thousands of tiny stars and the constellations become clear. 
We may never know how many stars there are but astronomers estimate there are 100 thousand million in the Milky Way alone and countless galaxies beyond that. They glow with a light as icy cold as the desert at night but they are really on fire. And some are so far away that we are seeing light from a star that's now extinct.
It makes me dizzy to think of all this vastness and I always wonder if there's anything beyond these trillions of miles of galaxies. Are they all swept up into a tiny music box on the coffee table of a grande dame called Eve, who inhabits another cosmos of a trillion stars? It's impossible not to contemplate the universe with a view like this:

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Rocking The Kasbah in Rabat

I took a day trip to Rabat and although my visit was short but sweet - it was one of my favourite places in Morocco so far! What made it my favourite place was the Kasbah des Oudaias (Kasbah of the Udayas.) We were shown around by local guide Fadir, who had a knack for throwing his arm widely and talking with an intensity and passion that showed how much he loved the place.  He was more interested in the human side of things than the historical dates and it made for a lovely intimate tour.

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The Kasbah is a beautiful place to explore with its bright blue walls and winding streets. The air is surprisingly light and and cool due to the high walls and narrow streets. You could be forgiven for thinking that you've stepped into a quaint Italian or Greek village. If you follow the gentle slope downhill, you’ll find yourself at the waters edge. Little cafes dotted along the wall offer mint tea & sweet pastries filled bursting with nuts, dates & honey. Waves crash below & locals chat in a rhythmic mix of French & Arabic.

The final stop on our tour was the very top of the Kasbah where we found stunning views of the old city and one of the best sunsets I have ever seen. It was hard to leave the Kasbah as it was such magical place - I could see myself living there one day when I'm older. 

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Monkeying Around In The Atlas Mountains

The High Atlas, North Africa’s greatest mountain range, contains some of the most intriguing and beautiful regions of Morocco. A historical and physical barrier between the northern plains and the pre-Sahara, its Berber-populated valleys feel – and indeed are – very remote from the country’s mainstream or urban life.

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High in the Atlas Mountains you can find the largest population of Barbary macaque populations or Monkeys of Morocco. After witnessing the cruelty of monkeys in Marrakesh it was a welcome relief to see the monkeys playing in the wild. The monkey's are becoming desensitised to humans and are quite used to tourists visiting. Some have even come to rely on tourists for food which is not a good thing. Scientists have found that when tourists get too close to the monkeys in Morocco, it makes them more aggressive and also stops them engaging in grooming an essential behaviour for making bonds and alliances. Worse still, when tourists try to interact or touch the wild monkeys, it makes them really stressed. So when you visit the monkey's make sure to respect their space and not to feed them anything you shouldn't. 


It was a wonderful experience to watch them in their natural habitat and after 2000 pictures we left to explore the rest of the beautiful mountains.