By Emily Privett, Queen’s University, Canada, Geography.
With the beginning of the winter semester came a more relaxed bands schedule which meant free weekends. This was all a bit new to me but allowed me to do some more local exploring! This semester I’ve been lucky enough to head to Ottawa, Bruce Peninsula and Mont Tremblant.
We headed to Ottawa to see the Winterlude celebrations, which usually includes ice skating on the Rideau Canal and seeing the multitudes of ice sculptures that had been made. This year however, we visited on a surprisingly warm weekend which meant that the Rideau Canal wasn’t actually frozen over anymore!
However, we had the whole weekend and managed to take a tour of Parliament and the Peace Tower, spend a whole afternoon in the War Museum and explore some of the festivities of Winterlude including some of the ice sculptures that were still intact and my first experience of maple taffy! Ottawa is a very interesting city with huge amounts of history behind it and I was really grateful to have had a whole weekend to really explore and absorb Ottawa and what it was about.
The highlight of Ottawa however was the Maple Leafs vs Ottawa Senators ice hockey game that we booked to see. I had been told by my dad that I HAD to go and see a National Hockey League game while I was in Canada, and so this was the perfect opportunity. The atmosphere was incredible and although we were probably in some of the worst seats in the arena, we could see exactly what was going on and really got to experience a Canadian hockey game. The game itself was very interesting with a first goal being scored in the first twenty seconds, and the most goals scored in total in the whole season!
It was definitely worth doing and I’d 100% recommend Ottawa and an NHL game if you ever come to Canada.
Next up was a trip to Bruce Peninsula during reading week. Up until February, there hadn’t been much snow in Kingston and I was beginning to think that Canadians were just exaggerating when they complained about the winter! However, the day we were meant to drive to Bruce Peninsula, which is about 6 hours away from Kingston, a whole few feet of snow dumped itself upon us and kept us in Kingston for the day. Determined not to let this get us down, we donned our snow suits and cross-country skis and skied around Kingston, helping many cars get unstuck and receiving many shouts of ‘that’s a good way to get around!’ as we skied past people. We even got our five minutes of fame as the local newspaper reporter took a few photos of us and posted them on their website (http://www.thewhig.com/2016/02/16/winter-storm-blankets-kingston-region some shameless self-promo here).
Thankfully the next day we managed to leave Kingston and head to Bruce Peninsula! The next few days were filled with beautiful hikes in the snow with breath-taking views at the tops of our hikes. It was also an incredible bonding experience with the five other girls I went with as we spent the whole day talking while walking and cooking together when we got home. It was such a great experience and a well needed break from the Queen’s University bubble.
Lastly this semester I managed to book myself a spot on a ski trip to Mount Tremblant. As an avid skier, I had been looking forward to that for the whole year, and it didn’t disappoint. Although we were only there for two days, the weather was perfect and the snow conditions were very good. Nervous that I had lost the ability to ski as I hadn’t been for a few years, we skied down an easy warm up run but by the afternoon, we were back on the black runs and attempting the moguls. It was such a freeing experience to be able to be back on the slopes, and for the first time without my family! We managed to get the one of the first lifts up at the beginning of the day and get the last ones down in the evening and so definitely made the most of our small amount of time.
All in all it’s been a great semester for travelling and I’m very excited to go to Vancouver in a week and four days to travel with a friend and then with my Dad. I can’t believe my year is coming to an end so quickly but the experiences I’ve had here, especially while travelling will definitely stay with me for a lifetime!