Visit Spectacular Panama

Visit Spectacular Panama

Panama: a Land of Discovery

I have awesome memories of our trip to Panama, which is squeezed between Columbia to the South and Costa Rica to the North. Geographically, it is relatively small – you can drive from one shoreline to the other in a day, It is also a country filled with a beautiful diversity (rainforest diversity and cultural diversity). It boasts a pristine rainforest, a strong cultural history, and a thriving modern economy. It has one foot in the past and the other in the future. I hope that you will enjoy this exposé of Panama.

Panama City History

Panama City is the capital of Panama and its largest city. It was founded in 1519 by Spanish conquistador Pedro Arias Dévile. This city was the strategic point for launching exploration and conquest expeditions in Peru, primarily in search of gold and silver. Panama was also the transition site for loading ships with gold and silver and bringing them back to Spain.

Old Panama (Panama la Vieja) contains the ruins of the original city of Panama, which was destroyed by fire in 1671. The city of Panama was rebuilt in 1673 about five miles from the original city.

Panama City Today

Panama City is located between the Pacific Ocean and the tropical rainforest in the northern part of the country. It is a city of cultural diversity. Panama City boasts an ultramodern city center complete with skyscrapers and modern architectural design. The Skyscrapers produce an impressive skyline around the bay. To get across the canal, there are two bridges, the newest being the Centennial Bridge. It gives you a bird’s eye of the Canal. But a bridge is a bridge, so it is  better to find a lookout point such as the Miraflores visitor center

 

Panama’s Old Quarter boasts diverse architectural styles including Spanish Colonial, French and Antillean influences.

The Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is a lock-type canal connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. Its length from one shoreline to the other is about 40 miles.

Construction of the Canal was completed in August 1914. It was controlled solely by the United States from 1914 to 1979 and in December 1999, Panama gained complete control over the Canal.

Negotiating the Canal can take about 25 hours, including the wait time. Once a vessel has been authorized to pass, it can take about 10 hours to go from one end to the other.

Panama Canal is one of the very rare examples of synergy between a vast engineering project and rainforest preservation. The rainforest has been kept in pristine condition and it provides the water and hydroelectricity needed for the Canal’s operations via the Chagres River.

The Embera People & the Rainforest

The Embera tribes are the indigenous people of Columbia and Panama. They originally lived a semi-nomadic life in Darien province (South-Eastern part of Panama) However, due to the increasing dangers of Columbian guerillas and drug traffickers, they moved north to the Chagres river region of Panama. The Rio Chagres is one of the most vital rivers in Panama. It feeds into Lake Alajuela, which provides 45% of all the water required by the canal.

A National Park

In 1985 this region was turned into a national park in order to protect the Embera people and their customs as well as protect the rainforest and the flow of water into the canal.

This new development meant that the Embera had to change their semi-nomadic activities such as hunting and raising large domestic animals due to new land restrictions. Their main source of food and survival was restricted so they had to turn to other ways to help the economy of their villages.

They have recently adopted or embraced cultural tourism as a way to provide for their needs. This means that they invite visitors (tourists) to visit them in their communities to share their way of life.

Traditionally, the Embera wear very little in the way of clothing and will only really “cover-up” (tops for the women and short skirts for the men over their loin cloth) when they are expecting visitors. They wear traditional body paint which serves as both an insect repellant and an antibiotic.

Meeting the Embera Locals

On our visit to one of these villages in the Gamboa Rainforest, we were picked up and escorted in a dugout canoe to the village.

The village people greeted us warmly and then the men of the village took us on a tour through the rainforest.  They showed us the plants and trees and educated us about their medicinal uses. We learned about the techniques for hunting such as using the poison of the dart frog on their arrows. We saw and learned about leaf-carrying ants as well.

 

 

 

Following this tour into the rainforest, we were welcomed back to the village with a traditional meal of plantain and fish presented on banana leaves and prepared by the women of the village. We were then shown and invited to participate in traditional. dance.

 

 

 

 

 

I highly recommend Panama as a destination to discover a warm, friendly culture, an introduction to the biodiversity of the rainforest and beautiful landscapes. And to see the engineering feat of the famous Panama canal is worth it. I encourage you to discover all the beauty Panama has to offer.

Have a great day!

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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How to Avoid Cultural Body Language ” Faux Pas”

Traveling to other countries where you don’t speak the language can be fun and challenging. Trying to get directions is not always easy when neither you nor the other person speaks the same language. Sometimes you can end up saying things you don’t mean and cause confusion or laughter. Other times you can outright insult the other person simply because you said a word wrong or used the wrong word in the wrong context. You may end up lost or hungry simply because of communication barriers.

While trying to communicate with words is hard enough, when we add in body language, the soup of miscommunication can get even spicier. Gestures which may be acceptable and understood in our own culture may get you into hot water in another. It’s best to learn about these before you arrive at your destination

Hands @alnik

Fun Facts about Body Language

80 -90% of the meaning of our message is nonverbal.

Body language is culturally defined. Facial expressions are universal, but the rest really depends on the culture we are in.

The ability to read body language cues is linked to social/emotional intelligence or awareness.

It is exceedingly complex. Context needs to be our guide.

Most of the time, we are unaware of our body language because it happens at an unconscious level.

General Differences Between Cultures

There are some general guidelines to know about when dealing with different cultures.  Some cultures are”non-contact” cultures such as Britain, Northern Europe, and the Far East (Asian cultures). Others are “high contact” cultures such as the Middle East, Latin America, and Southern Europe. In these cultures, physical touch is integral to socializing.

If you happen to be of Northern European or Asian ancestry, it may be extremely uncomfortable for you when coming in contact with people from South America, for example, and feel that your physical space is being invaded. Understanding the differences between cultures can help to smooth over these uncomfortable situations and avoid difficulties.

Lady in white looking down l@anthonytran

The Eyes

In Spain, Greece, and Arab-speaking countries, there is usually strong eye contact between people. It can be intense and you may feel the need to divert your gaze. However, you need to hold your gaze because, if you don’t, it can be interpreted as disrespect, insecurity or lack of interest, or all three. In Arab-speaking countries, this practice is only applicable between people of the same gender. Strong eye contact between men and women is not acceptable.

Intense eye contact is extremely awkward for people from Finland or Asian countries who grow up with the habit of not meeting the gaze of the person they are speaking to. In the Carribean, children are taught not to look adults in the eye when they are being corrected. In Africa and Latin America, strong eye contact is seen as a sign of aggression or a challenge of authority. In Cuba, avoiding eye contact can be seen as a sign of dishonesty.

Crossing Hands @iankiragu

Hands and Arms

In Italy hands and words go together and sometimes Italians don’t need even need words because hand gestures say everything. In Northern Europe, Britain and North America, however, hand waving can seem annoying or downright rude. In Japan, hand waving to express yourself is considered very impolite. In Middle Eastern countries, people, like the Italians, are very expressive and tactile; and empathy is an important component of any conversation.

Lefties in Arab countries; The left hand is considered unclean in these countries. You should never eat or greet anyone with your left hand. Above all, do not accept a gift with your left hand as this would be seen as a huge insult.

The hand wave: In America and Canada, this simply means goodbye (and hello), whereas in Europe and Latin America it means “No”. In Italy, a good by wave can be interpreted as “come here”. In Japan, the hand wave is seen as an insult.

man waving @persnicketyprints

Shaking hands: In the West, shaking hands is a normal way to greet someone, to say hello or goodbye, whereas, in Romania, shaking hands takes place only between men every time they meet in a day. They can easily shake hands 20 times a day.

In England, it is very unusual to greet someone with a handshake. In continental Europe (especially Southern Europe), kissing is the normal way to greet someone (don’t be surprised when you go to shake an Italian’s hand and you get bombarded by kissing on each cheek). Bowing lower and lower is the norm in Asian cultures. who try to outdo one another with honor and respect.

In Fiji and Tonga, shaking hands is a long drawn out affair, sometimes lasting the entire conversation. In Morocco, a greeting can last up to 10 minutes alternating between shaking hands and putting your hand to your heart. Don’t be surprised by lengthy handshakes in most African countries.

The “A-Ok” Sign: In France, this sign means “zero” (and worthless – don’t use this sign when the French chef asks how you enjoyed your meal).  In Greece, Italy, Brazil, and Russia, this sign is an insult. So, maybe it might be a good idea to leave this signal at home.

The “Come Here” Sign: This sign indicated with a finger is very insulting to people of Asian background and in Asian countries; it is only used for their pets.

Pointing: Pointing is generally considered rude in most countries, but is particularly unaccepted in China, Japan, Indonesia, and Latin America.

The “Thumbs Up” Sign: Be careful with this one. It may mean “good job” in Western countries and “one” is some European countries ( France, Italy, Germany), but in other countries such as Greece, India, and Arab-speaking countries, this sign has a sexual connotation (so, don’t go hitchhiking in these countries). In Japan, it means five. In Thailand, it is the equivalent of sticking your tongue out at someone. Good to know!

V is For Victory and Two: When the palm is faced inward, it means two to North Americans and most Europeans (as in 2 please!), but to the British, the Aussies and the New Zealanders, it is quite offensive. An American might think a Brit is giving the victory sign, but the Brit might be telling him something rude.  A German bartender might be getting ready to serve a Brit 2 drinks whereas the Brit is, in fact, insulting him.

Crossing the Fingers: This sign means “hoping for good luck” in the West. And, originally it was a secret sign of the cross. But don’t make this sign in Vietnam where it is considered to be an obscene gesture with a sexual connotation.

Woman looking down @avnishchoudhary

The Head

Head nodding: Nodding of the head is not the same everywhere. In North America and most countries, head nodding up and down signifies agreement. In Bulgaria, Albania, and Turkey, the up and down movement of the head means “No”. In India, a side-to-side movement of the head means “yes.”

If you are in Japan, you may notice that people nod their heads a lot in conversation. Don’t take that to mean the person agrees with you; it simply indicates that they are listening.

Never touch someone on the head in Asian countries; this is inappropriate since Asians believe the head represents the soul and it is very sacred.

Woman laughing @janayadesniuk

The Mouth

Laughter usually indicates someone is happy and a smile is a warm greeting in most places – but not in Russia! Don’t smile or laugh in Russia. If you smile there, it will make you look suspicious and laughter makes them very nervous.

A smile is not always a smile in Japan. Sometimes the smile may mean the person is embarrassed or angry.

Lips: In Latin America, it is considered rude to point with your finger, but not with your lips. In Latin America, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and among Native Americans, lip pointing is common.

Kissing: Kissing on the cheeks is common in European countries and Latin America countries. But in Asian countries, it is not permissible and highly frowned upon even when greeting people.

Spitting: In the West, spitting in public is considered rude. However, in many Asian countries, spitting in public is considered healthy and acceptable. Snorting is also considered quite acceptable in Asian culture, whereas North Americans find it impolite.

Silence: Don’t be surprised by prolonged silence in a conversation or negotiation in Asian countries. It is not necessarily a bad thing and may simply mean the person is thinking about what you said. It could also mean (in a negotiation scenario) that the other person is strategizing. So, it could go either way.

The Nose

Nose Blowing: Blowing your nose in public is typical and acceptable in the West, but in Japan, it is considered unacceptable. Don’t go into a meeting or negotiation with a cold.

Tapping the Nose: In England, tapping the nose shows confidence, confidential or top secret, whereas, in Italy, it says “watch out”.

man holding ear @ratneshrai

The Ears

Touching one’s ears: Depending on where you are the gesture of touching your ears can be interpreted differently. If you are in Portugal, it is a sign that you like your food. Don’t be so quick to touch your ears in Italy, though as it has a sexual connotation. If a person touches his or her ear in Spain, most likely someone is not paying for their drinks.

The Feet

Touching with feet: Never touch any part of anyone’s body with your feet in Asia or Arab-speaking countries. Keep your feet solidly on the floor and never point your foot or feet at anyone (ladies – no crossing or swinging your legs). In Asia, when you touch another person by accident (such as accidental kicking), touch the person on the hand and then touch your head. In Arab-speaking countries, feet are generally seen as dirty. Always avoid exposing the soles of your feet as it is considered rude and insulting.

People at Festival @matthewspiteri

Body Posture

While we, in North America, are much more relaxed in our posture, other countries may see this as disrespectful. In Arab countries and in Asian countries, don’t slouch. Erect posture shows respect.

Conclusion:

Travelling can be a fun and educational experience. Knowing a little bit about the countries we are visiting ( the language, culture, and history) can make it even more enjoyable. Many times the most important words in a language are not even words. They are gestures and signs. Being culturally aware of body language can help you to avoid embarrassing and sometimes potentially negative experiences in other countries and help you to have a positive experience..

Have a great day!

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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Illustrious Hearst Castle

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Category : Lifestyle

 

Where is it?

The Hearst Castle Estate, a popular tourist site, is located along California Coastal Route 1 halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco (about a 4-hour drive from either city). It is high up in the hills overlooking the village of San Simeon and has a commanding view of the ocean as well.

Who Was William Randolph Hearst?

William Randolph Hearst was the only child of George and Pheobe Hearst, millionaire parents from the gold mining industry. William was raised primarily by his mother since his father was often away on mining business (he was a mining prospector and rancher). His father, George, was described as uncouth, preferring to hang around his mining buddies and dressing shabbily, despite his great wealth. As a child, Wiliam was overly protected by his mother and lived a very sheltered life. William is described as being a bit of a mischevious child who often pulled pranks around the house. He is described as being “difficult to discipline”.

When he was 10 years old, his mother took him on an 18-month tour of Europe. Even at this young age, Hearst was greatly impressed by what he saw in the culture, architecture, and art of Europe.

A lot can be said about William Randolph Hearst – that he was this and he was that,  that he had opportunities handed to him etc. etc. All the things that were written about him (and his character) may be legitimate, but let’s keep the focus on what he accomplished with a dream.  He was a man who appreciated art and was an eager student, despite not being a fan of formal education.

From Camping to Castle

The original plan was to build a bungalow (a family retreat) on ” Camp Hill” at the top of the family ranch. He wanted to build the main house and some guest houses to have something “more comfortable” than the platform tents they had. That is what he told architect Julia Morgan, with whom he would collaborate for 28 years building the castle. The family would regularly go “camping” at the ranch (probably more like “glamping” than camping) and he wanted to have a regular place to go to get away.

After the death of his mother, Pheobe Hearst (influenza epidemic), Willam Hearst became the inheritor of the family estate, including 250,000 acres of land.

Right from the beginning, William Hearst commissioned Julia Morgan (graduate of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts) to start working with him on the project. They would work together over the next 28 years on what would become “La Cuesta Encantada” or The Enchanted Hill. The project evolved into a collection of luxurious buildings, the main one being Hearst Castle, inspired by European architecture and art.

The Main Building

The main building, Hearst Castle, was built in the Mediterranean – Moorish style. It resembles a Spanish cathedral complete with bell towers. There are 115 rooms including 38 bedrooms, about 40 bathrooms, a theatre, and a beauty salon. The main dining room served as an inspiration for the dining room hall in Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series.

Guest Houses

There are three guests houses as well: Casa Del Mar, Casa Del Sol and Casa Del Montes. Below is one of them, though I do not know which of them it is.

The Indoor Pool

The indoor pool is a beautiful creation inspired by the ancient Roman baths. It is made from blue and gold colored tiles inside the pool as well as the walls and ceiling.

The Neptune Pool

The outdoor Neptune pool is surrounded by sculptures and collonades and has the facade of a Roman Temple at one end.

credit: Hearst Castle / California State Park/ V. Garagliano

The Gardens

All around the main building and guest houses are magnificent European and Californian inspired gardens,

William Randolph Hearst: Citizen Kane?

Much has been written about William Randolph Hearst possibly being the inspiration behind the 1941 movie “Citizen Kane“(Orson Wells). One thing is very clear, William Hearst did everything he could to prevent the movie from being released, from refusing to have it advertised in his newspapers, to using his Hollywood connections as leverage. Despite his efforts, he was unable to prevent the release of Citizen Kane.

There certainly were some striking similarities between the two men (Kane being fictional). Both built publishing empires, both built extravagant mansions, and both had relationship voids despite being surround by and entertaining many people. In contrast to William Hearst, who was born into wealth, Citizen Kane rose from a life of poverty to a life of wealth.

Whether or not he is Charles Foster Kane, many people associated William Randolph Hearst with the character in Citizen Kane and imagined him wandering throughout his massive estate alone, surrounded by opulence, driven by power, but starving for deep human relationships.

A National Treasure

Today The Hearst Castle Estate is now Hearst San Simeon Historical Monument and registered with California State Parks. There are daily tours to tour the premises.

Conclusion: Hearst Castle is definitely a worthwhile stop if you happen to be visiting South California. Despite the colorful history of its builder and owner, it remains, as well a testimony to the power of a dream. You will definitely be inspired as you travel throughout the buildings and the grounds.

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

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The Unforgettable Route 66

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Category : Lifestyle

Unforgettable and Fun Things to See on Route 66

Traveling along Route 66 is quite the experience. I really had no idea what to expect from this adventure or what we were in for. I hope that you will enjoy this post as we explore some of the fun and curious things we saw along the way.

The Beginning

It begins in Chicago, Illinois. This city is well known for many reasons, not the least of them is Al Capone (Scarface), notorious gangster and businessman during the Prohibition era.  Chicago has many beautiful treasures, one of them being its beautiful lakeside front and downtown water canals.

  

So, We Begin Our Journey

Illinois

Traveling through the cornfields of Illinois, we saw these – Follow the yellow – no, red, I mean the red brick road –

and visit the  Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois  Don’t forget to visit the Lincoln Tomb State Historic Site – the final resting place of the 16th president.

Missouri

A stop in St Louis to get some perspective:

The Gateway Arch reflects the role of St. Louis in the opening up of the West (Thomas Jefferson). St. Louis is also famous for the Dred Scott Trial (Dred and Hariette Dred) where the Dred couple filed in court for their freedom.

and a bite to eat at Angelo’s taverna

Then we headed on our way toward, Missouri (Cuba) and stayed in this quaint hotel (The Wagon Wheel Hotel

And ate at this wonderful country restaurant Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q right beside the Wagon Wheel hotel.

Don’t miss this little outpost store, not far from the Wagon Wheel hotel and the “biggest Rocking Chair in the world.”

Kansas

Look at this cute little fire hydrant we spotted in a small Kansas town on our way as well as the cars that inspired the movie by the same name: Cars

Sometimes we hit a few obstacles:

But we were soon back on the road again.-

Oklahoma

And onwards toward Oklahoma

Stop in and visit the Will Rogers Memorial & Museum (Claremore). Will Rogers was an Oklahoma country boy (of partly Cherokee heritage) who began actin in Wild West shows and then later, Vaudeville and ultimately Broadway. Rogers was also a nationally known writer (social moral issues of the day).

Texas

Here is another quaint restaurant: Pedro’s Bar and Grill

on our way into Texas

They say everything is big in Texas – this is the biggest cross I have ever seen –

In Groom, Texas, you will find this gem measuring 190 feet and reputed to be the tallest cross in the Northern Hemisphere.

And there are wide open spaces for growing anything (Cadillac Ranch)

Cadillac Ranch is a living, dynamic artwork /sculpture that invites participation (bring your spray paint). It has a bit of a quirky past, but essentially represents the “Golden Age” of the American automobile. You can find this gem just west of Amarillo, Texas on Old Route 66.

The Leaning Tower of – Texas?

Also in Groom, Texas

New Mexico

And we are off.. again.. en route for New Mexico…

And Albuquerque

Albuquerque is located on the upper edges of the Chihuahuan Desert in one of the highest elevated regions in the United States. The Old Historic Town was founded in 1706 by Spanish families. The brown adobe architecture is a Pueblo-Spanish style.

Arizona

Now to cross the Continental Divide…. on the way to Arizona

Sometimes you can be on the wrong side, but don’t worry, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel –  on our way to Arizona.

Take a step back in time as you drive into Oatman, Arizona, an old mining ghost town that still continues to thrive. Come to walk among the donkeys that are regulars around town.

  

Here is what we encountered on our way into Oatman

Meteor Crater

This meteor crater is the world’s best-preserved meteor impact site. It is located along Route 66 in Northern Arizona, near Winslow. The crater is nearly one mile wide and 550 feet deep.

Grand Canyon –

No need for a bio on the Grand Canyon. It is simply massive and very beautiful.

California

Along Route 66, don’t miss the Bagdad Café – made famous by the movie of the same name.

In Newberry Springs, California, on Old Route 66, you will find the Bagdad Café – in the middle of nowhere, but somewhere in the Mojave Desert. There is not much of anything for miles around – just sand and heat and dust.

Sometimes along this lonely road, you may find it necessary to rethink your path-

But, you will know you are almost there when –

And, all of a sudden –  you have made it!!

 

Now to explore the destination –

 

A little bit of Los Angeles

And a little fun at Universal Studios –

and me with a couple of my buddies –

 

Cheers to Route 66

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Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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The Breathtaking Magdalen Islands – A Summer Paradise

Category : Life Tips

They Are Breathtaking

The Magdalen Islands are absolutely gorgeous. Once you visit them, you’ll want to return again and again. The beaches with their powdery golden sand, rival the best in the world and the picturesque landscape will take your breath away. The islands are a paradise for beach lovers, cyclists and kite surfers.

The Magdalen islands are an archipelago of eight islands nestled in the Gulf of St. Laurence, a five-hour boat ride away from the tip of Prince Edward Island. These islands actually belong to the province of Quebec, the French-speaking province of Canada, but are separated from the rest of Quebec by two provinces: New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

Let’s Take a Tour

To get to the boat crossing, you will need to travel through New Brunswick, cross the Confederation Bridge over to Prince Edward Island (home of the legendary and loveable heroine, Anne of Green Gables), and then drive from one end of this island province to the other end where you can catch the ferry to the Magdalen Islands.

Approaching the Islands

As you approach the islands, you will a red-cliffed island coming up on the left side. This is Isle de l’Entrée (Entry island). The imposing red cliffs give the impression that this island is uninhabited, but as you glide by, you will see it slopes down and you will be able to spot little houses. During the year, there are about 100 people (of Scottish and Irish descent) living on the island. When you visit this island and speak to the locals, it is like stepping back in time. The locals speak with a quaint old-style Engish which is difficult to pin down. The island is completely rural with no paved roads and you will see cows freely grazing high on the slopes of the cliffs.

As your ferry nears the docks of Cap-aux-Meules (Grindstone) Island, you will be greeted with a stretch of red cliffs in both directions. This is the most populated of the islands, where most of the business, stores and government facilities are. When you get off the boat and begin your visit, you can turn left and drive toward Havre-aux-Maisons Island. This island boasts a fairly level and rural landscape with very few trees to be seen. Along your way, you will see many colorful, wooden houses which are typical of the islands – splashes of color all over the gently rolling open landscape.

If you go North on Cap-aux Meules island and then head East, you will find your self on the smallest inhabited island of the archipelago; Point-aux-Loups (Wolf Point) Island. This island is a long and narrow island flanked on both sides by two of the most beautiful sand dune beaches in the archipelago: la Dune du Nord (North Duneand Point-aux-Loups beach. They are beautiful, but also extremely dangerous during times of high tide and strong winds.

Continue along this island East and then head toward the South and you will find yourself on Grosse Isle, an island containing a wildlife reserve and most likely the most beautiful beach of the islands; La Grand Echouerie (The Great Shipwreck), but called “Old Harry” Beach by the English speaking locals. This is the site of the walrus (sea cow) hunts of the 17th and 18th centuries.

Going further, but West this time, you will leave Grosse Isle for Ile de la Grande Entréée (The Great Entrance). This Island is Quebec’s lobster capital. Here you will find marinas filled with colorful fishing boats ready to go out  or coming back with a haul. This island is also an excellent place to do kayaking excursions.

Now, you will need to head back and retrace your steps all the way back to Cap-aux-Meules Island. From here you can travel West over to Havre Aubert Island. This island, at the western extremity of the archipelagos, is where the first Acadians settled in La Grave (historical site). Here you will drive past colorful beach cottages and fishing boats. You may see kite surfers out in the water. There are quaint little shops, cafés, and restaurants to suit everyone’s taste. Don’t forget to stop in at the Museé de la Mer ( the  Museum of the Sea) during your visit.

There is one more island – Brion Island –on the most Eastern extremity of the archipelagos. Access to this island is not easy and it is primarily an ecological reserve.

Proudly Acadian

The Magdalen Islands are fiercely and proudly Acadian, for the most part, and all over, on homes and flag poles you will see their flag proudly displayed with its tri-color (red, white and blue) and a gold star. The Acadians have a long history of tears and of strength. As islanders, they also had a history of isolation and battling with the storms of winter and scarcity of food. If you happen to be traveling there around August 15th, you will see a proliferation of the Acadian flag since this is Acadia’s National day. Yes, they are a nation without a country, a nation with its own language and dictionary, but no physical country.

The Magdalen Islands are a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Kayakers and kite surfers are in paradise here. There are constant breezes blowing across the islands, which make them pleasant and challenging for both sports. Bikers will also love the ‘Maggies’ as they are perfect for a good bike ride – hilly, but not overly difficult and long flat stretches as well.

So Much Beauty

There is so much natural beauty to the islands – open spaces, beautiful beaches, high red rock cliffs looking over thunderous waves below.  There is the beauty of all the colorful homes and the haunting beauty of the lighthouses seen in various places along the coast.

There are beaches, beaches everywhere. And there are beautiful rock formations. Come and explore some of these:

There is something for everyone here. The quiet laid-back rhythm of the islands along with some of the friendliest people you will ever meet will leave you wanting to come back again and again. For seafood lovers, this is a place to stay for a while. For those who want to get away from it all, come here and relax. enjoy the breeze, the waves, the beaches, and the gorgeous sunsets. For sports enthusiasts, you will find your niche here whether on land or sea.

 Feel the Breeze

Listen to the waves and feel the island breeze. Come and listen to a storyteller spin tales of drama out on the ice floats. Be captivated by the fishing stories. Sit down with locals over a beer or a cup of coffee. Climb a hill and enjoy the setting sun over the water.

And, when you are back on the ferry taking you away from the islands towards home, you will know and feel that you have left a piece of your heart back on the islands waiting for you to return.

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Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca
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Quebec City – My City – Ma Ville

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La Porte St. Louis (livingandstuff.ca)

So In Love With My City

What is not to love about beautiful Quebec City?  It is a city that meshes the charm and drama of the 1600s with the modern landscapes and lifestyle of the 21st century. It is a city where cannons and fortress walls meet cafés and shoe shops. Perched high on a cape overlooking the majestic St Lawrence River, upstream and down, and the city of Lévis on the opposite shore, the city of Quebec literally commands respect.

Let’s Begin Our Tour: The Upper Town

A walking tour around the city will bring you up and down steep hills and along twisting streets between the upper and lower towns. Of course, you can always go up and down on the funiculaire, if you don’t fancy going up and down the Breakneck Stairs. Driving around the old city can be a bit tricky if you are not used to a city full of one-way streets. Parking is not easy either. It is best to do the city on foot if you are able.

Le Chateau Frontenac (livingandstuff.ca)

Two stone archway gates serve as entrances to the city: Port St. Louis and Port St. Jean, the first leading down St. Louis Street lined with restaurants to the emblem of the city: The Chateau Frontenac and the second leading into St. Jean street area lined with shops. Just outside the gate is the Carré d’Youville where there is an outdoor skating rink in the winter and any number of activities (outdoor cinema, concerts) during the summer. This is also the location of the Le Capital theatre ( a picturesque old cabaret-style theatre) as well as the more modern Montcalm theatre.

L’esplanade (livingandstuff.ca)

And Now for the Lower Town

Going down to the lower town, which you can access either by taking the funiculaire or by going down all the stairs to the bottom, you will find the cradle of North America as defined and settled by the French colonists. Here you will find narrow cobbled streets reminiscent of the 1600s. Right in the center of this lower town is Place Royal, which was the social and business center of the original city of Quebec. This is a town square surrounded by 17th- century houses/buildings. It was here that everything happened from the market to politics to public reprimands.

Meet Samuel de Champlain

Every August this town square hosts a colonial market complete with townspeople dressed in 1600s French-style dress. Samuel de Champlain is a regular character around town. You will also meet the locals: the women at the market, the town priest, the fur trappers, the native Americans ( and others) as well as have an opportunity to become involved in the local “gossip” of the town. Walking through the square and the neighboring streets, you will likely meet up with Samuel de Champlain. He is certainly hard to miss dressed in a royal blue aristocratic ensemble. Here is your chance to ask him all the questions you want.

La Petite Champlain (livingandstuff.ca)

La Rue la Petite Champlain

The Breakneck Stairs (livingandstuff.ca)

At the bottom of the Breakneck Stairs, you will find yourself on the historic rue de la Petite Champlain, a beautiful, romantic street lined with shops that promote local designers and artisans (clothing, jewelry, shoes, and boots, and much more). There are locally known restaurants such as Le Lapin Sauté (“off the wall rabbit”)  and Le Cochon Dingue (“The Crazy Pig”) to enjoy a meal. Next to the Lapin Sauté is a little park with bench swings and Muskoka chairs, to relax in and take in the activity and music of street musicians. This street is my absolute favorite street in the city. It is energizing and inspiring and filled with activity. The shops are decorated with floral arrangements. And, at Christmas time, this beautiful street becomes even more spectacular with the festive lights and decorations illuminating the snow of the season.

Le Lapin Sauté (livingandstuff.ca)

Let’s Head Over to the Market

Down a bit from Place Royal along Blvd. Champlain ( a road that runs alongside the St. Lawrence River) is the port where you can often see cruise ships docked, marina activities and summer concerts and shows. If you go along this street towards the North East you will go past the art galleries and restaurants and come to the local farmer’s market near the marina-great place to stock up on local food and artisanal culinary creations. Just a little bit further and you will see our beautifully designed train station (La Gare de Train), keeping in line with the architecture of the city.

La Porte St. Louis (livingandstuff.ca)

Here Ends the Tour

Here is the end of our tour. I hope you enjoyed your virtual time in Quebec City.  It truly is a city to put on your bucket list of places to see. You may end up staying a while.  I hope that you will come by to visit our beautiful city, a city of charm, historical drama, excellent cuisine for every taste and budget, as well as ample opportunities to work off the calories.

Rue Ste. Anne (Livingandstuff.ca)

along Blvd. Champlain (livingandstuff.ca)

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Sharing ideas is the game and life is for living
Diana’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, living a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca

 

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