Monday, January 16, 2012

New Years and Some Sentimentality

(Crazy Belated)Happiest of New Years, boys and girls!

Each year, one hopes that THIS New Year will be the one to out-do the rest.  And I have to admit, mine have been slowly but surely besting themselves as far back as I can remember.  Back in high-school we had quiet-but-well-attended evenings round a fire and a piano with mulled wine simmering on the stove.  Then we moved onwards and upwards to more and more raucous-y parties.  I took a year out in Barcelona during the year that a lot of things changed for our group of friends (in a good way!).  And upon my return we started our destination New Year's Eve parties.

Granted, it was only to Montreal and we still basically just had a house party in my friend's apartment, but at least it wasn't lil' ol' Ottawa and that was excitement enough for us.

This year, however, we took a bigger leap and got our act together enough to make a real trip out of it.  Thanks to months of planning on facebook, we booked a hostel in Quebec City for three days for eleven of us.  A few of us had nightmares about the organizational snafu that was sure to arise, but most everything went off with a hitch.  Not only off with a hitch, but off with a bang!  It was definitely our best New Year's yet!

After coming back from Toronto for the holidays, I had one day of work and then we were heading to Quebec the next day.  At the last minute we had organized rides (thus saving TONNES of money and time on buses), and as soon as my chariot picked me up we bought a bunch of coffees and treats from my work for the ride down.  We took my friend's van so we were a cramped and cozy bunch.  The ride was punctuated with much bickering over shoulder-and-hip space (poor planning saw the three tallest of our bunch crammed in the back seat), car games that not everyone knew they were taking part in, drawing on the frosted windows, and laughing till the cows came home (stayed in their homes as we drove past them?).  We had had a bit of a late start, but the amount of fun we had in the car definitely boded well for the rest of the trip.

Foggy Canvas


Getting sneaky. . . .

Everyone is. . .

Ian and Irene brought us all Kinder Surprises!

And then we made garbage battlements for the driver
 When we arrived at the hostel in Quebec city, the other carload of our friends had already scoped out our rooms.  Because there were so many of us, we got two bedrooms of six to ourselves.  Which I'm sure was the best not only for our shenanigans but also for whatever poor soul would have had to take the extra bed.  Our bedroom had exposed brick up one wall and floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the old town up the other.  I should also mention how nice it was to be in a room with people you know and not strangers.  I adored all my hostelry in Europe of course, but not having to worry about making noise, locking up your belongings, or keeping a tight grip on camera, phone, wallet, and passport while you sleep was another added luxury to this already formidable arrangement.

Window into the past
After a few rounds of kings to catch up with early-arrivers, it was swiftly agreed upon that we would go have an "historical snowball reinvisionment" of the Plains of Abraham on the actual Plains of Abraham.  We drew lots, making our friends Ian and Lilly Wolfe and Montcalm respectively.  We all bundled up and trekked up the super icy pathways behind the citadel to our respective fort spaces - we, the French, had the gazebo and the English got the field and tree.  With varying levels of intensity we entered into the throws of war.  Or capture the stick (the historically accurate version of capture the flag).  The snow wasn't great for snowballs, so really we just threw chunks of ice at each other.  But, after years and years of cultural and linguistic oppression, the French finally won!

We slipped and slid our way back to the hostel, warmed our feet (in turn making the room reek for the following forty-eight hours), and then headed out for the evening.  A smaller group of us went out for nachos and pints, and then met up with everyone at this super-dive bar.  There was NO ONE in there save for our formidable group.  But there was a tiny little dance floor complete with lasers, mirrors, and one redundant burst of a fog machine.  I wouldn't have guessed it, but absolutely everyone was down to cut a rug!  Even the boys who I've known practically my whole life and who I wouldn't have ever expected to be into dancing were tearing it up.  We stayed all night and had a hell of a time.  I can always tell, because my knees hurt the next day.

The next morning, a select few of us got up for the last dregs and crumbs of the hostel breakfast, and then headed out for the morning to catch the sights and sounds of the old town and play with our cameras (more on that later!).  The Chateau, waterfront, and historical feel of the older town in Quebec City never fail to charm me.  And man, was it ever cold boys and girls!  Nothing makes you feel quite so Canadian as braving that sort of nonsense to marvel at the wonders of snow-capped nature.  Suffice to say we duly rewarded ourselves with savory waffles, hot chocolate, and a mid-afternoon nap.

My favourite lady tourists!

My dream house - seafoam green and nineteenth century

Cross-generational poses


Afternoon of Champions

After resting up, our room started the party pretty early.  And this was the sort of party that involved G&T's and stolen hard-boiled eggs from the hostel breakfast.  At four p.m.  The ladies then clubbed all our knowledge of outfits, hair, and make-up together to get ready pretty early (with the added boost of protein provided by the eggs).  We were never the sort of girls who would do such a thing in high school, so we figured that we are just going through this stage of life a little later on.  And the boys even noticed!  We were super impressed.  And we probably lost all paint and hairspray we had so duly applied by the time we left the hostel.  But we had put it on for ourselves and that's all that matters.

We spent the evening of the New Years at an Irish pub around the corner from the hostel.  Almost as soon as everyone got settled we took over the little dance pit that had formed around the house band of fiddlers, strummers, and drummers.  Everyone was dosedoing, clapping their hands, and having a knees up in no time.  At one point one of our friends mentioned that Emilie, my best gal, went to Julliard, so the fiddler handed her his instrument and she played for the whole bar.  I was just a few sheets windward, and just little bit proud, so I may have cried all the way through.  But not without dancing the whole time too!  We weren't expecting to have had such a good time in this last-minute little venue, but it ended up being just perfect.

That was, until about ten minutes before midnight.  Someone decided, and I guess the majority was with them, that we should run to try and catch the fireworks.  From the walls of the old city.  And so with just a few minutes to spare, we all booked it through the streets and up the steep climbs of snow-covered stairs to the top of the walls to watch the fireworks and revel in the good cheer of it all.  More than a few of us got kind of hurt in so doing, but I'm sure it was all worth it.  I spoke to my brother just after midnight (my family always calls each other to wish a Happy New Year because we never spend it together), and he was pretty impressed with our rather flamboyant way of ringing it all in.  And I admit I was pleased as punch as well.

The next morning we awoke to clear out of the hostel and to track down some food.  With none of us really knowing where to go we ended up wandering the streets for quite a while, eventually settling on a hotel buffet.  Which was exactly what we needed to recover, satiate, and fuel us for the long drive ahead.  Our car had a marvelous time bonding all the way back over shared experiences, old and new.

It really was the best New Year's I've ever had.

Which really helped a few days after when my man and I broke up.  I was bummed cause I really liked and still do like the dude, but one of my first thoughts after the fact was that I truly have the best group of friends a girl could ask for so I know I'll be ok.  That weekend many of the same folk rallied around me with lots of support.  And after my protestations that everything was fine, the conversation always tended towards how marvellous our trip had been.  And how unconditional our friendships are.  And how we're going to have to do this for ever and ever, because this kind of long-lasting and absolute-understanding friendship doesn't happen very often.

We have incredible fun, and I have incredible friends.

Best of in the New Year, boys and girls!


Your friend Lina


  1. Aw, this post is so fun and so sad, too! I'm sorry about the guy not working out. But you're right- best friends are the BEST and I think that's a beautiful thing that comes out of a breakup- realizing how amazing your friends are.

  2. What an incredible post, I so WISH I could have been there with you all!! Missing you all so very much from the other side of the world.