Home For Christmas….And Sick As A Dog

A quick update to explain where I’ve been lately…

The last week of travel was brutal. I went from Bangkok to Tokyo to Honolulu to Seattle to San Francisco to Las Vegas to Minneapolis to Green Bay.

The two longest legs of those flights (Tokyo to Honolulu and Honolulu to Seattle) were both overnight, red-eye flights where I didn’t get any sleep. Throw in jet lag on top of that and I was exhausted.

In Las Vegas, my flight to Minneapolis was canceled and I had to sit for 3 hours in the baggage claim waiting for my bag to get taken off the canceled flight.

When I woke up the next morning in Las Vegas, my body decided that it had enough and I was sick.

Just to give you an idea, I spent almost all of Christmas day in bed sleeping. I have a headache, sore muscles, a very sore throat and I am tired all the time.

I am glad I was able to make it back to Wisconsin for Christmas. This is the first Christmas without my dad and I’m really glad I could be here for it, even if I was sick.

As a result of all this traveling and sickness, you may have noticed a serious lack of activity on the website. I have some very cool announcements and stories to post come 2011. Until then, I’ll probably just be hibernating trying to beat whatever has made me sick.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and with that, I’m going to take some more Nyquil and go back to bed.

Historic District of Old Quebec

UNESCO World Heritage Site #123: Historic District of Old Quebec
Historic District of Old Quebec: My 123rd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for the Historic District of Old Quebec:

Québec was founded by the French explorer Champlain in the early 17th century. It is the only North American city to have preserved its ramparts, together with the numerous bastions, gates and defensive works which still surround Old Québec. The Upper Town, built on the cliff, has remained the religious and administrative centre, with its churches, convents and other monuments like the Dauphine Redoubt, the Citadel and Château Frontenac. Together with the Lower Town and its ancient districts, it forms an urban ensemble which is one of the best examples of a fortified colonial city.

Quebec City has quickly become one of my favorite cities in North America. It is the closest you can come to a European city without going to Europe. It is probably the most French city in Quebec. The surrounding area is also lovely and merits exploration.

Overview

Historic District of Old Quebec

The Historic District of Old Quebec is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada. It is considered a world heritage treasure. Every corner of this historic district is teeming with history. Hence, it is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Canada, particularly in the province of Quebec.

This historic district was established in 1963 by the National Assembly of Quebec. The site was therefore the newest addition to the list of Historic Sites and Monuments at that time. The protected area included the fortified area and the peripheral areas as well. The entire district measures a total of 1.4 km in land area. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985.

About the Historic District of Old Quebec

Historic District of Old Quebec

The Historic District of Old Quebec is one of those few cities in North America that has a bit of Old European charm to it. Hence, this fortified section of Old Quebec is therefore a popular tourist attraction because of the historic charm to it. The city’s historic district also earns the distinction as the only walled city north of Mexico.

It served as the cradle of the French civilization in North America at one point. That influence is still evident today with many elements of its colonial past embedded into the life and identity of Old Quebec. It was early in the 17th century when French explorer Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec. He also commissioned the building of the fortifications, gates and ramparts in order to protect the city during the time of the colonial wars. These fortifications and other structures serve as a reminder today of how the French struggled to gain control of the Americas, and specifically Canada. In fact, Quebec became the capital of New France in the late 18th century.

The streets of Old Quebec feels a lot like stepping into a time machine and taking you back 400 years ago. This walled city has an undeniable European feel to it. The cobblestone streets, structures, and citadels are all well-preserved despite the fact that it has been 4 centuries since the French colonization.

How to Get Here

Historic District of Old Quebec

Visiting the Historic District of Old Quebec is easy. If you are traveling from outside of Canada, the nearest airport to Old Quebec is the Jean Lesage Airport. It is located roughly 16 kilometers from the airport.

Meanwhile, you can also travel via train. The Historic District of Old Quebec is serviced by the Gare du Palais train and bus station. The Canadian Pacific Railway, built in 1915, features a chateauesque type of station that looks a lot like the Chateau Frontenac in design. There are daily rail services to Montreal and Old Quebec.

Timing Your Visit

There is no ideal time visit and explore the Historic District of Old Quebec. No matter what time of the year you go, you will have something to see or do to enjoy your time there. If you visit in February or any time during winter, you will be treated to a winter wonderland experience with the Winter Carnival happening in Old Quebec. There are also several winter sports activities and entertainment that are going on especially at the heart of Quebec City.

In the summer, the Summer Festival or Festival d’ete de Quebec is a must-see! It is typically held in July wherein the Upper Town is converted into a festive outdoor stage.

What to See or Do

Historic District of Old Quebec

The Historic District of Old Quebec is ideal for walking. If you would like to explore the sights and attractions of this historic district, the best way to do so is by walking. The streets are narrow and winding, but there are plenty of historic treasures so walking at a leisurely pace is recommended so you won’t miss any of it.

Below are some of the top attractions you shouldn’t miss when in Old Quebec:

    • Chateau Frontenac: This fairy tale castle is one of the icons of Quebec. In fact, it has become the face of the Historic District of Old Quebec. It is also perched atop a headland so you can get stunning views of the nearby St. Lawrence River. Known as the most photographed hotel in the world, Chateau Frontenac was constructed in 1892.
    • Place Royale & Petit-Champlain: The Petit-Champlain district is another must-see in Old Quebec. Get lost for hours wandering through its pedestrian streets. Together with the Place Royale, this public square is filled with so much history. With plastered stone homes, gabled roofs, dormer windows and large chimneys, this is one of the oldest commercial districts in North America.
    • Old Port: The Old Port is the place to go in Old Quebec if you want to experience the laid back charm of this historic city. You can follow a path by foot or bike along the St. Lawrence River or stop by the Quebec Public Market. Whether you are visiting on day or night, the Old Port never fails to impress.
    • Rue Saint-Jean: Many consider Rue Saint-Jean as the gateway to Old Quebec. It is bustling with restaurants, churches, cafes, and historic buildings. The fact that there are many churches here reflect the old religious heritage of Quebec.
    • Parliament Hill: The Parliament Building was the seat of National Assembly in Quebec and the first national historic site from Quebec. This historic building was built sometime in late 19th century. The Fontaine de Tourny, or the fountain directly in front of the building, is a 7-meter fountain that lights up at night. This fountain is an attraction of itself.
    • Plains of Abraham: The Plains of Abraham is a popular gathering place and park in Quebec. It is like Central Park to New York! However, it does have historic significance as many important historic events took place here.

 


View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:05 pm

Question & Answers #5

It has been a long time since I’ve done a Q&A, so I figured now would be a good time to take a break from my photo editing and answer some questions. Questions came from my Facebook Page and from Twitter.


Photography

This photo always bothered me. I felt if I had a better camera or a faster lens, I could have taken better photos of Notre Dame in Paris
This photo always bothered me. I felt if I had a better camera or a faster lens, I could have taken better photos of Notre Dame in Paris
I had several people basically ask the same question. Dana Byers, Lou Lauer, Maureen Billingham from Facebook and Erin De Santaigo from Twitter all want to know what sort of camera gear I use.

For the first 3.5 years of my travels, I used a Nikon D200. About two months ago I upgraded to the Nikon D300s and so far I’m pleased with the purchase. The low light performance is much better than the D200, which was my biggest complaint with the camera. I was tempted to get a Nikon D3, but I couldn’t justify the cost, in addition to having to replace all my lenses with full frame lenses.

I carry three lenses with me: Continue reading “Question & Answers #5”

Miguasha National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #122: Miguasha National Park
Miguasha National Park: My 122nd UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Miguasha National Park:

The palaeontological site of Miguasha National Park, in south-eastern Quebec on the southern coast of the Gaspé peninsula, is considered to be the world’s most outstanding illustration of the Devonian Period known as the ‘Age of Fishes’. Dating from 370 million years ago, the Upper Devonian Escuminac Formation represented here contains five of the six fossil fish groups associated with this period. Its significance stems from the discovery there of the highest number and best-preserved fossil specimens of the lobe-finned fishes that gave rise to the first four-legged, air-breathing terrestrial vertebrates – the tetrapods.

It is always difficult to photograph world heritage sites that are of paleontological or anthropological significance. You can’t take photos of fossils in situ. Taking photos of a museum isn’t that interesting. Thankfully, Miguasha is located on the very beautiful boundary between the St. Lawrence river and the ocean.

Overview

Miguasha National Park

Miguasha National Park is a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada. This national park is located in the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec province. The property covers more than 83 hectares of land area and was established in 1985. It has a buffer zone of 775 hectares in land area. However, it was designated as a heritage property in 1999.

Miguasha National Park is known for its wealth of fossils. These fossils are considered important in the study of the evolution of life on Earth. This national park is also known as the Miguasha Fossil Site or the Hugh-Miller Cliffs.

About Miguasha National Park

The Miguasha National Park is located on the southern coast of Quebec’s Gaspe Peninsula. It is one of the most well-known archaeological sites in the world. It was Abraham Gesner who discovered this site in 1842. The fossils that he gathered from the site were sent to the Royal Scottish Museum and the British Museum. The news about the fossil site quickly spread and there were even talks of the site’s privatization. However, the Quebec government stepped in and declared it a provincial park. Eventually, it was elevated into a national park status.

Miguasha National Park

Since it was established as a national park, there were over 5,000 fossils that had been identified from the site. They were studied further by paleontologists. As of 1999, the protected area and fossil site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In addition to the fossil collection at Miguasha National Park, it is also known for its rich biodiversity. There are several species of plants, algae, vertebrates, invertebrates and microorganisms found within its landscape.

The site is believed to be the most outstanding collection of fossils from the Age of Fishes, or the Devonian Period. Carbon dating on the fossils at the site were traced back to this period. There are two distinctive types of fossils found at the site: lobe-finned fishes and the Spermasposita. The Miguasha Natural History Museum is found within the park. Visitors can check out the museum wherein more than 9,000 floral and fauna specimens gathered from the site are on display. Hence, the museum is also one of the national park’s biggest attractions.

Tips Before Visiting

Miguasha National Park

Before planning your trip to Miguasha National Park, here are a few things you need to know:

    • To get to the park, you must drive through Route 132 and then enter the municipality of Nouevelle or Escuminac.
    • No dogs or other domesticated animals are allowed entry into the park. Only guide dogs are allowed.
    • There are two campgrounds and other types of accommodation just outside of the park.
    • As of 2017, daily entry fee in Miguasha National Park is $8.50 per day. Childre below 18 can enjoy free admission. There are also annual parks network card in Quebec for $76.50 for adults and free for children under 18. This is the ideal option for those who want to visit other national parks in Quebec for an unlimited time within a 12-month period. An annual park card is available at a lower price of $42.50 for adults, for those who want to get unlimited access to a single park within a 12-month period.
    • There are a wide range of discovery activities within the park such as through group tours or hiking. For group tours, reservation is required.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:05 pm

L’Anse aux Meadows

UNESCO World Heritage Site #121: L'Anse aux Meadows
L’Anse aux Meadows: My 121st UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for L’Anse aux Meadows:

This archaeological site at the tip of the Great Northern Peninsula of the island of Newfoundland contains the excavated remains of an 11th century Viking settlement consisting of timber-framed turf buildings (houses, workshops, etc.) that are identical with those found in Norse Greenland and Iceland at the same period. The site is thus unique evidence of the earliest known European presence on the American continent.

It is a difficult journey to get to L’Anse aux Meadows. It is a 3-4 hour drive from the nearest city of note in Newfoundland and it is at the most extreme northern tip of the island. Once you get there, the only evidence of the original settlers are some small mounds in the shape of a house. The current buildings are reconstructions based on what they think the buildings would have looked like.

That being said, the historical significance of this place can’t be understated. This is where humanity first met up after going in different directions after leaving Africa. It was the first time Europeans set foot in North America and was the precursor to the eventual colonization of the continent by Europe.

Overview

L’Anse aux Meadows

The L’Anse aux Meadows is an archaeological site in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is located at the northern tip of Newfoundland island. The site was discovered in 1960 and was identified as an ancient Norse or Viking settlement. The archaeologists who studied the now-famous site determined that the settlement was at least around in the year 1000. In fact, it is internationally recognized as one of the best examples of pre-Columbian trans-oceanic contact. At the same time, it provides clues into the Norse exploration of the Americas.

In 1978, L’Anse aux Meadows was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada. It is also recognized as a National Historic Site in Canada in 1968.

About L’Anse aux Meadows

L’Anse aux Meadows

 

L’Anse aux Meadows is the site of the remains of an ancient Norse village in Newfoundland. The site was discovered by husband-and-wife tandem of explorer Helge Ingstad and archaeologist Anne Stine Ingstad in the year 1960. Immediately after the discovery, the excavations were done at the site. An international team of archaeologists along with Parks Canada joined together in these excavations that were conducted in the 1970s. After the excavations on the site, it was reburied in order to protect any remains and cultural resources at the site. According to the archaeologists who have worked on the site, the settlement has been around 1,000 years ago.

The Norse settlement in L’Anse aux Meadows is now an open, grassy land. But 1,000 years ago, this exact same site was filled with a forest. The accessibility to the forest enabled for the early settlers to build houses and boats. It also made iron extraction possible, of which remains at the ancient site that the early settlers clued the archaeologists on.

There are a total of 8 buildings (or what’s left of them) that were discovered at this ancient settlement. These buildings were made out of sod on a wooden frame. The archaeologists, basing on other evidences located at the site, were able to conclude that these buildings served as workshops or dwellings. In addition to the buildings, more artifacts and cultural resources were found at the site that revealed the ancient settlers lived as ironsmiths and boat making. Some of the everyday items that were found on the site included stone oil lamp, bone knitting need, parts of a spindle, iron slag, forge, whetstone, and more. On top of these everyday items, there were also food remains at the site.

Tips for Visiting

L’Anse aux Meadows

Want to visit the L’Anse aux Meadows in Canada? Below are a few of the tips you need to know:

  • The best time to visit is from June to October. It usually opens to the public in June 1.
  • To explore and get around with ease, you can rent a car at the Deer Lake Regional Airport in Newfoundland, Canada.
  • There are several accommodations near the ancient settlement. This will enable you to conveniently visit the site or its neighboring attractions with ease.
  • The Vikings were not the first to settle in the L’Anse aux Meadows. Prior to the Vikings, the land was inhabited by different aboriginal groups from 6,000 years ago.

View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:04 pm

Gros Morne National Park

UNESCO World Heritage Site #120: Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne National Park: My 120th UNESCO World Heritage Site

From the World Heritage inscription for Gros Morne National Park:

Gros Morne National Park illustrates some of the world’s best examples of the process of plate tectonics. Within a relatively small area are textbook examples of monumental earth-building and modifying forces that are unique in terms of their clarity, expression, and ease of access. The property presents the complete portrayal of the geological events that took place when the ancient continental margin of North America was modified by plate movement by emplacement of a large, relocated portion of oceanic crust and ocean floor sediments. The park also presents an outstanding demonstration of glaciation in an island setting. The fjords, waterfalls and geological structures of the park combine to produce a landscape of high scenic value.

Gros Morne is one of the hidden wonders of North America. It isn’t easy to get to but it is well worth the effort. The above photo is a fresh water fjord, which is one of the only one of its kind in the world.

Overview

Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Canada that was designated in 1987. This national park is currently governed and managed by Parks Canada since its founding in 1973 (however, it was not recognized as a national park until 2005). The park encompasses parts of the Rocky Harbour in Newfoundland and Labrador in Canada. It is also the Atlantic region’s second largest national park (with Torngat Mountains National Park as the first).

The park was named after the second-highest mountain peak in Newfoundland, of which belongs to the park. Gros Morne is part of the Long Range Mountains, which stretch to the western coast of the island.

About Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park in Canada encompasses an eroded remnant of the mountain range that took 1.2 billion years to develop. The geological formations and natural features of this national park combine to earn the nod of UNESCO when it was nominated for a World Heritage Site listing.

The park is dominated by rock formations that include a mantle rock and oceanic crust. These rocks and landscape formation developed from the obduction process of the plate tectonics. Meanwhile, sedimentary rocks had formed from Precambrian granite and the Palaeozonic igneous rocks that are found in this land since prehistoric times.

Aside from the rock formations and rock sediments along the coast, the Tablelands is another notable feature of this park. It is located between two towns: Woody Point and Trout River. This portion of park looks a bit different from the landscapes normally found in Newfoundland as it appears to be a barren desert. A type of rock known as peridotite that helped form the Tablelands is responsible for that desert-like landscape.

Wildlife

Gros Morne National Park

Aside from the unique landscape and geological formations in Gros Morne National Park, the wildlife is another notable feature. The moose population is the most notable of the wildlife species that call this park home. The moose population in Gros Morne National Park boomed in the 1900s. Aside from moose, there are other wildlife species that inhabit the premises of this park such as black bears, red squirrels, beavers, caribou, snowshow hares, river otters and red foxes, to name a few.

If you head to the St. Pauls inlet, you will also find plenty of harbor seals and at least three kinds of whales. In addition, there are also a few bird species within the park.

Things to Do

Gros Morne National Park

Here are a few interesting facts you need to know about what to do and how to enjoy Gros Morne National Park:

  • Hiking: This is the most popular activity among visitors to the Gros Morne National Park in Canada. It is the perfect way to discover the natural beauty of the park. There are marked and unmarked trails throughout the park. During your hike, you can explore different landscape formations and encounter various plant and animal species.
  • Boat Tours: The Western Brook Pond is also a noteworthy part of the park to explore. You can see the sights via boat in order to get close to the fjord and the marshlands. In fact, you can sail close to the waterfalls in the fjord, which is known as one of the tallest in eastern North America.
  • Camping: There are several campgrounds within the national park, which makes it an ideal setting to set up a tent and spend a few days. This is the ideal choice of activity for visitors in the summer. There are five campgrounds in total and you can reserve a spot in three of these campgrounds. Reservations are encouraged especially if you plan on camping in the summer, which is also the peak season.
  • Skiing: Visiting in the winter? Skiing is the most popular activity in Gros Morne National Park. The downhill slopes of Marble Mountain are the perfect spot to sharpen up your skiing skills.

    View the complete list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Canada.

    View the list of all of the UNESCO World Heritage sites I have visited on my travels.

    Last updated: Aug 1, 2017 @ 10:03 pm