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My best ride share experience and visiting a kennel in Quebec City by Jessica Lee


Last night was one of the luckiest nights of my life. 

My day started in a rush, as I had to quickly get myself ready for a day trip from Montreal to Quebec City. My friend Carole had this idea of living this winter in Northern Quebec, working as a husky sledding guide and I became intrigued. I went along for the job interview to satiate my curiosity.


After a lunch of poutine, the owner, Pascal, picked us up from Laurier Mall. We got into his pick-up truck which had an awful, muggy stench of dogs. Our noses soon acclimatized and I tried to follow the conversation while Carole and Pascal chatted in French.

We drove for about 15 minutes, then arrived at the kennel. We were greeted by the loud barking of 250+  dogs who were also jumping up and down, excited at seeing us. They were tied up to their posts row by row on a wide stretch of land.

After a brief tour, we were led into the staff's quarters where I experienced my first job interview almost entirely in French. While I had some trouble understanding some parts of the interview, I had no trouble understanding how hard we would be working if we decided to do the job.


Basically, you wake up each morning, chop up several pig or chicken carcasses with an axe to feed to the dogs, then you prepare the sleds by attaching the dogs to their places. It's a lot of physical work. You also do this job in subzero temperatures, in a smelly area, at minimal pay. But it's a cool experience, and would be perfect for dog lovers. 


I decided that it was more of Carole's dream and not quite mine, but I am glad I went to scope it out. I wasn't feeling very Chris McCandless that day.




After the kennel, we were driven back to Quebec City by one of the employees. It was almost 5 pm at that point. Carole had arranged a rideshare that left Quebec City at 7 pm, while I arranged mine for 11 pm because I wanted to spend some more time in Quebec City.

We had been driven to the proposed rideshare point, which is on Laurier Boulevard, but if you know Quebec City, you will know that Laurier Boulevard is just a strip of commercialized malls. There really isn't anything "cultural" or Quebec City-specific. The picturesque attractions of Quebec City are about a 18 minute car ride away, or an hour and a half walk away.


Here is where I made the best decision I made that day. Originally, since I was already in the rideshare meeting place (Laurier), I was going to spend the rest of my 6 hours in Quebec City on Laurier Boulevard, at a La Presse cafe, reading. It was cold and I wasn't going to be bothered walking an hour and a half and then back to the Old City (where the tourist attractions and beautiful buildings were). I had already been there this past summer with friends, and many times before. I had convinced myself I would be perfectly happy being in a coffee shop.


But then a bus drove right to where I was standing, and I just got on with everyone else. $2.60 later, and I was in the Old City, wandering around the old buildings and cute streets.






I found a cute diner and had my dinner in a booth, looking out into the street and remembering how just a few months earlier, I was here with friends and we were doing completely different things.


I was completely content at that point, walking to the Chateau Frontenac on quiet streets, street lamps glowing, gazing out to the water where a passenger ship was taking a party down the river. 

Then I got a text from my rideshare and the night got even better. 



Like most people from Quebec, my rideshare, Alex, was French, so he texted me in French. I thought I understood what he was saying, but actually it was an even better surprise.




Alex wrote that he was "en concert" at "petit champlain", so that he might be late to our agreed meeting location, which was Laurier Boulevard. I thought he was attending a rock concert with his friends, so I said "Ok, no problem." 


Earlier that day, my first rideshare told me his favourite part of Quebec City was Le Petit Champlain, so I was hoping to visit Le Petit Champain anyway. I asked Alex if I could meet him in Le Petit Champlain instead of heading back to Laurier since we were both here. He said yes, and that it would be even better if I could meet him at the concert place. I said why not and started walking. 










Here I was expecting some sort of crappy rock concert in a half-filled bar where the musicians aren't that great (I've experienced plenty of those in my music journalist days). But half way there, he texted me again and told me to tell the people at the door that I was with "le saxophonist" and to mention his name.


Using a rideshare is a mixed bag. You don't know who you're going to get! I didn't know my rideshare was playing at the concert or that he was a musician! I did a giddy jump right there on the steps down to Le Petit Champlain and almost lost my camera. Then, imagine my surprise when I walked to the address he gave me and it was the Le Theatre Petit Champlain! I had stumbled right into the International Quebec Jazz Festival and I was right on time.


I walked into the venue sat down at a table in a full theatre of 200. The lights dimmed and I listened to the singer deliver Billie Holiday tunes right on pitch to a five-piece band. Then Alex came on and stunned the audience with his saxophone solos. I think I fell in love right there- this amazing, handsome musician who was going to drive me home to Montreal later that night, and who was the reason why I was enjoying a free concert and free glass of white wine at the moment. I let the happy feeling linger and disappeared into the music. At the end, I stood up for a standing ovation and the band came on again.


Here is a photo to prove that this night really happened:


But of course, before this story sounds too much like a romance comedy, you have to know that offstage, even the coolest jazz musicians are sometimes boring just like everybody else. We ran out of things to talk about and the attraction died off after the first half hour we spent driving back to Montreal. Oh well. It was still an excellent night.

Here is a photo of the dinosaurs at Madrid 2.0 at around 1 am:

Paris: la vie en rose by Jessica Lee


I have so many photos to share from Paris. There's no way I could share them all in one post, so I'll go slow. Maybe a couple for each day.

When I flew into Paris, it was night. I landed at Charles de Gaulle airport and took the RER (train) to Gare du Nord (major train station).


I remember walking to my hostel, which was expensive for a hostel ($30/night), but also really fancy. I got lost somewhere along the way, but it brought me to so many beautiful scenes. I realize I spend a lot of my time lost when I travel. It's frustrating most of the time, but there are some moments when I discover something really cool that's off the beaten path.


I've pretty much accepted that I am not good with directions in a new city unless the city is like New York, where the streets are all numbered and the city is laid out like a grid.

In Europe, many times, streets are laid out like Pentagons (Paris, Barcelona), and it's slightly difficult for someone used to grids (like North Americans) to navigate. Anyway, I digress.


One of the main things I love about Paris is that everywhere you go, it's picturesque. You don't even have to be at the touristy areas such as Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, or Champ de Mars, to get a good photo. Everything is just designed elegantly. The whole city is photography-friendly with cobblestone streets, old majestic buildings and beautifully-dressed locals. And when you enter the cafes, the pastries are aesthetic as well.


My first day in Paris, I had to tell myself to calm down with all the photos I was taking. You know when you get too excited about something and sometimes stop breathing? That was me. But I love that feeling of excitement. It's one of the reasons I love travel so much. I love seeing new things and feeling that sense of wonder and joy. It's a feeling of realizing how lucky you are to be standing where you are, and wanting to share that joy with the whole world. I don't think you can ever get that kind of feeling sitting in a cubicle. This is why I travel.

Ships at Sunda Kelapa, Old Port Jakarta by Jessica Lee



She was born on a brightened pier to a gypsy mother and a bucket of tears

I've always been drawn to ships and sail boats, even at a young age before I learned how to sail.

These photos were taken at Sunda Kelapa, which is the Old Port in Jakarta. Though these photos are from almost a year ago during my trip to Indonesia, looking at these pictures brings back memories of a sticky hot summer, dust between my toes and the taste of Nasi Goreng.



I hired a local paddler for $3 CAD, which is probably a rip off for me since you can get someone to pedal you on a bike a fair distance for $1. But I think I was feeling less talkative that day and more contemplative, so I just said yes to his offer of $3.


He paddled in between the bigger ships and showed me around the port.


It was interesting to see how others live. I'm trying to imagine myself living a life at sea. I think I would enjoy it, but I also think it would change my life forever, as all good adventures should.



As always, here's an obligatory feet photo:


You know how there is graffiti on the streets of just about every city?

This is Jakarta's version of it.


I can only imagine how difficult it must be to balance on a boat while spraying a can of paint.


Here are some majestic big ships.


A rickety boat.


And workers balancing on the sides of the boat.


It was strange to tour the port and see the workers living their lives. I saw someone shave and get out of a shower (he was wide out in the open okay?) and realized the contrasts between first world life and East Asia are huge.

In developed countries, we have expensive gyms which a large population use (and pay for) to keep physically fit and to shape their physiques, while in Indonesia, the workers are naturally fit from exertion and manual labour. It makes me wonder about the actual need for modern gym equipment. Gym equipment seems a little like excess given that you don't actually need machines to keep you physically in good health.

Isn't there a little irony in that manual labour in North America is frowned upon, "get a white-collar job", says everyone, yet the white-collar folk regularly pay money to do manual labour aka "work out"?

I am not saying that we should not get white-collar jobs. Maybe we need to rethink the whole "I need to sign up for a gym" mindset and just regularly volunteer time to help with manual labour instead.

Anyway. There's my thought for the day- all inspired by a half-naked, ripped Indonesian man. Enjoy the rest of the photos. And leave comments!