In the next block, two pigtailed ten-year-olds carried on a long-distance conversation using parking meters for phones. Eyebrows raised and noses upturned, these moppets conversed in the dulcet tones they believed to be those of the upper-class ladies who lived in the pretty houses on top of the rock. They vied with each other in length of word and elegance of enunciation until, fractured by their own comedy, they laughed themselves breathless and skipped away hand in hand.
If house-watching outclasses dining as a popular pastime in Quebec, it is only because people are physically unable to spend as much time in the accommodation in barcelona as they wished. For a city of 194,000, Quebec is richly endowed with restaurants. Though their cookery is French, not all of its practitioners are. One of the best eating places, the Continental, toward which I now turned, is run by Italians. Host Angelo Sgobba led me to a table.
Monsieur Sgobba, his brother, and two friends, all of whom came from the same village in Italy, founded the Continental 14 years ago after a long and cosmopolitan apprenticeship abroad.
“This is a town that likes to eat,” said M. Sgobba. “We set out to earn a place in it.” I asked him about his specialties.
“First, beef in many forms. And of course, we offer the wonderful smoked salmon of the Gaspe.”
He ordered for me, and excused himself. The dishes of his choice arrived in sequence —a chilled soup, a pink-fleshed brook trout, a flaming fillet that barely resisted the blade, a salad so crisp it crunched, and an aromatic confection of strawberries. Thus ballasted, I set off to wander the walled town. Near at hand lay the Rue du Tresor, a narrow two-block-long street bright with floodlights and the works of the young artists who use its walls as an outdoor gallery. Since it sloped downhill (as any street must, if it is to lure a freshly fed client of the Continental), I allowed the force of gravity to lead me.
Along the sidewalks young French-speaking portraitists, cartoonists, and specialists in sketches of the-Chiteau-Frontenac-as-seenfrom-below-at-night displayed their creations. Middle-aged English-speaking visitors walked up and down the middle of the pavement looking for masterpieces at $3.50 each.
At the foot of the Rue du Tresor stands the Roman Catholic Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. Beside it, on a protective wall, perched half a hundred youngsters obediently conforming to the dictates of nonconformity from their unshorn heads to their booted feet. From the darkness above, the arched windows of the basilica looked down in mildest reproof. I recalled the comment of a middle-aged friend, himself the father of four.
“Most of our long-haired youngsters are not really hippies,” he had told me. “They only dress the part. We are a bit too bourgeois to be a really swinging town. And we are still rather religious!’
Quebec has always been religious. Until recently the church dominated Quebecois life, and it remains strong today. In 1639 the Augustinian nursing order founded its Hotel-Dieu, now one of the city’s finest hospitals (pages 430-31), with funds from the Duchess of Aiguillon, a niece of Cardinal Richelieu. The Ursuline nuns, a teaching order, established their convent in the same year.
“There are countless studies telling us that those who give report being happier and are less prone to depression,” says Trudy Hill. “The effect is greater by giving time and seeing how your help affects others positively, than by just agreeing to a monthly direct debit. We feel good when we give because we are primed to do so through evolution. We survived in groups and we evolved to feel positive when we helped our groups become stronger. Giving creates activity in the same part of the brain which is stimulated when we are rewarded.”
Go for a quick colour injection
“Incorporate your favourite colour into an outfit to give you an extra confidence boost,” says Bella Rare world of Rare World Image Consultancy. “Get your hair coloured in a new style to make you feel instantly like a new person. Or, if you’re short on time, just something simple like a quick change of nail polish colour can instantly brighten up your mood and make you feel good about yourself.”
So what if it isn’t Christmas! Tryptophan is an amino acid which is needed by the body to produce the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. “One of the best sources of tryptophan is turkey,” says Julia Alderman, “but you also need carbohydrate in your meal to get a release of insulin in the blood, as insulin helps tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier.” Lean turkey and mashed potatoes ensure a relatively low-fat healthy feel-good boost can be yours — at any time of year. Also try garcinia cambogia extract, because it’s a real healthy boost.
HOLD (OR DROP…) A TUNE…
“Singing can perk you up instantly, but people who feel they can’t sing often miss out because they won’t have a go,” says Caroline Can “But the point is everybody can make singing noises.
In the West we have one idea of tunefulness, but in other cultures they have different ones Indian singing can sound off-key to us and in African countries they chant or shout in a rhythmic way.
Don’t be defined by Western ideas of tune. Make vocal sounds. Join a laid-back singing group.
There’s something hugely uplifting about being surrounded by a cacophony of singing sound.”
The words ‘African Safari’ conjure up visions of brilliant skies and cotton wool clouds, shimmering acacia-dotted plains teeming with game, painted tribesmen, luxury tented camps with semi-tame animals wandering about and rugged pipe-smoking characters in faded khaki. The vision fulfils the Hollywood dream of Africa as the ultimate setting for the great outdoors, intoxicatingly free and beautiful and stened in romance and adventure.
13 ut only a hundred years ago, the ‘dark continent’ was still largely a mystery. In the great Victorian era of exploration, there were missionaries, hunters and gentleman adventurers – Livingstone, Selous, Thomson, Burton, Speke, Grogan – but there were Arab explorers who came before them and it was their political and commercial influence that opened up the interior. There was Ebn Haukal, a famous Arab geographer, who discovered Lake Victoria in the tenth century; Jabl ul Qumar travelled to Uganda and first described the Mountains of the Moon; and the man who first discovered what lay beyond the East African coastal strip was Hamed bin Muhamed – known as ‘Tippu Tib’.
The African safari ‘tradition’ really began in the early 1900′s with the appearance of professional ‘safari outfitters’, catering to the sporting demands of an adventurous clientele.
Flamingoes on Lake Nakuru, Kenya in those days involved lengthy trekking, usually on foot with a train of porters carrying the equipment and supplies. There were hostile natives and marauding wild animals to negotiate, plus blackwater fever and the fear of waking up to find that the porters had deserted during the night.
Food was bartered from villagers en route or it consisted of whatever game could be shot locally. Marches were always planned with the distance between waterholes in mind and a three month safari was certainly nothing unusual.
The advent of the motor vehicle changed all this. Now, a safari client could request a whole fleet of cars and lorries, travelling over long distances, barcelona travel, virtually self-contained. Then in the 1920′s came the luxury safari. Money was no object and safaris were put on where the tents alone covered an acre of ground; there were generators, ice lorries and electric lights. The vehicles required their own parking lot and a different vintage wine was served with every course.
Rome is the capital of Italy, and also home to a country within another. Yes, I am talking about Vatican, the seat of Catholic Church where Pope lives. Whether you are in a hurry or want to explore it leisurely, walking around is a very good idea to soak in the art and culture, the scenic beauty and the monuments of this ancient and yet eternal city. Whether you are interested in Roman ruins and architecture, the museums with ancient artifacts, the romantic canals or the astonishing Vatican City, there are companies that organize walking tours around the city providing English speaking guides to make it an unforgettable experience. The walking tours are not hurried into to include more places in a short time. The pace is such that even seniors can keep pace with it without getting tired.
Rome can be an expensive city for those who stay in hotels in the city. However, if they choose apartments in Rome that are elegantly built but cost only a fraction of the accommodation tariffs charged by hotels, they are better off as they can spend more on shopping and eating in this magnificent city Rome apartment. This is the trend in all European cities these days with London apartments being in great demand and tourists facing difficulty in booking an apartment in Prague.
Even walking tours are designed to suit the itinerary of the tourists so that we have mini tours aptly named Rome of the Caesars, whereas there is a tour called Renaissance Rome to let tourists cover more areas in a longer time period Paris apartments. The purpose of longer tours is to string together many places of tourist attraction, roping in some hidden attractions as well.
Obviously, walking is not everyone’s cup of tea as it is more tiring than riding on a bus. But then, what you see up close and also explained in detail by a guide is much more clear and makes a lasting memory than what a tourist catches while riding a bus and goes to see only a few places from close quarters. Of course you can walk on your own if you have the time and inclination as the city is well planned and you can always ask for directions from the local populace that is more than just warm and friendly.
One thing that is irritating to many tourists is the presence of beggars and pickpockets apartment in Vienna. Beggars can be very awkward to deal with, but if you wear clothes like locals and behave them as well, it becomes hard for the beggars to single you out. By applying common sense and not displaying expensive items, it is possible to avoid even pickpockets. Buying a street map is a good idea especially when you are walking in narrow streets to get back o track when you feel you have lost idea of the right track.
Make sure you stay clear of car drivers who appear to be reckless and likely to hit you if you are a bit careless.