Thursday, 29 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 7: YQB, YFB

Week 7 of The Amazing Race Canada took the teams about as far north in Canada as you can go... but we are getting ahead of ourselves.
City Walls 1
Quebec City is Canada's only walled city...
The teams began in Quebec City, which we wrote about in our Week 6 blog post. Before we leave this amazing spot, a few more facts about Quebec City:
  • Quebec City's old town (Vieux-Québec) is the only remaining fortified walled city north of Mexico
  • Vieux-Québec has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • There are lots of things you can do in Quebec City - here are just a few
From Quebec City Airport (YQB), the teams flew north north north to Iqaluit, Nunavut.

Iqaluit Airport's distinctive yellow terminal building
Iqaluit is the capital of Nunavut, Canada's largest, northernmost and newest territory, created when the region officially separated from the Northwest Territories in 1999. The teams landed at Iqaluit Airport (YFB) to tackle their challenges for this leg of the race. As so many other sites have detailed the team's activities, we'll focus our attention on the airport.

1928 Sikorsky S-38B at Iqaluit Airport (Source: Polar Pilots)
While tiny, Iqaluit Airport plays an important role as a diversion airport for airlines flying Polar Routes. As such, Iqaluit Airport can handle any type or size of aircraft.

This Douglas C47A 10DK Dakota 3 (DC-3) ran out of fuel and
landed on the tundra about 45 nm north east of Iqaluit in 1975.
Like many arctic plane crashes, the plane is still there
to this day. (Source: Polar Pilots)
Here are a few interesting websites about the aircraft that have landed here, various incidents and the airport's services, including:
Airbus A380 at Iqaluit Airport (Source: Polar Pilots)
Another reason the airport is so important here is that there are few roads in the region. Most travel is by air, although there are some trucks in Iqaluit. The most common form of transport amongst locals is by ATV (during the short summer) or snowmobile (during the very long winters). You may even see some dog sleds if you visit here.

Unless you arrive in winter though, you will find that around town most things are within walking distance.
Bilingual Inuit and English stop sign in Iqaluit.
The sign may say STOP, but if you are intrigued,
you should GO to Iqaluit!
If you are intrigued to the point of considering a visit, check out the Iqaluit Visitor's Guide - it is very well done and contains a wealth of information.

We hope you've enjoyed learning about this destination where the Race passed through. More next week...

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 6: YQR, YUL, YYZ, YQB

Another week, another 4 airports! In Week 6 of The Amazing Race Canada, the teams moved between two cities, via two different routes.

Teams lifted off for this leg of the race from Regina International Airport (YQR). We wrote about this airport - and it's transportation issues - in our Week 5 blog post.

Some of the teams connected through Montreal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Canada's 3rd busiest airport.

YUL U.S. Departures Sector
Just a few teams passed through Montreal's airport...
Too bad the visit was so brief. Named a UNESCO City of Design, Montreal is one North America's liveliest cities, with historical buildings dating from the 17th century. Maybe they will come back?

Other teams connected through Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), not the first visit here during the race!

The destination for the week was the amazing, historic Quebec City.

Bonjour! Welcome to Quebec City Airport!
The teams arrived at Quebec City Jean Lasage International Airport (YQB).

If you visit, you'll enjoy this airport, twice voted Best Regional Airport in North America by the Airports Council International's Airport Service Quality (ASQ) program (2010, 2011). That's a pretty high honour! You'll find a taxi the best way to get into the city from the airport. There is a bus, but it only runs Monday to Friday, a little too inconvenient for most travellers. Fortunately, the taxi ride is short: YQB is just 11 kilometres southwest of the city.

Predictably, upon arrival in Quebec City, the Amazing Race Canada teams were faced with several language related challenges, testing their French language skills, and creativity. Great fun to watch - but don't worry, you can get along here without French (just learn a few words, as a courtesy, and the locals will welcome you.

Historic Vieux-Québec (Old Town) is divided into two parts: the Haute-Ville (Upper Town) and the Basse-Ville (Lower Town).

The fabulous funicular in old Quebec City!
While there are staircases that connect the two (!), most everyone takes the very convenient Funiculaire (Funicular). It's cheap and fun.

One of old Quebec City's amazing murals
(image source: Rambling Traveler, cc on Flickr)
Down below, in Basse-Ville, is where you can find several wonderful murals painted on the sides of old buildings, one of which was featured on the Race (do you think you could have worked out that puzzle of missing pieces, described in French?!). This is also where the teams participated in ice carving, part of the winter culture here.

The stunning Fairmont Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City
Up above, in Haute-Ville, is the stunning Chateau Frontenac. While this grand hotel only got a walk-on role in the race, it truly is a gem worth visiting, even if you can't afford to stay (try a drink in the little bar overlooking the river).

Whether you stay in the historic old city, or downtown (just outside the city walls, adjacent to the Plains of Abraham the teams visited), you'll find Quebec City to be pedestrian friendly, so no need to rent a car for your visit. Unlike the Amazing Race Canada teams, you will be able to stroll the streets at a leisurely pace...

Au revior!

Source: all photos wiki commons, except where noted

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 5: YXY, YVR, YEG, YYC, YQR

Air Canada Express (7375069012)
Air Canada was one of The Amazing Race Canada's sponsors
Lots of airports touched on the way to the destination for this week's installment of The Amazing Race Canada:

The Douglas DC-3 (CF-CPY) that now serves as a
weather vane at Whitehorse International Airport (YXY).
Whitehorse International Airport (YXY) in the Yukon - we didn't get to say a lot about Whitehorse last week, and the teams left this important Klondike Gold Rush town so quickly this week, but we'd like to recognize Whitehorse Airport as being one of the most interesting northern airports in Canada. Did you know that you can fly here from Frankfurt? Or, better yet, people fly to Whitehorse from Frankfurt?!? Kind of exciting stuff for an otherwise pretty small airport. Oh, yes, btw, the airport's official name is Erik Nielsen Whitehorse International Airport.

Vancouver International Airport (YVR) - from Whitehorse, on their way to Regina, teams flew through Vancouver, yet again, this time with two possible itineraries:

A few teams flew via Edmonton International Airport (YEG)
Edmonton International Airport (YEG) - as the race spent so little time here, we thought we'd pause to talk about this airport a bit... This is now Edmonton's only airport: the previous Edmonton City Centre Airport (YXD) has pretty well ceased operations, and will be a museum site only. So, if you fly to Edmonton, leave time for the 25 kilometre trek into the city. The good news is that there is now a 747 Airport Bus that runs to YEG - if you take it, you'll be helping the locals, who are at risk of losing the service if there aren't more users.

Calgary International Airport (YYC) - the teams have been here before...

Regina Airport (YQR) - Regina, Saskatchewan was the destination for Week 5, and eventually everyone turned up here to begin the challenges.
A vintage RCMP Crown Victoria restored and on display at the
RCMP Heritage Centre in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.
Fortunately, the teams had vehicles waiting for them, as Regina Airport has a severe taxi shortage (take heed, if you plan to travel here!). After racing off from the airport, here's a bit of what the teams had in store:
Taylor Field at Mosaic Stadium in Regina, Saskatchewan
- home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders!
It was an exciting week, with all sorts of surprises in store. We won't even attempt to summarize what happened with the teams (so many others are doing an amazing job at that) - our emphasis on the race is really the airports and the destinations.

Are you as excited as we are about Week 6 and the visit to beautiful Quebec City?

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Amazing Race Canada - Week 4: YYC, YZF

This week on The Amazing Race Canada, it was off to Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories!

The teams took off from Calgary International Airport (YYC) - which we wrote about in our Week 3 Recap - and flew to Yellowknife. Brr!

The Bristol Monument - on display near Yellowknife Airport.
This Bristol freighter was the very plane that was the
first the land on skis at the North Pole in 1967.
After landing in Yellowknife at the Yellowknife Airport (YZF), the teams had to find Pilot's Monument.
The Bush Pilot's Monument in Yellowknife pays tribute to
the bush pilots who opened up the far north. Bush pilots still
provide essential service to Canada's remote communities. 
Then, the teams needed to find Great Slave Lake. Humorous, as it was frozen over, and more than one person missed the fact that they were just looking at it from atop the Bush Pilot's Monument (great view from up there!).

Then, it was time for an ice cold dip. Yikes!

After a flight in wee teensy planes to Carcross, in the Yukon, the teams had to try their hand at activities related to the Yukon Klondike gold rush. No gold, but a Duchess! (she's a train).
Yes, it's a desert in Canada's North!
Then it was a race across the Carcross desert to the Week 4 Pit Stop. Wow, what a whirlwind!

Image source: wikicommons