Lonely Planet Writer

76-Second Travel Show: 'Does saying no make you a travel wimp?'

I've parachuted from an old Soviet airplane. But there are some things I won't do for travel.

Take for example wintry things. There are some occasions where it makes sense to head right into its icy heart. And some times when it makes sense to flee from it.

Last year, I put together a list of the world's best winter festivals, and this year I visited one: Québec City's marvelous Carnival, with a jolly bilingual snowman (Bonhomme) and an endless array of outdoor events, including dog-sled races down Old Town's wee lanes, free skating rinks, ice bars, snow sculptures, human foosball games and my new favorite hockey team, the Québec Remparts.

But there's one thing that's just too much for me: the Ice Hotel.

The place, a 20-minute drive out of the center, is interesting to see for an hour or two. The C$17 entry gets you in to peek at rooms during the day or sip C$7 cocktails from ice glasses in the bar blaring obnoxious dance music.

I had planned on staying overnight. But somewhere in between the information session that explained how to get into the provided 'Arctic' sleeping bag and a dunk in a hot tub the hotel makes you take (love the policy), I decided, y'know, I really don't need to sleep in below-zero iceboxes on a night with temperatures reaching minus-six degrees Farenheit (minus 21 Celsius).

So I didn't.

In the nearby heated waiting room - which felt like a space station, or a waiting room for proctology exams - I detected no joy from my fellow guests. Most sat silent, staring at a small fire, just biding time before a dash into the adjoining hotel's ice-cube rooms.

Instead, I made my dash to the 24-hour shuttle, there to carry people like me to a perfectly heated hotel room nearby (included in the price).

Guess that makes me a travel wimp. And I'm OK with that.

What, to quote David Foster Wallace, 'supposedly fun thing' would you never do, or never do again?

Get more information on Quebec City - great any time of year - from Lonely Planet's Montreal & Quebec City guidebook.