Ottawa, 2010

Last year at Convergence, I meet a cool couple, Justin and Kym. Justin turned 40 this year and threw a big bbq, to which I was invited. So I went. :) Cris came with me as he had never been to Ottawa before.

Fri July 9, 2010

Met up with Cris on the airport shuttle from the blue line subway stop. Did kiosk check-in, putting in both our passports and lots of information. Turns out that we were headed to the small gate area so we sat outside since there was zero line. No smoothie for me despite my trekking down to the DD at the other end of the terminal and waiting in line. Had a moment at security when they noticed that Cris's middle name was appended to his first one on the boarding pass, and he didn't have any ID showing both names, but they eventually let us through. AC Jazz did a general boarding call, the flight was mostly empty. There were som bumps as we descended down into clouds after a very short flight. It was drizzling outside. Got bus tickets at the info counter when the clerk showed back up, and went outside to the stop to find that the 97 bus was there. The separate bus way is cool, we got off at a transfer point and had a bit of a wait for the 101. The sun was setting under a cloud cover, the rain had stopped and we were just being dripped on by the shelter. There was a harmonica player on this second bus, I was just starting to enjoy his song when the bus driver made him stop. Turns out that we were stopped at our stop when they had thier disagreement (the player was writing down info as we got off). Checked into our room, showered off the sweat from the stupid hot day, and went right back out to take the bus to Bank St and the original Royal Oak. We had 1 transfer, I made the bus come by trying to use the ATM in the convenience store next to the stop. We walked down Bank after getting off a bit early, went in and then I went out again as Axel went out for a smoke, and I hit up an ATM for Canadian cash. I denuded my fish of batter, and drenched the fries with malt vinegar. The strongbow was not as perfect as the one I had in Toronto. It was a good sized group, I chatted a bit once calories hit my system. Cris and I walked a bit up to Albertson? We had a long wait for 85 bus, but it took us right to our door. I went to Shopper's to get Reactin, then took a longer shower, then collapsed into bed, at around 1:30am.

Saturday July 10, 2010

Got up at about 9:30am, had the breakfast buffet in the hotel, it was decent. Picked up minimal stuff for the day and we were out at the bus stop at 11, and to Justin's by 11:30. He was there with the tandem bike he'd borrowed for us, but I couldn't get balanced. There were also two bikes, one was his that Cris used, and a mountain bike that was a little too small for me even with the seat up, but the frame was perfect. We rode a couple of blocks to the Ottawa river bike path, and had a really nice ride downtown, past the Bluesfest location and winding along the river. We could see Parliament in the distance and passed small islands covered with crying gulls. There was some confusion over how to get over the Rideau canal locks (manual crank! they were letting boats through as we walked past), but we figured it out eventually.

Sussex street was under construction, so we walked the bikes to the National Gallery along the sidewalk. Liked the huge sculpture of Maman spider outside. Went to the pop art special exhibit (Warhol, radiant child, then skimmed over the sex bits). We went to the second floor for modern Canuck art and then broke for lunch in the cafe, which was reasonable. The asparagus quiche was heavy on the vegetables. Then we went to my whole reason for visiting, the group of seven exhibit. I loved the small sketches, little canvases, boards and even cardboard that the artists took with them up to Georgian Bay and Algonquin Park. Then I could turn around and see the larger paintings that they produced over the winter from those sketches. There were some nice pieces by Emily Carr as well. Then we went down to the Inuit art gallery - the full antler carving was amazing. Then up again for impressionists, and abstract art - I found the controversial blue stripe painting, it was a lot larger than I expected (12ft? tall).

From there we left the bikes locked up and walked around Byward market. I had a croissant and water at a corner patisserie  that Obama visited (lots of photos, signs and a looping video!). We stopped into the design store, I almost got Gin and Titonics ice tray, but it was $12. Digging around now, it looks like Newbery Comics sells it for $4, so I'll go get one there. :)

We biked back to Justin's, picking up the bike path at around the War Museum, going past Parliament on the way. A band was playing at Bluesfest, we could hear them clearly from the bike path, and we rode past the bike valet parking. Raindrops started to hit us, but never got heavy (shame, it was broiling and I could have used a cool down). The bbq was fun, recognised faces from the night before so didn't feel so adrift in a sea of strangers. Spent a lot of time talking to another sci-fi/fantasy/travel fan. Nibbled on side dishes until veggie patties went on the secondary grill, apparently the brisket was really good from what others said. I kept sneaking snacks from the kitchen, I think I used up more calories than I thought, biking and walking around. The punch tasted like lemonade it was delicious and potent. :) The gin and tonic capped off my night, switched to water after that. We took a cab back to the hotel after getting bus tickets for tomorrow at the convencience store where we hailed a cab. Felt bad for bailing out around midnight, but arriving at 5 and a day in the heat had wiped me out. Yet another cool shower to wash the sweat off and we switched to the other, firmer, bed in the room for a better night's sleep.

Sunday July 11, 2010

Up at 9, and did the buffet breakfast again, but I ate less this time as I had a bit of a headache - I'd meant to stop at Shopper's across the street and get some water, but forgot due to the cab dropping us off at the front door of the hotel. Plus no water on offer at breakfast, so was courting dehydration. Went back to the room and changed into swimsuits and went over to the indoor waterpark. The hot tub was nice, I pummelled my IT band and felt some knots give up. The wave pool was very gentle, and the 3 storey water slide was very slow, and the separate splashdown pool was very shallow. Back to the room, showered, packed up, and tried to figure out bus options to a museum and then airport. We finally decided on the Nature Museum (we were told the night before that they had just finished renovating). We checked out and walked toward the stop for the #4 bus that would take us right there, and the bus went by as we were a block away. No schedule to see, so walked back to Carling and got the 85 to downtown instead. 

Got off at the Rideau centre, walked through the mall to Chateau Laurier. The brunch was $40, I wasn't that hungry, so we went next door to Milestones. Justin and Axel joined us, and we moved to full shade table on the patio. The Sicilian summer cocktail was good, and the strawberry french toast was delicious. Axel drove us to Justin's and then went off to watch the World Cup final and Justin and Ariel drove us to the airport. No lines anywhere, got there 2 hours before and had 1.5 hours before flight left when got to the gate. The World Cup final was on the screens, but barely audible. General boarding again, and off on time. Uneventful flight until we got close to landing and I had to take my noise cancelling headphones off and could hear the annoying girls in the seats in front of me. Finished my book and tried to concentrate on the in-flight magazine. Escaped to the silver line, red line, and bus home. Stopped in at the chicken place and got a whole roast chicken to go, and ate it sitting on the porch with a nice cool breeze blowing on us. Then found out about the aftermath of a flash flood that happened while we were away. :/ 2 feet of water in the driveway and garage, but only one inch in the basement. Not sure yet the extent of the damage.

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