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Ottawa Winterlude: Day 2

Sun. Feb. 14, 2016:

As soon as I had climbed out from underneath the covers I was freezing cold. It was going to be another freezing cold day with the temperature hovering around the -30C mark (without the windchill). This time I put on regular leggings and fleece-lined leggings overtop. I also doubled up on socks. I thought I was a brilliant genius, how could I possibly end up cold with so many layers?! The outdoors was barely tolerable, I was glad that my breakfast choice was just the down the street. After about 10 minutes outside I was ready to warm up. Bluebird Café was wonderful, the coffee was amazing and the chocolate chip muffin hit the spot. We sat in the window, but there was not much going on for people watching save some people moving in across the street. The lady ran outside in a t-shirt and we both cringed and yelled at her (through the window, quietly) to run back inside.

We walked to Rideau Falls, passing a few embassies along the way and trying to guess the countries based on the flags. I did poorly. As we walked by the Canada Research Council Brent joked that the place was now empty thanks to Stephen Harper. The first half of the falls was unimpressive as the view was obstructed by the power generation station. It was cool to see that the mist from the falls had landed on nearby trees as a layer of fine snow. It was that cold outside. The second half was much more impressive and it looked so cool because it was frozen and misshapen. My hand froze as I desperately tried to take pictures with my cellphone. I had deemed it too cold to even bring my DSLR as I would never get a chance to use it. Seeing as we had already walked all this way, we continued on Sussex drive to the Prime Minister’s house. 24 Sussex Ave was well guarded and very uninviting, from what I could see, which was barely anything. It even had a wooden barricade, which somehow made it quaintly Canadian.

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Walking by the Royal Canadian Mint there was not much going on. Once we got to Majors Hill Park we were greeted with a strong and super cold gust of wind- and no Winterlude festivities. We had a good look at the canal and we could see Quebec across the river. We walked up to Parliament Hill but again, other than the increased police presence, there was nothing really going on. Except for renovations, there were a lot of renovations going on. The East Block was really pretty to look at. Even though I still have no idea what it is or what goes on there. On our way back to our hotel we passed by the Fairmont Chateau Laurier and made note of how to get back, for we were switching to that hotel in the afternoon.

I could not resist stopping at the Nestle Tollhouse Café for a small snack. We hung out in the hotel as I attempted to warm up while eating cookies. It was an easy walk to our next hotel as we had just come from that direction. We got there just after noon and thankfully they already had a room ready for us.

It was a 5 minute walk down to the canal from our new (and better and warmer) hotel. It was really scary walking on the ice on the Rideau Canal as we slowly made our way over to the skate rental place. We made a pit stop for beaver tails and hot chocolate. I downed the hot chocolate in one big warm gulp. The warmth did not last.

I did not last very long on skates, it had been years since I’d skated and I was really nervous. Add to that my foot cramping and the freezing cold. Yeah it was a poor show on my part. I skated a little way down the canal, at least I got past the people filming an A&W commercial. There’s my future cameo appearance in the background awkwardly and slowly skating to look forward to. Brent skated on ahead, I skated back to the rental place having been defeated. I walked up and down the canal looking down on the skaters below. It was getting really, really cold. I had resorted to taking photos with my nose (the joys of a touch screen).

Near the canal was Confederation Park. They had lots of ice sculptures and a demonstration and even an ice sculpture fire pit. Some of the ice sculptures had seen better days, we were there for the last few days of Winterlude, and they were falling apart. I was starting to get really cold. My double-socked feet were starting to go numb. As we circled the park I got free samples of cookies and tea. This was not enough to entice me to stay and watch any more demonstrations. I was freezing cold and I needed to go back to the hotel to warm up.

During our warm-up break I turned the heater to maximum and turned off the auto function. I brewed a cup of tea, grabbed my cookies and a bathrobe and headed to the heater. I pulled up a chair and wrapped the bathrobe around my legs and feet and over the heater. The tea was good, the sample had worked and now I am a fan of Four O’Clock’s almond biscotti tea. I was finally warm enough and before heading out I added one more layer, an extra long sleeve shirt. I was ready to go to the final location on our Winterlude tour.

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We crossed the bridge over the Ottawa River. The river was mostly frozen but had broken in some parts. Yet people were still walking out across it. It made me uneasy to watch.  Looking back we had a gorgeous view of Parliament Hill overlooking the river. Gatineau Park was where the fun was. They had made ice slides, however I was not going to risk getting my jeans wet and thus being uncomfortably cold again. Instead I watched Brent slide down. We did go down another slide in a two-person tube. It was dizzyingly fun, as we had requested being sent off with a spin. The last activity they had was the chance to go around a track with a dog sled. You could hear the dogs in the pen down below all howling, it was sad. And I was too cold to stand in line.

It was Valentine’s Day and we did not have reservations anywhere. The plan was to walk past the Murray Street Kitchen and peer in, if it did not seem busy we would have dinner there. The backup was to keep walking to Dunn’s for sandwiches instead. Murray’s didn’t seem too busy so we went in and asked about a table. They had one, however we would have to clear out by 7:30pm. It was just past 5pm, we looked at each other and at once understood we would be out of there way before then.

We decided to order the charcuterie as nothing else on the menu really caught our fancy. Again we got to choose which meats and cheeses (gouda, raw cow’s milk cheese, smoked duck, kiełbasa and headcheese). Once again the charcuterie was outstanding, I am beginning to think that Ottawa is a great place for charcuterie but I have no idea why. The nachos with beef heart were also delicious, especially because they were made with kettle chips. And the feta cheese was minimal. We had overheard from a nearby table that the poutine had been featured on a TV show (it was on You Gotta Eat Here) and we wondered if we had made a mistake? When the server came back with our second round of drinks we ordered it- without really knowing what we were getting. Poutine would obviously have fries, right? Not here it doesn’t, it was some weird doughy noodle-shaped things. It was a small serving but even still it was difficult to get through. Who does that? Who messes with poutine like that?

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On our way back we passed some kids that were booing every dinner option their parents presented and every business they passed. One of which was a cupcake shop, The Cupcake Lounge. We had not ordered dessert and it was Valentine’s Day, why not? I got the last maple cinnamon cupcake and Brent had the Oreo one which was way better.

I snuggled up under the covers and brushed all the cupcake crumbs off the bed. It was time for my all-time favourite vacation activity: mindless stupid TV! We watched Bob’s Burgers followed by an SNL Valentine’s Day special that was truly terrible. I flipped back and forth through channels, having lost my patience for commercials a long time ago. I kept switching between Family Guy and a comedy festival. I thought for sure John Cleese would be funny- he was not. And then there was nothing on which was fine by me, being freezing cold all day is exhausting.

 

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VICTORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We walked by a new pizza place the other week called North of Brooklyn, I mentioned that it looks like a good place to eat. Brent shrugged it off.

I present thee: best pizza slice in Toronto.

At North of Brooklyn.

*victory dance* I was right again.

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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11.) See NYC

This is just a teaser, full story to come soon. Or in a month, I am severely backlogged here from back-to-back vacations.

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2012 in Life's Goals

 

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Real Hungry

I am not a big sports fan, that is why it has taken us this long to go to Toronto’s best sports bar. And also we had to actually make a reservation it is so popular there. But with EuroCup on I could not resist the idea of getting to watch Poland play. I gathered some people, got some yeses and we made a reservation for 8. In the end there were 4 of us. But it worked out really well because we got a booth with the perfect view of the movie-screen sized TV, and we got double lucky because they were showing the Poland vs. Czech match! This also happened to the be the final match determining who was going through to the next round, so it was a nail-biter.

The only true real screaming that happened was when Greece scored against Russia (it was playing on smaller screens). The bar erupted in screams of joy and some said whimpering yelps from the Russians in the corner. The bar itself however was packed with Poles. Everywhere you looked you saw bottles of Zywiec. So much so that when my sister tried to order one the waitress wasn’t even sure if there was any left. At one point a waitress walked by with a pot of tea and a cup with a lemon wedge, we giggled because that was clearly for some Polish patrons.

In the end Poland lost. But I won in my showdown with a foot long hot dog. In addition to which there was also some pulled pork on top of it. I couldn’t settle for just a regular old run-of-the-mill foot long when Real Sports bar is known for their fancy hot dogs. The game was distracting enough that I just kept eating and before I knew it, the whole thing had vanished. This was all well and good until later in the day. Meat hangover. But well worth it, it was delicious.

Oh and a Greek player got really mad. I am talking 10 minutes of dramatic arm flailing and yelling and nearly crying. It was amazing. And they kept replaying the initial moment of anger. And then they would show him in real time, off to the sidelines… still angry.

Life’s Goal 73.) eat a foot long hotdog is now done. It nearly killed me. If the soccer game was not on to distract me it would have been an epic fail, instead I overate and almost got sick.

 

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Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Yesterday we went to the Jays vs. Red Sox. You would think that the last place I would be is at a baseball game given this summer I am going to a bunch of them (8 maybe? I forget). But you forget, I am incredibly bored these days. Not a heck of a whole lot going on. And if I didn’t go the tickets would be wasted. They were really good tickets, 5th row! I could (if I wanted to) throw things at the players, that is how close! Plus it now helps that PINK (finally) has Blue Jays gear (even though I much prefer the Phillies, why? Because they have the best mascot).

And I found another reason to “love” baseball. (As if eating Cracker Jacks isn’t enough). I find that when you sit close enough, you can laugh at the players stances while at the plate. My hands-down favourite was Bautista, he just looks silly. Runners up were: guy who looks like he is riding a horse and guy who spins the bat around his head (looking like a helicopter).

 
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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Airport Antics

I hate airports. They are big and confusing and needlessly complicated. Yesterday I went to pick up my mom from the airport. Being lost in a great book, I almost missed my stop. I stood up to get off the bus, until the bus driver announced that it was Terminal 1, so I sat back down. I got off the bus at Terminal 3 and rushed to Arrivals, except her flight was not listed on the board. So I asked about it and was informed that in fact her flight was landing at Terminal 1. Dammit.

 

Off I went in search of some elevators that would take me to the train to Terminal 1. She told me to take the elevator when I could have easily taken the escalator. It would have been faster and much less crammed. For the train there are 2 platforms where you can board. I almost got on a train going to the parking garages but thankfully I caught my mistake and made my way on an empty train to Terminal 1. I got to see a bunch of parking structures and planes. The train route seemed needlessly long and not like the most direct route.

 

I got to Terminal 3 and yet again, no flight on the arrivals board. I was getting worried, had I messed something up? I rushed to the info desk and she pointed at the board and then it showed up there, I looked like an idiot. I had rushed only to find out that my mom’s flight was late. ACK.

 

There just so happened to be a cafe there. They just so happened to be a Birds & Beans outpost! Or a place that just took their logo and sells their coffee. I think it might be option #2 because this cafe serves coffee in Styrofoam cups. If you’ve ever been to Birds & Beans you will know that they are enviro-friendly. The lids for their cups are even made of a biodegradable corn oil.

(Look how tall they are! Guy in front and in back right)

Eventually my mom’s flight landed. There was a Polish team of some sorts on the flight as well. I am guessing they were a basketball team given that most of them were over 6 feet tall. And also EuroCup is starting soon, so why would they be leaving Poland? Maybe Poland inexplicably sent over their basketball team here?

Thank God there is at least a Tim Hortons there.

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2012 in Adventures of Pinka!

 

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