Summer Holidays in the Nation’s Capital

Just got back from my impromptu summer vacay with my friend Sam. He convinced me to get out of town for a few days and I’m really glad he did. We spent most of a week wandering around Ottawa and Montreal, enjoying the sun, sights and friendship.

The trip began as a road trip…but before we booked things, we had convinced ourselves we didn’t want to drive, so we took the train. I have to honestly say that this was the first time I had taken VIA rail and I loved the experience. It was quick, comfy, and even had free Wifi and computer power plugs. The whole time I was able to work on a new bassoon arrangement of Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners, for DFM’s next show…unfortunately it’s a damn catchy song and quickly became the themesong for the ENTIRE trip…even though neither of us know what the words are. (It generally was a lot of humming with a few “come on Eileen”s and “you in that dress, oh I know I confess”).

We arrived in Ottawa and headed down to Dow’s Lake where we rented a paddle boat from the most handsome man I’ve ever seen, and proceeded to spin in circles because we couldn’t figure out how to steer the boat. As the handsome boat guy was probably laughing wildly, we got ourselves organized enough to back out of the boat parking area (as we seemed to be able to go in a straight line backwards but not forwards.) We eventually got the hang of it, got some sun, scared a few ducks, had a dragonfly land on my hand…and even made it back to the dock with the paddle boat intact. (Although while on our way back in we did have a close encounter with a parked canoe…)

Dow's Lake, from a paddle boat.
Dow’s Lake, from a paddle boat.

A friend who is playing in the Ceremonial Guard band this summer scored us seats for the changing of the guard ceremony that happens daily n Parliament Hill at 10am. We sat through rain, but it was worth it. Changing of the guard is a really Canadian thing to do, and was worth the wet legs.

Changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill.

After that we wandered around and ended up at the Rideau Canal’s Locks. I’ve seen the locks before, but I had never seen them being used, and we lucked out being able to see 2 boats work their way through the locks. It takes an hour and a half to get through the 8 lock system…really neat to see!

Boats on the Rideau Canal.

Also of note from Ottawa, and something I have never noticed before is how truly stunning the library of Parliament is. I have seen the library on numerous occasions, both from the outside and the inside, but never had I noticed that the metalwork on the outside is ultramarine blue with gold. I saw (I mean really saw and noticed it) and got a great shot…

I fell in love with the blue/gold metal work. It is truly stunning!

After pouring rain for about 40 minutes in the morning, the day turned out to be really beautiful, sunny, clear skies, really “Hot-awawa”. We headed back to the market for some craft beer at The Clocktower Brew Pub, where we enjoyed the Raspberry Wheat Ale…among a few others. 😉

At The Clocktower Brew Pub. Raspberry Wheat Ale on the left, Bytown Brown in the middle, water on the right :)
At The Clocktower Brew Pub. Raspberry Wheat Ale on the left, Bytown Brown in the middle, water on the right 🙂

Another proud accomplishment was hitting the market for lunch where we bought rolls and eclairs at a bakery, and spiced aged cheddar and pate at a cheese shop and proceeded to eat fabulous food – on the cheap – in the park. The quality of food we had would have easily cost us double in a restaurant…and the chances of finding “duck liver with Grand Marnier pate” in a restaurant are not really high.

The next day, after bagels from The Ottawa Bagel Shop, we caught our train to Montreal…post to follow soon! We had a lovely couple of days in the Nation’s capital and I’m certainly looking forward to my next trip back.

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