My sister Teri called me a few weeks before Christmas and asked me if I would be able to take some time off in January. "Sure - why?" I asked. Teri lives far away - in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory - and she was coming east to Ottawa to attend a conference and wanted to know if I would come up and spend a few days with her. So, I arranged things so my in-laws would take care of Willow for a few days (thank you, thank you, thank you!), and Andrew had things to keep Willow occupied... and I jetted north to Ottawa.
An inukshuk outside the Ottawa International Airport
It was a short flight - only 90 minutes, and going through the baggage claim and Customs was a breeze. I am so used to flying out of Vancouver and Philadelphia, both of which are huge hubs for major airlines and a huge pain in the ass to get around. I landed in Ottawa around 11am, caught the shuttle to our hotel, and checked in. Teri had been there a few days before me and I had a few hours to burn before she got back, so I strapped on my boots, down coat, mittens, and scarf, and headed out into Byward Market to find some lunch. I had forgotten what it was like to have people switch effortlessly between English and French, and made me feel just a tad guilty that I have let so much of my French and Japanese drift away from me. I had some tasty (if a little dry) tandoori chicken and curried chickpeas, checked out some shops, then made my way over to Rideau Centre.
Holy 80's flashback, Batman!
No, I'm not saying that they were stuck in the 80's - it was just amusing to see all these stores that I associate with my Canadian youth that don't exist here in the US (at least not where I live): Le Chateau, Suzy Shier, Benetton, Smart Set - all they needed was a Mariposa and an Esprit store to round out my junior and senior high school fashion dreams! There was even a Club Monaco - and let me tell you - when I was in high school, having a Club Monaco sweatshirt was the height of just about everything! My sister Jaime and I pooled our resources and shared one of these sweatshirts - and let me tell you, we wore the hell out of it!
I walked around some more - it was absolutely sunny and beautiful - and with all that activity you didn't really notice how cold it was (and trust me, it didn't get above freezing any time during my trip).
Me with Quebec in the background across the frozen Ottawa River
After some more shopping (Coffee Crisps, Nanaimo bars and samosas), I headed back to our hotel room to wait for Teri. We walked around some more together, and then decided to go to a local pub, Highlander, for dinner. This place was known for its Ontario beers, so Teri and I both sampled their domestic flight:
There were lots of beers to choose from and I am not much of a beer aficionado, but I told our waitress that I liked India Pale Ales, so she suggested three for me - and for my fourth, I chose it just because it had a kick ass name - Barking Squirrel - and as it turns out, both Teri and I liked that one the best (and I know I have absolutely no chance of getting it here in Delaware!). We even managed to stumble upon a SnB in progress! Teri gave this one woman and her knitting a big smile and the woman came over and said, "Do I know you - you smiled at me!" We had to explain that we, too, were knitters and were surprised to see them meeting at the pub. They invited us to join them, but we were just getting ready to leave then and didn't have our knitting with us.
Full and a little tipsy, we walked back to the hotel and settled in for the night.
Tomorrow - Day 2 with Thai food, creepy exhibits at the National Gallery, and more beer!