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Eastern Travel, August 5-8: Ottawa

Stacy’s brother, Michael, lives in Ottawa. Stacy’s brother is less than a year older than she, so the two were close buddies growing up. Among other things, I’ve learned that he got her to play Dungeons and Dragons. So she still refers to her “bag of holding.”

Particularly for Americans, Ottawa is not a place to visit without a good reason. It’s a perfectly nice city, and if you have a reason to go there, you can find things to do — but unless you’re a Canadian curious about your country’s heritage, there’s nothing about the city worth drawing travelers.

Ottawa epitomizes that Canadian quality of being clean and bland.

If you do find yourself in Ottawa, the most interesting thing to do is to head to the Bytown Market and wander around. In that area, we had some tasty Indian cuisine at Haveli, and tempura and sushi at [xxxx].

We also had surprisingly good food at a local Middle Eastern chain called “Mango’s”. Cheap, tasty shawarma.

I got a haircut for CAN$11, which is about $8-9 American. Not bad, since I typically pay $20 American.

We canoed on the Rideau River. It was a perfectly fine idea, but about an hour into our tour, it proceeded to rain. Hard. Very hard. Like, you’re soaked through-and-through after a minute of being in it.

Some pictures. They’re blurred because they were taken through the plastic bag that was protecting the camera.
Yep, Still Raining
We find some shelter under a tree

Doesn't she look happy?
Stacy expresses her feelings

Of course, our stay here wasn’t about the city, it was about being with Michael and Lara, his fiance. And that, of course, was great. Michael showed us his spear (he’s in the SCA). He knew exactly where all the “Sev”s (7-11 stores) in Ottawa were, so as to soothe Stacy’s Slurpee cravings. (I read somewhere that Canadian’s consume more Slurpee’s per capita than anyone else.) He and Lara prepared a tasty noodle meal, our only home-cooked food on the entire trip. He revelled in the terrible jokes and puns which seem to be a key aspect of their father’s influence.

So, of course, we look forward to returning.

  1. Peter, I was about to leap to Ottawa’s defense, but then considered your disclaimer about it being mostly dull for Americans who have no interest in Canadiana. Point taken, although I’m glad you didn’t disparage the Market, which has been wonderful each time I’ve visited from the other side of the country. You seem to be artsy enough to have enjoyed the National Gallery and Museum of Contemporary Photography — I wouldn’t skip either one, even if I wasn’t a Slurpee-sucking Canadian.

  2. Peter,
    I went to Ottawa in 1992 and found it to be really charming and interesting (but like you said, i was there for a reason and not just to vacation). I loved its Berlinesque city-divided feel — the mutual loathing between those of Hull and those of Ottawa would be an easy dissertation. I quickly learned not to talk smack about it, for fear of my life.

  3. I went there in 1990 as part of a four-month road trip around the continent. We didn’t spend much time there, as Toronto and Montreal, and Quebec were bigger draws in that region, but I recall being taken with the architecture of the government buildings, particularly the oxidized copper rooftops.

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