Confusion and Resolution in Canada

"I like any kind of weather. It's the joy of being alive and some people forget that"

- Man interviewed on a local Ottawa newscast when asked about the heat.

...and here we are in Canada.

First off, I'm going to add pictures to these entries later. Right now, I don't have the means to upload pictures. In fact, it's a blessing that I even have Internet access. Let me explain...

The drive from Syracuse to Cardinal in Ontario was a breeze - about two hours long and very straightforward. The house itself was beautiful - a late 1800s brick Victorian house with a privileged location overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The three-story house had 7 bedrooms, all decorated with family heirlooms and various fascinating bits of history. What the house did not have was cable TV or Internet access. Now, since I had planned on making this a working vacation, no Internet access was a problem. It is the end of the quarter, after all, and I had all kinds of stuff I was working on.

Well... OK... the 730 Truck Stop, as far as I knew, had wireless so at least I could work there with Skype, right? Wrong. Turned out that wireless at the 730 Truck Stop hadn't been working for about 6 months. Other options? The waitress at the truck stop thought that Tim Horton's in Prescott or Morrisburg might have wireless but she wasn't sure. Hmmm... not reassuring. While my wife was eating, I walked over to the entrance to use the ATM. Ah... no go. The ATM didn't like my card.

No Internet (problem for work)
No access to cash

Since we'd planned on a day trip to Ottawa on Sunday, we instead decided to pack up a few days' worth of clothes and make it a three-night stay. Less than an hour later, we pulled up to the Marriott Ottawa, parked the car, and started checking hotel rates. The Marriott was more than we wanted to spend so we started digging around for options. In the midst of my digging, I finally realized... hey, I have Marriot points! Lo and behold, we had enough for 3 nights and booked a room.

Parliament Hill, as seen from Hull

We spent Sunday getting to know our way around town. Lunch was spent wandering around Sparks Street Mall where a BBQ cookoff was taking place - apparently U.S. vs. Canadian teams. We worked our way to Elgin where we paid $30 CAN each for a Lady Dive "amphibus" tour. If you haven't been to Ottawa before, taking one of these tours is a great way to get a quick intro to the city. The bus/boat winds its way past the most popular sites and then takes a plunge
into the Ottawa River. Listening to the bilingual narration was quite funny (everything here is in French and English). It also gave us a better idea of what sites we might want to explore
in greater detail.

Afterwards, we watched a boat works its way through the locks at the Rideau Canal and then took a leisurely stroll along Parliament Hill. If you didn't know any better, you'd think you were in England. The neogothic architecture is stunning. We were quite tired by the late afternoon so we headed back to the hotel.

For dinner, we opted not to wander too far from the hotel so we took the elevator up to the 29th floor for dinner at Merlot, the Marriott's rotating restaurant. The expensive but wonderful restaurant takes two hours to make one rotation of the city skyline. The food was excellent and the restaurant's wine list was recognized by Wine Spectator as one of the country's finest wine lists. My wife had a delicious crab salad as an appetizer and I had the eclectic salad. Both highly recommended. We both opted for salmon for dinner. It was scrumptious - served with a in a ginger maple dressing, bok choy and drizzled with pears and herbs. Very very good. Dessert was a delectable 3 citron cheesecake with a coconut caramel dipping sauce. Not light... not by any means... but very good. The entire meal, with a glass of wine and tax, came out to $113 CAN. Oh, and yes... we made a full revolution.

This morning, I went downstairs nice and early to take part in a couple of conference calls and to get some work done. We then started our day by heading to ByWard Market. What a great area. The old city market still buzzes with stalls selling fresh fruit, flowers and other assorted items. Other food stores and gourmet shops line the area. It also contains one of the greatest concentrations of restaurants in the city of Ottawa. Rather than sitting down at a traditional restaurant, we stopped by Moulin de Provence and picked up some sandwiches to go. We also grabbed a basket of cherries at a stall and then made our way to a bench by the Rideau Canal.

The weather, while a bit sketchy yesterday, turned out to be quite nice - actually warmer than Houston, if you can believe. We're now taking it easy in the room... catching up on a little bit of work, a little bit of registering, a little bit of working out, etc. We're about to head back out to
ByWard Market to shop along Sussex Street before heading to dinner at one of the many restaurants.

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