Ottawa: My Full Saturday and Less Full Other Days

I went to Ottawa for this weekend plus Monday. Why? Because I’m a Canadian who is out of touch with his country and it seemed like a good place to get acquainted with. I did end up learning a lot about the city and country while I was there. I have some pictures that Ryan gave me, too, but I’ll post them later.

Saturday was a very busy and decadent day. Let me tell you about it.

It started out around 8:30 in the morning when Jazz, Ryan, and I went for a short run around their neighborhood. I have been starting to get into better shape recently, and this one felt pretty good. I’ve included the route here and you can zoom out to see where they actually live.

Before I get into what happened next, let me deal with an example of strange differences in the way Americans and Canadians talk. Americans take showers, where Canadians have them. I don’t know why this is different, but it is. So we all had showers, and then we headed for the bus station to go downtown. Turns out Ottawa has a great bus system, and I made full use of it all weekend.

Our first stop was the Canadian National Gallery, which besides looking cool has a neat exhibit of Renoir landscapes going on right now. I didn’t even look at the permanent collection, something I regret, but I guess it just means I’ll have to come back sometime.

After the museum we walked a couple blocks to a restaurant that we had a coupon for, and I bought lunch for all of us. Jazz and I had New Orleans-style pasta, which was good, and Ryan had a wrap, which was not so good. Meh, I liked mine. Jazz had a craving for dessert, and I wanted coffee, but the restaurant’s dessert menu didn’t quite cut it, so we took off. Fortunately, we were in the middle of the Byward Market, a busy market district right near Jazz’s work, so she quickly led us to a cheese shop that happened to have imported chocolate. As she was buying a fancy chocolate bar I noticed a stack of little bars next to the register with a sign saying “Lebanese Baklava.” I always like trying new things, so I asked “what’s the green stuff?” because the bars had green stuff all over them. The answer, “crushed pistachios,” sounded good, so I got one and it was delicious. Then, as if we needed more, we stopped at a busy outdoor cafe to get coffee and while we were waiting some crazy triple chocolate dessert bar caught Ryan’s eye so we ended up with coffees and our (my) third dessert of fifteen minutes. I only had one bite of the bar and it was very rich. I couldn’t believe that they ate the whole rest of it between them.

After lunch, we decided to walk down to the Ottawa Bluesfest, which we had purchased tickets for earlier. We could have stayed on the Ontario side of the river, but the walk is quite nice on the Quebec side and I wanted to at least walk in the province so I could say I’d been there. So off we went, across a couple bridges and along the Ottawa River for a nice walk. Lots of bugs, though. I remember hearing stories and jokes about Ontario Mosquitoes when I was a kid, and they were definitely based in reality. Lots of bugs.

I had noticed on Friday that Manu Chao was Saturday’s headliner at the Bluesfest, so I suggested that we go to that. Turns out it was a big festival and there was nonstop music at 4 stages all day Saturday. It was a very cool scene. Here are a few of the highlights:

We stopped at the Black Sheep stage to see a band whose blurb in the brochure made them sound cool, Jetplanes of Abraham. They’re a six-member Ottawa band made up of musicians from several other local bands. A neat sound, for sure. I like Canadian indie bands.

After that we wandered over to another stage and saw a band I’d heard of before, Mute Math. They were very crazy, lots of percussion, and really fun to watch. Highly recommended if they come through your area.

For dinner I ate a Jamaican patty, which I’d never heard of before, and a samosa, making it almost the cheapest meal of the weekend, and a good one at that. They had a bunch of local restaurants running food booths and the prices were actually pretty reasonable.

Finally, Manu Chao played. The place had really filled up by 9:00 and we pretty much resigned ourselves to seeing it from far away. Ryan and I attempted to get closer, however, and managed to get within 200 feet of the stage for a little while. I’ve never been to such a big show before, and the amount of energy in the show was quite amazing. Everybody within a couple hundred feet of the stage was dancing. Not that many Canadians understand Spanish, either — the energy was coming from the music and the crowd itself, not necessarily from the lyrics and showmanship. I really liked being part of the show. Also, the amount of weed smoked all over the crowd at the beginning of the set was impressive.

Like I said, I’ll post pictures soon, and maybe write something about some more general impressions I got from the trip. It had been a while since I’d been to Canada and I’d forgotten some things about it.

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Another Map

Speaking of maps…this one shows my facebook friends’ hometowns. It can’t match a lot of people because they put in non-standard things for their hometowns, and it seems to have an especially difficult time with Canada, but it’s still interesting.

Facebook Friends

Make your own at MapYourBuddies.

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Maps are cool

I ran into a nifty mapblog (or is it maplog?) detailing a congressional trip to Iraq. A mapblog is like a weblog or photoblog, but on a map. I never would have thought of that. It’s kind of neat, though. Check it out.

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