Mont Tremblant, Ottawa and the World Series

Trip Start Oct 08, 2013
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Trip End Nov 18, 2013


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Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday morning meant we were leaving Montreal. I did the driving and this meant that Gabe could click away on the camera.

We went up to Mont Tremblant which is a well known ski resort. Along the way, we passed a number of smaller ski mountains with clear trails prepared for snow. As we approached Mont Tremblant, you could see snow right at the top as well as along some of the tops of the trails. The village was very quiet but I think in about a month's time it will be bustling and snow covered. Its one of the more prestigious and expensive resorts in Canada with boutiques, 5 star hotels and well appointed condominiums around the place...very nice. Fur coats, gucci ski gear (that would never hit the slopes) and apre skiing would be the norm I'd suggest.

Lunch was in the village of Mont Tremblant....and its as though we have landed in France. I think we were the only ones speaking english. The only thing reminding us that we were in Canada were the canadian flags outnumbering the flags from other countries. I think they just tolerated us and took our money...very french some would say!

We hit the road again and have stern words with Miss Garmin who sent us on a wild goose chase for petrol to an address that didn't sell petrol...not happy. The weather was colder and there was rain when we arrived in Ottawa during peak hour traffic. Of course, roadworks blocked our way and we took a number of detours. We finally arrived at Auberge McGee's Inn and were warmly greeted by the owner. The home was a lovely historic building with interesting decorations, artefacts and antiques in every room. We were 'upgraded' for free to the biggest suite with spa, etc. I think the owner, Jason, took pity on us. I must admit I cringed at some of the photos of the rooms on line when booking the place, as they were so not me...victorian themed, lace, georgian or elizabethan decor...french colonial....ugh!

However, the eclectic mix worked on so many levels. Words that come to mind were: charming, quaint, inspirational even as some of the ordinary pieces around the place brought their own character and uniqueness to the setting. Again, the photos don't translate the feelings or atmosphere that the disparate pieces seemed to generate.

That night we watched the Red Sox play at Fenway Park and I started catching up on my writing...and as you know, the Red Sox won the World Series! Whenever I'd worn my red sox jersey on the trip so far, they'd won so I was feeling pretty chuffed.

Thursday was raining and cold and we cancelled our guided walking tour. Our breakfast was delicious and gets us off on a good start.

Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and the number of old buildings was very cool. I think there were also buildings that were made to look old or older than they really were. The canadian history was all around and in some ways, similar to ours and yet, so different in others. The number of museums and art galleries, etc meant that we couldn't see all.

Byward Market was about a 10 minute walk away from where we were staying.This is an area consisting of a number of street blocks of open air markets, food halls, shops, cafes, bars and restaurants. We were a bit early (most things open at 10am-other than the fruit and vege shops), so we decided to walk towards Rideau Canal. It started to drizzle and then it started to rain as we took in the views.

A miserable day to be honest. It was a day to be indoors, curled up with a good book, a cup of tea, sitting on that comfy chair looking out of that bay window with music in the background. But here we were, strolling along the main road, walking around the grounds of Parliament Hill, looking and reading the plaques explaining sculptures, or the significance of same, taking photos in the rain, and looking for things to do indoors! Our only day in Ottawa and we were keen to see as much as possible.

Ah! Free tours inside Parliament House. That meant being out of the cold and rain-lets do it! We walked in, shook off the rain, went through security and were told that the tours started after 1pm as the Senate was sitting. However, there was a small self guided tour that we could do.

We took the lift up the Peace Tower, which is a national landmark, and were rewarded with 360 degree views around the city of Ottawa. Even though it was raining, a bit foggy and grey, it was beautiful...in a London, foggy day kind of a way. The tower and surrounding buildings looked as though they were built centuries ago as they were of the gothic style with beautiful stone carvings, with gargoyles, grotesques and friezes and a copper top which had gone that lovely green colour...(called patina)...fantastic.

We were allowed into the Senate chamber to listen to the debate...and the issues sounded vaguely familiar....something about repayment of expenses being inapproproately claimed, cover ups, ministers who should resign...sigh...democracy at its finest.

Anyways, we learnt that in the peace tower there were two other features of national significance and our timing was impeccable. One of these was the memorial chamber, which honours all of the canadian service men and women who died in all wars and conflict. Their names are listed in seven Books of Remembrance. Every day, at 11am since 1942, there is a ceremony to turn the pages of each book. A calendar has been developed to make sure that each page of each book is changed once a year. There is a whole rather sombre and respectful ceremony and we were able to observe same.

Then at 12 noon, we were able to listen the the Peace Tower Carillon...fancy name for some very fancy bells. It always starts with the national anthem. From September to June, there is a 15 minute program and the official Dominion Carilloneur (fancy name for the official bell player..not ringer as you don't ring these bells) sets out the program. Can you imagine listening to the usual 'old' or classical type tunes that one may expect..but she has been known to play...Harry Potter? Puff the Magic Dragon? Songs from The Little Mermaid? Music from Gilbert & Sullivan? I am disappointed that we won't be there when she plays plays some Joni Mitchell tunes for Joni Mitchell's birthday.

Standing outside in the rain, in the park, huddled under an umbrella, trying to figure out whether we recognised any of the tunes...not something we planned or scheduled for! Didn't recognise anything after O Canada! Gabe blamed the slightly out of tune bells...I'm just convinced our knowledge of classical, medieval music wasn't extensive enough.

After that we trudged off to look at Rideau Canal. Did you know that between January and March, when the canal is frozen over, people skate on it to go from place to place? It becomes a skateway, and goes for over 7km through town...that would definitely improve my skating if I had to skate to work.

Oh...if you were wondering...yes my feet were cold as now they were cold as well as wet.....problem resolved with acquisition of appropriate footwear!

We head back to the market and have a moroccan meal for lunch. The hot and tasty food and mint tea was appreciated. We bought some more maple syrup and will be taste testing when we get back home to compare US and Canadian maple syrup.

After that we called it an early day and head back to the Inn. Friday was going to be a big driving day as we head onto Toronto.
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