Boys’ weekend in Ottawa: a big lunch and a big walk

Glen and I didn’t make much of the morning, instead lounging in bed and getting up late. All while Rob and Adam went skating again. Freaks!

We took it slower and met Vaughan and Tim for coffee at the Byward Markets at around 10:30. Adam and Rob joined us a little while later.

One very good outcome of Rob and Adam getting up early and going skating was they looked into two possible locations for brunch/lunch. The Fairmont Chateau Laurier was fully booked so they tried our second choice of the Westin. They had a booking available at 12:30 so we went there.

The food here was probably one of the best buffets we’ve ever been to, second only to the one we went to in Iceland, in my opinion. It also wasn’t unreasonably priced so if you’re in Ottawa and want a good buffet, go there.

We rolled out of there a little after one, I think, the decision made to walk across the bridge into Quebec to see the other Winterlude festivities and to check out the Canadian Museum of History.

The walk took us through a snow covered park, the same one we went through when we were here in October. The difference was stark. Then the park and Parliament Hill were covered in red and orange leaves; now everything was white and bare.

We crossed the bridge. About halfway, Vaughan dropped big, heavy chunks of ice onto the snow-covered ice below. They puffed up the snow but made no dent in the ice whatsoever. The whole river, or most of it, was frozen over and covered with snow. You couldn’t see where the river bank ended and the river began. It all just rolled into one.

The Winterlude festivities on the Quebec side of the river were setup like a winter fun park with obstacle courses, snow sculptures and – best of all – ice slides.

We finally settled on one of the slides, jumping into the singles queue, and then sat down in our lane and pushed off. I lay back and picked up a good amount of speed, sliding down the hill on my bum. So much fun! We all had a go, each with varying speeds (I beat Glen though).

The Museum of History was next, something I had wanted to see but in the end, should have saved for another time when I wasn’t so tired. Vaughan and Tim had already been so they sat down and we said our farewells as they were catching the train back soon.

Glen, Adam, Rob and I then checked out a few of the galleries. It was an uphill battle. All of us were weary and not quite in museum mode. We found out the answer to the question, “Where does the word Canada come from?” We’d asked it of each other earlier in the day and were pleased to have the answer, which is:

Canada comes from the Wendat word kanata, meaning population or village.

Aren’t you glad you know that now? Also, Toronto is generally believed to be a Huron word that means “a place of meeting.” Ottawa means to trade.

After zooming through the First Nations gallery, we then went to the special Vodou (or voodoo) exhibition. It was interesting but about halfway through, our brains and bodies rebelled. No more. We collected our coats soon after then walked back across the bridge to our hotels.

Glen and I collected our luggage and went to Rob and Adam’s hotel, the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which looks like a castle. We sat in their bar area, called Zoe’s, with Rob, having a drink and some bar snacks. Adam had gone out for another skate.

It was good to sit. The service, however, was not good. Our waitress forgot our waters, despite being asked twice. She then went off shift and apparently another server was supposed to look after us. I waved down a waiter and asked for the waters, which finally came. We were then left alone for the rest of our time there, which was probably another hour.

Our table kept its empty glasses and we weren’t offered a second drink. You’d think at a hotel chain that goes for the prestige market, you’d train your staff better. I hope our stay at Fairmont Lake Louise isn’t disappointing.

Rob and Adam’s flight was delayed twice and would now be leaving after us. We all caught the bus to the airport together, which takes about the same length of time as a taxi but is a tenth of the price.

Unfortunately, when we got there, they weren’t able to get on our flight. We all went for a quick bite to eat after going through security. Glen and I wolfed our food down and then went to catch the plane. We were some of the last passengers to board and the plane was full.

The flight was short, the shuttle bus was waiting for us when we got off the ferry and we were home before 10:30.

The whole weekend has been great. Glen and I haven’t been on my trips with friends but I have to say it’s been wonderful. That makes two awesome trips to Ottawa. And people say it’s a boring town!

What do you say, eh?

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