Saturday, August 27, 2005

This morning we got up early and drove in to Ottawa. We managed to navigate the freeway system and get ourselves right downtown. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard in front of the Parliament buildings. Since we didn't get there early enought to get a good spot, we mostly just were able to the backs of other tourists heads, but oh well. We walked around the grounds of the Parliament buildings and saw the locks on the Rideau Canal. We actually watched some crazy canoe/rower guy go through the locks, which are a National Historic Site and have to be cranked open by hand. We went on a guided tour of the interior of the Parliament Buildings, which was great. It was just like it is on TV, except without all the yelling.

After the Parliament Hill stuff, we wandered over to Byward Market and had a look around. It seems that every Canadian City has its own Granville Island type market: Calgary has Eau Claire Market, Winnipeg has the Forks, and Ottawa has Byward Market. We had an excellent lunch at a cafe, and then concluded that we had pretty much seen everything there was to see, so we hit the road and headed for Montreal.

As soon as we crossed the border it was obvious - people in Quebec drive like maniacs! It was about an hour of white knuckle stuff all the way down the freeway and then through Montreal to Chris' house, where we were staying. We are staying with Greg's high school friend Chris, we lives in Montreal and works for DND in aerospace engineering. His Croatian girlfriend, Katja, lives with him. They live sort of near Mont Royal in between St. Laurent and St. Denis on a quiet little street in a converted loft apartment in an old warehouse. It's a pretty cool place.

Chris and Katja took us out on the town tonight. It is nice to be a big city like this with someone who knows where they are going and what is good. And who speaks French! Greg speaks French, but I don't and I feel quite useless. They took us to Swartz's the most famous place in Montreal to get the traditional smoked meat sandwiches. It has been around since the 30s and definitely looks it. We all had big fatty smoked meat sandwiches and pickles. Mmmm. There was a street festival on St. Laurent and it was closed to traffic so we walked all the way downtown and looked at all the booths of people selling stuff. There were tons on teenagers doing Frosh for McGill. It seems strange to think that I'll be starting school soon.

We went to a big bar with a huge open air courtyard thing to have a pitcher. The place was massive - way bigger than any bar at home. It was also full of drunk people singing in French. What is it about us anglais that we don't really seem to have drinking songs?


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