In Ottawa, for the second day, in a very overpriced hotel. Usually you get what you pay for, but this time, not much. We thought we were getting a suite with kitchenette for $200/night, but no, just a room with a bed and two not comfy chairs. I'm getting over a major dissappointment, and making do. After all, we are very lucky to have this opportunity, so I put a pillow on the clothes rack, pulled a not comfy chair facing the window and now have my feet up and typing. "Making do" at $200/night is simply wrong, but...so for lunch we cruised into the Byward Market to buy some bread, which was a fresh loaf, cloud soft on the inside and chewy on the outside, with cheese and olives mixed in. I could eat it all on its own, but we had a pat of butter (from the bakery), and goats milk cheese, and havarti with it. The cheeses need to be eaten, as the room also lacks a fridge, although with an outside temperature sitting at -20C, the stone window ledge is doing a fine job keeping things cool. And then there's the eggnog that we got for Christmas and brought along for the ride. It's the real thing, with alcohol, so I'm trying to portion out a little in a large water glass. Randy is having more. Well, the car is hidden away with valet parking--no problem there. This, and cantaloupe is our after skate evening meal. We were out all day long, so it's nice just to stay in.
We started the day with just a walk, exploring Ottawa, from Parliament Hill to a tour down Sussex Drive. We did not get so far as 24 Sussex, I think we reached 260. We did see the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, that looked like it had been time-warped in from some warmer time and place. We walked along the Ottawa River back up to the National Gallery of Canada. Beautiful scenery and the ice was covered with a web of "dog" tracks that converged against the shelter of a cliff far below. I doubt a pack of domestic dogs made these tracks, so it's wolves or coyotes that roam the ice at night. Parliament Hill has tame chickadees. Must remember to bring some food next time.
We wrapped things up for the morning at Parliament Hill. I was humiliated once again at the security check. Thank goodness I'd learned my lesson two years ago in Fredericton and left my rather large camp knife behind this time. I don't think it would have been treated with the same mild amusement it met back in New Brunswick. No, this time it was my multiple layers of winter gear.
"Could you take your jacket off maam."
"this one? how about this one? And the vest too? I have more."
"Could you empty your pockets maam?"
"Um..." I was wearing four pairs of pants, and I can't remember which ones have pockets. The wind pants have spare kleenex within, and yep, that too has to go in the bucket, and my jacket has, worse, used tissue inside, because it's cold enough to make your nose run like a tap, so that too had to come out into the light of day, along with my hat, my earmuffs, and my belt. In Randy's knapsack was a loaf of bread, yep, the aforementioned aromatic loaf of bread plus a full set of plastic cutlery we had esconsed from the bakery to make up for the lack of kitchenette.
It took us fifteen minutes to get ourselves together again.
The parliament is awesome in the proper sense of the word, full of vaulted stone and intricate relief carvings and crowds of gargoyles. The windows are gothic, some of them stained. The library was rich with the thick smell of books-- I inhaled deeply to make the most of the experience.
This was followed by a quick lunch in our room and then out again to go skating. This time we used the heated interior of the change huts for getting our skates on. What a luxury that, being -20C outside, and when I report temperatures, I do not include the windchill, which shouldn't be counted anyway unless you are naked in the wind. I was far from naked. I was still wearing my four pairs of pants, but my cheeks got nicely nipped as we skated the open stretch across Dows Lake. I did manage not to face plant on the ice. The sun was going down, so the world was peach coloured. A raven flew low overhead. I said "hello". The raven said, "gronk gronk" and carried on.
I'm enjoying our city holiday very much, spending more time out of doors since our September camping trip. It feels very good in winter, at any temperature, to feel the sun on my face, and very good to have the sky overhead for so many long hours at once.