Jul. 3, 2005

There and Back Again (Ottawa that is)

I'm in the middle of a long weekend right now, and just back from a swimming workout and short sun tanning session at the local pool. Its been a great weekend so far, but tiring. From here on it will be easy going though.

On Friday Sheryl and I drove out to Ottawa hoping to get there in time to check out the National Gallery's Renaissance in Florence exhibition. It's a five hour drive, but we took time en-route to drop by my parent's home in Cobourg and introduce Sheryl to them. That added two hours to our journey so we didn't get to our motel until about 7:00 PM and a gallery visit was out of the question. We were booked into a modest hotel at the edge of town because everything, and I mean everything, was booked solid for Canada Day.

After unpacking we headed back into town along the scenic Rideau Canal to find a restaurant in Byward Market, a historic area full of restaurants and shops. The Market was packed with people wearing red in honour of Canada Day and heading toward Parliament Hill. We wandered around looking for a few restaurants that had been recommended to us until I spotted a french restaurant I'd eaten at many years ago called Clair de Lune. I remembered how good it was and that was one decision made. Afterward we decided to follow the crowd up to Parliament Hill for the fireworks, which were now just minutes away from starting. We found ourselves in front of the National Gallery (unfortunately closed) in the perfect spot and enjoyed a great show in the centre of an enormous crowd. It took us almost two hours to get to our car and back to our motel though.

Saturday we had a big agenda, starting right back where we had been the previous evening. We spent the morning in the National Gallery, lunched there and then walked over to the Rideau Canal for a stroll along the lift locks and a drink on the Chateau Laurier terrace. Then it was across the Ottawa River to visit the Canadian Museum of Civilization where an exhibition on Pompei is on display until the Fall. Back in the car at 6:00 PM and back in our own beds by 11:00 PM that night. I had an early start to face the next day, as I was planning to watch the French Grand Prix on TV with a friend at 8:00 AM. Sheryl however could sleep in as long as her dog Barkley allowed.

Sheryl was very impressed with Ottawa's parks and institutions. I have to admit it's a really pleasant town to visit and packed with cultural attractions. The worst part was repeatedly finding ourselves on the wrong side of the canal or river. The Ottawa roads are pretty confusing. Maybe we'll head back again with a bit more time at our disposal. Note to self: avoid Ottawa on Canada Day unless fireworks mean everything to you.

I'll add some photos to this post tomorrow, so come back for a second look.

Just a quick note about this morning's French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. Not a very interesting race this time. Most of the passing happened during pit stops. Fernando Alonso, who leads the championship, started on the pole and his Renault easily pulled away from the pack. I thought it might be explained by a light fuel load, but he refueled at the same time as everyone else. A discouraging prospect for his rivals! Kimi Raikkonen had trouble in qualifying and had to replace his engine, which results in a ten place penalty these days. Although he started thirteenth instead of third Kimi was the only driver to make significant gains on the track and ended the race in second place. I wonder if he'd have been able to challenge Alonso if he'd started higher on the grid. Canadian driver Jacques Villeneuve managed to get into the points too. His team, Sauber, has just been bought by BMW and will have much more money behind it next year. If he can keep his ride he might even find himself on the podium again some day. Track temperature was 51C! That must have made the tire manufacturers nervous.

Listening to: Beautiful Day by U2 from The Best Of 1990-2000.

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