It was nice not to have to get up early, break camp and head out early in the morning. We have two nights here in Ottawa, giving us a full day to explore the city. It is a Saturday, so it is even better. Of course we had rain overnight, but it wasn’t raining yet, even though the temperature was in the 40’s. We quickly got to town, in fact we almost missed the exit, it was so close. First task was to get free tickets for a tour of parliament, then we walked around parliament hill. There is currently a 10-year restoration in progress for the main historic buildings, so you could see some of the restored changes and compare to the weathered look of some of the older buildings.
After taking some photos of the Peace Tower we walked to the riverfront and then to Rideau Canal to watch some boats go through the locks. Further along was the Museum of Art and this wild spider sculpture (reminded me of one mentioned in Dan Brown’s Origin, but that one was in Bilbao, Spain.) Not much farther along was the very cool Byward Market – several blocks of restaurants, bars, shops and lots of farmer’s market stalls. Since it was Saturday, it got increasingly busy. We did manage to grab some delicious pastries and farther along opted for a sandwich and mocha at Starbucks. It was still chilly and partly cloudy, so the coffee was good.
Back to the Peace Tower for our tour of parliament. We got to see the Canadian version of the House and Senate and the Library of Parliament and learned a lot about the constitutional monarchy and the role that Queen Elizabeth still plays in this country, part of the UK. Interesting contrast to the government buildings we saw on our trip to Washington (Capital and Library of Congress).
Lots of photos of stone buildings (gallery below), but it was all so very interesting. We finished the day with a search for the special Christmas yarn at our second Wal-Mart stop, but no luck. Wal-Mart 2, Jackie 0. I also stopped off at the Small Pony Barrelworks for just two more tastes of the sours while working on the blog. A nice grilled steak finished off the evening as we awaited yet another night of rain (?). Up early tomorrow for a short drive to Montreal, making camp and heading into the city all in one day. Should be fun.
Indeed, it only took us just over 2 hours to reach our KOA outside Montreal, a nice clean spot with many open sites. We got Kodi and Merlin situated, unhitched the car yet again and drove in to Montreal. Let me warn you if you are traveling to this city, there is major road construction on the way in and on many of the city streets. Allow yourself plenty of time. Fortunately it was Sunday.
We kind of felt like we were in an episode of the Amazing Race, since everything in Quebec is in French. At least in Ontario you had both English and French on signs. Not that we find the directional signs exactly plentiful here in Canada. So we are quickly translating the English approximation for scenic drive, detour, stop, no turn on red, yield … that sort of then, plus still trying to see what 100 kph translates to (maybe 62 mph?) Closer to the city we were on a wide detour that dropped us in downtown, but there were police lights flashing all around us. What the heck? Get this … a motorcycle rally was riding through. – exactly where we wanted to be Lots of police, closed streets and, well, you know our luck and motorcycle rallies. We scooted around it and found a parking spot and started off on foot in Old Montreal.
The first “must see” building is the Basilica Notre-Dame de Montreal. Once through the line, we were treated with a beautiful sanctuary. Impressive design.
We continued on along the cobbled streets, heading downhill toward the waterfront. Montreal is along the St. Lawrence River and there is quite a lot of shopping, restaurants, museums and recreation along the waterfront. While the flowers and artists and shops were colorful and inviting, we were on a mission to find some sort of pub to get something good to eat and drink. Aha! Jackie found a spot hidden under one of the old stone waterfront buildings called “Pub BreWskey” Sounds like our kinda place. Well it was perfect. Intimate, warm (it was a chilly day for sure) and lots of beer on tap. We ordered two flights from sours to ambers to lagers and a peanut butter stout. They added a special “weekend-only” variant of one of the beers, complimentary, which was cool.
Food-wise this was a treat. We ordered two cups of beer cheese soup and split a grilled cheese with skirt steak sandwich, and as you can see by the picture, it was a pretty big portion. The cheese soup was the best we have ever tasted and the sandwich — yum. Melted cheese and steak on a crusty French bread, plus smashed potatoes that were really more like home fries soaked in bacon grease and then fried. Perfect with the beer.
After that meal it was time to walk the several blocks back to the car and find our way home. This direction we didn’t hit the construction detours, so we made better time. Wait…. there is a Wal-Mart. Must stop and check for the special yarn. Ooops. Wal-Mart: 3, Jackie: 0, since the store was closed (early on Sundays!) Darn. Back in camp we took the dog for a walk, listened to Merlin complain and put our feet up. Tomorrow is another short run, as we cross the border back into the US and find our way to Grand Isle, Vermont. We have to dump and fill with fresh water, as we are going to be without electric and water for a week now.
Thanks for following along. More to come on the journey, as we cross back into the US.