Winterlude 2008

Ottawa Travel Blog

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Visability during the storm

We arrived in Ottawa on Thursday, the first time we have arrived somewhere while it's still been light and what a difference it made! We found our hostel with relative ease, got settled in then found a fantastic pub which did food that we could BOTH enjoy! For the first 3 weekends in February, Ottawa hold the biggest Winter festival in North America, called Winterlude, and we timed our visit well so that we will get to see 2 weekends worth before we move on (we have to stay a while before going over the border to avoid the US visa!). Almost everyone told us that Ottawa was so dull and boring, and it might be normally, but so far we have had a great time! The people are friendly, we've had some lovely inexpensive meals out, and most activities have been free! Can't ask for more than that in my book!

 

Much of Ontario and Quebec were engulfed by 'The Storm' on Friday which we were warned about repeatedly.

Winterlude!
Everyone we met wanted to tell us about this awful storm that would hit during the afternoon and deposit over 30cm of snow throughout the night. We decided to leave the hostel on Friday lunchtime and ended up in the middle of it which was stupid. We didn't really know where we were going and tried to make our way back with the wind blowing snow directly in our eyes. It made it a very slow journey and we vowed never to leave the hostel again. Ever.

 

Thankfully the next morning was much better, lovely blue sky but the road gritters had not been out much and it was still quite a mission to get anywhere! However, our guide to Winterlude said there was a free pancake breakfast with hot chocolate, and we were not about to let that pass! Suitably fed and watered we walked/slid down the road to the Nature Museum as it was free admission before midday.

Eating beavertails
We watched a lovely programme about dung beetles on their giant telly, then one about polar bears eating seals. The toddler next to us squealed with laughter as the bear walked away from it's meal, saying 'look its face is COVERED in blood!!' Being the capital, Ottawa has many of the countries biggest museums, we are looking forward to the Museum of Civilisation as so many people have told us that it is excellent.

 

Each Winter, the Rideau Canal through the centre of Ottawa become frozen and turns into the world's longest skate rink at 7.8 kilometres (4.8 miles). Yesterday we walked just over half the length, actually on the ice, and ate beavertails from the stands constructed along it's length! A beavertail is like a flat doughnut with topping on like sugar or chocolate spread, it was very nice! We are planning on skating along it one day this week, the hostel has a whole box of skates which you can just borrow.

One of the ice sculptures
I HATE ice skating, it scares me stupid but it's one of those things I'm going to have to do I suppose. It was so strange seeing children who look like they are only just walking age, skating along with such confidence. There was even a tiny toddler with training skates clipped to his shoes which had double blades on for stability! One of the Winterlude sites has ice sculptures and sculptures at work which is amazing. We haven't seen them working on them yet, but the finished sculptures are unbelievable. Unfortunately when we went yesterday, the sun was directly on them and pieces which had taken many days work were starting to melt.

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Visability during the storm
Visability during the storm
Winterlude!
Winterlude!
Eating beavertails
Eating beavertails
One of the ice sculptures
One of the ice sculptures
The same place next morning!
The same place next morning!
Ottawa
photo by: stacey72