Houston, the ice sculptures have melted.

February 22, 2009 at 10:43 pm | Posted in canada, food, life, wine | 3 Comments

This weekend Jenny and I took a nice trip to Ottawa to see what was left of Winterlude. The only ice sculptures we saw were half melted and falling apart, but we had a nice time anyway. Due to leaving late and rearranging our plans on the fly, we didn’t get to skate on the Rideau canal. Next time.

Instead we had very good, long, relaxed dinner at Le Twist across the river in Gatineau. It was very good, but it wasn’t great. I don’t even know if I would expend energy to go back there. Its looks were nothing special, and the lamb burgers, though tasty, were a bit small. That being said, I certainly wouldn’t avoid the place if we were in the neighborhood again.

I think part of why my experience was so good was that Jenny and I were kind of snipping at each other all day, having left later than we’d planned and being hungry, and when we got there and relaxed and had a glass of wine and some food in our tummies, everything just got better. We started talking easier and laughing more, and it finally felt like we were on a little vacation together.

And though the food was slow to come, the appetizer was quick, and our waitress was nice and formally served our bottle of wine. It was an Argentinian red wine, a Marcus James Tempranillo; I don’t remember the vintage. A nice wine. Nothing to write home about (though apparently good enough to blog about), but I will look for it at the wine shop next time we go.

The Tombs Of Eternity exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization was pretty cool, as was the accompanying IMAX film about the mummies. Then we hung out at By Ward Square market, found our new favorite Irish pub, the Heart And Crown, and had dinner at our favorite sushi place, Wasabi.

All in all, a nice break from the day to day, or for that matter, the week to week.

Christmas in Montreal

December 30, 2007 at 5:22 pm | Posted in canada, food, life | 3 Comments

The most wonderful time of the year. Well, it was pretty darn good. We had family over for Thanksgiving (Part 1, Part 2), so this holiday was fairly low key, just the two of us. We got presents for each other, and we got presents from generous relatives. I’m a little upset since some of our presents for them haven’t gone out yet due to shipping delays. One package’s tracking information shows as having arrived at Syracuse on 12/20 on its way here, and it just stopped there. The company offered to send a new one, but I would think they’d rather find out where the old one went to?! Anyway, that’s a different story.

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at home hanging out and playing games. Jenny got me a model kit with three different Starship Enterprises! That will be fun.

The following two days were spent in Montreal! That was a nice trip. Highlights include a nice basic room at Auberge le jardin d’Antoine (complete with a nice last-minute-online-booking discount!), fantastic crepes across the street at Cafe Croissant De Lune, stupendous vegetarian Vietnamese food at Chu Chai (well, Chuch, actually), dessert at Juliette & Chocolat, visits to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Écomusée du fier monde, and last but not least, the discovery of Cafe Pi! They sell fair trade coffee and organic desserts, and they have a lot of chess sets available. Two people were playing when we went in. I’m rather rusty with my chess personally. But the idea is still great. I got a shirt and a mug! Oh, and Jenny got a fancy arty tea cup at a boutique named ARTHÉ. She adores it, and it’s so her.

It was a good trip. If you want to go to a foreign country where they speak a different language, it’s a pretty easy introduction. French is the first language spoken there, but in the big city of Montreal, just about everyone is bilingual except for the English-only speakers. Everyone starts speaking French, but after it’s evident you don’t speak French, they automatically switch to English. Having said that, I’m told it’s generally appreciated if you make some effort. I do the minimum of, when someone starts speaking to me in French, I look vaguely apologetic and say, “Je ne parle pas français,” (I don’t speak French) and if they can speak English, they do. I also say oui, s’il vous plaît, merci, … yeah, that’s about it. But I’m told a little effort smooths the wheels, and we had no problems. I was a little apprehensive at first, but I’m much more relaxed about going to Montreal. I do plan on learning a little more French. And I think it would be fun to understand a bit more French than I let on; maybe I can catch someone talking about me behind my back in front of me.


May 6, 2007 at 3:25 pm | Posted in canada, life | 3 Comments

This weekend, Jenny was supposed to visit her friend in Boston. Delta airlines started running flights from a local smallish airport to Boston. She’d have landed there at 8am Saturday, and been back home by 9:30pm Sunday.

Well, the flight was coming from another local airport, but it was busted in some way. It was delayed for 2 hours, then the mechanic never showed up. Then all the people from the other airport (where the busted plane was) were trucked over to Syracuse to be rebooked on different flights, leaving Jenny and the others at her airport cooling their heels for hours more.

In the mean time, I wake up from my nap (I drove Jenny to the airport at 4am), check my messages and find out what’s going on. It’s mid morning now, and I figure she’s getting hungry, so I pack up some leftovers, get her a medium decaf hot tea with milk and Splenda on the side from Dunkin Donuts, and make the 45 minute drive again. I switched out the CDs in my trucklet, and brought my iPod with podcasts of Science Friday (thanks, Edz!) for the trip. Of course I called on the way to check the status of her flight to make sure the plane didn’t arrive in the middle of my preparations. Sure enough, she was still stuck.

So I arrive to Jenny knitting angrily, and her audience of fellow disaffected travellers and TSA agents hearing about how amazing a husband I am. After she enjoys her lunch, the guy at the terminal, who has been on hold with Delta on and off for hours, says that they’re supposedly going to take off at 3pm. Jenny demands her money back, since she’s flying right back tomorrow afternoon, and surprise surprise she gets it! They refunded a non-refundable ticket. Ok, Delta could have should have handled it better, but at least we weren’t completely screwed. Jenny called her friend in Boston to give her the bad news, and her friend jokingly suggested we go into Canada since we were right on the border and halfway to Ottawa anyway.

Hmm …

So to make a long story short (too late!) I seized the opportunity to save the day, and whisked Jenny off to Ottawa for the day. We hit our favorite thrift store, bummed around the Byward Square Market all afternoon, and had super sushi for dinner and fried ice cream for dessert at Wasabi Japanese Restaurant And Sushi Bar. I also got a Pac-Man belt buckle, and Jenny got a pretty henna tattoo. The only bummer of the day was that the henna ended up not taking to her skin. Either it was bad/old henna, or the people gave her bad instructions.

It was a great day, and the bad flight experience was all but erased.

Now, I go back to work. Back here in the real world, it’s the last week of the semester, and I’m super busy again.

It was a great escape for a day, though.

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