February 17, 2008

Winterlude 2008...

The first few weeks of February in Ottawa brings along Winterlude, which is like a scaled down version of Carnival in Quebec. The canal opens for skating, there are free concerts, ice carving competitions, and all sorts of outdoor activities in the freezing cold Ottawa winter.

Ever since I was little I wanted to go skating on the Rideau Canal, which until this year was the longest outdoor skating rink in the world (the title now belongs to Winnipeg). They let several kilometres of the canal freeze, including Dows Lake, and they open it up for skating. There are a few places along the canal to rent skates, buy Beaver Tails (fried dough and sugar), hot chocolate, coffee, and other snacks.
There's also an ice carving competition, with people from around the world who do some amazing things with blocks of ice. Really amazing stuff.
This sculpture was done by somebody from Thailand.

And this one represents the landing of Jacques Cartier in Quebec City 400 years ago (this year is the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City).

February 04, 2008

I just got back to Ottawa after a few days in Montreal. At law school, we have a January term which lasts three weeks, then a week break, then a winter term from February to April. So I went to Montreal for a few days with a friend at the end of the break.
On Friday we met up with a friend of mine that I worked with at Parliament a few years back, and she took us for lunch at Les 3 Brasseurs (for poutine and beer!), then to a cool tea shop on Rue St-Denis. The tea shop had nice couches and pillows, with Moroccan and Asian decor, and really good mint tea. We wandered along St-Denis a bit, then headed to her place for dinner.
Saturday we had lunch at the famous Schwartz's, where they've got the best Montreal smoked meat sandwiches. It wasn't too busy, so we only had to line up for a few minutes outside before getting a table to share with four other people. The sandwiches were about 6cm (2inches) thick with smoked meat, and a light spread of mustard. Mmmmmm...
Then we headed to the Biodome, which is near the Olympic Stadium for the 1976 Summer Olympics. The Biodome houses four distinct climates (tropical, Laurentian forest, Laurentian maritime, and polar), each with plants and animals from the region that you can walk through (including the two porcupines in the tree below). We did some second hand book shopping (lots of great places for cheap, used French books all over Montreal -I bought some Baudelaire and Verlaine), then walked along Ste-Catherine. We had dinner at a cool little Tibetan place that did great momos and lentil soup.
Sunday we had a late breakfast and a bit more shopping before leaving Montreal in the early afternoon to head back to Ottawa.