Sunday, November 17, 2013

A weekend in Ottawa

Last weekend we went to Ottawa on a whim. We needed a change in scenery, a little escape from our daily routine and surroundings. We like it in Ottawa, there is a great bakery there, the Byward Market, a few friends that we had not seen in ages and overall, and a different vibe that makes it a great destination for our little family. The city was getting ready for Veterans' Day, so there was a festive yet solemn feeling in the air. It was pretty cold, and we could sense that we were going to see the first snow of the year while there.
Don't mind me, I'm just hanging on this branch with my friend the owl
Saturday started with a walk along the Parliament buildings and on the pedestrian paths that were pretty deserted this early in the day.

We went for breakfast at the Moulin de Provence, where we "sampled" a few desserts and pastries, Continental Style, followed by coffee: Tim Hortons for hubbs, Starbucks for me and Yanis because YOLO, if you were to listen to my son. The sugar overdose had just begun. We returned to the hotel and decided on our next destination, Altitude Gym, a short drive to Gatineau across the river. We weren't quite sure what we'd find there, but from the magazine pictures, it looked like fun. And we were going to climb walls.
Once we got there, however, we felt really intimidated seeing Spiderman-like people with fancy shoes swinging their way across colourful and frightening tall walls. We weren't quite sure what we got ourselves into, but we signed our lives away and paid for a "fun" activity called Clip 'n Climb. We only waited for a few minutes, then we had to attend an orientation meeting, at the end of which we were given harnesses to wear around our legs and waist. We discovered that the Clip 'n Climb activity was in a different part of the gym, that looked nothing like the "traditional" climbing walls that we saw when we arrived.
That was more like it! If the kids can do it, so should I (I was wrong, by the way). The video sure makes it look like a LOT of fun, doesn't it! (I did not see this beforehand)

But after a few minutes of climbing, I was ready to cry. My arms and hands were screaming in pain!! The first wall that I tried was the green and purple one with rotating holds and zero grip on them. I gave up after a few minutes. But decided to have fun no matter what, I went after easier walls. But they all required upper body strength to hold onto them and quickly realized how little I had. I was happy that my kids and husband were not struggling as much as me, at least they could take advantage of every minute that I was spending in a corner massaging my fingers. They could rest assured, they had no competition in me. The hour went by slow enough for me to try most of the walls and end with a leap of faith from the top of the wiggly pillars. That, my friends, was the culmination of this weekend. I climbed, and climbed and I reached the end of the damn pillars, but by then I was ready to pee my pants. I could feel so much FEAR and it was not comfortable. It was making my insides shake. My legs and hands were shaking too. The higher the pillars, the shakier they were too.
The Towering Inferno
I am glad that Zin took this picture of me because I don't think I'll ever go up there again. But I did it once and I feel a lot of pride for going out of my comfort zone like that.
We all agreed that we'd have to come back sometime (now I need to look into similar places in the GTA). Outside, it had started snowing.

We went back to Byward Market where we met with one of our friends for a late lunch/early dinner. It was almost 3pm by then. We settled on the Fish Market restaurant. We had mussels and fries, and we all ordered a different kind with the intention of sharing, but in the end we didn't because we all liked our choice too much to give it up. After stuffing ourselves with mussels, we returned to the bakery for desserts. More sampling ensued. After a while, we decided to put an end to our gluttony and head back to the hotel. I was slipping in a food coma, walking slowly, trying not to puke. I was not proud of my antics. Even though I did not have a big quantity of food when you think about it, the wide variety of sweets, especially when not used to them, and the repeat performance had put an end to my tolerance for sugar that day. All I wanted was to lie down and wait for my stomach to decide that it had punished me enough.

So we headed back to our hotel room and while the boys decided to have fun around the pool, I went to the sauna. 3 times 10 minutes, with a dip in the not-so-hot tub in between. It was really good, it was exactly what I needed. Calm, quiet and sweaty. Thankfully nobody came to chat, I was really not in the mood!
Aaaaaahhhhhhhh, that's more like it
A few hours later, guess what, we were hungry again. How was that possible?? Wait, sugar, quickly gone. Alright, next then. It had to be within walking distance, and there weren't many choices that were fitting in our budget. We ended at a little Thai place where we had Tom Yum soup and shared a pad thai. Both very decent, it was a good choice. Fast service, fast dinner, happy belleh at last. Back at the hotel, we bought a pay per view movie, Red 2, and we all watched and laughed a lot. Family time wise, this was all that we had asked for.

Next morning we all agreed that we would not go back to the bakery. That was enough stomach ache for the weekend and as a matter of fact, it was at that moment that I decided to clean up my diet. Seeing how much this little excess cost me health wise, I figured that I should not put my body through this regimen any time soon. Anyway, we had breakfast in a place called Eggspectation and as you may have guessed, we had eggs. Outside it was still cold, but also raining. Not very pleasant for a walk or any outdoor activity as a matter of fact. I had planned to go geocaching, but the motivation was slipping away with each minute. Eventually we called it a day and we decided to head back home since we still had a 5h drive ahead of us. Quite a workout in itself, it always is.

Speaking of which, we arrived home exactly at 7pm, which gave us enough time for a spin on the trainer before bed. In the end, a great weekend, with new and exciting memories made and a good time had by all. I can't wait to do it again, minus the sweets binge. Lesson learned!


  1. Looks like such a fun weekend! What a great idea to just go like that. Way to go on getting up those pillars, I would be scared too. We have an indoor rock climbing place by my house but it looks more like the first pictures. The times I've taken my boys there I've been on the ground clipped in to them. No scaling walls for me! Thanks for sharing!

  2. The Parliament buildings are awesome! Is the Mayor of Toronto a hero or cartoon character to the fine people where you live. On the news, he's coming off as a boob, but sometimes the media paints you a lot differently than the locals view you. Just curious.

    1. Jim, I really wish I had an "explanation" for this buffoon. He's stupid, inept, uneducated, bully, delusional, egotistical, drug and alcohol addict, wife beater, and quite possibly involved in murder. Just today, he compared the council stripping him of power to Saddam invading Kuwait. He hasn't done anything good for the city, all people I know hate him. I have no idea who elected him, or they are too hypocritical to recognize they f*d up. It's such a mess, I have no idea what's going to happen next. Every day is like a new comedy show, but rather tragicomic. Vice had a great article on him the other day:

  3. Those pictures of Ottawa are gorgeous! That is some place I would love to go some day. Well there is lots of Canada I would like to see...I've never been.

    That video did make those walls look like so much fun, but I can totally see where it would be crazy hard. I have zero upper body strength so I probably wouldn't have managed to even scale one of the walls.

    I had a terrible eating least you just had a weekend :)