It seems that I have been neglecting both my photo taking and blogging the past few days so I will attempt to catch up with both right now. I've just had my travel vaccinations for China and I'm feeling a few different side effects including being very groggy and having a sore arm so if none of the following post makes sense then blame it on the concoction of diseases that have just been injected into my arms. Without further ado I shall proceed to tell you all about the fun filled three days that I have had:
Day 114 -
I awoke today and felt an urge to get out in the sun as cabin fever was beginning to set in. I went for a long walk around downtown Ottawa, exploring some side streets that I hadn't been down before and trying to stay away from the main streets that were crowded with tourists. I eventually ended up near the Notre Dame Basilica and from there I went on a route around the back of the Royal Mint, through various parks which were lovely in their autumn colours, up to lookout point which afforded me brilliant views over Ottawa and across to Gatineau, then down by the locks which lead to the Rideau Canal.
I must have spent about four hours on my trip out and hunger set in eventually so I made my way back to the hostel for some food. The evening started out in what has become the norm; sitting on the front porch with a few beers, chatting and listening to music. After a few hours I got the need to dance and it just so happened that Katherine and Karine, two of the hostel staff were all dressed up ready to go out so I went with them to a bar called The Liquor Store. (really - it wasn't just us stood in the liquor store partying, honest) There we danced until the club shut and it was very hot but the tunes were good and everyone had a great time.
When we got back to the hostel at about 2am we all sat out on the porch again until about half four, eating, drinking and chatting before we called it a night and I headed up to bed.
Day 115 -
Today was the day after the night before and all the dancing (read: drinking) had taken it out of me so I decided to have a nice relaxing day and chill out at the hostel. I lazed about and spent most of the day reading a really funny travel blog that I found by chance on Google when i was looking for something unrelated. When evening came I was feeling good to go so it was back out to the front porch where I sat and took it easy with a couple of brewskis whilst the German crew polished off a 24 beer selection pack (German beer obviously) that they had picked up earlier in the day. I had a good chat with a Canadian Afghani who was very well travelled and who had just got back from living in Dubai for a while. Eventually I got tired and retreated up to bed where I slept like a baby. (I wonder where that phrase comes from as babies don't normally sleep very well)
Day 116 -
So today was Thanksgiving (woo!) which is a big deal in Canada. It's similar to Christmas but it's all about family rather than gifts and as the name implies it's about being thankful for what you have and for helping out people that don't have much. There are lots of homeless shelters near the hostel and they all served up a big Thanksgiving dinner for the people staying there, made possible by food and monetary donations from local residents. I was up early to make the most of the day and after breakfast, me and Charlie decided to go out for a walk to Gatineau to pick up some beverages for the evening's celebrations.
Now Charlie is pretty much blind but from chatting with him I've found out that he doesn't let it stop him from achieving great things. He's proficient in MMA (mixed martial arts) and has his own martial arts training business and he's currently studying for a law degree at Ottawa U. (see if you've got a minute to spare as Charlie's story is really inspiring to read)
We headed out to Gatineau but as it was such a nice day we actually walked around for about four hours, taking in lots of Ottawa before crossing the Alexandria Bridge to Gatineau where we also explored for a while before heading to a liquor store and picking up supplies for the evening. Booze is cheaper over the border in Quebec so we stocked up which was good but walking back to the hostel (about 4km) carrying it all was a bit of a struggle.
We eventually made it back and after freshening up, I went to join everyone out on the front patio where we stayed until about 8pm when Thanksgiving dinner was ready. Walking in the kitchen I was met with a visual delight of a feast which smelled even better than it looked and which tasted like heaven on a plate! (or in a bowl in my case as there were no plates left) I went out to the back porch to eat and after polishing off the main course I satisfied my appetite for sweet things with a sugar pie and ice cream, then a slice of apple pie. I managed a couple more beers after the food but I was stuffed and it wasn't going down too well so I didn't have that late a night. (I was also very aware that getting jabs the next day whilst hung-over would not be very fun)
I haven't met very many English people on my travels so when I met Claire; a girl from Newcastle, we had a good chat and it was interesting to hear about common differences noticed between the Canadians and English. I also met a girl called Bien from China and I told her about my plans to visit her country next week. She's around for a few days so I'm going to try and practice some basic Mandarin phrases on her so that I can cope when I first arrive in China.
After chatting for a while longer I called it a day at about midnight and went up to bed, ready to get stabbed in the arm tomorrow. (slight over exaggeration but I'm not a huge fan of needles for some reason so...)
Bye for now folks!