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Ottawa round-up!

Well the time has come (or at least it’s coming soon enough – two weeks!). I’ll be leaving Ottawa for Halifax on September 1st and, while I’m sure I’ll be back one day, I thought it a good opportunity to do an Ottawa round-up of all things I find great in this city. So here it is, and feel free to add your own suggestions! I certainly haven’t tried everything in Ottawa, so any input is more than welcome.

Eats/Drinks:

Bakery: The French Baker, Boko Bakery
Pub: Chez Lucien, Sandy Hill Lounge and Grill, Bite Burger
Restos and eats: Ahora, The Black Tomato, Gong fu bao truck, Wang’s Noodle, India Café, Castle Shawarma, Shawarma Palace
Food stuffs/Grocery: Sausage Kitchen, La Bottega, Kettleman’s, Ottawa Bagelshop, Herb & Spice
Coffee: Planet Coffee, Bridgehead

Shopping:

Bike: Phat Moose Cycles, Re-cycles/Cycle Salvation
Specialty: Workshop, Victoire, Milk, Young Janes, Allegro
Games: The Loft, Fandom II
Clothing: Norml
Music: Vertigo Records, Compact Music
Instruments: Spaceman Music, Ottawa Folklore Centre, Steve’s Music
Camera: The Camera Trading Co.

Recreation:
Cinema: Bytowne
Salon: BossArts
Venue: Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Rainbow, Atomic Rooster

I have to say, there are still a lot of places in Ottawa that I have yet to try and I look forward to the day when I return and can continue exploring this great city. In the meantime, though, I’m pretty thrilled that I’ll soon be living on the east coast in Halifax. I’ve heard such terrific things about this city and I can’t wait to see what it has to offer. I foresee a post on great Halifax finds in the coming weeks…

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Is there going to be an auction nearby? Make sure you go!

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to do a post. A long while – sorry!

I went to Saskatchewan last week and was it ever fun. Feeding cattle, going to a farm show, eating buffalo (yummmm)… There was one particular event that stood out, though, and I have to share.

The auction! It was an estate auction in Laird, Sask. and while I was told it was small in comparison to the others that often happen, it was still fantastic in my books. There were lots of household items including furniture, bakeware, appliances, books, and toys, but also farm equipment, trees and even a house. The main reason I wanted to share this is because of the creative potential that can result from an auction. Depending on where the auction is and who else is there, you may very well be able to pick up a great piece of furniture (or another item in which you may have an interest – craft supplies, bakeware, fabric, etc). While the item you pick up may need some refinishing or sanding or cleaning, you could easily turn it into a re-sale product or something great for your home or apartment. The potential is there folks, so go check out an auction! Fun and worthwhile.

If you live in Ontario, you may want to check out this link for auctions near you.

I saw some cool shit in Rome

 Yeah, that’s right. I did.

Rome was absolutely fantastic and was a great way end to the trip. I was in the city for a longer time than all the others in Italy, so I could do a bit more exploring. You could spend months in Rome and it would be great. It’s such an amazing city and I’m sure I’ll be back one day. I must say I certainly enjoyed having jam-filled croissants, cappuccino and orange juice in the outside garden patio at 8am in only my sweater (in March). Yeah, I went back to reality when I came back to Ottawa and it was in the negative degrees.

Rome was one of the few cities were I actually did some touristy stuff: Colosseum, Pantheon, Roman Baths, Vatican Museum, and St. Peter’s Basilica. I’ve posted some of my favourite photos from each of these places, but, honestly, I took so many that it would probably be best to check out my flickr account to see a few more if you’re interested.

What were some of the highlights? Well definitely the breakfast I mentioned before. Yum. That was the best way ever to start the day. The Roman Baths were amazing – they didn’t have the chaos that comes with all the tourists, such as at the Colosseum. It’s a beautiful area to spend a few hours, the landscape is amazing and the area is essentially a huge park, filled with ancient ruins. What could be better? I also really enjoyed Vatican City, simply because I’ve never seen anything quite like that before in my life. It was beautiful – there was so much to see and think about (trying to imagine how old things are and how they were made and used). The Colosseum was neat, too, especially when you try to imagine the events that went on there and the complexity of what the building was and served as. The Pantheon was interesting for its architectural qualities. Look it up on the web – there was so much symbolism in the way things were build.

Also, I can’t forget to mention that Rome had the best pizza place ever (Pizza Pazza). SO GOOD. Love pizza. Also love gelato. And cappuccino. Good food and drink add so much excellence to a city. Fantastic times!

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Florence is wonderful

It’s true – Florence is cool. It was a great post-Venice city, a nice change of pace. Very different from both Venice and Rome. A city with more of an energy than Venice, probably due to the fact that you can actually feel that people live and work in Florence, but it wasn’t as large or metropolitan as Rome. Regardless, I really enjoyed Florence and would definitely go back. The leather market was good, the people were friendly, and the food and drink was deliciously fantastic.


One morning I woke up around 7AM and wandered around. I soon found the river that runs through the city, took a few photos, then just sat on a bench and watched people as they went to work (heh – vacation is so very good). I found this a really good city to wander. It wasn’t too big, but there were lots of things to look at and lots of buildings with free admission that you can check out. The only major touristy thing I did was climb the duomo of the Basilica di Santa Maria del Fiore. I’m kind of mildly terrified of straight-vertical heights, so I wasn’t “able” to stop and take the time to get a good shot on the inside of the dome, but I was fine once on top. Amazing, amazing views and incredibly beautiful building, as you can see from the details on the outside. I really enjoyed doing this and it was a great lead up to the excitement of the ancient-ness of Rome. More on that later. For now, here are a few of my favourite photos from Florence. Cool times!

The pedestrian city of Venice

It’s pretty nice not having cars zooming around everywhere. I prefer boats, anyway.

Venice is the world’s only pedestrian city. Anything with wheels is just non-functional in this city. I wasn’t in Venice for very long, but I don’t think I would have stayed longer regardless. I had an amazing time here and the city is absolutely beautiful, but there’s only so many tourists you can handle, even when you’re a tourist yourself. The only way I can really describe the city would be “bizarre”. Some areas were void of all human life, it was silent and run-down. This obviously makes for a great afternoon. It’s so peaceful in some areas and you could just sit and enjoy the atmosphere for hours. Other areas of the city, however, are so overrun with tourists it was mildly unnerving. And I wasn’t even there in peak-season (thankfully). I would highly recommend a visit to Venice, but I wouldn’t plan a week-long vacation there with your friends. It was delightful, but I saw what I really wanted to see in the day and a half I was there. I took a lot of photos, enjoy the views of the water, drank too much coffee. It was great.

We were so lucky and had the most glorious weather for pretty much the entire trip. The reflections between buildings and from the water made for some interesting photographs. I really enjoyed taking photos in this city. All the streets are essentially alleys, there are bridges everywhere, and squares that make you get lost. Getting lost in Venice is a good thing.

There are a few of these public water fountains around Venice, an in Italy more generally, but I don’t think I saw anyone actually drinking from one. I did see a dog go to town on one, though. I did read somewhere that they’re safe to get water from? Who knows. Lots of weird things in Italy. Lots.

Also lots of small dogs, oddly enough. Small dogs and small coffees.

Here are some of my favourite shots from the city. I had lots, so it was pretty hard to narrow it down to these few. Enjoy!

A not-long-enough visit to Edinburgh

This post on Edinburgh is sadly shorter than my other ones. Unfortunately, I had an extremely short visit in this great city. Though, of course, a short visit is better than no visit. The highlight was climbing Arthur’s Seat – it was great. Just great. It was a good climb after a long day of work and provided an absolutely fantastic view of the city. So technically I saw the city, I just didn’t really see it. I would have loved to have been able to explore the city, and it’s pubs and shops, a bit more and a tour of the underground city (yeah, I had no idea that existed before I got there) would have been really neat.

Anyway, here’s my favourite of the photos I took in Edinburgh. I should also mention that I’ve uploaded a few hundred of the trip photos to my flickr account. Unfortunately I don’t have a pro account, so you can only see 200,  but check them out if you’re interested.

 

En route to Belfast and back to Dublin

I have finally gone through enough of my photos to prepare the post on the first city I visited – Dublin. We arrived in Dublin on a Friday evening and basically only had time (and energy) for a quick meal and sleep… we spent way too long in Heathrow. The reason this post mentions Belfast is because I took a train there first thing on Saturday morning, to visit my family, and I didn’t really technically see Dublin until after I saw Belfast. 

The train voyage to Belfast was simply stunning. While it’s difficult (due to dirty train windows or rain or reflection) to capture a decent photo from the cab of a train, I managed to get this one that reflects well what it felt like to travel through the rural areas of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The landscape was beautiful and had an eerie feeling with the sun, mist, fog and shadows.

 

I chose this photo as one of two for the city of Dublin, Ireland because it seems really reflective of the economic situation in the country as a whole. It’s a topic we weren’t able to avoid, whether in the pubs or at the parliament while we were working. While the streets below (this was taken on Grafton Street) were bustling with shoppers, students and tourists, looking up at this sign reminds you that there is still a looming debt crisis in the country and finding a job seems like a pretty difficult challenge.  

I took this photo while walking through St. Stephen’s Green, a park in Dublin. The park itself was lovely and this bird is just the best! I chose this photo simply because I really enjoyed wandering the several parks in Dublin. They’re well-kept, with lots of birds and trees and places to sit and relax.

 

 

Aside from the above photos, the whole city of Dublin was absolutely fantastic and was probably one of my favourite of the trip. There’s plenty to look at and do, eat, drink, etc. The culture and people were also equally fantastic and the hospitality we received made being in the city a pleasure. It’s definitely on my list of places to re-visit. I’m not sure if everyone who’s been to Dublin finds this, but I found the food to be sooooo very delicious and of a great quality. Maybe I just had really good restaurant luck, but regardless, I’m very impressed.

Stay tuned for a post-city-photos-post on the best dress shop ever, found in Dublin!