Ottawa (One)

So, I am in Ottawa. The motion for travel was brought by my boss, Alex, who was of the view that spending vacation days I’d booked pre-breakup at home would be disastrous for my mental health.

“You’ll be miserable anyway, but at least you won’t be miserable on your couch,” she said.

“Planning a trip will be a great distraction,” she said.

“You’re not leaving here today without telling me where you’re going,” she said.

Even though I consider myself the master of the “staycation”, I decided she was probably right. I thought about what I would do if I stayed home. All my ideas revolved around my bed. Motion carried.

Alex lobbied for the far more exciting destinations of Chicago or San Francisco. I also looked up flights to Austin, Portland and Seattle. After a few hours of this, I realized I did not have the emotional capacity to deal with getting myself to the airport and onto a plane.

ViaRail calls taking the train, “the humane way to travel” and that is really true. It’s so easy and relaxing. I picked Ottawa mostly because I could take the train, which leaves from downtown. Also, shortly after my divorce, I had a “Maybe I’ll move to Ottawa” phase. It made sense to actually take a look at this city.

I got into town around lunch so after getting settled, lunch was my number one priority.  Then, I wanted to go to the Mint. All I had to do to accomplish this was walk straight up Rideau and turn right at Sussex, however, I was too busy gawking at the Parliament Buildings and totally missed Sussex. This worked out okay. I was happy to see Parliament and the canal and I got myself oriented in the city pretty well.

Unfortunately, by the time I dicked around doing all that, they weren’t letting any more people into the Mint. I made a reservation for this morning and decided to walk up to 24 Sussex, which I discovered is much farther than it looks on the map. Here’s what you need to know if you ever decide to visit the Prime Minister’s house:  You can’t see a damned thing when you get there. What’s with all the trees out front? Privacy or something??  I can guarantee a good view of some hot RCMP officers, though. And on the way, you’ll see some impressive embassies (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) and a ghost bike out front of the Department of Foreign Affairs which will make you feel sad(der than you already are).

I took a different route back, over some scenic little bridges. I then learned that I will be avoiding King Edward Avenue for the rest of my trip. Holy, homeless shelters. I didn’t exactly feel unsafe – I would say I deal daily with far scarier (mental) homeless people back home – but I didn’t come here to do an expose on the seedy underbelly of the Nation’s Capital. I just came to get out of my life for a few days.

“Hello, Kitty,” one homeless guy said to me.  They should really mention this kind of thing on maps.

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