Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
I'll try to give some positive and negative POVs (point-of-views) of Ottawa.
Parliament Hill & the Peace Tower. This famous landmark is the subject of millions of pictures and postcards that can be found around the world. I even saw street vendors in Bangkok selling Parliament Hill t-shirts. The old gothic architecture and the sense of national history that are found around Parliament Hill makes it well-worth the visit.
The rest of the city skyline sucks. There's nothing but a bunch of boring, rectangular buildings jutting up from small trees. On street level the city is fairly dirty and most of the buildings throughout Ottawa appear run-down and badly maintained. If you're looking for inspiration, stay on Parliament Hill.
The public transit system, OC Transpo, is very efficient and well-organized. The transitway is a series of bus-only express roads that run through the city, meaning that for many bus routes there's no fighting through traffic. The buses shoot along the transitway at top speed. In addition to this, there's a bus (or at least an attempt) at every stop throughout the city every 15 minutes. Unlike in other cities, where waiting for a bus requires standing outside for 40 minutes, Ottawa is fairly easy to get around in without a vehicle.
Traffic in Ottawa sucks. Not only was the city lay-out designed for a smaller population (the city will hit the 1 million mark within the next couple of years), but bureaucratic and political bungling means that the roads stay pretty much unrepaired and traffic congestion is horrendous. Trying to drive down Bronson St, a main artery that cuts through the western half of downtown to Carleton University, can take upwards of two hours in rush-hour. The Queensway (Highway 417), the main trans-Canada artery that cuts through Ottawa, is even worse in rush-hour. Add to that the fact that there is NO free parking anywhere in the city, and the city hires more parking enforcement officers than police officers, and you will end up with at least one extortionate (is that a word?) parking ticket a month if you have a car. I'm talking fines of several hundred dollars for letting your meter run out.
The women in Ottawa are beautiful. Everywhere you go there's fantastic-looking women dressed in stylish skirts and pants. Women in Ottawa are very trendy and have a much better sense of fashion than they do in Vancouver, Montreal or even Toronto. As bonus, the last census data showed that women greatly outnumber men in Ottawa. There's 3 single, straight women for every single, straight man in Ottawa. The majority of them are well-educated and gainfully employed. Watch out, however, because many of them are snotty feministas who think they have all the answers and are better than everyone else around them. Nevertheless, I've found dating in Ottawa to be particularly easy.
The men in Ottawa suck. Any 'cool' guys I've met here are not from here. There's the egg-head square-glasses-wearing vegan-pansy new-age type, the uber-liberal fact-spewing government-bureaucrat type, the middle-aged hockey-loving have-2.5-kids polo-shirt-wearing opinionated type, and the greasy crack-head street-scum haven't-showered-in-a-month foul-language type. Where are the normal guys? You know, the ones I want to hang out with? They DON'T exist in Ottawa.
One last negative:
The entertainment scene in Ottawa sucks. I have yet to find a decent restaurant that wowed me (unlike Victoria, Montreal or Halifax, which all have AMAZING restaurants). The service at restaurants sucks here. There are a couple of pubs around and one or two decent patios but nothing to go out of your way for. There's also a couple of nightclubs that are absolutely not worth mentioning in any type of travel memoir. There's not much sightseeing once you've checked out Parliament Hill, unless you want to stare at gritty concrete houses for a couple of hours. There's a couple of decent over-priced shopping malls but, for me at least, shopping is never entertaining.
One last positive:
I have to mention the Westboro area, running down the west of Somerset St (which turns into Wellington St), and crosses Parkdale Ave. This part of town used to be trashy but over the past decade it has turned into a quaint, green, peaceful enclave filled with small businesses, old turn-of-the-century brick homes, friendly people and beautiful women. Although there's not much in the way of entertainment (see above) and there are a few too many hippy fair-trade non-smoking coffee houses, the area still has a nice touch to it. Most importantly, when you're in Westboro you feel like you've left Ottawa. Maybe that's what I like about it!
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I'm sitting, doing nothing, in a pair of shorts and nothing else with the fan on high blowing right at me and I'm still sweating like a pig.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
The next morning my ex's sister found another chapter on Kohsan Road in her Lonely Planet guide and so we went there and found a bit of Shangri-La. There were restaurants, pubs, hostels and stores up the length of the road so we checked into a 100 baht-a-night hostel, hit a patio and proceeded to get incredibly drunk. It was 8 am.