The Longest Day(trip)

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Photography
Tags: , , , , ,

Though its proximity to Toronto on a map was a tad deceptive when one Canadian province is about five times the size of my entire country, I managed to squeeze in a visit to Ottawa (and the lovely lady above) while I was there.Whilst buying our tickets, I was asked by the woman behind the counter if I was 25 or under. I told her that I’d missed that boat, and gently enquired as to whether that qualified me for some kind of discount; to which she responded that no; my ticket would actually cost forty dollars more than Chris’. Canada: what the fuck? Thankfully the equally arbitrary cut-off point for the Manjanggul Caves in Korea had prepared me for such flagrant ageism, and my rage was swiftly cancelled out by…

…my first cinnabon! The girl behind the counter was crazy efficient, prioritising orders and dealing out pastries with military efficiency. I think Chris kind of liked it?

The two of us had staggered our arrivals in Canada; the cheapest day for me to fly out being the most expensive for him and vice versa. Despite having been in the country less than 24 hours, however, Chris still accompanied me on a 5-hour train journey to Ottawa. This proved relatively painless, with VIA Rail having some of the most ergonomically pleasing seating I’ve ever laid ass on, with the added bonus of free WiFi. Indeed, the only strange part was that we weren’t allowed to wait for the train on the platform, but rather, were made to form an orderly queue downstairs as if we were waiting to board a flight.

Rheanna’s dad – who I met back in Akita – had very kindly offered to pick us up from the station and drive us to the house – with just one stop-off between us and reunion #5.

This was my first time at a Costco, and potentially the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. No one needs this much mayonnaise. No one.

Conversely, everyone needs a super prostate.

And finally:

…the most かわいい of all monsters! Also the most 久しぶり of all the reunions. I hadn’t seen Rheanna in almost three years! She gave us a guided tour of her dad’s newly renovated home, including her bedroom which I’d be sleeping in that very evening.

Rheanna’s efforts to lessen my Canadian culture shock, haha. ♥

(p.s. I totally forgot to steal that flag!)

Rheanna, yours to discover. She has the same thing printed on her business cards.

From here, Rheanna informed us that we’d be driving to her mum’s place. Accordingly, we got in the car, drove round the corner…and she told us we were there. Unexpected and convenient in equal measures. We then took her two beautiful English Springer Spaniels, Jesse and Cassidy, out for a walk: my first time meeting them in real life after the innumerable times I’d seen them bounding around behind her on Skype.

Herewith began our whirlwind, one-day tour of Ottawa, starting with the Byward Market downtown. This proved unexpectedly death-defying after a taxi first reversed directly in front of her car and later, a garage door almost fell on top of it.

cookies! Slash Canada cookies that Obama ate that one time.

I’m inexplicably reminded of Jack Skellington. Complete aside? I was so much happier with Chris’ eyebrows this trip. So. Much.

If this doesn’t make you want to visit Canada, I don’t know what will.

I’m way too jazzed about this cookie, haha.

The beginning of our Ottawa Canada Safari. Chipmunk!

Major’s Hill Park, en route to Parliament Hill.

Where’th Chrith?!?!

(No, really – it’s like a game of Where’s Wally?)

…oh, there he ith!

Big Ben! Slash the Peace Tower.

Ottawa was founded by the Tin Man? That’s what I’m getting from this.

What’s left to say that the couple in Sapporo didn’t already cover?

Both looking 95% curlier than when we last saw each other.

I think Chris and I spent more time together in Canada than we did the entire time we were in Japan? ‘mos before hoes!

TO: our temporarily jilted lover. Weirdly enough, I now knew exactly where this was taken! I also knew that Ottawa was the capital of Canada but didn’t realise Toronto was the capital of Ontario. (Or, indeed, that provinces had capitals.)

Bonjour, Quebec! French Canada over the water.

The west block of the Parliament buildings looks just like my old high school.

East Tower (and my personal favourite).


Canada Safari continues: groundhog!

The Peace Tower in close-up.

Also: Canada is possibly the most self-promoting country I’ve ever been to. Their flag…


The cat sanctuary on parliament hill: also home to raccoons. Please understand that raccoons aren’t native to the UK so where you see common pest, I see adorable, tiny red-panda-looking-thing with a little black mask arghghgghhI’mdying. (I actually think Alf sort of looks like a raccoon?)

The Library of Parliament

…which I can’t look at without thinking of the temple at the beginning of camp ’80s classic, Red Sonja.

Just beside the library was a gazebo we stopped to rest in, also occupied by a crazy lady mumbling to herself in French. She seemed perfectly jovial, and even provided a colourful (if somewhat unintelligible) commentary on our entire conversation.

The view back to Major’s Hill Park, with the National Gallery of Canada and Ottawa’s very own Notre Dame. (No, that’s actually what it’s called.)

The Dominion!

Les brunes sont des personnes.

Doing our part to take women’s suffrage back to the Stone Age.

Me: She’s basically a suffrage-era fag hag.
Chris: Writing petitions, organizing marches, and only Jeffrey the dandy for company.

Having shown us about as much of Ottawa as was physically possible in the time allotted, we then met up with Rheanna’s boyfriend, Jordan, for dinner and cocktails at Milestones. Afterwards: a glimpse into Ottawa’s thug alter-ego as night fell over the city. (At one point, a guy actually walked past us covered in blood.) And of course, what night among JET alumni would be complete without drunken karaoke! (Plus Rheanna’s and my first Come What May duet in years.)

Further 10 points to any lip readers among you who can tell me what she’s singing here. (Clue: it’s the title)

The next morning, Rheanna’s dad had breakfast on the table by the time we go up (further strengthening the case of why we should have stayed longer), and Rhea herself was able to get away early from work to accompany us to the bus station. It was so, so lovely seeing her again, and I swore to stay a less retardedly short length of time on my next visit.

Next up: a seven-hour bus journey back to Toronto. (I was still bitter about the age taxation on the train ride.) We were seated behind the most unbearable would-be mean girls the entire way back, and Chris and I independently came to the conclusion that one among them was just a total cunt. “Yo, that’s so ill, man.” Not half as ill as your friend’s eyebrows or that all-denim ensemble you evidently think you’re rocking.

Canada safari: black squirrel! (Ours are red or grey). On arrival back in TO, we hit up the nearest LCBO (mostly to dull the pain of the bus journey). I then drank so much of our spoils that I didn’t take another picture that entire night.

…thankfully, Lindsay was on hand to take over. At this very Korean restaurant, we were reunited with Emma and Lisa, and – as seemed to be a theme this trip – introduced to Lindsay’s new beau, Julien. Being that I was tanked before we even left the room, I’m sure I made a wonderful impression. Favourite moment: whilst regaling the others with the story of our trip to Ottawa, I mentioned to Emma that she actually knew Rheanna, the two of them having gone to teacher’s college together in Thunder Bay. As it turns out, this was a different Emma entirely. Awkwaaaard.

Collision of worlds: Lindsay’s friends in Toronto meeting her new boyfriend and his friends meeting Lindsay’s friends from Japan reuniting with her friends from Toronto. I would have had an aneurysm.

And finally: Korean karaoke. An eventful night that began with our bags being searched by Eddie, the proprieter (on finding the can of strongbow I was carrying for Chris, he demanded, “How can I trust you now?”), and swiftly descended into Cat and I screaming “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” at the staff in an attempt to disguise the broken glass all over the floor. At the end of the night, they also tried to rip us off by claiming we’d underpaid by $40: an accusation that seemed all the more absurd for having been made on the doorstep of their establishment where we still standing ten minutes later. To say nothing of the fact that this would make us the worst criminals in the world for not taking that ample window of opportunity to escape, at least three of us had counted the money upstairs before handing it over, and they themselves had put it through the register before concocting this half-assed story. Resolute to the last, Eddie finally let the matter go, conceding that it was his own fault for “not catching us sooner”.

I could (almost) have forgiven the music videos that weren’t accompanied by lyrics (?!), but I draw the line at flagrant mythomania.

  1. Markus McD says:

    Whooo sounds like another fun trip!
    Yea, as you mentioned, each province is bigger than your humble abode, so they need their own capital cities to help out the government system. And you only see Canadian flags all over place, namely, when you’re in Ottawa or at a border crossing to the States. 😛
    You should take a little drive anywhere state-side… practically every other residence has their American flag plastered all over the place. It’s in case you turn a corner and forget what country you’re in.
    Oh, and Costco came from them same crazy Americans. Crazy bulk!

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