Well its official, my sun tan is already fading and I am having to wear thermal underwear to walk down the street. Yep, I am in Ottawa all right and yes, I know, it is going to get a lot colder!
I arrived here in Ottawa after the usual marathon, red-eyed daze, sore backside flight up from the southern hemisphere. Having landed nearly 3 weeks ago, I have finally adjusted to the time zone difference, getting dark at 4:30pm and wearing warmer clothes than the singlet and shorts I left Australia in. It always takes a little time to adjust to this dramatic change at this time of year when it is starting to cool down here, but at home in Melbourne, the temperatures are starting to head closer to 300 C.
My first impressions of Ottawa...
The airport was nice, but seemed unusually small for a city of this population. The YOW shuttle ride to our hotel was at night and therefore I first saw the canal as a shimmering black pool, but I was excited about the soon to be frozen surface which I could go skating on! The attendant where we were staying at the Arosa Suites was nice enough to show where to get the renting in Ottawa guide so we could look for apartments the very next day. He also suggested we go supermarket shopping and pointed us in the right direction. We politely declined, after all it was midnight and we had been traveling for two days! Still it was a friendly gesture.
So far I have been flat out finding a place to live, getting set up and finding a car. Hence my tourist activities have been hampered significantly, except a brief trip to the Parliament buildings. Stunning scenery and European architecture make Parliament hill the perfect backdrop to the city.
Coming from Melbourne (the coffee capital of Australia) I am quite particular about my coffee, the taste, texture, crema, you name it I need it to be just right. Especially after training, and before training, and in the morning and well, at anytime really! So having some experience in North America previously with the nasty diner type drip coffee, I wasn’t looking forward to my first cup. Bridgehead’s café was that first place and first cup and can I say I was most impressed with the coffee. I think I might learn to like this town! And free wireless internet, I’m in heaven.
The Gatineau Park...
What a place to train. Smooth, wide pavements to rollerski without the threat of cars, undulating single tracks, pretty scenery. And bears, apparently, although I hope not to see one of those for some time! The first Saturday morning I trained at the park, I was witness to possibly 80 kids all on rollerskis and rollerblades. I have never seen so many sets of rollerskis in my life. Back home, there are only 3 or 4 rollerskiers in the entire city of Melboune and I know all of them, simply because they are also on the Australian Team with me! Gatineau Park has to be one of the best places to train for endurance sports in the world! I have been taken around some of the closed loops with Ed and Tom McCarthy and had numerous other quality sessions with xcottawa team on the infamous “penguin” hill.
Everyone in Ottawa has been extremely friendly and I have felt welcomed by almost every person I have ran into to. Shop assistants, bank tellers even used car dealers have been very helpful and gone out of their where in most instances to help the aussie.
The drivers are a different story altogether. Some guys are honking me continuously, even though I seem to be doing a reasonable job of driving on the wrong side of the road. Other drivers are going at least 20km/hr over the speed limit, whilst others drive 30km/hr below the speed limit. I can’t work it out. The stop signs. There seems to be stop signs at every street, you can be driving down a relatively large street and half way along there is a stop sign for a tiny side street. What the….
So if you see a Subaru wagon driving erratically with the driver wearing more clothes than expected, honk and say hello, it surely is just me driving to training!
So it is with much enthusiasm that I look forward to the first decent snowfall and training on skis in your beautiful park. So please come and stop me and say hi if you are out training in the park, I look forward to meeting more friendly “Ottawans” and I look forward to calling this city my new home.