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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Ottawa Wha?


Our somewhat annual family trip to Ontario started off a little different this time. Instead of going straight to Toronto, we started our adventure in the nation's capital. The home of the Rideau Canal, Parliament Hill, the most visited museum in Canada (which is The Canadian Museum of Civilization) and the famous Canadian Tulip Festival. Mom and I had 48 hours in the city, while Jerrett and Dad joined us on the second day.

After Mom and I checked into the hotel, the guy at the front desked recommended some Italian restaurants; because our "eyes lit up when he mentioned pasta." After what felt like a long time of walking around and going in the wrong direction, we finally found Johnny Farina. The salad and pasta we shared was pretty good.

The next day started with breakfast at a little French cafe, which can only be described as 'adorable'. They use chocolate milk in their drinks, which I thought was pretty interesting and different. Don't even get me started on the pastries, they were 'out of this world.'
A preview of what the cafe had to offer

Mom and I spent the rest of the day doing some shopping, mainly going to the Rideau Centre (the mall), and doing a lot of walking. When the guys met up with us in the evening, we went to The Cornerstone, the food there was a solid 9/10.

On Friday our day once again started with breakfast at a cafe. Jerrett and I took this opportunity to do some Pokemon hunting. Ottawa is filled with PokeStops. Once noon rolled around, we went on a boat tour through the Ottawa River (which, fyi I highly recommed). The tour guide was pretty cool, and he had a good sense of humor. Medhi told us a bit about the city's history, some of the facts I remembered hearing during my EWC week. The sights included Parliament Hill, an old, majestic looking hotel and a row of houses along the river. These houses are valued starting at 700K, but there's no insurance because it's so close to the water.

The tour ended at the other side of the river. Which, interestingly enough is actually Gatineau, Quebec. We then walked through the Canadian Museum of History. The outside of the structure has no 90 degree corners, as legend says that spirits become angry when they get trapped in corners and the architect wanted spirits to be peaceful. While Mom and Dad went their own way, Jerrett and I decided to go to the kid's area. Not gonna lie, it was fun playing 'avoid the security guard.' We later took the boat back over to Ottawa.

After taking a little break at the hotel, Jerrett and I decided to go for ice cream; but we ended up getting 'lost' in the residential district. Honestly, being from a small town I found it a tad sketchy looking; though the high concentration of Pokemon made up for it.  
Houses + Tall Buildings
A while later, we ran into Mom and Dad again. Then, the wild goose chase started. Mom said there was this good restaurant on Slater Street. So off we went, walking around Ottawa. After what felt like forever and walking in circles, Mom looks at us and says "It's at 53 Spark Street." She got a chorus of sighs in reply. We finally found the restaurant (and the worst nachos in Ottawa) but the main course was great.

With supper finished, the little brother and I went to get BeaverTails (it's a pastry okay) for the second night in a row, then met Mom and Dad back on Parliament Hill.

We ended our trip with watching a light show. A bunch of laser lights projecting onto the Parliament Building, explaining Canada's history in such a captivating and unique fashion. It was one of those moments or things that make you feel extremely patriotic. The display was like something like I've never seen before, and it's really hard to put into words. It was the highlight (ha) of our day, and made the detour to Ottawa totally worthwhile.

We went back to the hotel once the light show was over, as we had a train to Toronto to catch in the morning. Ottawa was a great stop, and it's one of my favourite cities. I would recommend it to anyone going to Ontario, or anyone who wants to learn more about our country's history.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Claire's Noteworthy Music Festival Survival Tips


This past weekend Mel, Allison and I (along with the rest of the famjam) went to Lewisporte for the Mussel Bed Soiree. It was a fantastic weekend overall, but the concert Saturday was the highlight. It featured a couple artists including Tom Cochrane, Walk Off the Earth, and Simple Plan.

Here's the truth about music festivals, and the kinds of people you will see; coming from my experiences.

#1 Food

At festivals, there's usually a portion of the venue saved for lots (and lots and lots and lots and lots) of vendor carts. Carts with slogans like "Fastest meat on the street." (Yes that was an actual slogan, right Mel?) and unless you're so hungry that you're willing to spend three entire dollars on a BBQ hot dog and deal with the crappy aftermath, I suggest steer clear of the food altogether. Also, two dollars for a bottle of simple and plain water? Seriously? It's ridiculous.

#2 Stinky stalls

Most venues don't have washrooms, so your only relief of number one or two would be to go into a porta potty. They're probably the grossest and smelliest one person stalls of death that exist. If you do have to use one, be kind and considerate of other people. Aka, for the love of God, please don't leave a mess on the seat. When we were in line for one, we happened to discuss this very topic. The woman in front of us said "Oh I hate that too." but Mel reported back that she left a mess. Really guys, be respectful and don't be that person.

#3 Drink drank drunk 

What can I say, it's not a festival until you have a crowd of people too drunk to remember the concert; am I right????? There's people of all kinds hanging in the wet section and beer tent of the venue. Unless you want to have a drink or get so intoxicated that you don't really know what's going on, then I suggest staying to the dry section. I think watched wasted people from afar is quite entertaining. If you have minors with you, then you really have no other choice than to be in the dry section.

#4 Mother Nature is unpredictable

The weather reports cannot be fully trusted, especially in Newfoundland. If the concert is outdoors, take a sweater and rain coat. Temperatures tend to drop once the sun goes down, so a sweater will ensure that you stay comfortable. Also, nobody is happy in soaking wet clothes, a rain jacket will keep you from experiencing that. Oh oh oh! I can't forget to mention the most important item of all. Sunscreen/sunblock. It's most important in the afternoon, keep it fresh throughout the show. Sunburns really suck, no more explanation needed.

#5 Lots of pushing

As you try to make your way closer to the stage to get a better view, you're guaranteed to get pushed a lot. You have a couple of options when this scenario arises. You could be aggressive-assertive and push back, You could ask them to stop. You could do what I do and just ignore it (if you're the passive type like me). It probably won't stop the pushing, but the people around you will know how you feel about it.
Bonus tip: if you're short or accompanied by a shorter person, you'll have less trouble squeezing through a crowd, trust me.

#6 Your local Snoop Doggs

If drunks and alcohol weren't already enough, at a musical festival you're pretty much guaranteed to encounter illegal drugs and their users. Bongs and joints get passed around, and there's so much smoke that you feel like you'll get 'second hand high.' Mel and I had a nice spot ythe fence that divides the wet section and the dry section and we could smell it the whole night. A joint got over to our side, and strangers were taking puffs off it. I'm surprised our eyes weren't bloodshot at the end of the night haha. The concert was still worth the smell.

#7 PDA alert

At these events, there's always going to be at least one couple (or set of strangers, dude I don't know their relationship) who spends the whole show making out with each other (among other things but I won't get into that. You catch my drift). Now personally, I don't really care about PDA but there is such thing as too much in a period of time. There was a couple on the other side of the divider, and every time I happened to glance back, they were 'eating the faces off each other' every three minutes. I don't know if they were sober or not but c'mon, you bought the tickets to enjoy the live music.

I hope you keep my tips in mind next time you go to a music festival. I enjoy them a lot, and I'd recommend them to any music lover.
Bonus tip: Don't be afraid to get into get into the music, sing and dance as much as your heart desires.