Subject: Ottawa/Kingston
Back last week from a week in Ottawa and Kingston, Ontario, Canada that was mostly a visit-friends sort of holiday though we did drive to Montreal for a day. Ottawa was as it usually is, clean, busy, hot. We went to the opening day of Italian festival week which kicked off with a parade on (oh heck...Prescott Street? don't have my notes with me) which, ironically, was headed off by the Police Pipe and Drum band. eh? Took a river boat cruise which was relaxing and a nice way to enjoy the sunset as we went on the 7:30 trip and watched the sun go down over the Gatineau Hills by 9.

Montreal was amazing! Hot, but amazing. From the elegantly curved outside staircases along St. Denis and St. Louis to the street flea market on St. Laurent and the great views from Mont Royal lookoff points. The architecture in downtown Montreal is fabulous, a lot of it left standing instead of being razed for modern buildings though there are a lot of them too in sections. Old Montreal with narrow cobbled streets and centuries old buildings, churches and markets was beautiful. The little stone cistern bubbling with cold water in Place Jacques Cartier by city hall was so refreshing we dipped our arms in several times! The Basilica Notre Dame, while only about a hundred years old, is very elaborately decorated, dark and cool inside, glowing with the blue trimmings and glass over the altar while the newer Sainte Chappelle in behind was golden with lots of light and modern fittings. This was rebuilt about 25 years ago after a fire. We had lunch at the 70 year old Schwartz's deli on St. Laurent, an institution with highly recommended doorstop sized smoked meat sandwiches and black cherry soda. We bought hot toasty bagels at St. Viateur's Bagels on St. Viateur at dusk. They have them ready 24/7, hot and delicious! We had an orange julep at the similarly named Orange Julep which is housed in a huge orange ball (sorry don't know where that is but it's also an institution). Orange juleps are fresh squeezed OJ whipped with milk and i imagine some sugar but very tasty. It was 10:30 at night when we got there, there must have been 600-700 people milling around the area in the parking lot and environs and they had someone directing traffic in and out of the lot. Nothing special going on that we could see, just a hot night and people out for a cool drink, all very orderly. thankfully the lineup wasn't that long.

I really liked Montreal. As much as Toronto is considered a world class city, i think Montreal has much more character and really celebrates it's multi-culturalism. The shopping and restaurant choices are amazing and the city sizzles with energy. Or was that the 38 degree heat?

Kingston was a weekend to meet up with friends and go sailing on a tall ship, the St. Lawrence II which is normally a teaching vessel. Had a walk about the city on Sunday after browsing an antiques flea market set up behind city hall. Antiques seemed reasonably priced, the produce stalls seemed ridiculously expensive. 5$ for a quart of in-season strawberries??? Kingston downtown has a lot of old historic buildings and very few high rise towers. A really pretty city. We stayed in the Queen's Inn on Brock Street, $129 CAD for a room with two double beds and en suite facilities. $90 for a single bedded room. The building is about 150 years old and has a little restaurant with a patio and a sports bar in it. I'll get the details of address and phone number to Callie when i find the card i stashed away. There's also a Holiday Inn and a Ramada right on the waterfront. One of the main attractions, which we didn't take in due to time constraints is Fort Henry but from the brochures in the hotel room, I'd say there was a lot to see there. Maybe next year.

Will scan some photos of the trip and post the url for the photo album soon. Diane