Monday, August 11, 2008

Vacation - Day 7

After the storms of yesterday, this day broke like a spring day. Today we are in Ottawa, the capital of Canada. While we are technically still in Ontario, there is a lot of French spoken here. Our plan for today was to catch the changing of the Guard on Parliament Hill, get some Beavertails for breakfast, and then hoof it to Philadelphia.

Ottawa is a very interesting city - small in city terms (about 250,000 population), but still large enough to have all the entrapments of city life. I find it an interesting mix of European architecture and North American charm. One thing for sure - small cars are king here. And with gas at $5.00 per gallon I can see why. It's interesting that a country that has so much oil (Canada is the #1 exporter of oil to the US) has such a high cost for gasoline. I can;t wait to get back across the border later today to fill up the rental.

One other thing about this city, and Canada in general - much of the pomp and circumstance from England is safely stored away up here. The changing of the guard is much like it's counterpart in the UK. It is also interesting that everything here is being done "in the name of Her Majesty" or for "HRH, the Prince of Wales". Say - isn't Canada an independent nation?

The changing of the Guard was very cool! From the parade to Parliament, to the drill of the change - very interesting. Nowhere in Washington DC are we as ceremonious as this!

After the changing of the Guard, we made our way back to Byward for Beavertails. A Beavertail is nothing more that some fried dough, but it is a true Canadian food - so we had to try. The Byward was going full tilt when we got there. Very reminiscent of a farmer's market back home - I was impressed with the fresh fruits and vegetables available.

We were going to go on a tour of Parliament, but by the time we got to the Info Centre (yes misspelled) the next available tour was going to be at 1:30PM, which would place us way behind plan for our drive to Philadelphia, so we decided to forgo the tour and start south toward Philly.

The drive to Philadelphia was long but uneventful. We stopped for lunch in Syracuse, where gasoline was a more reasonable $3.84 a gallon. The highlight was driving through (well actually around) Scranton. We looked for Schrute, but he was nowhere to be found.

After 7 plus hours, we were finally at our destination - Residence Inn on Penn Square. We had two more things to accomplish that night. First - Geno's for Cheese Steaks, and then return the rental car. We made it to the south side of Philly and got our Cheese Steaks. I don't know what these folks do to get such tender meat, but the sandwiches and cheese fries were as good as ever. From Geno's, we drove over to the airport, returned the rental car, and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel. A long day for sure!

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