Back from my 5-day “weekend.” Back to my “diet”.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure and privilege to visit Ottawa, properly, for the first time. Upon arriving, I couldn’t help wondering, “What took so long to visit this city??” The answer is, apparently, I was waiting for a friend, like Mona, to set up there and be ready for a visit!
Within the 4 days’ time, I felt huge pangs from yearning for Ontario, specifically to spend more time in Toronto and Ottawa. Growing up, Ontario was always the big, bad province that may as well be next door the way we zipped over and summered there.
When flying into Toronto on Thursday, I was plastered to the window wishing for my camera – it had been checked – because as we flew over North York, we had a fantastic view down Yonge Street. There’s a big city with no nonsense about it as it sprawls and sprawls. A part of my heart will always be in that city.
It was not until I was in the Ottawa airport on Monday when walking by plaque-mounted photos of the city’s best sights when appreciation for the city really flooded me. They were Tourism Ottawa’s photos recapping where I had been over the weekend: that striking glass roof of the National Gallery, fireworks and the annual party on the hill with stately Parliament as a backdrop, illuminated ice sculptures on display during Winterlude (a time I seriously consider returning at), hot air balloons rising in tandem and staggered during the current festival, bursts of colour across the city during the recently concluded tulip festival, and long tree- and river-lined bike paths across and around the city.
(After my brief visit, I conclude Ottawa and Vancouver have many of the same offerings. Had I known this, and given how I miss my family, I may have made a different decision three years ago.)
I’m eternally grateful to Mona who took the weekend off to not only show me the tourist sights but then to spend time doing normal things like eating shawarmas and the tastiest burgers and shopping at Chapters — things we each regularly do.
I also thank Yang for coming out to meet us at ‘OCP’. In a rush, I was reminded of the old days. In the retrospective view, doesn’t time seem to stand still? We certainly enjoyed ourselves back then and didn’t think about how we’d imminently go in separate directions and not see each other indefinitely.
That’s why it’s such a privilege to get to see a new city and meet up again with old friends. I need to talk to my friends who have also done a stint in Halifax. Collectively, we come from and have been all over the world. Talking to them, they set my world straight again. =D