Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Final Countdown

Dah dee dah dah, dah dah dah da dah, dah dee dah da dee dah dah da The Final Countdown!

Does anyone actually know the rest of the words or in fact any other words at all of that song? Thank-you "Europe" for that classic one hit wonder. Yes, indeed in less than 12 days I shall be home, but I am getting ahead of myself, lets return to Quebec City...

Indeed, my last few entries have been a diatribe of whining and for that, I apologise. After being very melancholy in Quebec City, my final day there turned out to be quite pleasant. The sun shone and I wandered around looking at slightly old buildings with touch more enthusiasm. The next day I got my trains to Ottawa (I required a change in Montreal, oddly the price of getting these two trains was cheaper than the single trip from Montreal to Quebec City, odd indeed) and the only thing of note was a slightly peculiar Canadian man who asked if he could lift my rucksack. Not in chivalrous "let me carry that for you my good lady" but in a "how heavy is that" way. This wouldn't have been quite as peculiar if he hadn't had been sitting on the train station floor elastic banding 4 bamboo canes together to form a walking stick and (even though it was clear that English was his first language) that he insisting on speaking every other sentence in French even after I told him in my best accent "Je ne comprend pas, parlez vous Anglais?".

Anyway, I reached Ottawa and got a taxi to the hotel. I don't usually get taxis, not just for the cost, I just don't like them very much, all those interperosal skills you have to perform in a small enclosed space wth a stranger. But the train station was quite far away and there was no other means of getting to my destination. The taxi driver spoke English as a second language, I couldn't tell what his first language was and thus where he was from, but he could not grasp the concept that I wasn't English. I tried to explain to him where Scotland was and I got blank looks and he continued to say things such as "there's the English embassy". I bit my tongue and tried not to say "BRITISH Embassy". However, this isn't something too surprising, I have encountered it before many times. However, as I looked around Ottawa I noted that it is quite a Scottish place. A great deal of the street names are "MacDonald" "Elgin" and the like. Also on the main street across from the Parliament buildind there is a St Andrews Church with a massive Scottish flag outside so I actually became more offended in retrospect at the taxi drver for not seeming to even realise Scotland was a country.

This seemingly cultural naivety has continued in every destination in Canada in terms of getting ny name wrong. Oddly enough though, unlike other destinations where it is the receptionists who have, despite my 'Christie is my surname' spiel, made the error, it appears to be the booking service. In every hostel and hotel I have been at, the receptionist has listened to my Christie speach, but it is the computer that has me booked in as Christie Morag. Do the people reading the online boooking form, look at my name entry and go "hmm she has typed her name in backwards and again on the credit card page, I will correct it for her, silly girl" I just don't know. How do people called Craig Simon or Andrew Scott etc cope with this stuff. It's driving me batty.

Anyway, I arrived at my hotel and was delighted (despite the name error) to find it was a fabulous suite room with a little kitchenette with about ten towels and 8 pillows. Surfice to say I did spend a considerable amount of time in my suite watching "Law and Order" but I did venture out occasionally to see the city and found it to be a most pleasant place. The main attraction is the parliament building which is very impressive (Holyrood really should have taken note) and even better was that inbetween two of the buildings there was a stray cat sanctuary that sheltered and fed the homeless feline population (and a racoon). It seemed a very clean and safe place, though doubtless to say I'm sure it has its underbelly, but as capital cities go, it was one of the nicest I've been too.

The days quickly passed by and I was on a bus again for my final destination of Toronto, where I am now. Unfortunately for Canada's largest city, it is not making the best impression. There has been a bin men strike for three weeks and its beginning to show (and smell) on every street corner. It's a shame because, apart from that from what I've seen, it appears to be a well laid out tourist friendly place.

The exciting news is that tomorrow evening my mother should be here to enjoy the stench with me. I say 'should' be because every other holiday my mother attempts to go on, there is always some drama. I wouldn't be at all surpised if evil monkeys hijacked her plane and forced it to land in Alaska. So fingers crossed until she has actually arrived on Candian soil.

I suspect this may be my penultimate entry. Once mum arrives, it'll be a few days in Toronto followed by Niagara Falls and finally a few days in a family friend's log cabin in the wilds somewhere so I'm not sure when I'll get the chance to write again. I promise to do a "I'm back!" entry to give this blog some closure and a well rounded finish (I did a prologue at the beginning, it seems literally correct to do an epilogue). I'm really looking forward to it too, after the generally good times had by all in NYC with Anthony, I anticipate such times ahead for Toronto. A fitting way to finish my adventures; to go home with, rather than to, my mother!

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