Off the beaten path

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Photo by Mrs. Gus

We went on our annual Ottawa trip last month. Not sure how many years we have been going to our nations capital now, quite a few. I am pretty sure my oldest daughter was still living at home when it started. Who knows, time goes so fast.

There are all of the regular things to do in Ottawa, the museums, Parliament, Rideau Canal, and if you have never been and are going for the first time they are all great. But like I said, my family and I have been going for years. Man, I could give the tour of Parliament!

We were only going over night, quick in and out trip so I didn’t want to spend a fortune on the hotel. We have stayed in some of the posher places in the city, they were fantastic but I said to Mrs. Gus, lets stay a little outside the city and save a couple of bucks. We took forever deciding on a place until we just said, “whatever just pick one”, so I did.

We got to Ottawa early, found parking and walked around the city. Did some sight seeing, some shopping, ended up having a picnic near the By-Ward Museum, all in all a pretty nice day. Everyone was getting a bit tired so we decided to head back to the hotel, check in, have a rest and get our second wind.

I should have realized things were not going to be all that great when I drove right by the hotel, twice! I kept thinking to myself, ‘maybe¬†we’re lost, doesn’t look like there should be a hotel around here’. Finally found it, tucked into a small parking lot and told everyone to sit tight I would go in and see where we park. The lady at the desk said “you can park in our underground parking for $18 bucks or in the outdoor for $12 buck”. Hey I’m no fool, I will take the outside. As I finish checking in she hands me a map… to the outside parking lot, it is about 4 blocks away. I ask if there is a pool she hands me another map, to the YMCA that is ‘only a few blocks away’ (I am not kidding). I already know this is not going to go over very well with Mrs. Gus, but what is a guy gonna do. It was actually not that bad until after we lugged our luggage back to the Hotel for her to realize we could have parked in the under ground parking lot for $5 more. Yikes!

Once in our hotel room, which turned out to be fine I might add, we began deciding were we wanted to eat supper. The idea of Chinese came up. I knew Ottawa had a Chinatown though I had never been to it. Plan made, off we went to find Chinatown and something to eat. Turns out Chinatown is quite old and a bit shabby in Ottawa, I am not knocking it I am just saying I don’t think Mr. Harper makes his way down there a lot for a couple of egg rolls. As tourist we walk around, taking in the sites and looking for a place to eat. We settled on a little hole in the wall joint called Ben-Ben’s. We walk in, there’s not a soul in the place except for one Chinese lady reading a news paper. She looks up from her paper and says with this really heavy accent. “It is about time you’ve come, I was falling asleep!” She has us seated with cold drinks in minutes, the whole time she is talking to us. Her accent is so heavy we have to ask her to repeat herself many times, but she has us laughing. She is warm and she is genuine and she is giving us the feeling that she has invited us here as old friends. As we order the place begins to fill up, and I think I am pretty safe to say they are all locals. There is not a word of English spoken, everyone knows one another, there is banter back and forth across the restaurant in the lovely Chinese language. We sit captivated in the middle of this crazy scene, there are two ladies serving now, and one older gentleman who keeps coming out from the kitchen to yell at them. There is banging and yelling and dishes flying, the whole scene is chaotic and fantastic at the same time. Our food comes, there is way to much of it and it is delicious! Every dish better then the last. When we finally finish, having eaten until we could not eat anymore, we sit back and smile. The trip has just become a success.

The best places to visit are often not the places where everyone goes, but the places where everyone doesn’t go. And sometimes the best part of a trip is not where you are going but where you end up.

Gus

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