The first and foremost reason we came to Ottawa is the free public ice skating rink that is installed every year on the Rideau Canal. Last evening some people in the TV room told us that the skating rink was closed due to thin ice, but chances were good it would be reopened.
So, today morning I look the official Ottawa page for the Rideau Canal up, and see this:

Perrrrfect! I borrowed Jeshia’s ice skates, Stefan borrowed those of his roommate, but Chris didn’t have any ice skates. Good that in our great backpackers inn hostel there was a cartboard box full of left over ice skates, that you can borrow for free. As we step in our rouge rental car, an I want to eat my breakfast, I realize that the Peaches were frozen. The water I washed them with the day before had accumulated to a thick ice coating. Good that we didn’t sleep in the car…


Already a running joke


The coke I left in the car was full of ice


Peaches on the rock

In the inner city we find a 5$-all-day-long parking construction and drive up to the rooftop. There seems to be no elevator, so in our foolishness we just run down 40.000 steps to reach street level. Ottawa is extremely walkable, so we make our way to the canal with the ice skates thrown over our shoulders. There is something weird about Canadian culture: People always make festivals and meet in large crowds. Maybe it is so weird because Canada has an amazingly low population density, or maybe because this gathering gene seems to not be influenced by temperature at all: Canadians always gather, regardless of ice or snow.


About a million steps


This is the weirdest way to protect pedestrians crossing the street: This van drives back and forth in his little fence to accompany the people across the street before stopping at the end and making space for cars to pass inbetween. Maybe it’s too cold for an ordinary traffic officer?


Addicted to gathering


A tower of plastic bottles – Canadians just know how it’s done.


Ice sculptor, sounding like a dentist while drilling a shape into this soon-to-be fire spitting dragon

And there we go: Compareable to the Vienna canal, a little river going somewhere from the far West Viennese suburbs of the 13th district into the inner city, the Rideau Canal goes all the way through Ottawa, too. As the winters get colder, it completely freezes and is open to the public. People even go to work with ice skates on this canal. Just another depiction of Canadian gathering culture, may some sarcastic minds say. Over the 4.5 mile long part that is open to public this time, I see about 10.000 people with ice skates, boots or sleds. There are tents, ovens, bars, restaurants and seating areas right on the ice. It is an amazing sight, and whoever goes to Ottawa during the winter, can’t miss that.

Again, adults are dragging their children behind in little plastic sleds, so be careful where to throw your ice skates when you “try to gain speed” – but you’ll lose the race against this five year old bastard with the helmet anyway.. it must be either because every Canadian child is taught how to ice skate before it is taught to walk, or because maple syrup contains steroids..


The Rideau Canal packed with all kinds of skating enthusiasts


With this nursing home device, children are learning to skate. Looking at my skating skills I should get one too… to the left, you can see a hole in the ice that was marked with spray paint.


Canadian military cooling its engines on the ice


Long cracks seem to bother nobody

After a 9 kilometer ride on ice skates, we are naturally exhausted and decide to watch a movie. “He’s just not that into you” is a very lovely love comedy movie that both men (without puking their intestines out as a reaction to too cheesy flirting scenes) and women (you’ll love it, darling) can watch. We feel a little awkward as a group of three chill dudes in the cinema, since everyone else in the theater is either a couple or a girl group.
Too bad we have to notice that the Emo culture got as far as Ottawa – little children in tight pants, heads gravitating towards the floor due to the heavy use of mascara .. ugh, and I thought, I could leave them behind in Europe – a misconception.


Very important to us Austrians: Getting drunk during the afternoon. Inside, we find Stiegl beer and some German classics. I am told not to take pictures inside, to protect the alcoholics or so.

When we try to get home by car, I discover the plastic bag that contained the peaches and the ice. I throw the ice out of the window, and when we stop at a red light, I want to throw the bag into a trash can on the street corner. I push open the door, just to see a bus approaching on the lane next to us and shutting it again.

On the second try I get out of the car, run around some cars and throw the bag gracefully into the trash.
“It’s half hanging outside”, Stefan notes upon my return. I run back, push the bag into the can, run back. Two red cars. Ours must be the latter one. I try to open the door, but it is locked. I look inside and see the outraged face of some 45-year old guy who obviously assumes that I tried to steal his car. I have to jump back as he jumps the car sharply into my direction, throws some hateful gestures towards me and takes off, leaving only some tyre rubber on the concrete.
My heart is getting a mental adrenaline injection, and I get into the right car. “What the fuck were you doing Toby?”, Stefan asks. I don’t know. Saving the environment?

.

We try to navigate back to the hostel, and accidentally end up on a freeway towards Montreal. Isn’t that weird: When we park our car randomly, we unknowingly park it right in front of the hostel, and when we try to find the hostel, we find ourselves on a random freeway that leads to the city we came from.

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