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The rest of Canada

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Time for a catch up entry. I would despair for our ability to update the blog while we are traveling, if it were not for the fact that our schedule gives the entire US and Canada as much time as Ecuador and Peru. I figure that once we're off the continent, we'll have a little more time for reflection (and a lot more to reflect about). In the meantime, a bit of what we've been up to since Prince Edward Island:

    Quebec: After leaving PEI early on June 28, we made it all the way to Quebec. Hotels.com let us down a bit, recommending the Ambassadeur Hotel, which even by business hotel standards had surly service, rough rooms, and was not particularly well-priced. Our strategy--quite mistaken--was to stay in the outskirts of Quebec City and use public transit to head into the Old Town. Within Old Town Quebec there are quite a few bed and breakfasts, the city itself is quaint and (seemingly) safe enough to leave a van full of goods, and it didn't look like we saved much.

    That is, unless one compares prices to those at Le Chateau Frontenac, one of the old city's major attractions. Easily one of the nicest luxury hotels I have ever seen, the Frontenac holds a commanding view of the St. Lawrence River. One of the best views is from the St-Laurent Bar and Lounge (which serves a fantastic Manhattan, incidentally). A great hotel, and worth looking at even if you don't stay there.

    Quebec_Masks.jpgIf you wander a bit southeast from the Frontenac, you encounter a set of stairs leading quite a way down to the riverbank, an artsy area full of tourist shops and crafts. While very attractive, none of the shops were really unskippable, and the architecture in the districts to the northeast of the Frontenac (including Notre Dame de Quebec) far outshine anything one will find in the shopping arcade.

  • Montreal: We saw little of Montreal, as we needed to speed our way to Ottawa for Canada Day. (For the record, the Gouveneur outside Montreal is far better than the Ambassadeur.) Our Montreal experience consisted almost entirely of a stop at an auto shop for a fuse and an attempt to eat at Les Infidels which failed due to a lack of being open for lunch.

  • Ottawa:Really, Ottawa can be summed up in a few short phrases. Good, cheap Vietnamese eats at Saigon Boy Noodle House. Lots of Rain. And then Canada Day, July 1, on Canada Day.

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    Queen Elizabeth attended the festivities, and I felt sorry for her standing in the bright sun as all the pageantry went by. Given the length of the introductions, I wanted someone--anyone--to approach her gallantly and give her a chair to sit in. The later festivities consisted mostly of musical acts I'd not heard of and the Barenaked Ladies, who have changed lead singers since their heyday. Although the music didn't do much for me itself, however, the cheerful crowd made for a great time.

    One sorrowful note: following the World Cup, it appears that for the foreseeable future at least one jerk in every large crowd at a public event will decide to turn up with a vuvuzela. One question that was not asked at the Kagan confirmation hearings, but should have been, was whether vuvuzelas might somehow be exempted from constitutional protection for freedom of expression. If not, please: don't be that guy.

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