Despite all the shenanigans overnight, we managed to get to the 9 a.m. appointment for our House of Commons tour, but feeling pretty curly at the edges.
Our guide, Brandon, wasn’t as engaging or as clear as Emma was yesterday. I got the impression that he was relatively new to the gig and a bit nervous. He also had a large party and restless kids to deal with. However, it was still interesting and striking for its similarity to the British House of Commons.
All very cleverly done.
Our last stop on this tour was a committee room, which parallels almost exactly the way it’s done in Britain.
As checkout from the hotel wasn’t until midday, we had plenty of time to find a breakfast wrap and coffee before returning to the hotel.
On checkout, I queried 3 entries of $6.83 in the bill. To my disgust, but not to my surprise, the checkout gent said “Welcome to Ontario. This is the HST (hotel sales tax) on the valet parking charge”. Bloody hell.
Checkout and car collection passed smoothly and we were soon on our way north-eastwards for the 2-hour journey to Mont-Tremblant.
Our viewpoint of Ottawa is rather jaundiced. We were told it was pretty. It is, around the government buildings and the residential area near the Governor-General’s residence, but it seems a poor city generally, lacking investment. Beggars every 100 metres. Depressing, I’m afraid. We were not sorry to leave it.
As regards the hotel, that was also a disappointment. It’s an iconic and historic building, like so many Fairmonts, but the outer promise did not deliver on the inside (like so many Fairmonts). Nice large room, I grant, but it was shabby and dark, actually like most of the hotel. The sticking door was a disgrace. Weedy shower and small bathroom. Understaffed. Expensive. Apart from that, it was great.
Also, good riddance to Ontario and its exorbitant taxes. As soon as we crossed the Ottawa River, we entered the Province of Quebec. Let’s see if this is as much of a rip-off as Ontario…..
Apart from a few attempts to get onto the right road, the journey was memorable mainly for the bursts of absolutely torrential rain, making driving very difficult at times. Still, we made it OK. Far more French language in evidence, both spoken and written.
As we drove up to our hotel – a Mariott Residence Inn – it looked as though we were entering a large scale model village. It reminded me a bit of Poundbury, Prince Charles’ venture near Dorchester, and also of Portmeirion, the model village in Wales. Very artificial and unreal.
However, we checked in to a very nice welcome, and an apology that the air-conditioning wasn’t working, but it will be fixed tomorrow morning. We are therefore not charging you for our underground parking during your (3-night) stay.
This is precisely the sort of gesture I would have liked to have seen from the Fairmont. No chance.
The room turned out to be a delight. Full oven and hob, fridge freezer, microwave, dishwasher, etc. Queen bed each. Loads of space and, to Jean’s glee, a balcony. Not much of a view, but a balcony nevertheless. A guest laundry on our floor.
We decided to eat in for a change, as we had the facilities and this resort village seemed to have shops and everyfink. As we were about to set out, the heavens opened once again. Being made of stern British stuff, we set out suitably attired to the little general store close by.
We purchased enough for a meal of chicken wings, potatoes, carrots and peas, plus some cider and wine. Feast fit for a king, even if most of it was in French.
Prepared the meal with some élan, if I say so myself, and we settled down to eat it. It was then I noticed to my chagrin that the wine was dealcoholised! It was pretty dreadful stuff, it has to be said. And no gin either. A truly sad state of affairs which will be rectified right speedily tomorrow. I think we were the victims of liquor laws – the store could sell beer, but not full-strength wines and certainly not spirits. Anyway, we enjoyed the meal and the cider was fine. And Jean enjoyed a bath thereafter.
Breakfast is included for once here – ironic as we have the wherewithal to do our own thing – but that finishes at the horrendously early hour of 10 a.m. Nothing for it but an early night, then.
Planning to explore this place in more detail tomorrow, but rain is forecast once again. Our long run of sunshine has come to a shuddering halt. ☹️
Will report back tomorrow.