17/4 The pounding of waves just metres away was a sensational
rhythm to wake up to was, sand through absolutely everything was a
little less agreeable.
It was a slow day's slog as the wind
was blowing in an unfavourable direction, but there were a lot of
nice old little towns to pass through which helped a lot.
township of Wellington entertained me for lunch at the Wellington
Grill. The town of 1,700 shared the same name as my beloved
home-town, but other than the fact it was by the water, there were a
lot of nice old wooden houses and a few businesses shared the same
names, there were few other similarities.
Wellington, NZ, Wellington, ON was close to a quaint town called
Picton. Picton, ON is the main city in the Prince Edward County, so
is the most lively, with a lot of nice old buildings converted into
restaurants and craft shops to cater for the tourists.
Picton, I rode around part of Lake on the Mountain, a lake nestled
on top of a hill, apparently fascinating as there are no run-in
The short ride down the hill led to me to a free
10-minute ferry ride across a choppy channel.
The lake front
road wound its way around Lake Ontario taking me to Kingston,
birthplace of Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and ice
Breaking the stretch of strip malls and fast food
joints leading into town was a beautiful, large, limestone castle
that resembled the magic kingdom at Disneyland. I genuinely thought
that it was a fun park, but when I got closer and could see the tall
stone walls either side of it, blanketed with barbed wire, I
realised that it was one of the city's many prisons. I stayed with
Marc, a ceramic artist and friend of the Chaputs of Sault Ste.
Marie. Marc's house was downtown, so it was a short walk to look at
his gallery and some of the spots around it including a church with
gravestones dating back to the 1600's, and then we went for a bite
and a beer at one of the pubs downtown.
18/4 Kingston has had an interesting history and even had a
stint as the capital of Canada from 1841-1844. It is easy to see why
3 million tourists a year are attracted to the city of just over
100,000, by taking a look around at all of the handsome old
I took the route that Marc had mapped
out for me to leave town, weaving its way around the historic
section of Kingston, starting at a couple more prisons. Although the
prisons weren't as grand as the palace that I had passed yesterday,
they would still leave most places' city halls for dead. If I was
the victim of a dastardly crime, or the police or lawyers that put
the crook away, I would be annoyed if they ended up at any of the
stunning correctional facilities that I passed, they were almost an
incentive to be naughty.
The road down the lake side took me
past some magnificent mansions, then the reputable Queens University
and through downtown, notably city hall and numerous churches, all
seemingly built in the same era - long ago.
Over the causeway
was the Royal Military College and a historic Fort, so there was a
lot to see.
The ride north, leaving the Great Lakes, was
similar to the rural setting I have ridden through in the last
couple of days, with a few rocks like the ones in Northern Ontario.
So with a few nice old towns chucked in, and no headwind like
yesterday, it was quite a pleasant ride, topped off by a golden find
of a grassy paddock surrounded by trees to camp
19/4 It wasn't much of a ride until I reached the outskirts
of the Canada's Federal Capital, Ottawa.
The city has a
reputation of being bike-friendly, which is nice to know when you're
pedalling yourself. I took the well marked out bike trail along the
Ottawa River, which took me over 15km into the heart of downtown
The Canadian Government has obviously spent a lot of
money keeping the Nation's house of Government spick 'n' span, with
the area around the parliament buildings being very well maintained.
The area had the nicest collection of spectacular old buildings that
I have seen in Canada so far.
I was staying with Michael
Foucher (Foosh), in what I am guessing is the most studly apartment
in Ottawa, right across the road from the National Art Gallery and
the new American Embassy with its $2m steps.
20/4 My obvious start for the grand tour of Ottawa was the
parliament buildings, the most predominant landmark in this city of
a million, proudly perched on parliament hill overlooking the Ottawa
River. The buildings were quite a sight, with the large, centre
block and its tall peace tower, being the focal point of them. To
the left and right of the grand building were two more buildings,
almost as dignified, with towers and fine masonary work as well. The
three buildings together formed a 'U' shape, with a pleasant grassy
patch in the centre.
The tour took me around the important
spots including the House of Commons, the Senate, the library and a
few other halls. Some of the detail in the buildings walls and
ceilings was superb, with stories being told in many of the carved
stone. As impressive as the parliament buildings were, I didn't
think they had too much on the Provincial Parliament buildings that
I had seen in Regina.
After the guided visit, I sat out on
the parliament steps and rested my feet for a short time and soaked
up the atmosphere, enjoying the warm afternoon and the music booming
to the grassy area out front, including everything from First
Nations music, to French, to classical to some familiar bag-pipe
tunes. I looked around town, which included a stop-off at the New
Zealand High Commission, which had closed early for the easter
weekend. There still was a guy working some overtime, who I had a
good yarn with, before taking a quick squiz at the Dominion, the
morning paper from back home.
Foosh finished work, and after
a quick tour of some of the grand homes in Ottawa along the river,
including the Prime Minister's residence and a few embassies, we
picked up his friend Ingrid, who had just finished her last exam for
the university year, and went out for a few beers in the downtown,
which was alive and kicking as there was a public holiday the next
21/4 - 23/4 Foosh's friend Nicole had organised a weekend
away with about 30 of their friends and offspring staying in two
chalets in Mount Tremblant, Quebec's premier ski resort, about a
two-hour drive from Ottawa. The town itself recently had a lot of
money spent on it developing it and looked cool, but a little bit
plasticy, very similar to Whistler, which was no surprise, as
Intrawest, the company that owns Whistler, owns Mount Tremblant as
The chalet we stayed in was a beautiful old, gabled,
timber-interiored home overlooking a lake. It seemed to be the
central meeting place, and was always the hive of activity, with an
abundant supply of alcohol and very well cooked food. I was in
heaven as I was able to eat or drink whenever I felt like
The weekend was incredibly relaxing, playing with the
kids, watching cheesy 80's videos, playing board games, attending a
9 year-old's birthday, and general socialising, with the most
exercise in the three days being a 30-minute hike down to the river.
It was such a good break, as I find even when I have stopped in a
town in the past, I have been busy trying to see the sites, so this
was the best rest I had had in a long time.
It was also great
to be in Quebec. Ottawa is neat city as there are a lot of people
speaking French as well as English, but in Quebec, everyone speaks
French. Just going into a cruddy liquor store was fun as it felt
like an artsy-fartsy french restaurant as the server greets you with
'Bonjour'. The drive home was one big French lesson from Foosh,
where he kindly told me a lot of the basic words that it would help
to know in this part of the world, and then patiently listened to me
trying to pronounce the language of love with my thick kiwi
24/4 As relaxing as the weekend was, we must have both still
been pretty tired because we both slept in until almost midday. With
half the day gone, we went for a drive in the suburbs, stopping at a
nice Italian restaurant in Gleeb for brunch, and then went to the
architecturely-impressive National Art Gallery of Canada.
gallery had some incredible works from artists such as van Gough,
Picasso and Monet and the uniquely Canadian Group of Seven, who
painted some interesting impressions of Canada, but the highlight of
gallery for me was the large collection of Inuit art - comical, yet
tasteful, carvings, generally of greenstone. It almost tempted me to
change my course and ride to the far North to see more of this
I only had 20 minutes at the war museum before close,
so I had a quick look around the exhibiton on the Canadian
contribution to the Boer War. Across the road was the Notre Dame
cathedral, with its two silver steeples and stunning