Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Vancouver, Victoria & Seattle

I left Ottawa in the morning of the 18th February to go to the airport and take the plane to Vancouver. I had already seen that our flight was canceled due to a snowstorm in Toronto but they rescheduled us on another flight a few hours later. We even got a $10 food voucher that we spent at Tim Hortons - like true Canadians ;)
A friend of Natacha and her friend met us in Vancouver and we rented bikes on the first day in Vancouver to take a ride through and around Stanley Park. I really, really like Vancouver!! We had such nice views and I loved how you can see the mountains right behind the big city. The weather was really great as well so it was a great day to do that. Later we passed Gastown and went to Chinatown for lunch. In the evening we went to a Open Mic Stand-up Comedy Show which was a lot of fun.
Unfortunately the weather wasn't as nice the following days so we had to manage sightseeing while holding our umbrellas. We took the Sea Bus to North Vancouver and went to Lynn Valley to hike in the park. There's a suspension bridge that we crossed which was pretty cool. After lunch back in the hostel we went to Granville Island. I bet this place is fantastic during summer time. It was nice anyways despite the rain but there was no outdoor stuff going on. There's a market area and lot's of cafés and art places.
On thursday we did the long journey (about 4 hours) to Victoria on Vancouver Island. We were not sure if it was really worth the trip cause it's also quite expensive (around $50) but we've heard only good things about the city. The city is pretty beautiful but there's not really that much to see so we were a little disappointed. We walked along the shore which did offer a great view and the houseboats were really neat.
The next morning it was time to say bye bye to Canada as we boarded the bus to Seattle. We got there around late noon and after checking in at the hostel we went to an amazing Mexican restaurant for lunch. Afterwards we started sightseeing at the Olympic Park where you can see interesting sculpture art work. Then we went to the Pike Place Market where we saw the first Starbucks and people selling all kinds of stuff in the market area. Just nearby there's the bubblegum wall. It's pretty gross to see all that chewed gum up on that wall but also fascinating with what ideas people come up with. Later a friend of Natacha's friend's friend drove us around in her car and we got to see different neighborhoods of Seatlle by car. We had a lovely fish dinner in a restaurant by the water.
The next morning it was only Natacha and me left and we wanted to see the Space Needle. We didn't go up cause it was too expensive for us. Next we checked out a convention hall or something next to the Space Needle after we realized that everything in that area costs way too much money to enter and there was a sign that said there was 'entertainment' in that hall. AND YES THERE WAS. There were tons of people playing yo-yo. They had a competition going on and while we were watching it was the children's turn and all those little boys (8-14 years I guess) went up on the stage and did a spectacular yo-yo routine. We watched for a while until they took a two hour lunch break. We decided to go to the Fremont district which is supposed to be a hipster part of the city. We really liked it; not because it's hipster though ;) They had an incredible vintage store where we spent more than an hour. We found a nice place for lunch there as well and afterwards walked back to the city center and the mall for some shopping. Before going back to the hostel we went to the Space Needle once again to get a picture at night :D
The next morning we took the ferry to Bainbrdige Island. Apparently that's the ferry they take in Grey's Anatomy (which I never watch so I didn't know about it). There was a bike race going on that day so there were hundreds of bikers with us on the ferry and the island. We followed the Waterfront trail and saw some nice places on the island. Later we went back to the shopping area and the cheesecake factory for lunch and desert!! :)
In the evening we had to go to the airport and I said bye to the last person I know from Ottawa.
I had a long and uncomfortable night with no sleep at the airport ahead of me but a few hours later I arrived at San Francisco airport ready to visit my hostfamily...but that's another story ;)
I might post some pics later but now I'm too lazy ....

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bye Bye Canada

My time in Canada is up! We'll leave Vancouver after a couple of nice days (will blog about that later) tomorrow early morning to go to Seattle.
Thank you Canada for the wonderful time!!! I really liked living and travelling here and hope to come back someday! :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Final Weekend in Ottawa

That's it! I'm leaving Ottawa tomorrow after six wonderful, exciting and fun months with so many great people. It's 3am, my suitcases are packed and I'm about to try to get some sleep before getting up again in a few hours to go to the airport and fly to Vancouver. I'm not really tired though which may be because of the last minute pumkin pie I made earlier and gave me a litte sugarrush...

The past few days were filled with a lot of goodbyes but also lots of fun stuff. I had a big to do list and I managed to get everything done (excpet exchanging all my coins for dollar bills because the machine was broken). Last Wednesday I met my langauge tandem buddy Viviane for the last time. We met almost every week since September to talk German and French together. On Thursday we had a few drinks at my friends' place where I was staying and a few more goodbyes followed. Same on Friday. Friday evening we went to an international dance event at city hall which was part of the Winterlude Snow Festival in Ottawa. On Saturday I finally went Ice skating on the Rideau Canal with Xela. It was really nice but our feet were dying after almost two hours on the ice. In the evening I enjoyed the incredible Ottawa night life for the last time (including yet more goodbyes). Today Xela and I went to get my last Beavertail at the market and walked through the Winterlude area again to take some pictures of the ice sculptures. Later we got together again at Natacha's place (where I've been staying this weekend) and hung out a bit for the last time. Then it was time to say goodbye to my lovely former roomie Xela :(
The final packing session started afterwards and now I'm all ready to go. It's so weird that I won't be in Ottawa anymore in a few hours and probably won't come back in a long time but I'm really thankful that I was able to make this experience and I can't wait to travel again to meet all these amazing people again somewhere in this world!!

Goodbye Ottawa, it's been a pleasure and I will miss my life here a lot!! :)


I just checked for the status of our flight and BÄÄÄM! WOOHOO! That's gonna be fun tomorrow......

Monday, February 11, 2013

My last week in Ottawa

Sooo much moving my stuff around Ottawa these days again ....
I moved out of my sublet room last Friday and stayed with Natacha for the weekend and now I'm staying at 2 other friends' place (thank you Camille and Clementine) until Friday and then move back to Natacha's place for the last weekend. What would I do without friends here in Ottawa?? :)
I made a to-do list with stuff I still wanna/need to do while I'm here; it's quite long. One of them is skating on the canal which we didn't manage to do last time cause they didn't have any skates that fit me....apparently I have really big feet for Canadian standards but too tiny legs to be able to wear man skates :( we'll try again. But we went skiing a week ago which was nice. Unfortunately the snow was really bad and basically pure ice so it wasn't the most fun thing ever but still good for a day.
Since I had to move already I'm done packing and my suitcase isn't even too heavy (mainly due to the fact that I sorted out tons of stuff - once again).
I hope I'll get to see and especially eat all the things I plan to so that I can leave Ottawa with no regrets ;)

Skiing at Mont St. Marie

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dogsledding Trip

Last weekend I went on a day trip with the university's outdoor activities program to go dogsledding. I was looking forward to a trip like this basically since I knew I was gonna go to Canada and it was an amazing experience!
We left pretty early in the morning and when we got to the place in Gatineau Park you could already hear all the dogs "bark". It really sounded like wolves and it was very loud. The owners greeted us and we all went inside the cottage to stay warm. They brought three little puppies and let us hold them. They were SOOOOOO cute!!! We devided the group into three smaller group and mine was the first one to go dogsledding. It took quite a long time until they got all the dogs out and put them in front of the sleds. It was really cold, windy and snowy so I got a little worried that it would "ruin" the experience but once we got going it was sunny and the snow stopped. We were 5 students and one of the owners. It was more difficult to steer the sled than I had thought but I got used to it after a while. We had to stop every now and then because the dogs started fighting or just had to pee or poop :D
I was sad when we got back to the cottage after almost an hour and wanted to go again :) But the dogs needed to rest and it was time for the other groups. Before that we had lunch around the fireplace in the cottage. After the second group had left with the dogs, my group went cross-country skiing. It was pretty fun and it's so different from downhill skiing. I fell right at the beginning when I tried to get down a little "hill" and the "pizza slice" move didn't work with those long skis. I managed to control the skis after a while though and enjoyed going through the little trails in the forest.
Afterwards we all came back to the cottage and had apple and sugar pie.
The last part of the day was snowshoeing. We got these big thingies to put under your shoes and it feels weird to walk with them and quite a challenge not to fall. We walked through the forest once again and the sun set during the walk so we could see it through the trees which looked really beautiful. Once we got back, it had  cooled down a lot and we were all pretty tired and exhausted so it was a good time to go home.
It was such a special day that I will probably never forget :)

In other news, I have booked my flight from Seattle to San Francisco!!! YAY! I'll go there on February 25th until I leave North America again to go back home to Germany on March 21st. Still almost 2 months to go.
Ottawa has been EXTREMELY cold last week (I saw -27°C once but apparently it was even colder at some point) so it is a bit difficult to get yourself outside if you don't really have to ;) It is getting warmer again though and you start thinking that -10 is a hot summer's day!!
We'll go ice skating on Rideau Canal tomorrow and we booked a shuttle bus + lift ticket to go skiing next weekend.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

One month left in Ottawa

Natacha and me finally booked our plane tickets to Vancouver. I will leave Ottawa on February 18th. We'll spend a couple of days in Vancouver and then go to Seattle. Natacha will fly back to Ottawa from there and I will hop on a plane to San José, CA to visit my hostfamily!! :)

We had a really warm weekend last week ( +6°C and rain!!) but temperatures dropped again. Thursday had lovely -22 or even less (feels like -30). BRRRR! It snowed again yesterday but it's also warmer again this weekend which is nice because I have my dogsledding/snowshoeing trip tomorrow and I don't wanna freeze the whole day in -20 °C. I'm really excited for that!! Besides, the Rideau Canal is now open for ice skating so we will do that very soon as well.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas, New Year's and Winter Time in Ottawa

It's been a while but I finally managed to get back to my blog after more than a month....
Since then quite some things happened: I finished my finals (by now I already got some grades back and they're pretty good so far), enjoyed tons of snow in Ottawa (including an awesome middle-of-the-night snowball fight), had a lovely Christmas dinner (we all cooked different things; I made 'Rouladen' with red cabbage and potatoes + Apfelstrudel for desert), been to New York City and Boston for a week over New Year's and moved out of my house and into my new room in a house where I'm gonna stay for a month before couchsurfing with some friends and then going to Vancouver. I hated moving out of my house and now not being able to go back there :D it's weird to know that other people are living there now...
The NYC trip was fun but the way there and back with Greyhound was a disaster. NEVER take Greyhound if there is a way to avoid it!!! The first time we got stuck in the middle of NY State for a couple of hours in the middle of the night and had to wait for another bus and on the way back from  Boston to Montreal we didn't have heating for almost 3 hours. Once we got to Montreal at 7-8am we had to find a rideshare to Ottawa which seemed impossible so we decided to buy the expensive bus ticket for Greyhound. We were about to get on the 9am bus when they closed the door cause the bus was full. Then I saw that someone called me on my phone but cause I'm not paying an extra 10 bucks or so for caller ID I dint't know who called but guessed it was one of the 20 people we texted for the rideshare. Fortunately the guy called again and offered us a rideshare for 10am. We managed to get our money back for the bus tickets and got a way cheaper and faster ride back to Ottawa! YAY. Once we got to Ottawa (completely exhausted and cold in -15 °C) we had to get all my stuff from my old neighbors' place to my new room. We've done a lot of walking with suitcases through the snow lately :D
Sasha is staying with me in the room until she starts her journey back home the next weekend which is nice so we get to spend a lot of time together :) She'll be the last goodbye for now. That brings me to all the other goodbyes within the last few weeks. Since I choose to stay longer than anyone else of those who only spent one semester here I had to say goodbye to everyone and watch them leave...Today we had to say bye to Tessie who is now on her way back to Argentina :( Way too many goodbyes lately but I will save up sooooo much money that I can visit all of my Ottawa friends and of course my California friends soon! Scandinavia is next and then South America in 2014.

Classes started again today but I don't have to go to any :D That's kind of nice but I still don't have anything to do for the next month except everything I've been wanting to do and never got around to like reading all the books I brought, starting to learn Spanish online and sending those christmas cards I still have here ;) They will get to Germany eventually.....

Christmas Dinner
Pie anyone??

NYC Times Square

Rockefeller Center with Sasha

Rockefeller Center

Boston - Bunker Hill
Massachusetts State House

Freezing on the bus from Boston to Montreal