Monday, July 30, 2007

I'm Ottawa Bound!

I am deliriously excited about an upcoming trip I'm taking with the Mrs. to Ottawa, Ontario. I've been living in the Canton/Potsdam, NY area now for almost four years and have yet to make the measly two hour trip to the major city right in my backyard. I've always wanted to go, but the trip has been another of those things that gets put on the back burner of a busy life. Like many of those things that get set aside (keeping in touch with old friends, finding enough quality time with the family, etc.), this is an unfortunate oversight that will soon be remedied. We decided fairly quickly to go with the cheaper one night at the hotel instead of the full weekend, so we have a very limited amount of time to work with, certainly not nearly enough time to do everything we'd like.

Wait, what does this have to do with Settlers of Catan?

So now I've leaped into board game 'maximization mode.' I need to figure out exactly how to spend my limited resources (time & money) on activities in Ottawa to maximize our total benefit over the weekend (turn)! Of course the Mrs. would say that this is best put in economic terms, being an economist and all, but not for me! In my mind I've got a massive handful of resource cards and I'm trying to figure out exactly what I need to exchange and then build to get those last two victory points and win this one for the good guys! Is this guy for real? You bet I am! Now where was I?

The Task at Hand

Right, Ottawa! Now first things first: I need to define the basic parameters of our trip. My mom has graciously offered to watch the kids for the weekend. (Thanks mom!) She should be arriving on the Friday of our excursion at about noon. Half an hour to get the kids settled, two hours on the road, half an hour to get checked into the hotel and we're off to see the city by 3:00ish. We're staying one night so the task at hand is to plan activities from 3:00 Friday until Saturday about 10:00ish (late enough to have as much fun as possible, early enough to still feel very comfortable driving home). Am I putting way too much thought into this? Yes, almost certainly I am! Will my best laid plans be scattered like so many leaves in an autumn storm? Why are you asking so many negative questions? Admit it, you're one of those glass half empty people aren't you! Here's the plan thus far:

  • Friday 2:30pm Check into Inn on Somerset, the B&B where we decided to spend our night. It seemed to be the best combination of location and price.
  • Friday 3:00-6:00pm Begin some initial exploration of the tourist attractions in Ottawa, hopefully by foot. Interesting spots can be more thoroughly visited on Saturday.

  • Friday 6:30pm Dinner. Now I am a cook and love good food. This makes me a bit of a restaurant snob--I am very picky about where I eat, which makes choosing a restaurant a fairly difficult task. Here's my list so far with pros & cons:
  1. Anna's Thai Restaurant. Pros: Excellent customer reviews on Cons: Location isn't all that close to Absolute Comedy Club (next on our agenda). Do we want to eat Thai?

  2. Bento Sushi. Pros: Good reviews on, closer to where we are staying than other recommended sushi places, I haven't had sushi for years. Cons: Not nearly as close to Absolute Comedy as the next two on my list.

  3. Leonardo's Ristorante. Pros: In Little Italy right next to Absolute Comedy, least expensive of the lot. Cons: Menu doesn't look as extensive or as appealing as Trattoria Caffe Italia.

  4. Trattoria Caffe Italia. Pros: Excellent reviews on, great menu, very close to comedy club. Cons: Much more expensive than Leonardo's. So many decisions to make, no clear answer!
  • Friday 8:30pm Absolute Comedy in Little Italy. I've always wanted to go to a comedy club, and this one seems good and moderately priced. I'm not familiar with the comedians performing, but I'm excited about this nonetheless. Plus they serve drinks, so I'm sure we'll have fun!
  • Friday 11:00pm ByWard Market nightlife. There are lots of bars and clubs in Ottawa's ByWard Market from Irish pubs to blues bars to trendy clubs with a DJ. I think we'll just have a bunch of places in mind and wander the Market looking for what feels right.
  • Saturday 1:00am Pass out back at the Inn. On the map our hotel seems like it is very reasonable walking distance from the Market, which is a big feature.
  • Saturday 9:00am Eat a big breakfast at the Inn or wander a little and find a nice spot to spend a leisurely weekend morning.

  • Saturday 10:30am See the sights! Walk the city, check out a museum or two, see what fun things we can find. The better we get to know where things are in the city, the more fun we'll have next time we scrape up the money for a trip!

  • Saturday 7:00pm Grab a bite to eat, something cheap like a slice of pizza, a sandwich, or a burger. Find another fun spot to have a couple drinks and have some fun, either at the Market or somewhere else we've found in our travels.

  • Saturday 9:00 or 10:00pm Wrap things up and head for home--hopefully very satisfied!

What didn't make the cut:

  • Ottawa Lynx baseball. The triple A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles will be out of town for the weekend. Also, there is little use getting attached to this team since they've been sold and will be relocating to Pennsylvania next year. I love baseball, but I'll have to wait for another time.
  • Casino du Lac-Leamy. This nearby casino would be a real blast, but several considerations will prevent us from going: 1. The Mrs. would be bored. 2. It would eat up lots of time. 3. I live an hour from a casino anyway. 4. It would put a real damper on our trip if I lost lots of money on top of spending lots of money on the weekend already. "Come on, honey, what's another $100?"
  • Ottawa's vibrant strip club scene. For some reason the Mrs. doesn't really want to go. Women! Maybe next time I'm in town for a business trip... Apparently the city has lots of escort services as well. This really is the big time, huh?

Are we there yet?

If anyone out there has any recommendations for our trip, please don't hesitate to let me know. I'd like our weekend to be the most fun possible. On a side note, are you sufficiently bored yet? No? Well, I suppose you could go read a dictionary until I manage another post.

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