My Own Backyard

ottawa parliament buildings[trip style = sightseeing]

A Taster Today I'm leaving Vancouver on  jetplane. My two week get-to-know-my-own-backyard trip will take me to Ottawa, Montreal, Moncton, St. Andrews by the Sea, Halifax and Charlottetown.  Although this whirlwind adventure doesn't even get me close to exploring all the wonders of Canada's East Coast, at least it's a start, a taster per se.

No Passport Required Traveling sans passport is weird, yet refreshing. The last time I was in Eastern Canada (not including airport visits) it was 1992 and I was in grade 7. I went with my French Immersion class on a trip to Quebec.  It was a cool -25 degrees celcius, and the St. Lawrence River--or fleuve Saint-Laurent--was partially frozen.  My french class stayed in a dumpy hostel in the shadow of the Fairmont Chateau Frontenac (really?) and given the absence of my parents, I may have eaten McDonald's every day for lunch.  Both my lodging preferences and eating habits have changed since then.

Why am I going? Since most of the travel I do is international, I want to be able to tell people more about my own country, not just the small pockets I've visited to date. It's semi embarrassing when I meet tourists who've seen more of the country that put the North in North America than I have, but it's a big place. It's the second largest country in the world with a population similar to California's.  Speaking of California, ironically, last time I was there my friend pointed out George Stroumboulopoulos (Canada's famed late-night, gen-X talk show host). The fact is I'm proud to be Canadian, so I want to visit more of this mammoth land mass and meet more of my neighbours before I venture off to foreign soil again.

Ottawa for Canada Day One event I'm super excited about is participating in the Canada Day celebrations in Ottawa (Canada's Capital). I think it's kind of a propos--something I can check off my life list or that would my make my grade 4 teacher proud. For as long as I can remember, I've always watched Canada Day celebrations on CBC. The colours that stood out were red, white and green. Red for the mounties in uniform leading their horses in formation; 'white' for the Parliament buildings and Steven Harper's hair (and I mean no disrespect, running this country has got to be stressful, especially in light of the recent G20 rukus) and green for grass where the horses march and the parliament buildings sit.  I'll get to see all this with friends who live in Ottawa! Bonus.

How am I going I booked this trip using Air Canada Aeroplan miles.  Twenty five thousand miles plus $125 in taxes got me an economy ticket from Vancouver to Moncton with a week stop-over in Ottawa.  My husband and I wanted to fly as far as we could within our domestic points allowance to maximize the opportunity.  So, we're going coast to coast.

Although I'm an enthusiastic ambassador for Canada, I don't feel totally authentic in that self-imposed role, not yet at least. I have so much more to see: the 100,000+ lakes in Saskatchewan, Toronto in its cosmopolitan glory, Ontario's Muskoka region where all the design mags' editors have cottages, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut, The Northwest Territories and so on.  Canada, I promise to see more of you in the future.  It's not you, it's me.

PS - research shows that people scan the written word, but pay special attention to the PS line, so, if you're more of a picture than word person, I'll post pics along the way.

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[photo by Steph & Adam]