Othy’s Visit – Road Trip

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Our first destination was Cambridge and Waterloo. I took Othy to the school of architecture and we walked around the building and looked at the exhibition at Design at Riverside gallery right before it was about to close. From there we went to Brent and Cathy’s place. We got a tour of the house, shared a lovely meal (lasagna!), went for a walk around the park behind their house, and then Brent introduced Othy to the game of golf! We talked well into the evening over tea and snacks. I was thankful that Othy got to meet this couple that I consider as my surrogate parents!

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We left early the next morning so that we would have time to visit the University of Waterloo before traveling on to Montreal. We drove around the ring road and then went and parked on the east side of the campus on the other side of the tracks. From there we walked to the Cheriton School of Computer Science which is in the Davis Centre. I had not been to this building since visiting the campus while still in high school! We found a graduate studies administrator who provided us with useful information and even gave us a quick tour of the building! Afterwards I took Othy to explore the newer Engineering 5 building (designed by Perkins+Will) since I had not yet been inside. Othy enjoyed looking at many of the research posters that were hanging around the building. There was also an interesting double height collaborative design space on the first two floors.

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Our visit was short and sweet because by 11am we had to be on the road to Montreal in order to get there in the early evening. I had made plans for us to couch surf with a couple from Catalan who I had hosted several months earlier in Toronto. The drive took 7 hours with a short stop for a fast-food lunch. When we were entering the city I accidentally went on the highway heading to downtown instead of uptown where our hosts live, but fortunately Brent and Cathy had given us a map of the city they had lying around and we managed to turn around and get back on track! Not having data on my phone meant getting lost the good old fashioned way! Once we made it to the neighbourhood were our hosts live, we had a very difficult time finding parking! It was worse than Toronto which is saying something! There were all kinds of signs all with different rules and exceptions that could drive anyone crazy! Finally after about twenty or thirty minutes we found a spot. I almost couldn’t believe it and so was triple-checking the sign thinking it was too good to be true! Our hosts were very welcoming and soon had us feeling settled. They have a little toddler who was crawling when I last saw him but was now he was walking! We wanted to pick up some simple things to eat and so our hosts directed us to a small corner store.  It was a nice walk because it was approaching 7:30 and the sun was just setting. When we got back to the apartment our CS hosts surprised us by offering us dinner. They gave us several suggestions for things to see the next day!

We had a bit of a lazy morning and then I had to be on two back-to-back E4C calls and so we didn’t leave the house until noon! We walked to the metro entrance and got a day pass so we could go wherever we wanted. Othy wanted to visit more universities and so we went first to the University of Montreal. It is actually situated on the Mont Real and the main building is very monumental. The ecole polytechnique is beside it. Although the building is quite nice (I remember visiting it on my 2A field trip), we couldn’t for the life of us find the graduate studies office. People kept directing us to different places until finally we were directed to the registrars office who told us to look online. I couldn’t believe that this is how a university would welcome someone who is visiting the campus! From there I was hoping that we could find a way to walk across the mount to the other side where there is a park, a church and McGill University, but there appeared to be no way across. So we descended the hill and took the subway around to the other side. We had more success finding our way around McGill and Othy found someone to  meet with and answer some questions. The campus was made up of some beautiful older stone and brick buildings.

Next we began walking towards the downtown and the waterfront. We came across the Rue St. Catharine which to me felt like the Yonge Street of Montreal. From there I took us on a route toward the water that had some nice parks. I really wanted to take us through the park that I remembered near the Palais de Congres, but was disappointed to find out that is now a construction site. The coloured glass of the Palais de Congres and the pink trees were the same as what I fondly remembered. From there we walked into the old town where the most historical buildings are located. They are beautiful and it felt like we were walking through a European city. By the time we got to the water we were pretty tired and so found our way back to the nearest subway to go back to the apartment. That night I cooked for everyone with food it the corner shop. I made gnocchi in a rose sauce that turned out well. We headed out pretty early the next morning because we had to move our car before nine and we also had a long journey ahead back to Toronto and then on to Beamsville! I also had plans to stop and show Othy a few special places along the way…. To be continued!

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