It’s all about the shoes
Taking a ride with Ineke
Special to Canadian Travel Press
In the final part of Ineke Brinkman’s journey through Eastern Ontario, beavertails, red chairs and, believe it or not – Fluevogs.
Our last reservation was at the Courtyard by Marriott on Coventry Road in Ottawa. This hotel choice was based on reputation, underground parking and safety of truck and boat.
We were not disappointed.
The accommodation and services were flawless. The spacious bedroom suite on the 9th floor featured a kitchen counter with fridge, microwave and coffee maker. Utensils and tableware had been COVID-19-protected and taken away, but the hotel staff was more than helpful in providing us with mugs, cutlery and plates. On occasion, we would eat in.
Our first night’s dinner in the hotel’s bistro was superb; a lively atmosphere; we split a delicious broccoli salad and green goddess chicken dish while sipping on a regional craft beer.
A two kilometre bike ride along the Rideau River separated us from the Byward Market where we found Muskoka chairs spaciously placed, occupied by people as colorful as the chairs they sat on.
There was music, conversation and laughter in the air. Hurrah, mankind is connecting.
From a Beavertail Food Stall, we devoured the classic Canadian fried dough pastry with sugar.
Go ahead, try them on
In the blink of my eye I saw the Fluevog store to whose website I had subscribed for some time. The door sign requested an appointment; we called and returned the next day. In my fantasy visiting a Fluevog store would be more than just buying shoes; I had mused about trying on many different, colourful vogs, some for walking, for dancing, for weekend Sundays. Hearing the Vogs’ salesperson utter: “this is your last pair to try on” struck me like a bolt of lightning.
My inner voice echoed: obey the store’s rules for your 30-minute appointment; be kind, be calm and be safe.
I walked out with one pair of heeled shoes in my right and for balance a reduced sale blue patent tardy crepe soled Derby pair of boots, in my left; consoling myself that there are two stores in nearby Toronto should I need to “sole” my Fluevogger feet again.
What is more fun for women than sharing a shopping tale with a girlfriend? We connected with Frankie and her husband Andy; uncorked and savored a bottle of Gatineau wine in the A La Derive Brasserie across the Ontario border; resisting hugs but sharing great tales under the watch of 10 Sussex Drive, winding the day away.
A perfectly royal wave
An early night gets us up at sunrise. At 10 am opening time we lock our bicycles in front of the National Art Gallery. Admission was free. Always being drawn to the (Post) Impressionists, we were thrilled to see works of Monet, van Gogh, Gauguin, Cezanne and others, along with intrinsic Native art displays using a variety of materials, words, song and visuals, one in which a guitarist played “Stairway to Heaven” along the coast of BC.
We felt united and connected.
The weather was too nice to stay inside; back in the saddle we rode along the Canal and then up the Ottawa River to Britannia.
On the way back to the city we were struck by the life-size bronze sculptures of five courageous Alberta women who fought for Women to be recognized as Persons. Their plight was justifiably institutionalized in 1929. The erected Five Famous Monument on the Parliament Hill grounds made us proud.
We could not leave Ottawa without cruising through a few of the 47 locks of the Rideau, an engineering marvel recognized as a Canadian Heritage River and Unesco World Heritage site.
On Monday morning, we slowly motored from Mooney Bay through six locks towards Parliament Hill.
I perfected my “royal wave” to the many walkers and cyclists along the Canal, acknowledging their admiration for David’s 1955 wooden Canadian Chum boat, which he had completely stripped and refurbished into a shiny cedar varnished gem.
Get the biscotti
Amidst some dandy yachts, the Chum disappeared like a dwarf when we docked in front of the iconic Chateau Laurier.
Hearts palpitating for a caffeine boost we went inside the hotel, our temperature was taken and when asked for our reservation, which we did not have, we learned the restaurant was closed and the patio would only open at noon.
The hotel’s concierge gave us the best recommendation: “from the hotel go east on Wellington, turn left on Sussex and then turn right on George, stop at the Italian La Bottega Nicostra fine food shop on the right, walk through the store and at the far end you will find the best barista in town.”
And he added: “make sure to get a biscotti as well.”
What a tasteful ending of an 11-day vacation in Eastern Ontario, during which we masked, washed hands frequently, elected outdoor living, connected remotely with our provincial neighbours and unlocked a piece of beautiful Ontario.
The 560-km ride from Ottawa to St. Catharines was uneventful; most of our road companions carried Ontario license plates: ours to discover.