Another rainy day in Ottawa was a perfect excuse to go to Le Nordik Spa, where we wandered from sauna to pool to steam room to restaurant in bathrobes. Odd but enjoyable, especially when we realized while eating dinner in the restaurant in bathrobes (being dressed is verboten) that the couple at the next table were on their first date.

We did get to tour the Parliament buildings on Wednesday, after watching 4,000 people doing yoga on The Hill at lunch time, sponsored by Lulu Lemon. They have been doing this for ten years apparently, all the civil servants come out with their yoga mats and do downward dog in reverence or something. Parliament is about to be closed for ten years for renovations, so I’m glad we were able to see it and the Peace Tower. There was only room on the French tour, and the guide resolutely stuck to French, despite there being only three French speakers on the tour. The Mexicans, Chinese and Germans didn’t seem to mind, and we could ask questions in English, an ingenious way of making sure everything was translated anyway. Eat your heart out, Pierre Trudeau and bilingualism.

Yoga on the The Hill

On to Toronto, staying with Daughter #2 in Cabbagetown, an area with a neighbourly feel, tree-lined residential streets and some unexpected gems. Allan Gardens was one, with Victorian conservatories housing exotic plants and miniature trains chugging around the orchids. It’s open every day and free – beautiful. Torontonians have done a good job at re-purposing places like the Brewery District and the Brick Works and quarries.

Allan Gardens

After we set off her smoke detector multiple times cooking in her flat, Daughter #2 found an authentic Egyptian restaurant in which to have brunch. You can tell by MLH’s smile that it is the Real McCoy, despite the zombie pharaoh behind him.

Zombie Pharaoh