Il fait froid en Ottawa, eh!

Moment of awesome

IMG_5729It has been a while since I last visited a country for the first time. Canada has been on my list for a long time. I was expecting lots of maple syrup, friendly people, and a somewhat more laid back atmosphere than the US. One week into my trip up north and Justin Trudeau’s Canada has not disappointed (apart from the anticipated lower temperatures). The first couple of days I had to get used to the cold, so I sought refuge in a local coffee bar. I noticed the above sign when I entered the bar. For me, I hold these basic principles of respect to be self-evident and thought the sign was a bit abundant. However, I may have jumped to conclusions too quickly. 15 minutes after I seated myself an intoxicated older lady walked in and shouted to the girl behind the bar, “this coffee is so expensive! That’s because of the muslims”. The moment the lady opened her mouth everyone stopped what they were doing and looked over. I estimate the girl behind the bar was 19 years old, had around a dozen tattoos spread across her arms, and had a calm yet lively demeanor. I was curious to see how she would handle the situation and I cannot say anything other than that I was impressed! When the lady stopped screaming, the girl calmly stated that the bar is open to anyone with respect for others and that the lady’s comments were disrespectful. The girl requested the lady to leave the bar and called her manager over. After a short verbal scrimmage, the lady left and everyone in the bar was in awe. I went up to the girl to check if she was OK; she was.

Although a racist slur sparked this moment, the girl’s response was my favorite moment of the week. In a world that seems to struggle with the pace of globalization and intercultural respect I felt this was a positive note. I found it inspiring to see someone steadfastly stand by her beliefs and I deeply respect her response. IT WAS AWESOME!

Off to more cheerful stories! Read More

<a href=" best fat burning” rel=”lightbox[394]”>IMG_5634I had originally planned to visit Canada later in the year, but my friends on Cape Cod recommended to go now to avoid extreme cold temperatures. Taking their advice to heart I contacted a long-time friend I had know from my exchange in Texas 7 years ago. Arianne has Venezuelan roots but has made North America her home. As far as hosts go, Arianne is definitely worthy of a gold medal. After we took a taxi home from the airport, she lent me her winter coat to battle the freezing temperatures. We talked about memories of our exchange year over a simple, yet delicious oven pizza dinner. The next day, Arianne took me for a little tour around town. Ottawa is a relatively small and sleepy town, particularly compared to the other cities I have visited. However, whatever it lacks in size, it makes up for in beauty. The British influences on the town’s architecture are not hard to discover. The Parliament building is reminiscent of London’s Big Ben, where the East Block reminded me of Hogwarts (no-one had seen Harry Potter though).

IMG_5744Later this week, I visited the Canadian Museum of History. To get there, I crossed the Alexandra Bridge (see picture) connecting the English-speaking province of Ontario with the Francophone Quebec. The Ottawa River is not only the separation between the French and English-speaking part of the city, it is also the border between Ontario and Quebec.

The Canadian Museum of History is probably one of the prettiest buildings I have ever seen, both on the inside as the outside. They had three temporary exhibitions: Gold rush, Napoleon and Paris, and Horse Carriages. I thought the latter was going to be dull, but turned out to be my favorite. As it turned out the Canadians loved ice-racing and the French had to create speed regulation as early as 1702! The rest of the museum featured mainly first-nation art – Inuit art if you will. I found their art very profound and appreciated the deep connection the artists seemed to have with their environment. It was nice to see how Canada is facing – and in some way maybe even a bit proud of – its pre-European history.

Favorite landscape picture

In true experimental spirits, I’m trying out a new video concept: 2-minute tour. Since I travel so much and it’s often difficult to select one or two landscape scenes, I decided to highlight a number of spots in the city. I use a combination of cinematic techniques in the below video. The video is very calm, as a reflection of my internal experience during this trip.

— Please let me know in the comment section below what you think about the concept of the 2-minute tour, and your thoughts on the clip itself! —

Best meal

1 Chocolate fondueI thought the Belgians had mastered the chocolate game, but ‘Cacao 70’ is in a league of its own. The menu offers chocolate from more than 20 locations worldwide, varying in darkness from 37% up to 89%. I would not recommend substituting your dinner for this local delicacy, but after this chocolate fondue and hot chocolate neither me or my friend felt like eating the rest of the night. Ow and if you are a single guy and can’t find a girl, go to this place! I was the only guy in a restaurant filled with 20 women (yes, I counted).


Favorite quote

“Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, but about learning to dance in the rain.”

– Anthony Robbins (1960 – present). American business man, philanthropist, and author of ‘Unlimited Power’, ‘Unleash the Power Within’, and ‘Awaken the Giant Within’. The above quotes is from his latest book ‘Money: Master the Game’. The reason I picked this quote is because I need to stretch every single (Canadian) Dollar I currently have. Personal financial management is so important because it satisfies our basic human needs of certainty, variety, significance, connection, and growth. In the words of Robbins, “money can make us feel secure, pay for a varied and exciting life, give us a sense of importance, support love and connection with others, and help propel personal growth.” One caveat: if you rely on money to make you feel significant, you will always feel empty inside. Moreover, most people spend more time figuring out the settings on their new phone then they do working on a sound plan for their personal finance. Be smarter than those people ?

Favorite gadget / book / app / life hack

freakonomics radioAs I roam through the streets of whatever city I visit, I often listen to Freakonomics Radio. Other than what the name suggests, it’s actually a podcast rather than a radio show. Freakonomics originally refers to the book, written by Steven D. Levitt (professor of economics at the University of Chicago) and Stephen J. Dubner (author, journalist, and TV and radio personality). The book sales far exceeded their expectations and led the authors to continue their work in a blog, a documentary, a film, and the podcast. I find the podcast amazingly informative, yet very accessible. The subjects that are discussed on the podcast range include economics, psychology, politics, and just about any social phenomena you can imagine. These subjects might sound like ‘dry’ material, but Dubner (the podcast host) has a way to make the podcast a pleasure to listen to. My favorite episodes are “How Much Does the President Really Matter?” and “Why Do We Really Follow the News?“.


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