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Great Escapes Christmas in Canada 2008
(Entered Jan. 02, 2009)
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Although visiting Canada in the dead of winter isn't quite as ideal as visiting in the summer, it still has it's charm. Winter in Ottawa tends to start sometime in early January, and many years it's not really that cold in December, and often doesn't even snow until around Christmas. Not so this year. We arrived on the 19th to a temperature of -29 degrees celcius and lots and lots of snow. During our vacation Kumi got to experience all the fun of a Canadian winter packed into about 10 days: three blizzards, a high of +10 degrees where the snow turned to slush, then a freezing rain which turned Ottawa into a big, murderous skating rink. I had planned on various outdoor activities like skiing but the bizarre weather put an end to most of them, so this vacation ended up being mostly about food and family, which isn't a bad thing really.

canada christmas 2009 tree


When I'm back home there are some things that simply must be eaten and I managed to schedule enough time and stomach space for all of them. Below is the world's best store-bought cake made by supermarket giant Loblaws. Just once slice contains enough sugar to last you an entire year. If you eat a slice with a rose on it, you're almost guaranteed diabetes. I only managed to eat about half of it this time around.

canada christmas 2009 loblaws cake


Harvey's makes the best hamburgers, fries and onion rings in the world! I know I know, you thought I was a diehard Burger King supporter, well forget BK, they've got nothing on Harvey's. Now that Burger King is back in Japan I can eat there anytime, and usually don't.
Oh and going to Harvey's gave me the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. On the top left you'll see another important Canadian staple called poutine. That's fries covered in cheese and gravy. Time for some artery punishment!
Other important things are having chicken at Swiss Chalet, and of course pizza. I ate good Candian pizza three times. It still amazes me how something can be so good back home, and so bad in Japan...

canada christmas 2009 harveys


This is my niece Annabelle who's 3 and a half. Being away for such long periods it seems like she grows in the blink of an eye.

canada christmas 2009 annabelle


And here's the youngest member of the family, my other niece Sasha. Last time I was home she had just been born. Now she's 1 and a half.
Don't let the picure fool you though, she's usually smiling.

canada christmas 2009 sasha


Here they are on Christmas morning having received about a gazillion presents, with another gazillion not yet opened.

canada christmas 2009 sasha and annabelle


There was just one day where the weather was nice. Kumi and I went out for a walk in a one of Ottawa's many large parks. No one around except us, the trees and a few small animals.
What's a winter walk in a park without making a snow angel?

canada christmas 2009 mike snow angel


Kumi getting in on the action.

canada christmas 2009 kumi snow angel


Apparently Tokyo has a few squirrels somewhere, but I've never seen any. Ottawa abounds with them though. Here's a large grey squirrel munching on some seeds while a small bird patiently waits for his turn.

canada christmas 2009 squirrel and bird


Nearby a smaller (and rarer) red squirrel also waits.

canada christmas 2009 red squirrel


Some houses really go all out when it comes to Christmas lights. One street in particular is famous and every year all the houses on it try to outdo each other.

canada christmas 2009 lights


Most of my family and friends couldn't make it for Kumi and I's wedding here in Japan, so my parents organized a smaller, informal gathering for the two of us.
My sister, an amazing cake maker, designed this sushi cake especially for us.

canada christmas 2009 sushi cake


Sushi cupcakes as well!

canada christmas 2009 sushi cupcake


Then before we new it, it was time to leave again. Looking forward to coming back again soon Ottawa! But hopefully in the summer...

canada christmas 2009 snowblowing



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