Canada

Across North America, Day 5: Obama Cookies in Ottawa

Museum

We started the day early, heading off to the Canadian Museum of Nature before 10am.

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Our draw there was the Animals Inside Out exhibit, the non-homo-sapiens answer to The Body Exhibit, which we had seen a few years before in Montréal.

The museum is located inside this huge castle-like structure, the Victoria Memorial Museum Building, built in the Gothic Revival and Scottish baronial style in the early 20th Century. Entering through the heavy wooden doors feels like entering a church.

The place is huge, but only 4% of their collection here. The rest is in Aylmer, where they have a facility that does storage, maintenance and research.

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The building has always had research and study in mind. It was originally founded by the Canadian Geographical Survey and to this day remains as active reasearch base. Only about 4% of its collection is displayed at the museum itself. The rest is kept offsite where research and maintenance happens.

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The museum was expensive, but it was really enjoyable. There was a huge floating jellyfish art installation, a prepubescent blue whale skeleton (woo!), and the popular Animals Inside Out special exhibit.

The black and red theme in the special exhibit gave it a creepy laboratory vibe, but I guess that’s good. Being around a bunch of dead, dissected, and posed animals should leave you a bit creeped out, if informed.

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Our scientific learning for the day completed, we jumped back in the van to go pick up my friend who lives in Ottawa.

Friends

Did I mention the only reason I travel is to meet my friends’ cats?

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Having acquired a friend, we headed off to The Byward Market. Specifically, to investigate the Obama Cookies.

Obama Cookies

This is possibly one of the most ridiculous things in Ottawa.

In short: 8 years ago on American President Obama’s first trip to Ottawa after being sworn in, he stopped at Moulin de Provence for a cookie. SINCE THEN, Moulin de Provence has been on a marketing crusade, branding their plain sugar cookies with basic icing in the shape of maple leafs as ‘Obama Cookies’, and reaping the marketing novelty rewards that follow.

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Things that were disappointing about this:

  • The cookie. It was your average of average sugar cookies. The icing wasn’t even that great. For all the hype, the cookie was lackluster.
  • They’ve been running this gimmick for 8 years and haven’t made a cookie in the shape of Obama. When I hear Obama Cookies, I expect an Obama-shaped cookie.
  • All the tacky posters and souvenir ephemera surrounding the cookie. What if we did this with every mediocre  item a president purchased? Bush’s Tacos? Nixon’s Toilet Paper? Things would go downhill fast.

I recommend you skip the Obama Cookies and buy a different cookie from the surrounding market instead, like this awesome eggs-on-toast-gingerbread cookie I spotted around the corner.

Byward Market

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I needed to wash down the taste of Canadian disappointment, so we headed across the street to The Tea Store. Their hand-drawn labels lifted my presidential cookie funk.

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After that we walked around and caught up for a bit. It’s great having famous sights like The Byward Market and The Rideau Canal as the backdrop for your conversation.

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Sushi dates are a strong component of our friendship mythos, so we dipped into this cute Japanese and Korean place called Kochu that she frequents.

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After, she shows me Perfect Books on Elgin Street where she works. It’s a Canadian bookstore, and ‘fiercely independent’, as it says on the sign.

Books

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Unable to resist, I bought The Secret History of Wonderwoman, from a Harvard professor that I’ve been meaning to read, and Pinball/Wind, a republishing of Haruki Murakami’s first two ‘coffee table’ novels (he wrote them on his coffee table at home after finishing work).

Also, this seems like a good moment to give kudos to my friend for her amazing Murakami Bookshelf. Just look at it!

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Now it’s nearing supper, and time for the most exciting part of the day:

IKEA

Neither Rob nor I had ever been, and it’s located right around the corner from my friends’ apartment.

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It was surprisingly enjoyable. I’m kind of glad we don’t live near one in Halifax, or I’d be tempted to spend all my money here. There’s something addicting about designing your own nest.

My favourite part of Ikea was the small homes showcases. Specifically, I wanted to transplant the 280 square foot one and have it as a tiny writing/photography getaway in the woods somewhere.

Rob couldn’t leave without trying Ikea’s meatballs.

They were okay. Nothing special. I felt kind of weird eating at a place with cheap furniture as its primary function. I did like that they came with cranberry sauce.

(Rob: “You didn’t love those meatballs? I thought the reason you gave me yours was because you loved me.”)

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Ottawa was good to us. Now we’re on to Toronto, the biggest Canadian city I’ve never been to!

Day 5 Costs:

  • 2 Adult Tickets for the Canadian Museum of Nature + Animals Inside Out Exhibit: $51.98
  • Parking Near Museum: $3.00
  • Chicken Caesar Wrap, Chocolate Chip Muffin, Water at the Museum: $18.08 (I wishI had checked how much the water cost before paying. $3.50 each)    (˚ ˃̣̣̥᷄⌓˂̣̣̥᷅ )
  • New York Fries Regular Veggie Works: $7.33
  • Byward Market Street Parking: $3.00
  • Obama Cookie, Garlic Toast, Coffee at Moulin de Provence, Byward Market: $8.98
  • Kashmiri Chai Latté at The Tea Store, Byward Market: $4.15
  • Sushi Combo, Miso Soup, Green Tea at Kochu Korean/Japanese Food: $18.12
  • 2 Books from Perfect Books: $31.45
  • IKEA Meatballs, juice + pie: $12.00

 TOTAL: $185.09

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