Saturday, February 7, 2009

La Plus Grande Patinoire du Monde!

Winterlude also includes la plus grande patinoire du monde - the biggest ice skating rink in the world!  It really is: they close the Rideau Canal and use it as a giant ice rink.  It is also a legitimate mode of getting to work in the morning, I hear.

Unsurprisingly they just can't take a zamboni out onto the canal at the end of every day in order to have a smooth skating surface: it's just not practical to zamboni kilometers of canal ice, so they apparently flood new water onto the surface and let it freeze overnight.

Hye-Sung is so excited to go skating!  (You can rent skates there.)

There are all sorts of things besides the skate rental set up on the canal ice: mostly food vendors.  Like the Canadian Winter version of Fair Food.  Love it. 

Hye-Sung and I met up with Fabian (the seated guy in black), who is also a photograph conservation student from Paris.  Fabian is the new intern at the National Gallery, since Hye-Sung and I have both moved to the ThinkTank.  The girl in the navy/white spotted coat is Marie, another French student working at the National Gallery, though working as a curatorial intern.  Marie's two roommates (Canadians Meena and Joanna) also joined us for our Winterlude festivities.

I was so excited to see these!  They've heated maple syrup and then poured it onto clean snow.  Then a popsicle stick is stuck into the gooey and, as it cools and solidifies, the stick is used to gum it up into a maple/caramel lollipop.  I've dreamed about these suckers ever since reading Little House in the Big Woods when Pa and Ma get the maple syrup and heat it up and Laura and Mary take it outside and pour it into swirls in the snow and then eat the snow-hardened shapes.  It turns out that in real life they are quite yummy, especially at the beginning, since there are trapped ice crystals inside, which are all crunchy and melty with the gooey maple.

Fabian had never skated before (everyone else had).  He was absolutely terrible.  His ankles were like wet noodles and he kept hanging onto everyone else, but not learning through his leaching.  I tried to help him, giving advice like, "Don't lean back on your heels, or you'll fall backward," and "Step glide, step glide, step glide, bend you knees," and "Keep your ankles strong, don't let them bend like that!"  It didn't have any effect.  He was a nightmare: he actually ended up removing the skates and walking along the canal with us as the rest of us skated.

Compared to Fabian I was like Michelle Kwan.  That one credit gym class back in freshman year of college really paid off: I could hold my own with all the skating Canadians - they had no idea I wasn't one of them!

I took a picture of this crazy food ice-shack.  The Bacon Bunner.  It seemed to sell only buns with bacon on them.  Probably Canadian bacon, but then all bacon here is Canadian.  Oh Canada - you're so strange.

Looking down the canal, back towards downtown Ottawa.

There were Beavertail stands set up on the frozen canal every 1.5 kilometers.  You could just skate up to one and buy a Beavertail, then skate away with it.  Which is awesome.  We didn't skate up to the Beavertail stands on account of Fabian's abysmal skating skills.  We went there after we had returned the skates and put our ordinary shoes back on.


Lea said...

I ALWAYS wanted to try that maple candy like Mary and Laura. I am so jealous. Sigh, I loved those books. Looks like a fantastic winter fun-time!

Ynn said...

That part of Little House always fascinated me as well. That sounds like souch fun. On the other hand, I saw a robin this spring is on the way!

Mary Ann said...

Winterlude looks super fun! Brings back memories of ice-skating in my youthful days. We had a public ice-rink near our house and we spent many hours there.
I chuckled with you description of Fabian attempting to skate. Poor young man.

Mum said...

This looks like a lot of fun! I especially like the names of the food booths: "The Poutine Machine" and "The Bacon Bunner." Really, I couldn't make up ones any funnier.