Day 1.5 in Ottawa

Well, we made it in one piece to Ottawa. Yesterday had to take the TTC to Union station, and then jump on the Via for about five hours, and the train was about half an hour late. Melissa met us at the train station, and we took a cab back to her place. It’s a pretty nice little apartment, and it’s not too bad to get to downtown on the bus.

An aside about the Ottawa-Carleton transportation system, or “OC Transpo”. The system is different in a number of ways from Toronto and Guelph. First of all, there is a semi-tiered fare system. There’s only one kind of bus ticket, which are 85c each. For an adult on most routes, you need two of these tickets. Children only need one. There are also some premium routes that require three tickets. Transfers seem to be the same as Toronto (get one where you pay your fare, transfer as many times as you want) except that transfers in Ottawa are all timestamped (they’re printed with a little thermal printer on every bus) with the time they are valid until. I guess this means that (unlike Toronto) you can get away with making a stop along a route, but only within a reasonable, enforced time. In Toronto transfer times aren’t enforced at all, and are printed with th time you got them. On the bus today, there were two transit police checking everyone’s transfers or bus passes; I’ve never seen that in Toronto, ever. Second difference: they have only buses, but there is a main bus route, called the Transitway, that runs across the city. For the most part, it’s a road dedicated to buses and other transit vehicles. There are predetermined stops along the way, kind of like the subway in Toronto. It’s an interesting idea, and was probably way cheaper to build than a subway, is a lot more flexible, and they can use any bus on it if need be, and other bus routes can get on and off it and coexist with the main Transitway routes that just run along it exclusively.

So we figured out the bus system, which is good, because cabs here are bloody expensive. Yesterday Sandy and I ventured downtown, I registered for OLS, and we wandered generally around the Rideau Centre and did some shopping. Came back to Melissa’s and talked and drank the night away. Melissa’s a pretty cool person, and being one of Sandy’s closest friends, I had to get her approval (which I did :). Melissa’s boyfriend Tom is alright too, a little rough around the edges, but they make a pretty good couple.

Today was my first day at OLS. I went to two presentations, which were pretty good, but missed the third when I sat down to do e-mail and lost track of the time completely. It feels a little different this year: most of the guys I hung out with last year aren’t here (probably because didn’t want to pay their way), and I haven’t been recognized by any acquaintances I made last year, nor have I approached any of them. There’s a few guys here from Guelph but I don’t know them that well, and I ran into an old friend from UTS. Still have to find Stany. Oh well. Everything just seems to have a bit of a different feel than last year: the talks don’t seem to be that interesting, the atmosphere is just generally different: more reserved. There are fewer parties being thrown than last year, probably due to the current tech market depression. I’ve already pretty much decided not to register for next year. Ho-hum.

Gotta run and meet Sandy and Melissa now. More tomorrow.


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