Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 1 – Ottawa

Wednesday, July 13

This summer we decided to go to Ottawa for our holidays.  This is a trip we had planned to make at some point during Rob’s school years.  We had told the girls that we would go to the capital before dad finished school in case we ended up moving further away and the opportunity did not arise for them again.  We did have to hum-haw about whether such a trip would be worthwhile since the girls are still young and really wouldn’t understand or remember much.  I know both Rob and I don’t remember much of our Grade 8 Ottawa trip as far as tours and such goes and I’ve been back to Ottawa but remember very little.  But as we did some research on things we could do that would keep all the kids interested it started to sound more and more interesting, it was nice to have so many options in one area.  It did take a bit to find accommodations that would work into our set budget, but true frugal Steph managed to find lodging at a very low cost and so we were not only able to go but we were able to stay a full week for the same amount it would have cost us for 2.5 nights in the cheapest hotel we could find.

So the day finally arrived for us to leave and we told the kids we would leave at 8am, with breakfast at 7:30am.  Our first day would simply consist of driving and settling in.  Our real intent was to leave at 9am, but we wanted to kids up on time so that we could have a quick celebration for Marietta’s birthday … we just didn’t tell Marietta about that part.  Marietta’s birthday is on July 14th and since we were packing light there was no way we could take along her presents.  She had declared she would wait until we got back, but we decided we’d surprise her and do it before we left.  So we quickly decorated the night before and set everything out and after breakfast we had a short celebration and she opened her presents before we hit the road.

Rebecca gave Marietta a new school bag


And Matthew gave her a new lunch container


The girls are getting old enough now that they like to actually find and buy presents for special occasions.  Like there mother they love it when they can score good at the thrift store and find a nice “prize”  We try to keep the budget in the $5 area as they do not have any source of income and we really try to teach our kids that it’s not the size of the present or the amount spent, but that thought that goes into it.  Rebecca did not actually find anything for Marietta on time for her birthday and so she was fortunate that I stumbled across the school bag and lunch cooler at the local thrift store only a couple days before Marietta’s bithday.  They fit nicely in the budget, but we decided to split it and allow Matthew to give her part of it also.

Marietta also received her own set of the Anne of Green Gables series and a fall/spring jacket

  P1050591 P1050595

as well as a sewing “box”.  It wasn’t quite what I had in mind for a sewing box, but I couldn’t find the material basket style and so I had to go with what seems to be the common way to store crafts and sewing stuff now … a plastic toolbox style box with compartments.


We left for Ottawa around 9am and arrived somewhere around 4pm.  We took our time, making a couple stops along the way.  The trip went by faster because we listened to the Chronicles of Narnia for some of the way.  Surprisingly Matthew did not sleep at all for the trip … and so we went through the joy of him being a pest from time to time … further enhanced by the fact that we were packed into the Jetta.  While the Jetta is not the nicest for travelling as a family since it is small and compact, not leaving much space to move … it certainly is nice on the fuel budget!!  Rob was determined to try and get 1100km on the tank, but we all refused to push if he ran out before the next gas station and so he had to give up at 1050km and fill up.  I was also impressed that I managed to pack light enough to fit everything into the trunk.   I think we took up more trunk space packing food then clothes … the joys of having special diets.

I found our accomodations on Kijiji and we decided to take a chance on it.  We looked for short term rentals and found apartments for rent in the area.  Our first two choices fell thru as they opts to have people who were staying longer then just one week.  We could not find anymore full apartments in our budget area and so we decided to give room rentals a try, figuring that we would need to rent two rooms in a home, but that at least could still be cost effective.  In the end we scored a really good price on a place where she was willing to put us all in one room that had a large ensuite and where the jacuzzi was had been transferred into a bedroom with a double bed where the girls could sleep.

We took our chances and we survived the week.  Our first step into the house told us we had been fibbed too … or at least not clearly told the situation.  Usually in these type of situations you rent a section of the house with the chance that others might be renting other sections … which is fine, we understood this.  The pictures looked okay, the house looked large enough that the three bedrooms she had advertised for rent in such a size house wouldn’t really be an issue.

 Ottawa house

I did note on the pictures right away that it wasn’t necessarily the neatest or very stylish in comparison to the other places … but it fit our budget and we weren’t looking for fancy or style, just a place to sleep and eat


So these are the pictures that you actually see on the internet post. 


This is what we actually seen when we arrived.  Yes that’s right … not a spot on the counter to do any cooking, good thing I had prepared all my meals in advance and only need to reheat most items.


As we stepped in the house it quickly became apparent that our hostess actually lived in the house … making it more a bed and breakfast without the breakfast (which later we found out she does actually do a meal plan).  But not only did she live in the house, there were people stuffed in every nook and cranny of the house.  She herself lived in the front living room with just a curtain hanging up to give some privacy (it was open more often then closed), another person lived in the center of the home in the sitting area, with french doors on both sides of the room and windows looking down into the room from the upper hallway, and only lacy curtains covering the windows.  This is beginning to be very strange and odd and we’re really wondering what we got ourselves into.  Later we come to realize that there are more people stuffed in the house and it is rented out to college students during the school year and for the summer she rents it out to travellers.  One student lives in a small room right off the entrance (coat room or office), then she has her son and daughter living with her some of the time (can you imagine raising your kids in this sort of household) and since they were at their dads for a bit she had their rooms rented out while we were there.  Plus she rents out two other rooms to travellers since the college students are currently at home. And then the basement has a separate two bedroom apartment that is also rented out.  It’s bad enough to have people stuffed in every corner, but then there’s junk EVERYWHERE!  Talk about clutter.


She took us for a tour of the house and when we get to the ensuite we discover that the “bedroom” for the girls is not a bedroom as she indicated, but the jacuzzi tub that is in the ensuite bathroom has a board slid over it and a double mattress on top of it …the girls are sleeping in the bathroom!!  The walk-in closet is full of junk and clothes and she tells us we can put our clothes in the one dresser only to find that there is still clothes in half the drawers.  The bathroom is loaded with all kinds of stuff too.  Basically we are sleeping in her bedroom.  We were left standing there debating what to do.  Here we are and we said we would take our chances.  We decided that we really weren’t going to be spending much time at the house anyways, so we’d give it a go.


In the end it all worked out okay.  We got used to the strangeness and tried to just blot it out and make the best of it.  Our hostess and her roommates were very friendly and helpful.   She would bring out stuff for the kids to do and was willing to help or do things for us.  She was also super frugal, which was a bit annoying when I’m on my holidays and trying to be less frugal.  The ad had said a/c, but really we hardly got the feel of it.  It did run on the worst days but at such a high temperature that a house that size with that many people does not really feel that cool.  We only brought a change of clothes since the laundry facilities were included and I could then do wash each night for the next day, but she sort of hinted that she didn’t like the regular laundry use and then asked to throw things into our loads to make them worthwhile.  I like frugal people … I am frugal … but not on my holidays.  Rob ended up fixing the patio door so we could actually go out of it.  The shower door was another story and it was just easier to use the other bathroom seeing as it’s rather hard to shower when the kids are trying to sleep … in the bathroom!  And I must add that while there was clutter everywhere she was clean, we could see she had vacuumed and cleaned and would see her cleaning the bathrooms and such … maybe some of our neatness wore off on her as by the end of the week she had attempted to clean the kitchen counter at least!  Partly due to the fact that we learned that most people who do stay usually eat out all the time and don’t really take up the offer of the rest of the house.


The girls sleeping on their jacuzzi bed


But complain as I can about the strangeness of it all, we still got a very cheap stay with some strange but nice people and had a very enjoyable holiday. While this attempt at a apartment rental didn’t work out the greatest it was not so bad that we wouldn’t try it again!  It all just make life a bit more interesting! :)


amymom24 said...

You guys are brave! I would've high-tailed it out of there so fast! Glad it worked out in the end and that you were able to enjoy a great holiday:)

Anonymous said...

Wow, my jaw is hanging open! I would have run...that's terrible! Could you lock your door at least? With that many people living there you have no idea what crazies are out there. And her poor kids...go to their dad's and have strangers in their kids would be pretty sad about growing up like that and rightly so.
Glad you were able to go on the cheap though. Just not for me! :)