So, when I travel, I usually have some expectation that things will be different wherever I am. For example, that stores will have different products; in fact, that there’ll be different stores. Or that I’ll get wonderful, helpful service at these wonderfully different stores. Why is that? I mean, why would I think that?

The reason I ask, is that I went to Darcy McGee’s Irish Pub in Sparks Street Mall and received exactly the service I’ve come to expect. I sat at the bar and received my Harp Lager rather quickly. But that’s always misleading. I was not asked if I wanted a menu, nor was I asked if I wanted to have another beer before I finished the first one. Once I asked for a menu and another beer, the bartender was nice enough to suggest a menu item, but then never came back to ask me what I wanted to order. So I left.

But I did manage to get a fantastic meal at the Brig Pub in Byward Market. I had some delicious spring rolls and a wicked steak with mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. Plus a nice Creemore Premium Lager. Which reminds me of my less than spectacular visit to the Highlander Pub. It was advertised as a Scottish pub with traditional Scottish pub fare. I found nothing overly Scottish about the menu and, sitting at the bar, I wasn’t particularly entertained by the rows and rows of Scotch bottles. At the Brig, I managed to watch some of the Toronto-Buffalo hockey game; at the Highlander, nothing but Scotch! Even what I got from the menu wasn’t great. It was some kind of chicken pot pie, but the chicken was obviously just a cut-up breaded chicken cutlet tossed into a chicken broth that had about 4 potatoes, 7 carrots and a celery or two. Not impressive.

What was impressive was the service I got at the Starbucks (yes, I know, I’m going to hell for frequenting the Starbucks so much).They suggested a multitude of options and I settled on a Peppermint Mocha. Funny how I have difficulty spending 5 bucks on lunch, but have no problem spending it (plus a tip) on a cup of coffee! And the only reason I ended up at the Starbucks was because the Beavertails guy only took cash and I needed to run over to the cash machine, which was on the far side of the Starbucks from the Beavertails. Gwildor told me I needed a beavertail, so I got one for dessert.

Whew. That was my visit to Ottawa. It’s only Saturday morning and I don’t catch my train until lunchtime, so I’m going to see if I can go on a tour of the Parliament buildings. The tours are offered daily starting at 10am. So if they’re not too long, I’ll take the tour then head over to the train station. I’ll let you know how things work out…