USA! USA! USA! A Family Road Trip to Ottawa

Since it’s the summer, I’m on the road for summer vacation more and more.  This is going to be one of those “non-Disney” posts.  This past weekend, my family and I spent the weekend in Ottawa, Ontario supporting our U.S. Women’s Soccer Team as they played China in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.

One of things that is nice about Ottawa, for my family, is Ottawa is only a five-hour drive from our family’s house in New York.  The game, on Friday, did not start until 7:30 pm so this allowed us to wake up at our usual time before hitting the road for Ottawa.  Also, in the summer, it is a very easy drive as we could stay on highways on the entire time (an important thing when travelling with children).  There are other “faster” to get there but one way involves cutting up near Adirondack State Park and, as a result, does not have many good places to stop.  The other way involves going up to Plattsburgh and across the top of New York State.  Since that way took us through the area where the ongoing manhunt for an escaped prisoner, we decided to staying on the highways.

We were making great time on Friday morning heading to the U.S.-Canada border stopping only once for a body break and to fill up on gas since gas cost about $1.40/gallon in Canada than in the states.  The downside to taking the highway in the summer is everybody taking the highway in the summer and, as a result, it took us about an hour to clear the border.  Never the less, we pressed on to Ottawa.  But first, we needed some lunch and thankfully a rest stop along the highway provided us with some Tim Horton’s for lunch.  I had a spicy chicken sandwich with a Canadian Maple donut (sides come with donuts not chips!). my wife had a sandwich, while my daughter had chicken noodle soup.  After a quick stop for lunch, we were on way to Ottawa.

For this trip, we stayed at the Ottawa Marriott Downtown located on 100 Kent Street.  This was a great location.  It was a full service Marriott meaning we could grab some late food without leaving the hotel and it had an expansive pool, teen room, and kids room area.  The rooms were big and most importantly….quiet.  Noise from the halls didn’t enter into the rooms much if at all.  The hotel was also only a block away from our bus stop to the game on Friday night.

After settling in, we headed to the bus stop since driving to the game was not an option.  TD Place does not have a lot of parking around the stadium.  The stadium was built in the middle of city park in 1908.  Cars were not big thing in 1908 so car parking was not a consideration.  However, the bus to and from the stadium was free so we hopped on the crowded bus and took the 15 minute ride down to the stadium.  I felt sorry for the locals who were trying to take the bus.  It was PM rush hour on Friday and the buses were jammed with U.S. soccer fans trying to get to the match.

We got to the game with plenty of time to spare.  We had plenty of time to grab some dinner, some souvenirs, some pictures (see below) and the pre-game warm-ups.

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The price for the stadium food was VERY reasonable.  Two large slices of pizza, a hot dog, and three bottles of soda only cost us $27 (roughly $22).  Last month, when we went to the college women’s lacrosse final four, three drinks cost $15.

After dinner, we went up to our seats to get ready for the game.  The only disappointing thing was the Ticketmaster map did not match the reality of the stadium.  We picked three seats which appeared on the map to be aisle seats.  They were not.  The seats were on the end but we were “penned in” by the entrance way into the section.  Fortunately, it was a “short row” of just eight seats so we were not far from the aisle.  The other problem, we could not control…..the Sun.  We were looking directly into the sun which made picture-taking difficult.  Thankfully, we got a cloud to come over to take a couple of pictures of warm-ups.

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I prefer to watch from high above the field compared to down near the field.  You can see the whole picture of the game from up there and the seats are a more reasonable price for what you can see.  Our seats cost $132 (roughly $105 US) for all three seats.  We found out the next day that tickets were going as much as $600 per ticket due to demand from U.S. fans.

The game started and we did the best to the see the action.  Thankfully, most of the action was down at our end of the field so we were not looking into the sun as much.  The U.S. created many scoring chances but could not find the net.  At halftime, sun got below the level of the stadium and our vision and picture-taking ability improved greatly.

Hope Solo, second half USA-China 2015 Womens World Cup quarterfinal
Hope Solo, second half USA-China 2015 Womens World Cup quarterfinal

The U.S finally found the back of the net early in the second half and held on for a 1-0 victory!  After the match, we had a long walk to the OC Transpo buses but everything was very organized and we were able to get on a bus back to the hotel in quick order.  However, the bus stops were different coming back than going down and we missed our stop but I realized our mistake quickly and we were only a longer walk back to the hotel.

The next day, we had intended to go to the Canadian Children’s Museum until we saw that it was going to cost us $40 to enter.  We decided on skipping the museum and had lunch at place I stop at when I travel to Ottawa in March.  Before and after lunch, we hung out in the pool and in the teen room which had free basketball, ping-pong, air hockey, pool, and video games.  The kids had a lot of toys that you could find in a child care center but also had washing machines in the room so parents could wash soiled clothes while the kids play.

The hotel was an excellent hotel and could handle a lot of guests.  Friday night that had a large number of U.S. soccer fans and on Saturday night they hosted three weddings.  They handled both with ease.  They also provided running maps for 3km, 5km, 10km, and 15km in the lobby.  We chose the valet parking over self parking.  It was only $5 per day more than the self parking rate of $17 per day.  Would my family stay here again?  Yes, we would.  The hotel had a lot for all ages to do.

All told it was a great trip and we can’t watch to the women play Germany, this time from our TV, on Tuesday night in Montreal.

Thanks for reading!

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