Ottawa/Belleville: Blues Fest

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The Ottawa Blues Fest ran from July 7-17 at LeBreton Flats hosted their headliner the Red Hot Chili Peppers last Friday (July 15).  Including big acts like Alessia Cara, Zedd Dead, Billy Idol, Brad Paisley, Nelly and City in Colour to name a few.  I was lucky enough last weekend to have the day off and drive up to Ottawa to see the RHCP live on stage.  I had a few big grievances that I wanted to bring up, though.  But before I get into the nitty gritty, let me tell you the back story of my trip.

A few months ago, I was approached by my best friend about going to see the RHCP in Ottawa.  Sure, why not! I said.  After paying 80 dollars for a pass for one day, we set out a plan to stay at her boyfriends’ place in Belleville for the weekend.  On Thursday night we drove there after work, car full of snacks and old school pop music to ‘road trip’ with.  We arrived and were welcomed with a barbecue that our most gracious host had already made.  We then spent the night playing board games and drinking.

The next morning, we woke up to breakfast (again, made by the host) and then headed to Ottawa for the day.  We arrived around one o’clock, just beating the pouring rain.  And went to eat at Warehouse Furniture.  Let me tell you how please I was with this place.  Excellent food, big portions for $5.  The drinks are average price, ranging from $5-10 dollars. I ordered the Mac ‘N Cheese, thinking that it would be small, I added the pan bread for $1.25.  The pasta was enough without the bread to fill a person.  The Crazy Canuck drink that I had had was a sweet cocktail mix that was just right and the service was impeccable.  The only thing that I would say is that the televisions with the music videos were a little distracting and the music was extremely loud.  I enjoyed the décor and the happy go lucky atmosphere.

When the rain cleared, we began to walk around the Byward market, but most of it was closed already.  Instead, we went to Giant Tiger and picked up some ponchos because there was more rain predicted for the day.  Have some extra time before we wanted to go to the festival, we walked around the city and took some pictures of Parliament.  We tried to find Justin Trudeau but he wasn’t in the office.

We hopped on a bus to the festival.  It was free with a festival pass.  Arriving, there was already a mass of people around.  There were food vendors and obviously drink vendors.  What I admired the most was the female porta potties.  They were clean and had mirrors and a hanging hook inside.  The usual food vendors like Beaver Tail and Lemonade were there.  On top of some local poutineries and thai food.  There were 3 small stages and one big stage in the field.

5The first act we saw was Coleman Hell.  He is the singer/group that performs ‘2 Heads’, popular on the radio right now.  The performance was high energy and I must admit there was a lot of dancing on my part.  Coleman himself came out in a hippie shirt and a headband.  The shirt came off mid-set and he put another on when he performed his most played song ‘2 Heads’.  Best part of the show was when I found out they were a Canadian act from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The second act we saw was Red Hot Chili Peppers.  7Needless to say, I was underwhelmed
and grumpy.  By the time Coleman Hell was done, the rain was gone.  There were so many people, we weren’t even able to get anywhere close.  In the end, we stood in front of a tent that sold water and pop.  Luckily, we didn’t get kicked out but we had a few rude comments and pushes.  It seemed like the layout planning was a little poor.  The stage was huge, but I wasn’t able to see much of it.  Watching the screen was all I could do.  The worst part of it was the sound.  I could not hear them.  It was as if the volume on their set was turned down to low.

6Halfway through the show, as annoyed as we were, we walked to the Zedd Dead stage.  Not being a fan of EDM, I was surprised that I enjoyed this show out of all the three that we had seen.  It was high energy and the lights were done amazingly.  No, I was not high on drugs or even remotely drunk.  We spent the rest of the night dancing away.  Our night ended around 11pm.  As we waited for our other friends who were still watching RHCP, we watched the huge crowd begin to form near the bus stop area.  It was so crowded, we just ended up deciding to walk.  Luckily, we found an empty bus further ahead that took us where we wanted to go.  Then we had another 2.5 hours drive to go home to Belleville.

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The next day, we woke up mid-day and went to a Rosehall winery to have lunch at the food truck that was parked there: Picnic Pec.  I had the Banh Mhi sandw
ich which had tofu, jalapeno, and pickles in it on a bun.  My other friends had a big tortilla chip topped with guac and beans.  All the food was amazing and especially paired with the Rosehall wine, it was exquisite.  We ate outside beside the vineyard and absorbed the sun as it slowly came out.

The drive to North Beach was only 15 minutes away and it was one of the most beautiful beaches I had seen in Ontario so far.  The water was clean and not the dark colour that you usually see from Lake Ontario.  The beach was long and had nice sand, with some rocks in it.  I would definitely go back to this beach in the future.  The highlight of it was that there weren’t a lot of people.  In the evening we went back to Belleville and ate a cheap meal at Chuck’s roadhouse.  $11 pitchers and $12 steaks.  My kind of meal.1

After resting up a little, we got ready to go to Little Texas.  I’m all about the country bars.  I was surprised at all the hip hop and 90s music this bar played.  I was a little sad that they didn’t play more country music.  Nonetheless, I had fun but was a little disappointed that the drinks were kind of expensive and the people there weren’t my type of crowd.  I think I’ll stick with the Ranch in Barrie.

Sunday, we woke up as early as we could and headed to Eggsquis, the newest breakfast spot in Belleville.  Let me tell you how amazing the crepes are here.  I had a Little Bit of both (B.O.B) that included 2 eggs, potatoes, fruit, ham, toast and a banana/custard crepe.  I couldn’t move after we finished this meal.  Finished is a loose word for I ate half of the food.  It was so good and I would highly recommend going to this place if you are in Belleville.  After that, we headed back home to Toronto and enjoyed the rest of our weekend relaxing.

My weekend was wicked fun.  First the ‘road trip’ portion was amazing with my girlfriends, singing and snacking.  The Ottawa Blues Festival was great but I would have liked it if it seemed a little more organized layout so people don’t crowd.  North Beach and Rosehall Winery were amazing and a must go.  Little Texas was a little disappointing but dinner at Chuck’s was worth every single penny.  And finally crepes at Eggsquis is, well, exquisite.  Check out Prince Edward County ASAP!

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