Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day 25 - Montreal to Ottawa with a City tour

Half way mark of the trip today and I feel like it is rushing by so fast with the Rockies trip felt like it was months ago not just weeks. 
Sunrise ..  about 6.30am 
I was just starting to get into the groove of the trip and really starting to enjoy myself and get to know everyone really well especially quite a few of them but the very early bag pulls are killing me.   
Sunrise on the church
Although given my room position I didn’t sleep very well with sirens going off all night and the bed was shocking even though I tried the other one and it was worse.  The noise was actually worse than NYC.  Hopefully I would catch up going to Ottawa
a cute little restaurant right near the hotel
Since I was going to the nations capital, I put on my patriotism today for my 3 favourite countries so far which are Canada, USA and of course Australia… so on went the “I love Canada” long sleeve shirt from Old Navy, Washington Depot Shirt and Wallabies jersey.  Can’t wait for the beautiful Ottawa as I have heard it a very pretty city.
Bank of Toronto with sunrise colours - so pretty 
I headed down a bit earlier this morning in trying to send the forms again and the fact the bad bed had kept me awake but didn’t quite have enough for breakfast at the hotel or to straighten the hair. 
Downtown Ottawa looking towards Parliament
No luck with the forms so I loaded my backpack on to our new bus which got driven the 12 hours from Connecticut over night so we would have it for this mornings 8am start. 
Right near our hotel in Downtown Ottawa 
I was off to get a hot chocolate and something to munch on for breakfast and Christina asked me to get her a Chai Tea while I was there. Took the camera because the sunrise was amazing and the beautiful rich orange on the buildings was pretty incredible so I got to enjoy that as I walked up the street. 
Ran into David at the coffee shop and thankfully they were all English speaking although that didn’t stop them from giving the wrong drink to Christina in a Coffee not soy chai TEA which I asked for..  silly girls.  I did offer to go get her another one but she told me we didn’t have enough time. As it turned out I did because someone was missing or running late I can’t quite remember. 
We were only travelling about two hours down the highway this morning to Ottawa which behind Mongolia is one of the coldest cities in the world. Surrounded by the Rideau Canal and bordering the great lakes you can kind of understand why.  
East Block with the Fairmont in the back ground 
The Rideau canal while it is fast running freezes over allowing for the city residents to ice skate to work…  how cool would that be?  I would love to do that … oh wait I am too much of a unco to skate… oh well I can always watch. 
We made it to Ottawa in really good time and got checked in at the hotel but we were able to stow our bags in a spare room and also gave the opportunity for a much needed toilet break. 
Once that was done while most of the people took off to the capital building to get to tickets to do the tower tour…  I wasn’t sure I wanted to do but I should have got someone to get me one when they offered… oh well me well I had a mission to fulfil…  I went in search of Rogers Chocolates… ha-ha I found them too at this little florist /hamper store on the main street.  
Rideau Canal
Ran into Steve on the way back and he wondered why I wasn’t with the others at capital building and I showed the chocolate haul to him responding you will eat all that?  To which I replied… what are you talking that will barely last a day with Christina and I… ha-ha and I didn’t get that many because they didn’t have a great selection. 
The dam in the middle of town
So I tried to get them to send the form at the hotel but they had no luck so I am going to have to see if there is another contact number.  Sooo annoying
The Centennial Fountain
Our city guide met us and we took off on our city tour for capital and the surrounds….  First stop was Centennial fountain which has each of the territories when they were founded and directly in front of it was the centre block of the parliament building. It made for an awesome photo especially with the white clouds against the blue blue skies. Surprisingly it was rather chilly this morning as we stood there but our tour guide was spewing out facts left right and centre it was hard to keep up.  
the Supreme Court of Canada 
The parliament building sits on the shores of the Ottawa river which feeds into the Rideau canal which has a series of man made lochs built in 1826 and it also faces Quebec … that is right across the river is a whole another state that doesn’t have English as the primary language so you could tell the difference as soon as you entered Quebec territory.
the War of Memorial of Canada 
The buildings once again are Gothic revival so they had so many different faces to them. While some of the buildings were damaged in the early 1900’s by a fire they have been recreated to almost exact replicas with the corner the centre block with the peace tower (aka the clock tower) on top.  The complex is made up of the centre, west and east blocks. With various public building in the same style positioned around the city there was a lot of history there.

Museum of Civilisation
Originally Kingston, Montreal, Toronto, Quebec city Toronto, then back to Quebec, were the original sites then finally Ottawa because of the strategic position as Montreal and Quebec were too close the US borders and therefore making them vulnerable to attack. 
the waves of the building 
While Ottawa is on a river it was originally a logging town so it was surrounded by dense forest.   While Ottawa forms the border between east and western Canada so Queen Victoria chose it as the best position for the nation’s capital.  Also it was on the border between English and French Speaking Canada so it was seen as a good blend.  Decision made ..  haha

Museum of Civilisation
We headed off towards Gatineau in Quebec out past the Supreme Court, the war museum which looks like a big spaceship saucer style, the various lochs that form the Rideau canal, a dam in the middle city area which was cool. But imagine if that floods like we are at the moment.
The fountain with Parliament in the background 
It is like Ottawa has been designed for tourism with everything so close together with everything within walking distance but tired sore feet was grateful for the bus right now.
Sunflare and blue sky - what a great way to spend a day 
We stopped at our 2nd stop of the city tour which was the Canadian Museum of Civilisation which was designed by Douglas Cardinal who was a Canadian and took the inspiration from the rivers, the glaciers and the winds with the undulating waves on the building.
The beautiful architecture 
The museum is made up of 3 main halls, Canada, Main and First Nations and was originally built in 1856. it is one of the busiest Canada attracting over 1.3million visitors a year.
The fountain in the forecourt 
We took photos, enjoyed the sunshine and listened to our guide... 
Well I kind of didn’t… too busy taking photos... Giggle.  Also it was hard to hear him outside. 
the main entry area 
Christina talked me into having my photo done because I really don’t want to because of the bad hair day.  But did the goofy one..  We all have to do these things to keep people happy haha. 
The main hall with the biggest photograph in the world
We went into the main hall where we were shown the largest photograph behind a display of the first nation’s village. It was pretty spectacular just too bad we had to pay to go down.  
The $3.2million spider 
We had 10mins to wander so I choose toilet and then got in trouble because everyone had gone back to the bus and they were waiting on me and someone else. Pffftttt I only took 5mins for petes sake…  a girl needs a break once in a while.. hahaha
The Notre Dame Cathedral 
We continued on the tour past the Notre dame Cathedral with the silver spires. This is another heritage site since it was built in 1866 using the French inspired gothic structure which is where the tin (silver) spires came from.
Rideau Canal 
We stopped outside the National Gallery which had the $3.2million sculpture of a huge ugly spider. I am sorry but it is just wrong … why a spider?  I know it is art but seriously a SPIDER!  And 3.2million!!!! 
Beautiful part of Ottawa near Rideau Gate with the Fall Colours 
We continued down to Rideau gate which was built by a millionaire in the 1800’s and now is an official residence of the capital it was definitely located in a pretty part of Ottawa. It acts like a home away from home for any visiting dignitaries with the close proximity to the city it makes for a perfect location.
Rideau Gate - the residences 
Our last stop was the byward market which was a big fruit and veg market which was also our drop off point if you wanted too.   So I was going to go off and explore.  
Rideau Canal

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