Day 43 – 21st August (Ottawa)

Rather fitful sleep, but the bed is comfortable enough.

Went down to breakfast, only to be told that there was a 25-minute wait. My opinion of this place dropped another notch. Maybe the two weddings held here had something to do with it.

So we headed out to find somewhere else for breakfast. Very hot and humid, lots of beggars and really very tatty.

Found a place 5 minutes from the hotel called Cora’s. Big queue to get in, but we were seated within 5 minutes. It was rammed, and the queues were constant. However, the breakfast was great, served with a smile and a cheerful disposition. Our mood improved after that, and the price was very reasonable too. Result.

As is our wont, we booked onto an open-top bus tour of the city, with the threat of rain being very real. The commentary was delivered at high speed in both English and French by a young lady equipped with a microphone. This was somewhat marred by a caterwauling baby and a lot of chat from other passengers who weren’t listening, so picking up the details of what she was telling us was tricky.

Our luck with the weather finally ran out. Halfway round the tour, it started to rain. It never actually poured down, but it necessitated rain jackets and umbrellas for those (fool)hardy enough to stay on the top of the bus. The young lass doing the commentary stayed most of the course heroically, but even she had to go downstairs eventually. She must have been soaked. As a result, we didn’t get many worthwhile pictures and it’s the sort of experience about which you have to laugh.

Ottawa is a city of contrasts, for sure. Turn left out of the hotel – dirty and downbeat. Turn right – Parliament Hill with its magnificent buildings.

The Rideau Canal behind the hotel. This is 200 km long, connects Lake Ontario with the Ottawa River and is a Unesco World Heritage site. It freezes solid in the winter and becomes the world’s largest ice skating rink. A true engineering masterpiece.
East Parliament Building. Closed to the public and is mainly admin offices.
The hotel
Central Parliament Building. Being renovated. For the next 9 years at least.

Got back to the hotel room to dry out, imbibe a reviving coffee and discuss our options.

As a result, we walked the 15 minutes or so up to the House of Commons building, just to see if there was a tour of it on the off-chance. No joy, unsurprisingly, as it is very popular. Some decent pics on the way.

Central Parliament
Eastern Parliament
Western Parliament – the House of Commons
House of Commons from the back

On the way back, we took in details of two men who are important in the context of Canadian history.

The other was William Lyon Mackenzie King. See for details. Both had a huge hand in transforming Canada into the country it is now.

We then strolled round the ByWard market, a well-known but rather seedy conglomeration of shops, pubs, market stalls, bars, restaurants and the “famous” Ottawa sign. The market was named after Sir John By, a British civil engineer who transformed this area from a swamp into a desirable and habitable area in the early 1800s.

From here, we wandered through the park from where we witnessed the fireworks last night. The weather had improved by now, and it was a nice space.

Tops of the Parliament buildings over the trees
Ottawa River. Nearly 1,300 km long!!

Returned to the hotel, passing another handsome building – the Connaught Building.

Shame it was the HQ of the Canadian Tax Office…..

Dinner was taken at La Terrasse, an opportunity to eat (sort of) al fresco, underneath an awning hanging off one side of the hotel. Good service, food and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Great sunset, too:

Final gig of the evening was the Northern Lights show, displayed on the front of the Parliament Central building every evening from May to September, featuring the history of Canada. One didn’t learn a lot about this – it was very chauvinistic – but wow! What a show! Who thinks up these sequences? Amazing.

I took loads of video – here are a few samples.

This also had particular significance for us, as our son-in-law was instrumental in providing much of the infrastructure for a similar presentation on the side of Durham Cathedral in November last year. Near freezing in Durham, 20 degrees in Ottawa!

I’d taken the plunge earlier to book tickets for a free guided tour of the Senate building (8.55 a.m. tomorrow) and a similar one for the House of Commons at 9 a.m. on Wednesday. That means two consecutive early get-ups. Let’s hope they’re worth it and you can read my conclusions tomorrow if you’re interested.

4 responses to “Day 43 – 21st August (Ottawa)”

  1. what a lovely place to eat
    yhe light show looked amazing

    1. It was a nice place to eat, and the light show was fab.

  2. Brilliant pictures!

    1. Thanks, Lesley! Hope you’re enjoying Alicante! x

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