Ottawa – you have to know people to find the little Gems.

Having been to wonderful cities such as London, Paris, Rome, Madrid, Sydney, Capetown, Barcelona and the list goes on, we were a little disappointed with Ottawa initially. I think it’s one of those cities where you either have to know someone who lives there who can show you places to go or you really need to do your homework and not just wing it like we did.

We started our day early and walked to town on the overcast and slightly muggy morning. It’s a 4K walk which isn’t so bad but the walk is boring as hell. We basically saw, busy roads with busses and trucks constantly rushing past, huge areas of rail tracks under construction, grassy verges behind fences and office buildings. No bars, coffee shops, convenience stores or anything.

Once into the main city we headed to see the changing of the guards at Parliament Hill which was actually quite cool, I always love to hear the bagpipes. But man, those guys must have been hot in their uniforms!Our host Terri works for an MP so arranged for us to do the tour of Parliment which isn’t normally something I’d pay to see so we felt extra lucky doing something unexpected and for free! 

Our tour quide, Stephanie was a small girl but oh so very loud, I thought her high pitched voice would grill on me but I actually found her to be quite cute and very knowledgeable. She was in Ottawa from PEI working for the Summer. We saw the House of Lords, The House of Commons, the Reading Room, various impressive foyers, the incredible library and the Peace Tower. It was all very fascinating learning about Canadian history, their ties to the British and how the various provinces came to be. Went for a quick coffee before going to Terri’s office to drop off her umbrella. Went through security again and up to her office. She was the only one there so we got to look in Scott Brison‘s office! How exciting! There were photos all around the walls of him meeting Presidents and dignitaries, I kind of felt like I was in the Oval Office! By then we were ready to eat and we’re sure we would come across a cafe on the way to more tourist spots. We carried on down to the Rideau Canal and looked at the canal and the impressive Fairmont Hotel. No cafés. We then crossed the Alexandra Bridge to what we later realised was a completely different city called Ganineau in Quebec! The views over the river back towards Parliament Hill reminded me a bit of Budapest. I wonder if it’s as spectacular at night?No cafés over here either so we visited Mosaiccanada which is a park with huge sculptures made of bushes and flowers. They all depict important Canadiana (is that a word?) such as native animals, indigenous people, mining, the trainline, immigrant culture and fishing. It was quite spectacular and the work that was put into creating them and upkeeping them must be immense. I wonder what will happen to them once the show is over? I’d love a giant man gold-panning in my front yard!Very hungry, thirsty and hot & sweaty we headed up lle du hull to look for a place to eat. There was just nothing up there so walked back down and then along Boulevard Maisonneuve over the bridge through Victoria Island and back to Terri’s. It was so so so hot and the sun was beating down on us, we had sore feet and were starving. It was hard going and not fun!

Jumped in the car and drove South East to an area called The Glebe. Parked up and went for an early dinner at The Works. It was sooooo good! I had a burger with 3 different types of bacon in it! It was huge and came with fries and gravy. I was full after half of it but I ate the whole thing. We deserved a big dinner, we had walked 15 kilometres today! Had a look around the street that was lined with pubs, restaurants, quirky shops and clothing shops and realised this was the place we should have ventured to earlier! We had basically walked 15km around heavy traffic areas with no shops or bars. We should have headed the opposite direction to where we had been. Bugger! 

Returned to Terri’s and chatted with her for a while before retiring to bed. I was a bit burnt on my chest and forehead (wiped all my sunscreen off while mopping the sweat off my brow) and I had a rash on my arm. Heat rash probably. That’s unusual for me. 

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