Ottawa; the capital of Canada. Ottawa has an interesting history… look it up yourself, I’m not your teacher. Use Google for Christ’s sake.
To be perfectly honest, we were kind of looking forward to arriving back into an English speaking city, even if it were officially bi-lingual. Whilst being able to mostly understand French enough to read beer labels, my spoken French is very poor; “Bunjurr, parlez Franchais mercy?”
Also, I can say “Poutine” pretty well.
When arriving in a new city, I try to stick to a rule that we walk to our hotel from the train station unless it’s not possible – I feel that it’s conducive to gaining a sense of general direction in an unfamiliar place and also helps impart a good feel for the “first impression” of a city. Ottawa’s train station is not really central to the city core, which is good as the walk in takes us through the suburbs, past the University and University residences/frat houses and then onto downtown.
The other benefit of lugging a fully-loaded backpack from the train station to the hotel on first arrival is that it instantly bestows some level of backpacker cred – people generally move aside on footpaths, beggars tend not to ask for money, and on this occasion, we got a free upgrade to a much nicer and larger room by the clerk. Was it pity, or the backpacks, or the sweat, or that we were mistaken for people who really backpacked rather than used a backpack to move their shit from hotel to hotel? I don’t care, but that makes it the second time we’ve been comped a free upgrade on this trip and a worthwhile excuse to continue abstaining from shaving.
On transitioning from French-speaking back to English-speaking Canada, the changes were subtle but distinct. Maybe the bustling crowds of young sidewalk people have always been talking loudly about the banalities of drunk college life, but it’s only now that it’s in English and not French that we can fully comprehend the slight obnoxiousness of it all.
Things in general, seem cleaner than Montreal; there’s no absence of the culture and diversity that a large city breeds, but Ottawa with its compact downtown core, busy central market and swarth of government buildings, seems to lack that unkempt and untamed indifference.
We head out and explore, and eat, and then see the awesome free nightly Mosaika light show at (on?) Parliament. We head back to the hotel and from our vantage point watch with some amazement, the nightlife and crowds of people on the streets below. Surprisingly, Ottawa’s nightlife seems to be far busier than expected. Very early the next morning when grabbing a drink of water, I look out the window to still find a healthy amount of foot traffic and drunken revelry passing by. It’s Friday morning. Ottawa seems like a nice place.
Here’s the pictures.
Parliament Hill pre-gaming during the day and getting ready to…
Despite looking much like a church or chappel attached to the rear of Parliament, this is actually the Parliament library. It’s interior decorated in an ornate, multi-tiered, Harry Potteresque style inside, photos are prohibited inside (lest the plebians discover the secret of the written word).