On-The-Road Canada: Day 4-7 Ottawa

Day 4

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We went to the Canada Science and Technology Museum before trying to check into our hotel. They had a lot of neat exhibits there and a wall of fame that had about thirty pictures and related bios there. I recognized a few, but not many, names on that wall. Of course one thing they did invent here was the snowmobile. Here is a picture of one of the first ones. They claim Alexander Graham Bell as their own; I think he was born in Canada but spent most of his life in the U.S.   Anyway the museum proudly presented the accomplishments Canadians have had in science.

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After the museum we were off to our hotel.  I got a really good rate at a premium hotel on-line, but it proved to be a pretty old hotel with pretty a poor Internet connection, which is of course very important to me. We will be moving to another place tomorrow.

Since we are downtown among all the historic stuff we will be doing most of our touring on foot tomorrow. We will be staying here for a couple of days before heading north. We haven’t decided whether we will go to either Montreal or Quebec, or maybe both, from here. I guess that will be decided tomorrow.

Some Initial Observations…

I know I have only been in Canada for four days now, but I am ready to come to at least one conclusion. That conclusion is that Canada is not famous for food.  Maybe they just take the “eat to live” mentality pretty seriously here. We went to a Mexican restaurant for dinner last night and that, along with most of my previous meals here, was the basis for this observation. When we sat down we were given the usual salsa and chips, but the salsa was really nothing more that diced tomatoes. There was no cilantro, jalapeño, onion, or anything else included. It was just chopped up tomatoes. When I told the waiter, I would like something with a little kick in the salsa he managed to find a bottle of hot sauce.

I ordered my usual Chimichanga and when it came it was composed of a tortilla wrapped around pinto beans and a small amount of pot roast that was baked in an oven until the bottom of the tortilla was pretty much black. Again, there were no spices, no red or green sauce, no cheeses of any type. Just a dried out baked tortilla!  Beside that was another pile of pinto beans and some white rice. I guess I should have known better than eat at a Mexican restaurant in Canada. I don’t expect many Mexican to make it past the U.S. to get into Canada.

But in looking back at the meals of the previous days I can see a trend here. All the meals have been pretty much bland with little or no seasoning involved. I am coming to love the Canadians that we meet here, but God bless them they just can’t cook. 🙂  I am hoping to be proven wrong when we move closer to the maritime provinces in the next week or so. Surely, they will know how to cook at least seafood.

Before our dinner last night we did take a one and a half mile, or maybe I should say a 3 km walk around Ottawa. This is going to be a very interesting day for us. There is much to see here, so we are already extending our stay through till Saturday morning.

Day 5

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Parliament Building

As expected today was an exciting time. We spent most of the day around the Parliament complex. Here are some pictures of that. We also toured much of the area around the complex and went to the Museum of Currency. It was also a very beautiful day here in Ottawa, sunny and in the 70s. I forgot to take a hat along with me so now I have a sun burned bald head! Gotta remember the hat for tomorrow or I can expect some peeling scalp later in the week.

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One of the many cathedrals in the city

The brochure provided at the places we visited gave us a somewhat abbreviated history of the country. Of course it parallels that of the U.S. in some regards but is different in others. Where the U.S. had a north/south struggle over the issues of slavery the Canadians had one over language/culture. It was quite some time before they finally resolved that and unified into one Canada. There were a good number of heroes statues around the building and a brief history of each in the brochures.

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Museum of Currency. Quite a place

I think I most admired Lester B. Pearson who was prime minister from 1963 through 1968. He gave Canada a peaceful and compassionate face by his work in helping form the U.N. and bringing universal healthcare and pensions to the nation. I wish we had someone like that to guide us in the U.S. into a more compassionate track. I had hoped that our current president would fit that mold but that doesn’t look to be the case.  Of course another thing about Canada is that even though they are not completely separate from England they still have a great love for the mother country.

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I will finish here with a final picture. Of course, it is a mandatory one of an RCMP. What trip to Canada would be complete with a picture of an RCMP on his (in this case her) trusty steed. Tomorrow we will be going to the national gallery, the mint, and to the By ward market. More on that later.

Oh, by the way, we did have a very good and properly seasoned dinner tonight, so maybe I will have to rescind the previous post 🙂

Day 6

We spent a good bit of today at the National Art Museum here in Canada’s capital Ottawa.  In some ways the building was more impressive than the art it contained. I would say about one-third of the exhibits were for modern art which is really not so much my taste.  I picked out my favorite one in that area and I called it “Big Black”.  It was about a 12-foot square mural of solid black; nothing else!  They seem to have pictures just like that in about every modern art exhibit I have been to.

But they did have a pretty fair amount of wall space dedicated to photography and that was nice. My collection of 20,000 and growing daily now of photos contains some that deserve to be on those walls too.  

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Reflection of old on new is quite unique to Ottawa

One of the neat things I haven’t mentioned yet is the combination of old buildings and modern glass buildings found throughout the city. They are pretty much interspersed, so it is neat to take pictures of the old ones being reflected off the newer ones. Kind of artsy stuff. We have many such pictures now that I will eventually share on this blog in the future.

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After leaving the museum we stopped by the Notre Dame Cathedral and then  took a long leisurely lunch to rest our legs before strolling over to the Byward market. This is a very large outdoor/indoor market of vegetables, flowers and crafts. We picked up some berries for snacking; I am eating some of them now.  This market reminded me of  the one I have been to several times in Guadalajara Mexico. We happened upon the U.S. Embassy while we were in the area; that reminded me that we are in a foreign country even if it doesn’t seem like it at times.

Instead of hiking back to the hotel like we have for the last two days we got lazy and took a taxi back. Tomorrow we will go to the national experimental farm and then begin heading for the next adventure and that will be Montreal.  We were talking with the waiter in the restaurant last night about trying to decide whether to go to Montreal or Quebec, we decided we only want to do one more big city before heading north-east for the coast.  The waiter said without hesitation that we should see Montreal. He gives us several good tips on what to see there.

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To our new Canadian friends

On our last night in what is now one of my favorite cities we came across this group of young people celebrating a birthday. Oh, to be young again.

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We will likely spend at least one day in the hinterland between here and Montreal for a little R&R before starting walking tours again.  More on that later. I wanted to throw out at least one more picture here and that is of the big spider outside the national gallery that was about to eat my wife. I, being the superhero that I am, saved her just in time. 🙂

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