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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

Chicago Day 7

Toronto to Ottawa

I got up at 07:00, had breakfast, and we were on the road less than two hours later. It was almost five hours from Toronto to Ottawa; in part due to making two stops along the way to break up the journey. When covering this sort of distance you have to stop at least once really just to stretch your legs. The fact I'd been travelling since finishing the marathon didn't help.

At the first stop we used a Tim Hortons to get a warm drink and a doughnut. It’d at least keep us going long enough for a late lunch. It’s not a chain we really see in the UK, but it’s one that the Canadians I know often rave about.

Food and drink from Tim Hortons

The day was warm and humid. By the time we’d checked in to the hotel it had gotten even hotter, and it made exploring the city a little uncomfortable. It wasn’t exactly Dubrovnik temperatures, but neither of us were dressed for the high temperatures we’d got. I think we’d both expected it to be cold and wet in Ottawa.

To start with we walked from the Days Inn to Rideau Hall in the hope that we’d get to have a tour. Sadly it was closed, but a 64 year old security guard advised us to give them a call and see what would be possible. James called them, left a message, and twelve minutes later received a call back to arrange a tour for 14:00 the next day. So quite lucky really. Strangely a price, or how to pay was not mentioned.

Fallen maple leaves

In the time it’d taken to receive the call we’d walked out of the Rideau Hall grounds and was now near the National Artillery Memorial. There are good viewpoints there for seeing the Rideau Falls - it seemed to me everything around was named Rideau something-or-other. I’m not sure what the obsession was with curtains (rideau being French for curtain).

We continued walking on and passed the Notre-dame Cathedral which was somewhere nice to sit out of the sun for a few minutes whilst we decided what to do next. In the background we could hear the church organ being played - up until the point a tour group turned up, so we left.

The plan was to get some photographs of the exterior of Parliament Hill whilst the sun was shining - just in case the forecast rain arrived. We walked through Major Hill’s Park and got back onto the main road via a path between Château Laurier and the Rideau Canal.

Fallen maple leaves

To me, the Parliament building looks a little like a cathedral church with a steeple and a chapter house. Some of its architecture is also reminiscent of Westminster Palace back home. From the front the main difference though is the lack of obvious security. Sure, there were two police cars parked on the road outside - but you can walk right up to the building without a problem.

On our way to the hotel we passed the National War Memorial. This has more noticeable security as in addition to the two armed soldiers that stand either side, there were also armed forces standing around in the square. Whilst photographing the monument someone walked up towards it, and started to kneel down. The soldiers quickly started to react.

“Sir!” one of them shouted, as he moved towards the kneeling civilian.

As he did so he realised that the person seemed upset, and was paying his respects to a fallen soldier. Instead of taking it any further they let him continue. Eventually he stood back up, and started to walk away - this was when the soldiers had a friendly chat with him. I do mean friendly too - I could imagine this having gone very differently if it’d been in the USA.

It was still too early for food, so we headed back to the hotel for a while before heading back out to the Highlander Pub - a Scottish themed pub where the waitresses and waiters wore kilts, and everything had a scottish sounding name. The staff were very friendly, and cheery too.