Saturday, June 30, 2007


Well my camera broke, or the battery completely died so I don't have any photos of my journey around Ottawa. Which is a shame because there were many interesting things to take pictures of. These aren't my photos, but I think you have to see Ottawa to get the feel for it.

I don't think Ottawa is on anybody's Top Ten list of places they want to see before they die, but I have to tell you that it is worth a visit. First, it is very close to the northeast, a short flight, and there are nonstops out of the New York area. Second, it is quite interesting as I think we forget how bilingual Canada is, and how it is so very French. As the capital of Canada, it is the Washington DC of our friends to the north. I wouldn't call Ottawa a pretty city, though it has its moments. 100 year old buildings stand next to plain boring new ones.

The tall part of the parliament building in the photo above is called the Peace Tower, and nothing is allowed to be taller than it in the city. Luckily this building is on a bit of a hill so they do have some taller buildings. The idea of a Peace Tower is very Canadian.

Even the War Museum is about peace. Canada currently is not in Iraq, but are fighting in Afghanistan, so there is a lot about the Afghan experience. The War Museum is an incredible museum, and believe me, I'm not much into museums or wars, but this one was worth the visit. The architecture of it, regardless of the contents, is really beautiful. Do you see that tall brown pointed structure at the right of the building? When you enter that section it is a narrow narrow space with a tape of wind howling through it, and the windows at the narrow edge face the Peace Tower as a symbol of hope. Also those little windows that you can kind of see on the side of the that same part are morse code for CWM or MCG - the initials of the building in English and French. Of course I wish it had an inspirational message instead, but it is still kind of cool.

The other highlight of Ottawa is the Rideau Canal, a manmade canal that goes several kilometers to the St. Lawrence River and connects New York to Ottawa by boat. It was built 175 years ago for some war usage, but was completed after its initial desired use and never used for military. It is supposed to become a Unesco World Heritage site in the next couple of weeks. And as any Canadian will repeat again and again (in English and French) it was built only using picks and black powder. and many of the men working on it died in the process.

You can take a boat ride on the canal, but much more cool is in the winter you can skate along it for 7 kilometers. Some people skate to work on it. It is the longest skating rink in the world, and in my opinion, sounds like a much better experience than skating in endless circles as we normally do in a rink. I hope to get back in the winter for their Winterlude festival, as this place does love its festivals and the chance to eat another "beavertail" which is not a beaver nor a tail, but a delicious and quite large pastry, is quite appealing.

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