Travel Journal

Ottawa - August 20-21-22

(Saturday 25 August 2007) by Karin
Did you know..... that a small part of Ottawa was once declared to be part of the Netherlands? During World War II, the Dutch royal family took refuge in Ottawa. Queen Juliana was expecting a child. To ensure that the new arrival would have Dutch citizenship, the Queen's room at the Ottawa Civic Hospital was proclaimed to be part of the Netherlands. In 1945, Queen Juliana made a gift of 100,000 tulip bulbs to show her gratitude for both the hospitality of the people of Ottawa, and the role that canadian soldiers played in liberating the Netherlands. To this day, the capital receives 20,000 tulip bulbs every year. This unique story of international friendship inspired the creation of the Canadian Tulip Festival. 3 million tulips bloom in Ottawa-Gatineau in May.
Close to lunchtime when I finally woke up on Monday. We expected Michel and Gile (Lorraine's aunt and uncle) so I decided it would be a good idea to sort my things a bit (I sleep in their guest room). The room was a mess. And I need to be able to fit everything in 2 suitcases (less expensive to pay for overweight then to pay for an extra suitcase). Went downtown in the afternoon and strolled around Byward market. This market has been a centre of commerce since Ottawa was first founded as Bytown in the early nineteenth century, and local farmers continue to sell seasonal produce from its stalls. In summer and fall, fresh vegetables and flowers attract chefs and gardeners, while hand-crafted clothing and jewellery stalls offer creations by local artisans. Dozens of cafes, restaurants, gourmet shops and nightclubs add to the Market's lively character. Then the historic lock gates. The series of locks at the edge of the Ottawa River in the Colonel By Valley marks the north end of the 202 km Rideau Canal, which stretches from Ottawa South to Kingston. 2007 is the 175th Anniversary of the Rideau Canal. Parliament Hill was next on the schedule. The primary Parliament Building, Centre Block, with its Peace Tower and clock, is most striking. Beside it are East and West blocks with their sharp, copper-topped roofing. I will need to come back here to explore more of the buildings, monuments and landscapes that reflect its importance as the heart of a great nation. From there I headed for the Sparks Street Mall, which has the honor of being the country's first Pedestrian mall. To this day the street is still closed for motorized traffic, making it an ideal spot for a stroll. A stop at Sears to buy a new watch (two months without the time is long enough) before taking the bus back home.
On Tuesday I was up at 6:15 so I could join Lorraine, Alan and Michel on their 'early' morning walk. I continued with a half hour run. Feels good to do some exercise again and it sure is needed. Spent the afternoon floating in the pool as this will be the only sunny day this week. Water was only 20 degrees but once in the water, it was OK. A good start of the day and a lazy ending.....
Wednesday started out the same way. A walk in the morning, this time followed by a nap. Drove to Mountain Equipment Cooperation in the afternoon to see if they had a sun shower bag. Lorraine suggested that this would be much more handy then a bucket for a shower and right she is. So why the bucket???? Well .... I got my papers for the Ghana trip and my host family does have a 'toilet' (doesn't mention what kind so I wonder) but no shower. It mentions: 'shower by the bucket'. So that's where my new shower bag will be very useful. 9 liters and it mentions that this is enough for 3 showers. I'll have to try this first but I don't think I can take 3 showers with 9 liters. Missed a few turns on my return trip.... oh no... that's called sightseeing but I enjoyed the drive. Had been a while.


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