After our wildlife adventure we hopped back in the van (oh how I miss that van!) and headed toward Ottawa. On the way we stopped for some more ice cream… with 60 awesome flavours to choose from. Ottawa is our driver’s home town and he had raised our expectations of it pretty high… but the capital city did not disappoint. Once we got there we checked into our hostel. Well, now it’s a hostel but it used to be a jail. The building is huge and made of stone. All the doors are barred and there’s even an anti-suicide grate in the staircase (so you can’t jump down and kill yourself). Our cell was…. a cell.
We slept in a room that was 2 jail cells with th middle wall partially removed. My bunk was the one in the top right and corner of the room and half of my bed was taken up by a massive went (this may have been good if I wanted to escape but check out was 11am the next morning and I had a key). I can see why sleeping in a jail is punishment… it is so dark (except for the red glow of the exit signs in our case) and you can hear ever noise (especially the racing air-con in the vents). It didn’t help my nerves that this jail was the site of the last public hanging in Canada…
Anyway, not all of Ottawa was unsettling. The city is amazing. All of the architecture was designed by the architect who re-did Paris after WW2. There is a big beautiful canal and so many amazing buildings… not to mention the flowers!
After our city walk we went to see a projection/light show on the parliament building. I cannot express how amazing it was. I don’t know how they did it, but the lights transformed the building into a canvas for the history of Canada. By the end of the show (jaws sore from sitting open-mouthed in amazement) we all felt a little bit Canadian. I took a video but can’t upload it so check out the youtube version. It was really an amazing experience.
So after a night in prison (which was interesting but I am in no hurry to do again) and spending a few hours trying to find accommodation for the next few days (which we had kind of forgotten to organise in all the fun) we headed into Ottawa for a few more hours before we had to leave. The markets in Ottawa are really cool and just as we entered (a little stressed over accommodation) we were greeted by a box full of kittens… seriously! They were adorable and I gave them some cuddles… very hard to walk away when they were only $20 each, but not sure the hostels we are in allow cats. As I upload this photo now Mark is going super clucky over the kittens.I wolfed down another Montreal style bagel (not sure how I am going to live without them!) and then we walked around the parliament buildings and, there being no tours left, we hired some bixie bikes again. Cycling is becoming a real theme in this trip… so glad I discovered and became obsessed with the river run back home just before our trip, if not I don’t know if my legs would be handling it so well!Our day in the lovely Ottawa concluded with a ridiculously good deli sandwich which was a more authentic version of subway. They guy behind the counter just understood me! I couldn’t decide what type of cheese to get so he gave me all three varieties and asked if I wanted the exact bread roll I pointed at. He was the first person I have wanted to tip in all of North America and I couldn’t because we paid at a different counter!
Well the sandwich was amazing and we made our driver jealous before heading back to Toronto. In Toronto we had a wrap up party and had to say goodbye to all the amazing people we had met. Seriously I don’t know how I could grow so attached to people in just one week! But I definitely feel extremely lucky to have gone on that exact tour as I don’t think it’s very often that you get such a great group of people together. Our luck even became clearer when we realise we had completely avoided a massive hurricane that had been tearing apart New York and tantalizing southern Ontario.
Anyway… more blogging will have to wait as a day in Mont Tremblant awaits us!