I wasn’t expecting much when I heard the Canadian conference I annually attend would be taking place in Ottawa. Last year’s Montreal edition had enabled me to visit my dear friend from intern times, now transformed as a mother to two charming kids, and had reminded me how much I love me some Europe on the American continent = Montreal. But Ottawa? That was just the bureaucrats’ capital buried under the snow most of the time, right?
Perhaps it’s just as well that I was sorely uninformed, so that my first real experience of Ottawa was on the two-lane road leading from the airport. How charming that little country road, leading from a country capital’s airport to the capital. How easy it was to believe my friendly taxi driver, a fairly recent immigrant, full of love for Ottawa, who claimed that he loved its size, shape, population. How fun to discover that across the river is the French-speaking Quebec province (I know, I hadn’t even looked at a map before travelling…). He pointed out the canal that encircles the downtown and is used as a skating rink when it freezes over (given Canadian winters, that seems to be a good part of the year). I thought to myself that I could really like this city of bureaucrats.
And then my cab crossed the canal, made a few turns and all of a sudden I found myself on some small, vibrant, festively-lit streets full of restaurants and bustling with people enjoying the cold rather than braving it, and then I knew I already liked this city.
The following days were grey and cold, but that didn’t stop me from exploring.
Sure, Ottawa had government buildings.
And more government buildings.
And churches morphing into government buildings
But these government buildings had fun details.
Beyond the buildings were beautiful views.
and between the buildings was a Canal (Rideau).
The National Gallery of Canada has a sense of humor too:
And did you know that Ottawa is known for a profusion of tulips in the spring?
And, as in all proper cities, a gorgeous Basilica of Notre Dame:
Even with the sun starting its downward descent shortly after 2 pm, it was still beautiful:
Thank you, Ottawa, for a wonderful few days.
I mean, even the bureaucrats I met at the conference were nice.