Category Archives: Canada

Enchanted by Ottawa

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.

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In the Byward Market area

The following days were grey and cold, but that didn’t stop me from exploring.

Sure, Ottawa had government buildings.

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Like, you know the Canadian Parliament.

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Or the Supreme Court.

And more government buildings.

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Simply named “East Block”

And churches morphing into government buildings

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I have no idea what this building is. Or even where this building finishes and the church starts.

But these government buildings had fun details.

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Beyond the buildings were beautiful views.

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and between the buildings was a Canal (Rideau).

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The National Gallery of Canada has a sense of humor too:

20171115_143101And did you know that Ottawa is known for a profusion of tulips in the spring?

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Now this parking garage entrance makes sense.

And, as in all proper cities, a gorgeous Basilica of Notre Dame:

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Even with the sun starting its downward descent shortly after 2 pm, it was still beautiful:

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Thank you, Ottawa, for a wonderful few days.

I mean, even the bureaucrats I met at the conference were nice.

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