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The Canadian Capital

Canada - Ottawa

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When planning this trip I felt it would be interesting not only to visit Toronto and Niagara Falls, but the capital - Ottawa, and the French speaking area of Quebec, and therefore make a whole trip out of the holiday.

After having a final breakfast with Halina, we said our goodbyes, and boarded a five hour bus crossing southern Ontario towards Ottawa, eventually arriving in the city by mid afternoon. After checking in to our huge room, we then headed out for a short walk to the heart of the city.

What had struck us most in Canada was just how shabby much of it is, and Ottawa was no exception. Even though we were just a five minute walk from Parliament, the whole area was very shabby, with signs falling off, paintwork needing maintenance, and broken pacing slabs everywhere. And yet, as we walked past the city hall and entered the very heart of the city it was very well maintained.

Parliament

Parliament

The city centre was rather pretty, and Parliament Hill's Gothic architecture was a welcome sight against the bland and typical North American architecture of the suburbs. Walking past a protest against FPTP, we headed towards the back of the complex for views over the Ottawa river that separates French speaking Quebec from English speaking Ontario.

Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill

It is for this reason that Ottawa was made capital - being neither Toronto, nor Montreal, yet between the two and therefore a good compromise for a united country. Although with the Parliament buildings overlooking Quebec, it's a good job their independence never happened!

Château Laurier

Château Laurier

After walking past some beautiful buildings and the Rideau Canal, we made our way to the Alexandra Bridge to cross into Quebec. What would we find on the other side? Would people be speaking in French? Well... yes... in fact everyone we heard was a French speaker, and as we headed back from what appeared to be the same city, we followed some French speaking ladies and were intrigued to find out if they would revert to English by the time they reached Ontario.

French before English was one of the few differences

French before English was one of the few differences

Unfortunately our illusions were shattered as they continued their conversation in French as we dispersed back towards our hotel for the night.

Posted by kmmk17 11:14 Archived in Canada Tagged city canada capital parliament Comments (0)

Maple Leaf Overload

Canada - Toronto

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After the trip to South America, and the brief weekend away in Germany, the next holiday for 2017 was a 6 day trip to Canada with Fara.

Although Canada has never been top of my list, it has been somewhere I planned to eventually visit, especially after having been just metres away at Niagara Falls in 2013. And with my friend Halina from my Erasmus time now living in Toronto, this was the perfect opportunity.

Getting a bargain deal on flights, we flew out the Friday before the May bank holiday to Toronto from Gatwick. Getting on the flight we were already overwhelmed with Maple Leaves literally everywhere we could imagine - the plane wings, the brochures, the plastic cups. I was sick of the sight of it before we'd even reached land and started flying over Newfoundland.

Having taken off at noon for the 8 hour flight, coming in to land it was now 3pm - the longest three hours of my life. Meeting us at the airport was Halina, who then took us via bus and metro to her home in the city that she was letting us stay in whilst she crashed with her boyfriend.

Halina's neighbourhood

Halina's neighbourhood

By this point it was already 5pm, and having travelled all day it now felt like 10pm, and thus Fara and I felt way to tired to do anything major today. We therefore went for a short walk around the neighbouring area, in order to get food, with Halina and her boyfriend joining us. Unfortunately not being in the mood for anything more exciting on a Friday evening!

And this is where jet lag became a problem....heading eastwards I don't get too affected, but travelling westwards is where I encounter issues. There are simply too many hours in the day! I therefore easily headed to sleep at 8pm, but was well awake by 5am!

Having been awake for around 5 hours, Halina and her boyfriend met us the following morning and we went for a Canadian breakfast at a local cafe.

The closest I was getting to a Canadian bear this holiday...

The closest I was getting to a Canadian bear this holiday...

We then walked through the city, arriving first at the city hall and Nathan Phillips Square, a modern complex compared with the Old City Hall next door.

Nathan Phillips Square

Nathan Phillips Square

After walking through the market buying souvenirs, we then headed over to the Distillery District - a gentrified former industrial area that now has many small artisan shops.

Distillery District

Distillery District

Originally having considered travelling over to the Toronto Islands, due to the bad weather in the city the previous few weeks they were flooded and therefore closed to tourists. We therefore stuck to Toronto, viewing the Islands from afar at the coastline on Lake Ontario.

After saying goodbye to Halina's boyfriend, we then headed to the CN tower - still the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere, for views over the surrounding area. Unlike the Burj Khalifa, which took over the tower's height record, the views are impressive, being able to see a wide area as well as the ground itself, via the glass floor. This was a scary sight but once reassured that the glass is stable is an interesting experience!

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Coming back down we headed to get some Poutine, before saying goodbye to Halina for now, and heading back to the house via the University. However having woken up early for a busy day, by now we were shattered. We had been invited to a party, but before 8pm we had both fallen asleep and ended up missing it. But at least fully rested for our day trip to Niagara Falls.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 09:45 Archived in Canada Tagged tower walking toronto city canada sightseeing exploring Comments (0)

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