But before we went exploring, we had a meeting with one of our new readers. Adam had contacted us because he saw that we were going to South Africa, and he had been with his girlfriend for a six week visit. He also saw that we had been to Iceland and that's a place on his destination list, so he figured maybe we could get together and share information. Great idea, so we invited him to visit at our downtown hotel, the Ottawa Marriott.
Ruth, Adam, and Kevin. We like Adam's sweatshirt "Live Simply"!
After that, we wandered downtown. Oh, I better show you where Canada's capital is located...
Ottawa's location in between Toronto and Montreal. Only about 100 kms (62 miles) north of the New York State border.
It was only a 15 minute walk to Ottawa's Rideau Canal. The canal is a UNESCO world heritage site, and its picturesque location is included in a lot of photos from any tourist that visits the capital. Built between 1827 and 1832 as a military strategy in case the U.S. invaded Canada! You'll remember of course that Canada and the U.S. had been at war a short time before in 1812.
The Rideau Canal, with Parliament Hill on the left, and the Chateau Laurier Hotel on the right.
You can see walking and cycling paths on both sides of the canal. On a beautiful weekend these paths are full of people out walking, running, and cycling. The paths carry on about 7 kms (4 miles) to Dows Lake. In winter, the Rideau Canal becomes the world's largest ice skating rink!
We walked down to the canal and along to the Chateau Laurier Hotel and the locks that bring boats down to the Ottawa River.
Kevin, beside the Rideau Canal with the Canadian Parliament buildings in the distance.
At the Ottawa end of the canal is the Ottawa River. A system of locks brings boats up and down from the Ottawa River to the Rideau Canal. The other side of the river is the province of Quebec.
Behind the Chateau Laurier (the building on the right) is Majors Hill Park. The building on the left in The Connaught Building which houses the Canada Revenue Agency.
The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa is an interesting building, built between Majors Hill Park and the Byward Market. President Bill Clinton was in Ottawa on October 8, 1999 to dedicate the new building.
Unfortunately, the events of September 11, 2001 caused a lot of headaches for the streets surrounding the embassy. Security concerns meant that some streets were blocked and that hurt businesses in the area. To this day, one lane of Sussex Drive remains closed due to permanent barricades that were installed to prevent someone driving a car bomb into the building.
The U.S. embassy in Ottawa. Picture taken from Majors Hill Park.
Our regular readers know that we like church architecture. So it's surprising that we had never been inside Ottawa's oldest and largest church, The Notre Dame Basilica. This church was built in 1849.
Notre Dame Basilica in Ottawa. Photo taken from Majors Hill Park.
The ceiling of the Basilica is decorated with 12,000 gold leaf stars. As we've said before, there's no money in the church business!
After that we went to the Ottawa Mint to do a tour, but we just missed one tour and there wasn't another one until 2:00pm. We decided to skip that and head back towards Parliament Hill where we were going to do the Lady Dive Tour where you go on an amphibious bus/boat! We'll tell you all about that in a separate post!
Heading that way, we saw what is arguably one of the most popular photo spots in Ottawa.
Tourists, taking photos from the bridge looking right. The view is of the Rideau Canal locks looking across the Ottawa River towards Quebec.
The locks of the Rideau Canal.
The Chateau Laurier Hotel.
Okay, that's enough for today. We do have a lot more to show you, but it will have to wait for another post!
We'll leave you with this...
The centre block of the Canadian Parliament Buildings and the Centennial Flame.