Before leaving for Ottawa I did the most basic of research and came up with a very short list of things to do: visit the Canadian Museum of History (which everyone raves about, but they also keep calling by different names yet describing the same exhibits), see the changing of the guard, and ride our bikes around Ottawa and Gatineau.
We arrived in Gatineau early Sunday night. This is when we learned our first lesson of the trip about Canada -- that the Ottawa river separates the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Though Gatineau and Ottawa are on opposite sides of the river, it feels like one city, but is actually two different cities in two different provinces and (seemingly) speaking two different languages. I'm still a bit confused about those thoughts.
After burning my tongue off at a Thai restaurant across the street from the museum (after seeing the IMAX movie), we crossed the bridge into Ottawa. It was one of those perfect summer nights -- ideal for walking around a city. In general, Ottawa felt like a safe place to walk around. Yes, there were the usual homeless people who one associates with a capitol city, but there were plenty of other tourists walking around. By sheer chance we stumbled upon a Light and Sound show on Parliament. This year's show is called Northern Lights, which tells the history of Canada in both French and in English. From where we were standing, though, it seemed both sides were speaking the same language as the adults in Charlie Brown episodes.
Judging by the size of the crowds, we were probably the only people in the area to not know about this. The show lasts a solid half an hour. People are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and make a night out of it.
Here is a sampling from the show:
|Famous people in Canadian history. They looked like sculptures coming off of the building.|
|This image is not doing it justice. These flags truly looked 3-D. To the extent we wondered if they had dozens of people inside pushing the flags out of the windows at the same moment.|
|The stained glass look made us think of It's a Small World at Disneyland. Yes, we need to go back.|
|The Steampunk look make us think of Ashley.|
|Closing image -- O Canada!|
The next morning we rode our bikes around Ottawa. My intention was to catch the changing of the guards. I could have sworn that was also supposed to take place in front of Parliament, but following the sounds of a bagpipe brought us to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (I think). There were guards and they were changing, though not many people were around to watch it.
A few pictures of the Changing of the Guard:
Who knew you could have so much fun hanging outside a building you never get a chance to enter.