Thursday, June 7, 2012

In court and jail then out in Montreal

After a good Saturday night sat watching the hockey with a few of the guys in the hostel (One who as usual came from Winnipeg!!) I moved out on Sunday morning. First though I remembered to add my little piece to the graffiti wall in the hallway. Unusually though, I was staying in the same city and in fact, only moved about 200metres. You see, I wanted to spend a night in an unusual Hostel – The Ottawa Jail Hostel. Yep, a hostel built in what was once an old jail.

The hostel itself is quite good. A good sized room and reasonable facilities, but in the back of the hostel, is the old jail. Here, the cells have been knocked together to form dorm rooms, with just one small door keeping you in. The old doors have been kept however and now act as part of the dorm wall. It’s pretty cool and along with the big wooded doors to keep ‘prisoners’ out of the stairwell and the netting to stop suicides, it’s been pretty well kept as it was years ago. My room, on the top floor used to be 2 large cells and you can still see where one door has been bricked up.

Once checked into the hostel I went out for the afternoon, Firstly to the Ottawa Supreme court, which along with a few other buildings in town, is part of an ‘Open doors’, weekend allowing the public into some unusual buildings not normally accessible. It was interesting to see the inside of the very modern court and a good place to keep out of the heavy rain. Once it died down though, I kept walking and headed for the Canadian War museum – which is a striking building, not dissimilar to the War Museum, back at home in Manchester. 

Canada Supreme court

The war museum

In the trenches

Flight simulator - seriously it is!

Hitlers car

Jail Hostel

The anti suicide stairs

My cell details...

It was a very interesting and sometimes sobering account of Canada and its history of its warfare from early fights between the English and French over Canadian territories to modern and present day wars – obviously things like Bosnia and Afghanistan were very familiar to me, but to learn about the Canadians taking Vimy Ridge and their part in ‘British Empire’ battles in Africa and other places was very interesting. At one point I got chatting to a couple of veterans who were part of a Hells Angel group, touring the museum – strangely one of them, Sid,  was wearing the new Man United top under his denim riding jacket – good lads though and a fun few minutes chatting about stiff with them.

I also saw one of Hitler’s actual cars in the museum as well as a lot of familiar weapons and vehicles. I like the way the museum is set out as well, as it takes you right through from before the birth of Canada to the present day. Weirdly though, it reminded me of the Vietnamese museum in Hanoi about the Viet/American war. Both museums are very strongly patriotic about their countries history and the people who took part. I know it’s not as openly patriotic as this in the British museums and I kind of wish it was. I almost felt proud to be a Canadian for a few minutes!! Weird or what!

The next day – I think it’s Monday, was a travel day – I spent a couple of boring hours on the Greyhound bus from Ottawa to Montreal, arriving on a cold and damp afternoon. I didn’t think much of Montreal when I arrived. Mainly because for once, I couldn’t work out the streets – mainly because the map is mostly in French and we all know English and French isn’t a good mix. The hostel was fine though.

I went out to find the place I will be moving into tomorrow and for the next week and walked straight past it. There are no signs for it and when I found the correct address and went inside, nothing to indicate that this was a hotel of any kind. I found a person who told me to go down the street to a small office where I can book in. I did so and the nice lady there seemed to know what I was on about, but we shall see tomorrow if this place exists! For tonight I’m going to mellow out, do my laundry and watch the 3rd game of the Stanley Cup finals.

Well, I’m now settled in my new place – a double room in a ‘hotel’ – which is actually a large apartment with separate rooms in. It’s pretty good though and for the price I paid it is brilliant. It’s also been a good day. I visited the Olympic park from the 1976 Olympics – which as per the 70’s is one of the most futuristic things you could imagine. A stunning stadium, with sleek curves everywhere you look, topped off with the world’s highest man made leaning tower- it leans at 45 degrees out over the top of the stadium and swimming complex and wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi movie. It’s beautiful to look at from every angle and even better has an observation gallery at the top from where you can see out over the whole city. I spent a while up there after riding the double-decker funicular that slides its way up the outside of the tower, itself a weird and wonderful piece of art. When I came back down I took a wrong turn and ended up in the Olympic swimming complex watching a diver in the pool. I then took my turn on the podium outside the stadium, flanked by the Olympic flame and emblem with the stadium in the background. 
The awesome olympic tower

On the podium for.... gold medal stadium jump!

The towers view

Olympic pool

The rest of the afternoon I spent down by the riverside, enjoying the lovely weather and watching people relax on the grass, in boats and by the fountain, overlooked by a statue of Nelson – which is quite a weird thing to have in a mainly French city, although the French have put up a statue of their own overlooking it. It has really nice European feel to it and I like it more the longer I stay here.

After a sudden cloudburst and a heavy fall of rain last night, today was gloriously sunny again. I decided to get out of the city toady by wandering up Mount Royal Park. A big hill, just outside the city centre, with a stunning view over the city from a huge man made viewing area. I reached the viewpoint after climbing about a thousand steps up through the woods and view made all the effort well worth it. It is one of the best views over a city I have seen, without having to make my way to the top of a tower or skyscraper. I stayed there an age, relaxing in the sun and watching the city, before having a walk around the park and making my way back down, passing some cool and weird sculptures at the museum of art. I headed to the Eaton shopping centre, as my shorts that I have had since Sydney in 2010 are now beyond repair. They have been sewn together in 3 different areas and have started to rip in even more so I needed a new pair. I found a pair that fitted great and cost $36, but when I went to pay, they were actually only $18. Then I found out that there was also a 40% discount on that price, so I ended up paying just over $12. Bonus!!! I will still miss my old pair though – they have been through lot with me.    
Arty road

One of Anthony Gormleys


My ripped and repaired shorts


It’s my last evening alone today as The Buffter arrives for a long weekend tomorrow. I’m going to spend the evening in the same bar as two days ago, again watching the Hockey Stanley Cup Final.

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