Sunday, June 3, 2012

Ottawa - Politics, Museums and a photo competition

After a great night’s sleep in one of the best hostels I have stayed in, I woke up early, refreshed and ready to go. I dint have much of a plan for the day, but decided in the end to visit the number one site of Ottawa - The Parliament building.

This is where the Prime Minister sits with his government the same as every other government in the world. But this is a special building, built in a prime position in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, on a hill, overlooking the river and with great views. I took the first tour of the day and looked around the inside of the gothic style building, including the beautiful wooden library, which was the only surviving part of a fire in the early 1900’s. After the tour I sat for a while in the public viewing gallery and watched the government making their decisions – actually there were only about 20 ministers there and most seemed to be texting or playing games on their phones.

I wanted to come back for the daily question period – a bit like Prime Minister question time and decided to have a quick 2 hour walk around town beforehand. So I visited the locks on the Rideau Canal, right in the centre if the city, but a lovely peaceful area too, before a wander around the outside of the stunning glass building that is The National Gallery, complete with 10 metre high spider statue. Opposite the Gallery is Notre Dame Cathedral, which looked very similar to the Church of the same name in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, but has stunning silver looking towers. Then I had a quick lunch stop for a ‘Beavertail’. This is a hot fresh pastry, covered with a topping of your choice and a local speciality. I went for an Avalanche – which is covered with cheesecake topping and chocolate. It was very sweet but also really nice. 

A sunny evening in Ottawa


Rideau locks

Cool spider thing!


A quick walk around and then it was back into the parliament for question time. There are no cameras allowed in there, so I have no pictures but it was fun. The two opposite parties bickered and shouted abuse at each other a lot– the best bit was when the NDP was proud to announce their website would be off for one day in recognition of some charity. The Conservatives all went mental, clapping and cheering as they took the piss and said that no one looks at the website anyway! It was a fun hour or so.

The final stop today was just upstairs – in the clock tower that is actually called ‘The Peace Tower’. It has great 360 degree views over the whole city as well as a glass panel inside the lift, so that you can see the bells inside the tower as you ascend and descend. I stayed up there a while before finally heading back to the hostel for a well earned rest.

I went back out in the evening to see if the city looked different all lit up and got lucky. The Parliament building was being set up for a light show to celebrate the bosses Diamond Jubilee. So I sat on the grass for a while and watched and the building was lit up by spotlights and projector as the sun dropped out of the sky and darkness fell. It was well worth watching and taking photos till my camera battery died.

Parliament at night

From the peace tower

Friday was a rainy day in Ottawa. I decided, actually after throwing the dice again, to go to The Canadian Museum of Civilisation

This museum is across the river in a building that has more curves than a curvy curly thing! In fact the building has supposedly got no corners at all, although being me I did search and found one inside. But they are supposed to bring bad karma or something, so the building is therefore built out of curves and is quite stunning. Even more stunning is inside when you go into the great hall – a 30-40 metres high open space with huge totem poles down one side and massive windows from floor to the ceiling. It’s a cool place. The rest of the museum is also very interesting – a walkthrough history of Canada and its native people as well as a few other exhibits like the Mayans.

My favourite part was the walk through the old towns of Canada – life sized buildings and rooms showing how things worked back in the day – especially the grain elevator (very common in Manitoba). I now know what goes on inside one of these giants!
The curvy museum

Inside the great hall

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It was still early when I left there and so I headed back across the Alexandra Bridge and to the National Gallery of Canada. This is a mix of traditional paintings and more modern art.
I wasn’t too excited by the old art, but some of the other stuff was brilliant. In the basement of the gallery is a full sized re-built chapel (Rideau Chapel). Cool, on its own, but it has an installation of a choir singing, but each chorister has been individually recorded and has his own speaker with just his voice on – including having a chinwag between hymns. The 40 speakers are placed around the chapel and give you a full 360 surround sound – brilliant – apart from getting bollocked by the guard for trying to video it.

Also in the gallery are modern arty things, some great and others weird. There is a really cool film called ‘The Clock’, which runs in real time for 24 hours and has thousands of film clips that involve clocks or watches and the time. I sat down at 3.40pm and soon realised that the time on the movie clips was also 3.40pm and moving at real time through the clips. The clips vary from old black and white movies to modern TV and movies and obviously as the film runs, the time in the clips moves with real time. I found myself checking every now and then to make sure it was right. They also have 24 hour shows a few times a year, so that you can see the whole film in real time.  There’s more about it here:

Also in the gallery is a small pool that you can view from on the same level, above from a balcony or if you go down to the entrance hall, you can get underneath it. It’s also really cool. 

The 'Choir'

A box full of condensation


...and below

I didn’t expect much from both of the museums I visited today, but I’m glad I took the time to see them as they are both really great places, in amazing buildings and definitely places to visit in Ottawa.

Saturday was a planned lazy day. I have done so much in the last two weeks I need a day doing very little. A bonus is that there was also an England game to watch at lunchtime and hockey on TV tonight. The England game was ok and after I did head out for a wander around to check where tomorrows hostel is (It's a jail) and to have a stroll by the river. I have also downloaded a couple of applications for my phone camera – instagram and streamzoo – both of which allow you to play with and improve your photos. Take a look at them...I have also played with one photo on my netbook, so let me know which is best.

The original photo....

Number 1

Number 2

Number 3

 Which photo do you like best out of these!?! Please leave a comment and let me know....I will then know which method to use to play with future ones.

Some more photos

Down by the


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