The last time we were on the East Coast of the United States and Canada we had done a route through most of New England, some of Quebec and Ontaria. The most direct route took us from Quebec City through Montreal and finally over Toronto and Niagara Falls back into New York. Back then we decided against the detour of driving up all the way to Ottawa, which is the capital of Canada by the way ;)
This time we had an invitation by a friend of ours who’s currently living in Ottawa, so we just had to incorporate it into our roundtrip. We left the Adirondack Part and quickly came up to the border crossing into Canada at Cornwall, with the usual amount of awkward questioning and some waiting. Soon we were back in the land of Tim Horton’s and helpful people. This is not just a figure of speech, we actually stopped at the very first Tim Horton’s we came across and listened to the people cheerfully chatting in the seat next to us. The rest of the drive towards Ottawa was uneventful, taking us up to the Trans-Canada Highway (“follow the only road”) straight into Ottawa.
Our friend was still out skydiving so we had some time to kill and walked along the Rideau River with the sun slowly setting. The next day Katrin and I explored the city of Ottawa, which is something that can very comfortably be done on foot. We saw the locks at the Rideau Canal and went up to Parliament Hill. The queue in front of the Centre Block building was manageable so we lined up and were in in no time. There was no guided tour but we were free to explore the building ourself and even go up Peace Tower in an elevator. The observation deck provides good view over the city centre, the River and the surrounding countryside which is very flat. Before we left we snuck into a session of parliament where I had to surrender my camera in order to get in.
The rest of the day was spent wandering the city, first downtown and then near the canal. This being the capital there are a number of federal buildings as well as embassies. We even had time to do a little shopping. Interestingly enough, Ottawa is just across the river from the city of Gatineau which is in Quebec. While bi-lingual signs are omnipresent in Canada, I had never really discovered bilingual areas in Canada except for some areas of Montreal. In Ottawa I noticed that the work crews scaffolding buildings or paving roads were either francophone or spoke English, but they did not seem to be associated in any way. A very interesting experience, especially considering that french-speaking Gatineau is only a short walk across the bridge.
For dinner we met up with our friends and went downtown. On the way there we stopped at Nepean Point which gives a spectacular view of the Canal locks and Parliament Hill. After that we found a nice place to eat in the Byward Market district which packs a number of bars and restaurants of all colors. We retired a little earlier as the next day would already take us back across the border into the US.