Friday, July 5, 2013

Ottawa!

It is such fun to be in Canada again.  And I had no idea Ottawa was such a great city!  It's clean, super bike-friendly, surrounded by rivers and bridges and interesting architecture, modern, and international.  As a tourist there are lots of things to see and do.

My Mom is visiting this week - Greg is staying an extra few days in Philadelphia to work on his flight lessons.

We spent the day touring Parliament Hill.  I learned so much fascinating stuff about the Canadian history and government today!

  • Ottawa used to be called Bytown, and changed to Ottawa in 1857, when it was named the capital of Canada by England's Queen Victoria. 
  • The British monarch is also the monarch of Canada.
  • Ottawa is a bilingual city - French and English - as is the official national government.  I thought French-speakers were only in Quebec, but it turns out there are "Franco-Ontarians" and "Franco-Manitobans", etc.  
  • There are thirteen provinces / territories of Canada.  (if you asked me before today, I could probably only have named 4 or 5).  
  • America has twice invaded Canada - during the American Revolution, and then in the War of 1812.  America lost, both times.

In 1916, the Parliament building in Ottawa was destroyed by a fire, with the exception of the Library of Parliament (pictured).  An extraordinarily beautiful room.

We also went to the top of the Peace Tower, and meandered the grounds looking at all of the statues.  In addition today, we explored the Bytown Museum (Ottawa history), and hung out at the Rideau Canal for awhile watching the locks in action.

We've managed to fit in quite a lot in our first couple of days here.  Rode bikes along the river, two trips to the swimming pool downstairs, fetched all of our luggage from the nearby hotel, and found the grocery store.  And I went to my first class at Bikram Yoga Ottawa, hooray!

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