Thursday, May 03, 2007

Spring has sprung.... again!

Boy are we ever lucky! First, we managed to stay in Japan through the arrival of spring and cherry blossom season, and now we have arrived in Ottawa just in time to see things come alive here. Seeing 2 springs in one year is great!

All is going well here, we're all settled in and just about over jet lag. And we have purchased a vehicle! We are now the proud owners of a 2001 Ford Explorer XLS, which will be great for those camping trips. Of course the price of gas is ridiculously high these days, but since I won't be driving daily, it shouldn't be that big of a problem. Got a really good price on it too, which is great. Essentially, I paid the same price I got for my Ranger when I left for Japan 2 years ago... so after 2 years away, I come back with a vehicle 4 years newer for the same price.... not too shabby! No pictures yet, since it's not clean... there was construction all around where it was parked so it's pretty dusty, but there will be some later!

This time, I not only brought my camera, but I made sure to have spare batteries which were actually charged! Low and behold, I got some nice pictures of Ottawa. While at the bus stop, I looked overhead and we spotted the leaves coming out. Just in the last week, things have really started to spring to life.

For her first bus ride, Yoshiko followed the route which I usually took in to work every morning when I worked at Ogilvy downtown. Our first stop of the day was actually Ogilvy where I said hello to my former coworkers\clients and introduced a bunch of them to Yoshiko. Afterwards, we stopped by a government office to get some paperwork started, only to find out I didn't have the right paperwork and Yoshiko will need something from immigration before we get going on stuff. I will have to start working the phone today and see what can be done about moving the process forward, whether that include getting my MP involved depends on what I can do through the regular channels.

So after that, we started walking around downtown. When working downtown, especially south of Sparks or Queen Streets, it's easy to sometimes forget about ol' Parliament Hill which lies just a few blocks to the North. With the office building grouped together just to the South of the Hill, only a few choice spots afford you a view of this beautiful building and its imposing clock tower. We will be making a proper tour of Parliament Hill once the summer hits and the Changing of the Guard starts up, but I couldn't help but snap pictures of it as we made our way around the East part of downtown. Here is the Peace Tower on the left, which houses a book listing all of Canada's war dead... some names have recently been added unfortunately due to our fighting in Afghanistan.

Also located right nearby is the War Memorial, the centre of activities and tributes on Remembrance Day in November. To the left of the memorial, you can see a part of the East Block of Parliament Hill which is currently undergoing some sort of renovations. On the right is the Chateau Laurier, one of the best hotels in the city.

And grass! The grass is springing up green everywhere!

Here is my dear Yoshiko with a statue of Iberville. Iberville was born in Montreal way back when and was actually the founder of the French colony of Louisiana.

One of the many fascinating aspects of Ottawa is the Rideau Canal and its series of locks. The canal was built by hand a few hundred years ago as a means of connecting the Ottawa River to the St-Lawrence for military purposes. The British, in the ongoing war with the French for control of North America, needed a way to get supplies up into this area. Since the natural water system has a wide range of elevations, meaning many rapids and waterfalls and such, they decided to link navigable waterways with a series of man made canals. Amazing engineering feat for the time, that's for sure. These locks serve as a boat escalator of sorts. By moving a boat into these enclosures and controlling the flow of water, they can be brought up or down safely. These locks are still operated by hand and are quite busy with pleasure craft in the summer.

We then headed into the Byward Market area, which is a lot of fun as the center for restaurants, shops and touristy stuff in Ottawa. Besides all that, it is still a fully functioning farmer's market with stalls selling everything from flowers and turnips to apples and maple syrup.

As part of our loop through the market, we stopped by the Sussex Cathedral to check out the beautiful stained glass windows which line both sides of the Church.

This really is a beautiful old church and is used for important events such as the funerals of dignitaries and such.

I didn't cross the street as I would have had to walk quite far to get a shot which shows the sheer scale of this church, but here I am looking up at the very top of it. Very imposing.

Right across the street is the National Art Gallery, with it's huge spider statue out front. I believe this spider is the brother (sister?) of the one in Roppongi. This is another of Ottawa's landmarks with its glass domes lit up at night and very colourful. Incidentally, this is a great place to come to watch the fireworks on Canada day as they come right up over the gallery.

Along Sussex Drive is also the new American Embassy, which was completed just a few years ago. It's interesting to see how the embassies are laid out here, with the America, British, Mexican and a few others located quite close to Parliament Hill, no doubt showing just how important our relationship with these countries are.

After a quick scoot across Rideau Street, we were back alongside the canal where we came by bike last week. In this bed of tulip, one early bloomer stood out signaling more to come soon! To thank us for

And here is a shot of the canal up stream from the locks. It cuts right through downtown Ottawa, and in this shot is flanked by the National Arts Centre on the right and the Department of National Defence on the left further down.

And that was our afternoon. We hitched a ride home with my dear mother who works downtown and proceeded to spend the evening watching the Ottawa Senators beat the New Jersey Devils again to take a 3-1 series lead in the best of 7. 1 more win lets them advance! Woohoo!


Blogger tornados28 said...

Beautiful city. How are the Japanese restaurants in Ottawa?

4:39 PM  
Blogger Michel Lafleur said...

Well we've only been to one so far, Teppan Yaki place called The Japanese Village and that one is really quite good. There is good sushi to be had all around, though the rice is sometimes a bit too wet... we'll see as time progresses and we get to try out some more spots.

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Mitch I really think you missed your calling . . . . . those shots are breathtaking!!!! All looks well and Jean is supposed to be setting up a date I can't wait to see you both! Loads of love your gkhm!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Awesome shots!

9:04 AM  

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