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Saturday 19 October 2013

Back in Canada: First stop, Ottawa

We're back in Canada again!

Nothing says Canada quite like a red maple leaf

Another visa trip, this time for all new visas to go with Kim's all new job. Even though we only just renewed our visas a few months back in Calgary they can't be transferred between jobs so that means another trip out of the USA to visit a consulate/embassy. This time we decided to head east and visit Ottawa. There were a few reasons for this. First of all, the visas are actually prepared in Ottawa (the main embassy is here) so the wait time can be a little shorter. Our appointment was yesterday and we received notification today that our visas are ready so that worked well. Secondly, we've already visited the cities closest to the west coast with consulates (Vancouver and Calgary) and we thought it would be nice to see a little more of Canada. And thirdly (and maybe most importantly), heading to the eastern side of the country means we're only a short trip away from New York and can drop by on the way home for a much promised visit with friends!

We arrived in Ottawa on Wednesday morning after taking the red eye flight from San Francisco, via Toronto. Ava and Kim slept relatively well on the flights however as Lola had slept the whole BART ride to SFO and all throughout our two hour wait in the airport she was wide awake in time for the flight. She didn't fall back to sleep until we were about one and a half hours away from Toronto. Of course, this meant that I didn't get to sleep until we were about one and a half hours away from Toronto. She didn't sleep at all on the connecting flight to Ottawa so neither could I. Needless to say I was pretty exhausted by the time we arrived at our hotel in Ottawa. Somehow Lola was wide awake and full of beans.

After a little rest in the hotel we headed out to take a look around Ottawa. Our hotel is quite close to many of the tourist attractions; Parliament Hill, Rideau Canal, Byward Market... All the things we wanted to see are within easy walking distance which is great. We headed to Byward Market for some lunch then onto Major's Hill Park which has beautiful views along the Rideau Canal and Ottawa River. Of course, by now Lola had crashed and was fast asleep in her stroller, missing out on playing in the park with Ava.

Looking over Parliament Hill from Major's Hill Park

The Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel

Autumn colour

Ava loved running around after all that time on a plane

Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica

Jumping photos are always fun

Kim and Ava overlooking Parliament Hill

Ava and I overlooking Parliament Hill

Parliament Hill and Ottawa River

As you can probably tell from the photos it was starting to get a little chilly so we decided to head back to the hotel. Back home in the Bay Area this is the warmest time of the year so the temperature change was a little hard on the kids. It's not really all that cold here at the moment (maybe low teens celcius) but it's cold enough.

We stopped by Byward Market again to get some croissants for breakfast and a few "Obama Cookies" for the girls. Apparently Barack Obama stopped by this particular bakery in Byward Market a few years ago and bought some of their cookies so they've decided to name them in his honour! Look, there he is below in their signage. Oh, and there's another important customer buying her "Obama Cookies" too!

Get your Obama Cookies here!

I wonder if they'll change the name to "Ava Cookies"?

Lots of yummy Obama Cookies

Lola woke up just in time for cookies

We had an early start on Thursday morning with our visa appointment scheduled for 7:30am. Luckily the embassy was an easy 10 minute walk away as it was still dark and quite cold when we left the hotel. We were finished at the embassy by 8:30am and had the whole day to explore the city.

Once again we started with a visit to Byward Market, a great place for fresh produce, restaurants and cafes. The produce stands were full of delicious fruit and vegetables in an amazing range of colours. I love the way that they display the produce upright in little baskets. So very French!

Oh, the colours!

Everything looked so delicious

Lola's favourite!

Pumpkin season

After the markets we headed across the Rideau Canal to Parliament Hill. There are three large buildings on Parliament Hill; Centre Block, West Block and East Block. Centre Block is open to the public with guided tours of certain parts of the building (depending if parliament is sitting or not). We decided to give the guided tour a miss as the girls were getting a little antsy after queuing for quite some time to go through security and instead headed straight to the Peace Tower and Memorial Chamber which can be visited without a guide. The views over Ottawa from the viewing deck of the Peace Tower are stunning. Such a pretty city with so many beautiful old buildings. The Memorial Chamber is a lovely room devoted to the memory of Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives in war. Ava quite liked the Memorial Chamber although she was convinced it was a small cemetery.

Parliament Hill Centre Block

Parliament Hill East Block

Kim and Ava outside Parliament

Under the Peace Tower

Under the Peace Tower

Lola loved that there were viewing windows right at her height

Looking over the Ottawa River

Lola thought this part of the building would look nicer painted pink!

Looking east

Under the Peace Tower

After leaving the Centre Block we went for a walk around the outside of the building. There are lots of sculptures to see, beautiful views over the city and of course, more amazing architecture.


Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and the US Embassy across the canal

Look at that sky

Ava and my favourite part of the building

The back of the Centre Block

Ava and Lola pose with the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill.
They were amazed by the flames coming out of the water fountain. 

From Parliament Hill we headed down to the Rideau Canal for a walk along the locks. Now I imagine that if this canal and the locks were to be located in an Australian or American city there would be large fences and warning signs plastered everywhere. No security here! Visitors can walk right up to the edge of the canal and across the locks. There are however small barriers along the locks for safety. 

The girls and I above the crashing water

Looking over the locks

Kim and the girls on the locks

Almost to the end

Along the canal there was a large amount of Autumn leaves scattered under the trees. The girls took the opportunity to throw leaves at each other, at me and at Kim. Just another reason why Autumn is such a great season.

Ready with handfuls of leaves

Up in the air

And throw them at Mummy!

One last stop for the day before retiring to an Irish pub for warmth and the most delicious fish & chips I've had over here. Our last stop was to check out the silvery towers of Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica and "Maman", the long spindly legged spider sculpture that stands outside the National Gallery of Canada. The girls were a little scared of the 30 foot high and 33 foot wide sculpture. A real spider of that size would be pretty terrifying!

Maman and Notre Dame


Friday, our last full day in Ottawa was a quiet one. We slept in, went for a swim in the hotel's indoor pool, did a little shopping (the girls now have gorgeous beaded moccasins!), ate yummy food and just relaxed. Nothing too exciting. We spent a lot more time inside today as it was quite a bit cooler. Sunnier, but definitely cooler.

Tomorrow we're off to Montreal for the weekend. Time to polish off my French skills.

Au revoir!


  1. Beautiful pictures. I was in Ottawa for a conference not too long ago:-)

    1. Such a pretty place especially with all the Autumn colours everywhere.


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