North Bay to Ottawa, Ontario Aug 13,2014

Brian's drive by photo of Parliament Hill

Brian’s drive by photo of Parliament Hill

The forecast for today was quite dismal, however we ran into only scattered showers.  I drove the entire way today so don’t have any photos from our drive. We stopped once for gas and arrived just before 2 p.m. We checked into our hotel – a Best Western Inn & Suites and are very pleased with our room. This would be a great place to stay if you are planning a few days in Ottawa.  It has a living room with pull out sofa, a kitchen area, spacious bathroom and nice bedroom.  The living area even has a bit of an “office” area so perfect for business travellers. It’s rather nice to be able to spread out and not be tripping over each other. Given what we have, it’s reasonably priced.

We have a hop on hop off tour booked for tomorrow so we spent part of the afternoon driving around looking at the sites on our own. ( We needed more miles today…ha ha!) It end up to include a bit of an adventure in the end.  We drove along the Rideau Canal for a bit and drove past the embassies and parliament hill, then over the bridge to Gatineau. Our GSP is clever as it converted to French immediately once we crossed the bridge.  When we figured it was time to turn back I ended up taking a wrong turn and ended up on a transit bus only road.  Thank goodness unlike my niece experienced years ago, this road did not come equipped with a car trap. Thank goodness the road went in both directions so at least I wasn’t going one way on a one way street, however there was no way off for several blocks.  A transit driver coming towards me, threw up his hands in disgust. What…did he think I did this on purpose!!!  I eventually found an intersection to allow me to get back on the proper road system and just carried on. Perhaps my GSP isn’t that smart…I should have been told before turning onto that bus road! 

A Brief Tour of Ottawa Aug 14, 2014

Parliament Hill - the clouds opened up allowing a good shot

Parliament Hill – the clouds opened up allowing a good shot

We have a rather tight time line getting to Newfoundland so our stay in Ottawa was all too brief.  Hoping to get the biggest bang for the buck I purchased a one day Hop On Hop Off tour with Grayline. We have used these tours in other cities but we very much appreciated the ability to be picked up at our hotel this morning. While we are in downtown Ottawa our hotel is out of their normal bus pick up route and we enjoyed their flexibility. The weather today was for rain and cold weather.  We didn’t get as much rain as forecast but the cold we got via a north wind. I don’t believe the daytime high was above 14. For those of you who have never taken one of these tours, the majority of the seats are open air seats on the upper level.  I had planned for cool and rain for this road trip and brought along all sorts of warm clothes and rain gear.

We started the tour at ten a.m. and decided to stay on the bus for the 90min circle trip so we could see the sites before deciding which ones we could see in our limited time. 

Time for the changing of the guards - marching to the hill

Time for the changing of the guards – marching to the hill

We braved the elements and went up top despite looming dark clouds.  The skies were partially cloudy as we set out so I was able to get some decent photos of parliament hill and surrounding area. When we started heading out to the RCMP stables away from the downtown area, the rain started.  Being such a clever girl I brought along umbrellas. They might work when you are walking but definitely not the thing to use on a two level bus,  for one thing, when they are open the block the view and hit those sitting around you, plus the fact it’s WINDY.  Others around us put on their hoods and donned their  rain slickers.  Our rain slickers and hoodies, were left in the car! So much for good planning.  We eventually caved and went below.

Given the length of the round trip and the time between buses we realized we had time for two tours.  We opted first for the Canadian National War Museum. My niece was very impressed with this museum when she visited earlier this year and impressive it is. 

There is a wonderful display of Canada liberating Holland.  This cartoon indicates the love the Dutch people have of those troops.

There is a wonderful display of Canada liberating Holland. This cartoon indicates the love the Dutch people have of those troops.

It is extremely well done, easy to tour and well thought out.  We had only two hours and saw but a small offering, however we appreciated the effort and detail put into this place. It is a very fitting tribute to Canadian men and women who have served out country so well.

Our next stop was Rideau Hall, home to the Canadian Governor General. The building is a bit of a walk from the front gate, so Brian opted to wait while I took the guided tour. The tours are free and informative.  Over the years the building has been added on to, transformed and renovated… great expense.  The building is beautiful but one room is almost embarrassing.  The room is called the “Tent” room and in my mind is a “hot mess” with it’s candy striped walls and gold tassels.

The Tent Room decor at Rideau Hall

The Tent Room decor at Rideau Hall

Our tour was the last of the day and for the next few hours the building would be open for self guided tour where one could take photos ( while on the guided tours they don’t allow photos.) The last room to tour is the ballroom and the guide did allow us a quick moment to capture the ballroom.  The ballroom is where the Order of Canada medal ceremony takes place as well as most formal activities.  I would have like to spent time in the garden but the bus was coming and Brian was waiting at the gate. The bus was late returning to the drop off place so we only had time for a quick dinner before Grayline returned us to our hotel.

Brian caught a real chill while waiting outside and when we returned to our hotel room, he needed a hot shower to get his circulation system going. The weather forecast for tomorrow is for more of the same, perhaps a bit more sun and  a daytime high of 18.  We will be using the heater instead of air conditioning.  We have the longer drive of our trip east tomorrow – 658 km.  We will be driving through Quebec, through many small towns and I am sure the usual construction zones. I am looking forward to getting glimpses of rural Quebec and hope we can manage to order food in French! We’ll see how much of my high school French I remember.

Grand Ballroom Rideau Hall

Grand Ballroom Rideau Hall