Ottawa Highlights: Spiders, Hogwarts and Snow

The National Gallery of Canada

What a glass marvel of beauty! So I’m going to be annoying and not even discuss the art now (there were some beautiful paintings and some awesome sculptures and some modern things and some old things and blah blah you get the idea…), because, what amazed me the most was THE BUILDING!

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Made out of these huge glass panels, it is a magical sight both inside and out. I visited the area on a snowy day and a sunny one, which demonstrated wonderful contrasts of how the glass interacts with different elements.

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The views out to Parliament Hill were amazing

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Then of course there’s the giant spider guarding the entrance!

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This huge bronze sculpture was created by Louise Bourgeois and is known as Maman.

I called him Fred.

Parliament Hill

This was one of the areas that I had been most excited to see. Now you’re thinking, oo check her out all interested in Canadian politics and everything, how cultural! Nope. It’s because I thought some of the buildings reminded me of Hogwarts. Ha sorry Priminister.

Hopping aboard a bus downtown (not quite the nightbus, but easy travelling), I had a sense of harmony that I was taking the same 96 Bus my grandparents, my mum and probably a load more of my family, had taken before me.

Here’s what I found at Parliament Hill…

Hotel Hogwarts (also known as Fairmont Château Laurier):

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Snowy Hogwarts (Parliament)

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Rustic Hogwarts (East Block)

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Central Parliament Block (okay so this one’s not quite as Hogwartsy, but still good!)

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A cool lamp:

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And a magical fire man!

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Maybe not 😜 This is actually the  Centennial Flame, a tribute commemorating Canada’s 100th anniversary as a Confederation.

Wandering around the hill I happened to come across the fact that there were FREE guided tours to go inside the Parliament buildings. At this point I was starting to lose any feeling in my fingers and toes so thought heck, why not!

This was an excellent choice.

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The tour was interesting, the interior was the grand and the guide delightful! We were told all about how the Canadian parliament worked and alot on the history of the huge fire that once took place there, this year marking the 100th year anniversary of the tragedy.

At the time of our tour we could not go into the House of Commons, but we had a good look round the library, the Senate and the Peace Tower which were all worth seeing:

The Library

The Senate

The Peace Tower

At the top of the peace tower are some of the most incredible panoramic views of Ottawa that can be seen in the city. I spent ages up there just gawping!

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For those of you scared of heights by the way, I’m not the best with them and I was absolutely fine! (Sort of). Now don’t go taking my word for it and having a panic attack when you get up there and cursing the day you read some foolish girls blog!! But if it is reassuring to you, it’s not all glass up there, so to me it felt fairly nice and enclosed! 😊

The Museum of Nature

Worth a quick mention is Ottawa’s Museum of Nature. Although I wasn’t blown away with it (the Natural History Museum in London has clearly made me become a snob to all else), it was still a very enjoyable trip!

I love all things nature, so I could happily geek out and enjoy all the dinosaurs, animals, earth sections and more! There’s some great information on the wildlife of Canada that I found especially interesting!

For those maybe not so into nature, I’d recommend going with kids (they’d love it!), paying for any extra exciting exhibits, or going to one of the more social nightime events they put on 😆

That’s all for now Ottawa! It’s been a pleasure.

Next stop: Montreal

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J x

Day Trip To Kingston

A skip hop and a jump away from Ottawa (okay I lie… it’s a drive away), is the quaint little city of Kingston.

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Kingston is nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario. Now when I say a lake I mean a CANADIAN SIZED LAKE and that means big if you didn’t catch on with the capitals… not these mere ponds we have in England! To me this makes the city feel like you’re on the coast, a beautiful frozen, snow covered coast.

The reason for heading here was the Queen’s University.

My cousins wife had some important sciency meetings to attend to for this awesome research she’s doing. It also happens to be the same university herself, my cousin Jamie and cousin Rebecca all went went to study, so certainly has some significance to my family!

It also just happens to be bloody beautiful!

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The campus consists of these old, grand buildings that wouldn’t look amiss somewhere like Oxford or York.

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In the snow, I did for a minute there, think I’d been transported to Hogwarts…

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Seeing a white snowy owl flying by wouldn’t have taken me by surprise!

Like most American and Canadian Universities I got the impression that sports is a huge deal at Queens. They had great facilities there of gyms, basket ball courts, tennis courts, sports fields and shops full of sporting clothes with the Queens logos on.

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They also had two huge shops full of uni merch!

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I think all we had at Portsmouth Uni was a couple of hoodies you could buy from the tiny window in the Student Union, so for me this was mindblowingly cool! I couldn’t help but buy a t-shirt 😀

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Similar I think to Portsmouth where I went to study, Kingston is fully a student city and the campus is a large part of it. Student houses are mostly on campus and from what my cousin was telling me it sounds like the students here can throw some pretty darn good house parties!

This was the street where my cousin Jamie and his now wife Shannon lived once upon a time! Apparently it was known as the party street… 😀 😀

Aberdeen Street:

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The rest of the city is also a picturesque sight. I loved the complete jumble and mix of old buildings that line the streets, where no one building looked the same.

Everything looked that much more idyllic in the snow and I swear I spotted and icicle the size of me at one point!

County Court Hall:

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We stopped off for lunch at a place called Woodenheads close by the shops and lake. It was a favourite of my families and certainly didn’t disappoint! As a gourmet pizza place with its own woodfire stove amidst the restaurant I picked a mouthwatering pepperoni one, along with a coffee cocktail called Butter Nutter. All I can say is: YUM!!

All in all Kingston was a great little place to visit for the day and lovely to see a place that holds so many memories for my family 😊

J x