Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Terrific Toronto

It was unfortunate that we just had an evening to spend in a vivid and vivacious city of Toronto.  I loved every second I spent in the city.  It was the liveliest of all cities I saw in Canada till now and I love such cities, kinda reminded me of San Francisco.  We didn't do much - we walked from our hostel to Queen's park, Ontario Legislative Building, took metro to Union, walked around waterfront, Yonge St., Dundas square, met my old friend Shridhar and his family and dined at Sabai Sabai Kitchen and Bar on Church street. 

I only wish I had a couple of days in Toronto to get to know the city better...hopefully next time!

Ontario Legislative Building

Gay Pride 2014 mural

Toronto Skyline

Pet exhibit promo

Roadside artwork

Victorian house turned into a bar

Bloor station

Old and new

CN tower

Ontario Legislative Building

Gay Android!

Artsy street side

The Rainbow Flag!

The Massey Tower

Passerby Ontario Legislative Building

An unknown building

 A production crew relaxes at the campus of University of Toronto

Toronto Jump On Jump Off

Purvi at the dinner table

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Opulent Ottawa

I've seen many capitals - New Delhi, Beijing, Mexico City, Bangkok, London, Sofia etc.  Most of them are, as one can expect, busy and crowded.  Ottawa, the capital of Canada, defied all traits of a capital city...it's one of the most laid back capital cities I've seen.  I reached the city on a work day at around 9:15 in the morning which is supposed to be peak hour and I was in downtown which is supposed to be the most crowded part of the city.  I was surprised...roads weren't crowded, traffic was nominal, plenty of parking spots...or did I just get lucky on that day and hour?

After parking the car below the Ottawa Public Library on Metcalfe street, we rushed to Parliament hill which was 5 blocks away on Wellington Street.  Changing the Guard ceremony starts at 9:30AM everyday and we were a bit late.  The ceremony is quite impressive - files of Ceremonial Guards in red uniform against the magnificent backdrop of Parliament building central block.  The ceremony is about an hour long in the field which is cordoned off for the event.  We watched the ceremony and then rushed to capital information kiosk right opposite to Parliament Hill and lined up for the free Parliament tour tickets and got the tickets for 4:30 tour.  We then clicked few pictures of the Parliament building before heading out to Byward Market where they sold lots of maple syrup and maple products, fresh fruits and vegetables on the streets, stores selling cheese and wine.  I tasted ground cherries for the first time ever in my life in Byward market.

We then proceeded to National Gallery of Art, we didn't have time to enter the gallery, we clicked few pictures of Maman, Louise Bourgeois' sculpture, a giant spider at the courtyard of the gallery, had a quick stop at Notre Dame Cathedral before heading to Major's Hill Park beside the Parliament Hill separated by Rideau Canal.  It overlooks the Ottawa river and offers a great view of Rideau Canal the historic 200km canal system that connects Ottawa and Kingston cities.  The complete history of the canal is nicely explained here: Rideau Canal History.  It seems the canal freezes in the winter and becomes a skating rink. We then got down the stairs and walked along the canal, continued on Trans Canada Trail to Supreme Court of Canada, took the 3PM free tour.  We still had time for the Parliament building tour at 4:30, we relaxed at Bridgehead cafe on Spark's street.

Tour at Parliament building started 10 minutes before 4:30, they showed us  the senate foyer, the senate chamber, the house of commons foyer, the library of the parliament, the rotunda.  I must confess that it was the most beautiful library I've ever seen in my life, it's gorgeous Victorian architecture and intrinsic wooden carvings were all simply splendid.  Unfortunately taking pictures inside the library was prohibited. This page has beautiful videos of the Parliament building: Parliament of Canada, Guided Tour.  The tour lasted for about 45 minutes and there's a boutique that sells souvenirs and sundries where the tour ends.

I was told that Ottawa's got ton of museums but with just a day to spend, we couldn't afford to spend hours in museums. We were pretty much done with Ottawa by then, there was not much time and energy left and we had to drive two hours back to Montreal.  We picked the car and hit the road back to Montreal.


Sir Galahad statue, Parliament Hill

Change of guards at Parliament Hill

 Hotel Fairmont Chateau Laurier

Maple syrup sold by a pretty lady at Byward Market

Louise Bourgeois' Maman, the giant sculpture in the courtyard of National Gallery of Art

Bench for visitors at Supreme Court of Canada

The arch of Peace Tower at Parliament Hill

Strawberries, ground cherries, raspberries, cherries at Byward market

Inside Notre-Dame Cathedral

Bike parked on Wellington Street


East Block, Parliament Hill

Inside the Central Block of Parliament Hill

More fresh fruits at Byward Market

A passage inside National Gallery of Art

View of Ottawa downtown from the arch of Peace Tower

A Colocasia leaf in the garden next to Parliament Hill

Ceiling of National Gallery of Art

Boat getting ready for the ride down the Rideau Canal,  Hotel Fairmont Chateau Laurier in the background

A couple relaxes on Trans Canada Trail on the banks of Ottawa River

Fresh beets, carrots and zucchinis in Byward Market

Reflection of Confederation Building on one of the downtown buildings

The Supreme Court of Canada

Fresh fruit baskets at Byeward Market

The Giant Spider and the National Gallery of Art

Notre Dame Cathedral

The rotunda inside Parliament Hill Central Block

The Centennial Flame

View of Rideau Canal from Wellington St.

The Lady Dive, amphibious bus

Changing of guards at Parliament Hill

The ubiquitous Maple Leaf

Street Art on Wellington st.

The opulence of Parliament Hill