On July 11, 1995, Ingo and I set out for our first visit to Canada's capital, where Ingo had a job interview.
On the way, we stopped in Kingston. Interestingly, the landscape around Kingston was extremely dry. The grass was totally yellow and there were hardly any flowers. Nothing was left of the abundant vegetation we had seen on our way east.
When we arrived in Ottawa in the early evening hours, we had to find out that the historical bed and breakfast establishment I had picked out. It was totally booked except for the luxury room which we could not afford. However, the receptionist was very helpful in finding us another room. In the end, we stayed in the last available room at the “Parkway Motel”. The room was not great, especially because it was a smoking room right on the main street, but the hotels we could afford were pretty much all fully booked due to the holiday season.
We went sightseeing immediately. Luckily, we were just in time for a tour through the Parliament Building. I was in awe of the beauty of the architecture even though we could not see the main tower, the Peace Tower, which was under construction. The art inside of the building was as impressive, especially the Library. The Library of the Parliament is the only part of the original building that was saved during the fire of 1916. The wood panelling was just breathtaking. I was also fascinated by the paintings, glass pieces and sculptures.
After seeing Parliament Hill during the day, we also wanted to see the Sound and Light Show. Unfortunately, it got cancelled that evening, so we just strolled through the festively lit streets and drove by car along the Rideau Canal.
The next morning, Ingo had his interview and I went to the National Gallery of Canada. As Ingo lost his way during the busy traffic and ended up behind the guards marching to the Parliament Hill for the daily Changing the Guard Ceremony, I walked from the office building past the Houses of Parliament to the museum. I just caught the finish of the ceremony. I found it all very exciting. Next, I watched with great interest how two small boats maneuvered through the locks of the Rideau Canal. When I finally reached the National Gallery, I wanted to visit the special exhibition of the “The Queen's Pictures”, paintings by old masters from the collection of Queen Elizabeth II. The exhibition was very interesting and I took my time taking it all in. As I still had time, I also visited the modern galleries, especially works of the pop art and the Canadian art.
I was very impressed that the entry to the general collections was free of charge. Unfortunately, that has changed in the meantime, but I can understand that the upkeep of the museum and the works of art costs a lot of money.
When Ingo returned from his interview, he was in a very good mood. After he had almost forgotten his suit and shoes in Mississauga, and had to use my hair shampoo and razor to shave that morning because he had left his shaver behind, but he was very happy with the job the company had to offer. Luckily, we had another “2 for 1” coupon for McDonald's to celebrate the positive interview.
We left Ottawa in the direction for the Algonquin Park, where we wanted to hike before heading back to the cottage in Muskoka. On the way, we saw a roadside booth with fresh strawberries and seedless grapes. I felt such a craving for fresh food after all the fast food we had during the previous weeks.
Once at the Algonquin Park, we started out to visit the logging exhibit. However, the flies and mosquitoes were so aggressive, that we headed back to the car as fast as we could, dealing out blows right and left. We decided that a hike was out of the question. Instead, we visited the visitor centre, where we could learn interesting facts about the history of the park, the flora and fauna.
I was truly impressed with the presentation of the reconstructed habitats with taxidermied animals and artificial, but very natural-looking, plants. An audio guide and a documentary offered the explanations. We were so fascinated that we did not manage to see everything in the two hours until closing time. We even managed to see a huge moose from the observation deck – even though it was very far away. What an adventure for a city girl!
I was very impressed and hoped we would return for a hike, even though I was usually not very fond of hiking. It was already dark when we left the park. Only due to Ingo's fast reaction did we miss the raccoon that crossed the road – quite a severe danger due to the many wild animals. We decided to take the highway to reduce the risk.
Thank you for following my journey. To find out my first real cottage experience, please visit this page again next week.