Friday, 14 June 2019

A Tourist in Your Own Town

Spring in Ottawa, acrylic, 11" x 14"

Blog 21

At the end of May, I took a couple of days of vacation to spend time with four good friends from Germany. We had a great time together, and I enjoyed being a tourist in my own town.

Tulip Festival, acrylic, 14" x 11"
I am sure that I am not the only one who has all these plans to go sightseeing in my own town but never actually goes until company arrives. As my first two friends arrived just in time for the long Victoria Day weekend, we started our sightseeing programme with a trip to the Ottawa Tulip Festival at Commissioners Park. It had rained during the day and the temperatures were rather cool so that the park was not too overcrowded with people. We could see all the beautiful flower beds and later in the evening enjoyed the fireworks over Dow’s Lake without people blocking the view.

It was my friends’ first visit to Canada, and they wanted to try some typical Canadian food. We were at the right spot: First, we shared poutine, then the traditional BeaverTail. While we relished the food, I am glad that we shared the orders as I am not used to eating dishes that sit so heavily on the stomach.

The following day, we continued our exploration of the city with a stroll through the Byward Market area and Major Hill’s Park. From Nepean Point behind the National Gallery, we had a great view towards the Parliament buildings, the flooding of the Ottawa River, and the Canadian Museum of History.

While I had to go back to work, my friends spent some time discovering parts of Ontario by themselves on their way to Niagara Falls and Toronto.

Drawing of the sculpture "Friends"
Once they were back, we went to the serene Humanics Institute Sculpture Park in Cumberland where we enjoyed the peaceful surroundings only as long as we kept moving. Otherwise, the mosquitoes tried to get as much blood from us as possible, even though the warm clothing that we still needed due to the cold wind, gave us a certain amount of protection. Just in time for lunch, the sun came out and we enjoyed a lovely lunch outside on the patio at Cafe Latte Cino in Orleans. Reinvigorated, we walked on the boardwalk of the Mer Bleue Bog that was surprisingly busy for a weekday. Two young musicians had chosen the bog as the setting for a music video that they were filming that afternoon.

Once my other friends joined us, we spent another two days exploring downtown Ottawa with the help of the “Hop On – Hop Off” Double Decker buses. Warm clothing was still advisable but on the first day, temperatures rose sufficiently so that we could enjoy a lovely lunch on a patio in the Byward Market area while watching the big commotion of police presence and street closures when the convoy with U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence passed.

The second day, we headed out with the bus again but moved from the upper deck to the inside of the bus very quickly because it was so cold. We visited the grounds of Rideau Hall but were not able to go into the building due to an official event. Instead, we spent quite some time in the Byward Market area, looking at street art and the many small shops in the area.

During the time with my friends, I discovered some beautiful spots and can hardly wait to bring my sketching equipment to draw some exciting new sites. I also want to make more time to explore further local areas without postponing it until the next guests come for a visit. Do you enjoy being a visitor in your own town or do you only go sightseeing when you have company? I hope my blog is motivating you to go out and check out your beautiful neighbourhood. I am sure you will find little treasures that you never realized before.

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