“Welcome to Canada! How are you finding the weather?” This seems to be the first question everyone asks me..especially after finding out that I am an international student from India. Always said with a bright smile and an almost anticipatory look afterwards, the words make me smile a little because it seems the Candian weather is the butt end of the joke for the people here as well.
You would think that after having been here for three months (wow…it’s already been three months…only one month left…I don’t know if I want that…) I would have taken the opportunity to explore as much of Canada as I can. Surprisingly, I’m not that inquisitive about the rest of Canada…mainly because I feel like I’m still discovering places that are right around the corner from where I live and how can I want to go to other places if I barely know where I am? (okay…so there might have been another reason as well but more on that next week)
That said, it’s not like I didn’t go anywhere other than my classes…where’s the fun in that? Besides, even if I hadn’t gone anywhere, these three months have been full of new experiences including hosting my first ever Thanksgiving Dinner with my roommates with a few of the other international students that we’ve become friends with here.
But I have gone to places around Ottawa and If I’m honest, I could write for ages without stopping if I try to go into all the details and all the experiences in one post. So this time, I’m going to focus more on the two places that I went to at the very start of my exchange and my trip here- Parliament Hill and Rideau Canal. They are places that I’ve been too more that once, but also the tourist spots that I really wanted to hit. Of course, there is a museum that I’m really curious to get into and explore but as I haven’t done that yet, I’ll write about that later.
The first time I went to Parlement Hill, I didn’t get a chance to admire the architecture, I was much more focused on the beautiful light and sound show that was happening. We went to see the very last viewing of the Northern Lights Show. The light show uses the parliament building as a canvas to tell the viewers of the rich and long history of Canada. It was amazing to see how they used the shadows and textures of the building to give a greater depth to the entire story.
The cool night air just added to the atmosphere and with a group of tentative fun, I can honestly say that it was something I really enjoyed. Not only did I get to learn bits and pieces of the history of Canada, but I also got to make memories with my new roommates and a few other students that involved running through the streets as the rain spilled from the heavens by the bucketful…and only one person had an umbrella to share between six people! (No pictures of that, though…we were all too wet and busy laughing to do much else other than run!)
A little while later, I found myself, with some company, walking down the streets on the way back to Parliament Hill, during the day this time around. This time, I did get to explore the architecture of the parliament building, although, it was the building next to it that caught my attention if I’m honest. Although there was an option for a tour, we were far more fascinated in exploring (and if I’m frank, I dislike tours, I like finding things out on my own). So we walked around the parliament hill, enjoyed the beautiful fountain of fire. The water was steaming warm and bubbly and the fire danced so prettily above the water. It was like watching a dancer sway with the wind and it was beautifully warming too because I was getting cold by this point.
Then, a friend and I went down the steps and found ourselves by the Rideau Canal. The view was beautiful. We had seen it from the bridge going across, but the view from the ground was just as breathtaking. When you reach the canal from the steps close to the parliament, you’re met by a series of dams and each dam has a small platform running across it. Standing on one of those platforms and looking out towards the canal was one of the best feelings. Especially because the wind blew through me and picked up my hair making me feel like one of the girls you see in animated movies or nature movies just standing there, looking like they are about to become one with nature.
Of course, that feeling didn’t last long since the hair flew over my eyes and into my mouth and I was then stuck battling the wayward hair and trying to make sure I could see again! But still, the feeling was nice while it lasted. On the way towards a little grassy slope, where we were planning on relaxing, I saw a small museum and I’ve put that on my list of things to check out before I leave…not that I’ve done that yet despite having been here for three months (and one month left..time flies hella fast when you’re having fun…and far from home)
Of course, everyone I’ve met that lives in Ottawa has told me that the canal is absolutely beautiful in the winter and that it freezes over. Apparently, in January, people come to Ottawa just to skate because the entire canal is open for skating…since I’m leaving in December, looks like I’ll miss that *sighs*
There is a road for cyclists, runner, and walkers that winds the length of the canal and while I am yet to take a run down that path (too lazy to run…would rather gym…that’s something I never thought I’d say). I have walked down it before and at night, when the lights are on, it is such a beautiful sight. I tried taking images…but like all beautiful things (like that one night when all the clouds are in just the right places for that photo op of the moon) my phone’s camera decided to be a weird, pixelated thing. It matters not because that sight is something I know I will recall vividly when I think of this place.
As I come to the end of this post, I realise how touristy it sounds…but since this was soon after I reached Ottawa I hardly blame myself. But there’s so much more to this city! From Byward Market to the mall and the gardens. I’ll make another post about Ottawa soon that’s more about places I see and go to on a regular basis. Not the grocery shop kind but the bookstores and restaurants kind. I’ve spent so much time walking down the streets of Ottawa, yet I constantly find myself taking new paths to come to the same places…maybe this is why I should leave my room more often
(*looks at the pile of readings, tv shows and my warm cup of tea* Or maybe not)