Sunday, August 2, 2009

2nd Year: Ottawa & the Chateau Montebello

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Lazy morning with no place to go, and before I could even think of fishing, the dock master announced the Bridge was open!  Off we went – Ottawa, the Capitol of Canada,  here we finally come!

 A beautiful cruise down the Rideau thru five locks and only 14 miles!  As we got closer to Ottawa the countryside changed from rural to urban, with beautiful large homes along the water.
Lots of seaplanes everywhere along the waterway

Someone is having fun!

Almost there - note the narrow canals

Last bridge before entering Ottawa

Canal coming into downtown Ottawa
Right into the city of Ottawa!
Some funny stuff cruising down the canal!

A crowded lock headed toward Ottawa

Our fears of NOT being able to find a place to tie along the wall were unfounded.  In spite of this being a three day weekend in Ottawa, with festivities celebrating the Rideau Canal and boat traffic backed up due to the broken bridge, we found plenty of space!  Tying up quickly, we hopped off the boat to walk around.
Along the wall in downtown Ottawa

Wow, we are right in the middle of Canada’s capital city, considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful cities, with much of the city within walking distance.  Amazingly, when winter comes, all this water freezes over and this becomes the longest ice skating rink in the world…all the way from Dow Lake to downtown.  Many people commute to work in the winter via their ice skates!

Aerial view of Ottawa
A totally delightful, very cosmopolitan city!  Our quick stop at the Tourist Center followed by a two hour city bus tour to get oriented, left us eager to see it all.

Walking around, we hear numerous languages spoken, most French, but picked up Polish and many others.  Colorful banners representing the various Canadian provinces and territories hang from streetlamps and impart a festival atmosphere.  There is plenty of green space, bike paths and flowers – all adding to the beauty here.
Chase with an early settler - Indian

On the hill overlooking the Ottawa River is Parliament, built in 1859 and which houses the House of Commons, Senate, Library of Parliament and offices.  These buildings are considered to be among the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in North America and I feel as though I am in Europe, not in a North American city.

 I especially love the large gargoyles hanging off the building and all the weird funny sculptured faces of humans and various animals carved into the building.

Memorial to the fallen in the Peace Tower
Downtown Ottawa as seen from the Peace Tower

View from the Peace Tower of the Parliament Building

The Peace Tower, centered in the main Parliament Building, with its large clock face, is a great place to view the entire city from.

My favorite - spider with eggs @ the art museum
View of Ottawa from the Natural History Museum
Inside the Natural History museum
Representing the 1st settlers to Canada

Natural History Museum is NOT to be missed!

Early canoes in the Museum

Sunday, August 2 through Friday, August 7, 2009

Every morning was such a thrill watching the Ceremonial Guard of the Canadian Forces march past our boat in full red military regalia, drums and bagpipes blaring, on their way to the Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill!  Watching the entire 30 minute ceremony in front of Parliament was awesome and something I never tire of!

This is like being in London!
Watching the Ceremonial Guards marching past our boat tied to the wall

Every morning, past our boat like clockwork!

Canadian Mounted Policewoman- Women are 50% of the MP force now

So fabulous!

One afternoon, while at Parliament Hill again, Chase and I also got to pet one of the scarlet clad Royal Canadian Mounted Police WOMAN’s beautiful horse!  
Note the maple leaf brand on the horse!

We took in the Sound and Light Show on Parliament Hill one evening and stumbled upon the full dress rehearsal of the Band of the Ceremonial Guard preparing for the next day’s Fortissimo.  We watched the Guard plus about 150 additional musicians, gunners and soldiers marching and playing and lots of bagpipers too!  What a treat!  The Sound & Light Show was okay – an explanation of Canada’s history told through music, images shown across the Parliament Building and all kinds of colorful lights casting about.  Andy & I agreed that although this was very good, we preferred Atlanta’s Stone Mountain light and music spectaculars!

At the Parliament Building - Eternal Light

Every day here is one of beauty and of fun.  I especially like the carnival atmosphere found on Sparks Street, with all the street vendors entertaining us all as we walked around.

I managed to ditch the guys a couple of times so I could ride my bike to the outdoor Byward Market by myself (and the guys were happy to be ‘ditched’).  I could spend hours wandering and looking at the flowers,  fresh veggys, art and crafts, etc.- not a guy thing.
Riots of color everywhere
LOVE the markets!

Edge of the marketplace

We bumped into Denis, his wife and another Canadian couple while tied to the wall who invited us to join them for dinner at Johnny Farina’s Italian Restaurant, which we did. We’d had several conversations & sharing of 'native' beers while locking through a number of locks on our way here & developed a brief friendship.  At dinner, we gained a great deal of insight into the Canadian and the French Canadian mindset that evening while enjoying a great meal and a bottle of the best wine I can remember having anywhere.  Later, we all walked what I thought was half the city, but enjoyed it totally, ending with watching fireworks over the river!  Great evening!

Ottawa at night
We finally decided we had better head on to Montreal in order to give that city our full attention before Chase had to fly back to Oklahoma on the 14th.  Andy and I agreed we could spend weeks happily tied up to the wall in Ottawa!  This has become one of our favorite cities in the world!
Andy now has proof that his favorite word, FRIGGIN', is really a word!

Starting down the Flight of Eight locks

Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wow!  We locked through the “Flight of Eight” locks, also called Ottawa Staircase Locks promptly at 8:30 this morning.  It took 1 ½ hours to do so, with tourists lining the walls all the way down!
View of Flight of Eight locks from the bridge.  It's closed, after hours

Departing Ottawa
A quick turn to starboard after exiting the Flight and we were in the Ottawa River, heading approximately 97 miles to Sainte Anne de Bellevue, outside of Montreal.

This is again, beautiful country and the wide river is a pleasure after all the narrow canals we’ve been experiencing.  We’re now in French country – with French the predominate language and it doesn’t have to be bi-lingual unless it is a national sign.

The river as seen from Ottawa

Ottawa in our wake
After an uneventful cruise, we docked at Montebello Marina, just below the famous Chateau Montebello, before Saint Anne de Bellevue for the night so we could tour the famous Chateau.  This little tiny marina & campground is half the price of the resort marina at the Chateau.  I had called them a few days prior and had been told we were too big at 50 feet and they could not accommodate a boat that size.  We called shortly before getting in the area  and they would take us!  Coming in to dock, it was obvious we were huge in comparison to all other boats there and the ‘dock master’ bragged that we were taking up two slips (a T dock)!  I figured any paying boat was better than NO boat.  Everyone in the marina stood on the dock and watched us come in!  Luckily, our skill sets are pretty good now, so they had no real excitement!

Coming up to Montebello Chateau

Made entirely of wood

Sharon & Chase on the grounds of Montebello

We enjoyed the hike from the marina through the woods to the Chateau with the large green trees and the smell of the forest!  We wandered around the Chateau, the largest log structure in the world.

The grounds are lovely, with horseback riding, pool, historic outbuildings, etc.  

Look at the beams in the rafters inside

Pretty impressive but a little too dark inside for my taste. 
Huge fireplace & soaring ceilings

Bottom of the fireplace

Interior with shops & hotel rooms

Even the stairs are just logs

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