Travel Canadiana: Ottawa

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The next part of our trip in Ontario was much busier. After all the peace and quiet it was almost shocking to have places to go and people to see, but it was welcome. Especially since they were beautiful places to go and loved ones to see. We got to spend time with friends and family we haven’t seen since leaving the country, and it was so nice to spend time with familiar faces.

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Before all the wedding festivities got started, we had a few days to explore Ottawa. I had never been to Canada’s capital, so it was fun to take in the sights. This is our federal parliament building. You can just walk right into the building, usually, it’s for the public. Apparently this is shocking to some people, Americans especially, where wandering around the federal government buildings in Washington is not exactly “allowed.” We unfortunately weren’t able to get past the lobby on this day, because the president of South Korea (prime minister? I should know this) was visiting. There was security there, just not the kind of security that’s ready to shoot if you get too close. I caught many Korean guards trying not to giggle as X bumbled around their legs.

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I didn’t actually get a chance to go into the National Gallery, but I just thought this was a cool look at one of the creepiest sculptures I’ve ever seen. Why giant spiders? The pavilion beyond looks just stunning, though.

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One thing I was reminded while here is how well Canada does autumn. Harvest time comes early and fall doesn’t last very long, but in that special time between mid-September to Halloween, everything is cheerful and orange and covered in pumpkins. I adore it. I’ve yet to see a pumpkin in Geneva, I hope it’s just because it’s not their time yet, but I’ve always loved autumn in Canada. I’m glad I got to experience it this year again. I adore looking at all the harvest vegetables – it gets me inspired to start cooking again!

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And what trip to Canada would be complete without extensive maple syrup products. I think that the maple thing is the most prevalent stereotype¬†about Canadians outside of the country (that I’ve experienced) and it might be true. At first Z and I didn’t think we used that much maple, until we were like … well, except for breakfast. Euros think it’s funny. They don’t know what they’re missing.

We visited the National Arts Centre as well, where the nuptials took place – such a gorgeous venue. I loved my time in Ottawa, and not just because it is such a beautiful city, especially at this time of year. We spent a lot of time visiting with family, having parties overrun by neighbourhood kids and meeting new family as well. It was such a wonderful week, although a little trying on X sometimes. He’s almost playing strange and wasn’t really happy if anyone touched him that wasn’t Mommy or Papa. Unless it was another kid. Put him with other kids, whether family or strangers he’s just met, and he has made an instant friend. It was magical to see him playing with his cousins – probably the thing that hurts me the most living across the world is he won’t be able to grow up with them. So we’ll take what we can get.

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Beautiful autumn days turned to nights, and then it was time for us to head home. We had a nightmarish trip back to Switzerland, including a missed connection, surly Air Canada staff and an overnight stay at the Montreal airport. My shining light in all this was Z, who is my stalwart whenever things get a little rough, and X, who decided now was the time to essentially be an angel. He didn’t scream once on any of the flights, but spent most of his time giggling and trying to charm everyone around him. What a great kid. I’ll definitely consider bringing him on the next trip. But I’m glad that’s not for awhile. My goal for the moment is just to get some sleep.

Bizarre that Switzerland now feels like home, but that’s the truth of it. I’ve missed the nice weather and the great food. There were, however, some things that I loved and missed about Canada. One thing is the chocolate candy bars that are literally designed to to be addictive, so you just want to cram the whole thing in your face. It’s not necessarily good for you, but there was a momentary guilty pleasure about that. I also missed dill pickles, kraft dinner, triscuits, cheddar cheese and dill pickle chips. Another thing I tried to stock up on was beauty products. Not only are they cheaper, but there’s a lot more access to organic/natural products in North America. Ironic, since the food is so processed there! But, that all withstanding, it really is good to be home.

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