On our second day in the Ottawa area, we got up early, we had breakfast, and then the girls & I walked the 2km across the Ottawa River to Parliament Hill and met up with Evan, Alex, Kathleen & Erin to watch the Changing of the Guards. The ceremony lasts 45 minutes and is very beautiful to watch and listen to. There were bagpipes and a military band. The girls were lucky to get a spot when they could sit on the grass at the edge of the lawn, so they had a perfect vantage point.
We spent an hour or more touring the grounds of Parliament Hill, looking at statues, and searching for stray cats. We climbed down a set of stairs to the Ottawa River and walked along it a little way before stopping for a drink. We could see the bridge we had walked over. The temperature was in the 30’s the whole time we were in Ottawa, so it was important to stay hydrated. Before going back up the stairs, we took guesses on how many there were. The total? 262 – Alex’s guess!! Evan had climbed 51 stairs when Olivia decided he wasn’t counting properly and made him go back down and start over. Being a good sport – and in good shape – he humoured her and did it!
We headed downtown to find a restaurant to have lunch and stopped at “The Fish Market”, near the National Art Gallery. It was a lovely meal – Sarah had a plate of fries, Erin had a cheese pizza, Alex & Kathleen had fish & chips, Olivia & I shared a garlic shrimp & scallop with rice and veggies entrée, and Evan had lobster poutine. They were very good at accommodating five children and food allergies!
After lunch, we walked to the National Art Gallery to visit the Van Gogh exhibit. Along the way were many street musicians, and Kathleen grabbed Evan for an impromptu dance.
The Van Gogh exhibit at the art gallery was really interesting, and the paintings were beautiful. The art was above the children’s heads until we got to an interactive part of the exhibit where they were able to put together puzzles of his paintings on the wall, make artwork of their own which would be displayed at the museum, and send letters to Vincent Van Gogh. Olivia wrote, “ Dear Vincent, When I looked at your paintings today, I loved your paintings and I wish I could paint like you. Love, Olivia, age 5”. The gallery responded, sending her an email the following day with an excerpt from one of Vincent Van Gogh’s own letters, saying: “…the love of art makes us lose real love. I find that terribly true, but on the other hand real love puts you right off art. And sometimes I already feel old and broken, but still sufficiently in love to stop me being enthusiastic about painting.” Perhaps over her head!
Erin wasn’t feeling well, so Evan & Alex left from the Art Gallery with Kathleen while the girls and I walked back over the bridge to our hotel. We met up with D’Arcy and then we all went to the Britannia Yacht Club for dinner and an evening of swimming, fishing, jumping, and monkey bars. Alex caught and released a small mouth bass. The adults had fun just talking, eating, having some wine, and watching the cousins play together.