After spending one day in Sault Sainte Marie, we headed to Ottawa, the capital of Canada. We couchsurfed with a woman who was going on a 9 month traveling adventure starting in September!
|The sunsets in Ottawa were spectacular.|
On one of the days, we biked around Gatineau Park
, which was about a 30 minute drive from downtown Ottawa. This park is HUGE! It is about 136 square miles, which is about 87,000 acres. If you go, stop by the visiter's center first. For at least 30 minutes, we tried to figure out what bike route to take and after just a 5 minute conversation with the helpful woman at the visiter's center, we had a great route that took us to the best view in the park. And we got a free map.
We were told by at least three different sources that Gatineau Park had challenging hills. They weren't kidding! We biked up one hill for about 6 miles in our lowest gear. Everyone around us looked like they had been training for the next Tour de France for at least a decade. The views were spectacular.
The ride down the hill was terrifying and exhilarating. I wished we had our bike helmets though...
|Taking a break at Huron Overlook.|
|Having a picnic at Etienne Brule Overlook.|
|Resting at Champlain Overlook before biking down the hill.|
Our second day in Ottawa was spent touring the Parliament building, which were free. Canada is nice like that. This was our first real tourist-y thing we've done since leaving home. The Parliament building is mostly made up of gothic-style stonework. It is fairly new since it burned down in 1919 and had to be rebuilt afterwards.
In the summer, there is a free light show
every evening on the Parliament building. It was fascinating to learn about Canadian history in Canada. The light show consisted of many references that Martin and I didn't understand, but we did notice those references again as we were walking around the city.
Our final stop in Canada was Montreal. Again, we couchsurfed with a kind man who had just moved into his apartment two weeks ago! Montreal is strange because it feels very much like a foreign country, yet it still feels a bit like Canada. Everything is in French only instead of both French and English.
We went for a 20 mile bike ride around Montreal before heading back to the US. I was astonished at how bike-able Montreal is! We ended up stopping at the top of Mont Royal, biking through Chinatown and the old port, eating lunch at Atwater Market, and navigating the confusing city streets. We were exhausted when we got back to the car, but we were happy.
|The top of Mont Royal, looking over downtown Montreal.|
|Chinatown in Montreal|
|Lunch at Atwater Market. |
Canada was a great first foreign country to visit. It boosted my confidence for being able to navigate a car in another country. All of the people we met along the way were so kind and generous. It was a great way to kick off our trip!