Sunday, August 7, 2011


I spent three great days in Ottawa, Canada (  My friend, with whom I said, was the ultimate host.  Has a beautiful condo that was convenient to the city.  He also understood that I want to be a tourist and see everything possible.  So we spent an evening in the bustling Bytown, which is full of trendy restaurants and gelato stores, as well as a cosmopolitan array of people.  We took a cruise on the beautiful Rideau Canal that winds through the city and makes for great sightseeing.  We took in the Gatineau Park and saw its beautiful lakes and quaint towns. 

We went to the Deifenbunker, which is Canada’s Cold War Museum.  This museum was a top-flight experience.  The place is a decommissioned bunker where the Canadian government would have operated from after a nuclear attack.  Note that it was not for the general public, nor was it for the opposition party, but only for the members of the ruling parting, excluding any family members.  It reminded me about the terrible paranoia we had over a nuclear war (which now has been transmuted by our government into a fear of Muslims).  The museum includes a decontamination area.  If someone showed any sign of radiation sickness after the cleaning process, he/she would have to exit the bunker to the outside, which was presumably decimated and radioactive.  There was a hospital for emergency medical procedures, including surgery.  There was a mental health unit for those who deteriorated under the stress of the attack.  It also includes a huge vault where the country’s gold would be stored in order to have a basis on which to restore a war-savaged economy. In the vault was actual rubble from Hiroshima, post our bombing of the city. The situation rooms to be used by top government officials were also open for viewing. I applaud the Canadian government for opening this bunker to the public.  It is an important part of our social history and it should remind us of the horror of it all.  I am not sure that the US government has opened one of its bunkers for public touring. 

Ottawa was alive with festivals, including a Busker Festival, full of entertainers, from fire-eaters to acrobats.  There was a chamber music festival and a canal celebration going on simultaneously.  Even though Ottawa is the third coldest capital in the world, the weather was beautiful.  The sun was so intense that I became much sunburned- the worst I have had in my life.  On Sunday evening, there was a beautiful sound and light show on the Parliament building that paid tribute to Canada’s history and notable figures.  They have pride but don’t have to call themselves “The Greatest Country on Earth.”

The architecture in Ottawa is notable for its lack of notability.  The city center is full of undistinguished boxes that are covered in glass.  In contrast, the Parliament Buildings are splendid, as is the Governor General’s House and the various museums.
While the city is expensive, the citizens get it back in government-provided healthcare. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Ottawa and feel it would be a great place to live if there were no winter.

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