Ah, Ottawa. A local who stopped by the boat to say hello wanted to impress on us the significance of coming right into the heart of Canada by boat. OK, fine. I was as much impressed by his Canadian fervor because it turned out he is or was German. I suppose he is right as we can tie as long as we want dead downtown as in almost literally in the shadow of the Canadian parliament. A short walk gets us most everywhere as Ottawa is a small city. It’s difficult to get used to the scale of government when one has lived in Washington, DC.  Ottawa is small and probably quite livable if one likes cold and winters that have to last forever. Otherwise, we are quite struck by how bi-lingual this city is. Of course, everything official is bi-lingual. Beyond that there is a substantial French speaking population and thus presence in Ottawa.

And Ottawa is a big time tourist town that has long since learned to make the most of the opportunities and challenges presented by everybody who comes here. Tourist information support staff is great. Case in point: Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is in the center of town.  Parks Canada, the Capital Commission and the Canadian military all have guides stationed there all day just to be helpful. The military folks will help tourists pose with the ceremonial sentries. I would have thought that crowding up and around a sentry would be disrespectful but, no, the military will pose you, take your picture and, upon occasion, pose with you. Maybe it’s an extension of the pose-in-front-everything mood that pervades this city. People here will pose for cameras in front of anything – I kid you not, including a concrete street flower pot and a concrete bridge support.

Mosaika (whatever that means) is a nightly narrated light show/movie about how Canada came to be what it is and what it might mean to be Canadian. The screen is the main building of the parliament. People sit in bleachers or anywhere on a massive parade ground and watch a combo light show and movie. Quite the show.

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