Iv'e finally mastered the fine American art of walking onto a road without almost being cleaned up by a car. The whole vehicles on the other side of the road thing was throwing me off my game. It's been one near death experience after the other since I got here, but not anymore. For I am the road master.
For what Ottawa lacks in any type of skyline it makes up for with impressive architectural landmarks. Gone are the obnoxious condominiums and everpresent skyscrapers of the other big cities I've visited on this trip, in their place are gothic castle style structures of Parliament House, the Capital Building, embassies, and other official government residences. The city is also totally covered in snow, in the parks it piles up in white mounds, but on the roads and the sidewalks it has melted into this slushy grey occupational health and safety nightmare. i.e. Me falling down the hostel stairs this morning on the ice. Luckily no one was there to witness that crowning moment of grace and I maintained a semblance of dignity as I walked (or rather, hobbled, my boots are still far too tight) out of the yard and on to the street.
The hostel I'm staying in at the moment is the old Carleton County jail. I'm staying in a cell that has three sets of bunk beds in it, there were three other girls in the room yesterday but I'm alone tonight which is good because I had to spread my crap all over the floor to do yet another bag repack. I went on the hostel jail tour last night and learned that the jail was shut down in the 1970's because of inhumane conditions and forms of torture in the solitary confinement area. Some prisoners were left for up to six months in a room with no light, and no sound, and were spread eagled to the concrete floor with shackles and were only allowed to eat and use the bathroom for 15 minutes a day.
There were three hangings in this jail whilst it was operational. Or rather, three official hangings. It was thought that there were many hangings which occured unofficially as in the back of the jail there is a wooden beam hanging about the staris which has what appear to be rope marks in the middle of it. There is also no written explanation for the existance in the pole in the jail records. If anyone were hanged unofficially, they could be buried quickly to avoid the spread of disease, and no official inquest would take place. Thus it would have been a very efficient way to be rid of dangerous or ill inmates!
I went for a walk around the city last night because Confederation Street where all the official building are located, is all lit up with Christmas lights at present. I took photos but my camera won't show them for some reason becase it's dark so I went back and took some in the light today. I also visited the markets where there were some really amazing stalls and shops with jewelery, food and wares from all over the world. By this stage the slightly painful pressure of wearing boots that are too small had turned into raging stabbing pains up the back of my left leg (only my left leg, go firgure) so I headed back to the hostel, managed to stay vertical going up the stairs, and tried to fit all my stuff in one bag. Can you say fail? I can. In French too these days due to the double signage.
The further East I get in Canada, the more I feel like I'm actually in Europe (not that I've ever been, but I'm using poetic license). The double signing is all the way through the country, however in Ontario (particularly in Ottawa) people actually speak it, most of the shop owners in the markets actually appear to speak it as their first language and switch to English when they need to. This is probably because Quebec is the next province over and it is so close you could stand on one side of the river and probably throw things into it. Now I'm not going to do that, because they're French and they'll probably spit on me. Or be very offended. Either way I think I'll just leave it until tomorrow when I head to Qubec City via Montreal!
Off to find food. Undernourished.